Keepers' Diaries, June 2015

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Voi Reintegration Unit

In the beginning of the month cooler weather meant that the orphans spent much time browsing around the attractive Mzinga hill enjoying the long grass without terribly much interest shown in mudbathing at midday. Later in the month they had some wonderful mudbathing sessions with wild herds, with the dependent Voi orphans having their fair share of baby time this month with wild babies.

In the beginning of the month cooler weather meant that the orphans spent much time browsing around the attractive Mzinga hill enjoying the long grass without terribly much interest shown in mudbathing at midday. Later in the month they had some wonderful mudbathing sessions with wild herds, with the dependent Voi orphans having their fair share of baby time this month with wild babies.

On the 5th of June Wasessa arrived back after a long absence from the dependent orphans and was let back into her night stockade where she was enveloped by a loving dependent orphan group who have missed her terribly. All but Ishaq-B who has fallen in love with Bada and formed a strong bond in Wasessa’s absence, and so having Wasessa back was not exactly ideal as now Bada’s attention was divided. Wasessa was very dominant for the rest of the month focusing much of her attention on Bada, and making sure Ishaq-B was on the periphery, with limited time with her favourite calf only.

On the 7th Emily’s herd arrived with a handsome bull who the Keepers felt sure was Dika. The bull was in hot pursuit of Seraa. On closer inspection of the archival photographs that evening it was realised the bull could not be Dika due to the broken tusk being on the right as oppose to the left in Dika’s case. We feel sure he must be one of our ex orphan big boys given how incredibly tame he was. With Ajok, Olmeg, Chuma, Lemonyek all possibilities.

On the 10 of the month the dependent orphans were visited at the stockade by big ex orphan bull Laikipia who came to see his special friend Layoni. The two have a very strong bond despite their age difference. While all the other juniors headed into their respective stockade,s bedding down for the night, Layoni remained outside with Laikipia, communicating and showering each other in attention. Eventually Layoni headed to bed, but Laikipia remained at the stockades compound, communicating with them all silently, and chilling until midnight, after which he slipped slightly off into the night.

Tassia is beginning to spend some nights out too with the ex orphans and wild friends just like Wasessa, and whenever the wild herds are around he does tend to dissolve into them and is reluctant to return to the stockades.

The Voi stockade compound has been visited by a very tame wild cow with her two babies, and then she returned with her whole herd the next day. They were so comfortable and content at the stockades at they remained relaxing having had their fill of fresh water for twenty minutes before peacefully moving off. From midmonth on our orphans have been enjoying daily interaction with wild elephant herds, many of them coming to the Voi stockades to drink and relax.

On the morning of the 16th our orphans left their stockades to find a wild herd were there enjoying their fresh water trough. Later the same day they were joined by another wild herd who mingled with them while they browsed out in the Park. Mudanda showed a great interest in joining this herd which Lempaute made sure did not happen, but Rombo and Mzima hung back with them while the others headed to have their midday mudbath. After a couple of hours they rejoined the fold. Again the next day two wild herds joined the orphans at the stockades in the evening this time. It is wonderful to see how comfortable they were around the Keepers, seemingly understanding the routine. More herds poured into the stockades on the 21st, one with two tiny babies. On the 22nd a wild female with a two calves came to drink, one was absolutely tiny. The dependent babies were in their night stockades by this time but looked on enthralled by the tiny baby.

There have been some happy encounters too with wild herds at the midday mud bath, with wild babies always providing a powerful draw for the orphans who love to give the babies attention and to be able to get close to them to enjoy their sweet playful games. On the 24th Wasessa and Sinya took their baby passion too far spiriting a wild baby away from its mother and wild herd. On realising what was happening the wild herd became very agitated and immediately retaliated and closed ranks around the orphans, despite Mzima’s bold assistance in trying to help his two girl friends achieve their goal. It was not to be and the wild herd got their baby back. Lesanju sensibly guided her orphan herd back to the stockade to avoid any further conflict.

On the 26th our Voi elephant keepers were called to rescue a wild born baby who had fallen into a deep sided waterhole along the pipeline. The mother and herd remained close to the scene making a rescue challenging as they were extremely protective. The Keepers eventually retrieved the baby and reunited it with the herd a happy ending to a busy day.

Ngulia the orphaned female Zebra raised by us a Voi has developed a hatred on the baboons. When baboons visit the stockades to scrounge the supplementary food she loves to chase them and with her gnashing teeth she is a very effective deterrent.

Much more detail is recounted through the Voi daily keepers diary.

June 2015 day to day

01 Jun

It was a wonderful morning with the orphans enjoying games in the stockade compound before heading off to the browsing grounds. Taveta decided to separate himself from the rest of the group and stayed behind browsing on Msinga hill where Tassia joined him and the two fed together while the rest of the group headed to the waterhole. It was fairly cold today with the milk dependant orphans only emptying their noon milk bottle and having to drink water in the main water pool, as the water in the barrels had been drunk by a visiting wild herd before the orphan’s arrival. Lesanju gathered all the orphans together and they all began digging up soil with their feet before throwing it onto their backs. They afternoon was spent browsing with Taveta and Tassia catching up with them on their way back to the stockade in the evening.

Taveta moving browsing

Lesanju moving in the centre to block Lempaute

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