Keepers' Diaries, June 2015
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.
01 June 2015
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.
02 June 2015
The morning was cool with the orphans browsing in a single file as they slowly made their way to the big water hole, arriving in the early afternoon.
Naipoki tried a bath in the cold water but as it was very cold she merely walked in one side and out the other, barely getting wet. Ndoria followed her and enjoyed a wallow in the middle of the waterhole before Lempaute called him to come and have a dustbath. Mzima was jealous of the interaction the two were having and pushed Lempaute away and tired to mount Ndoria who was having none of it and moved away. While the rest of the orphans were busy dust bathing Kenia and Mbirikani decided to enter the water for a bathing session before the entire group headed back to the browsing fields where they fed for the remainder of the day.
Ishaq-B enjoying leading the milk dependant orphans back to the stockade that evening. Leading the group is always a great treat.
03 June 2015
The morning was beautiful with all the orphans teaming up full of bean and games around the stockade before heading on to the browsing grounds.
Panda who was enjoying a rock scratching game did not see the other orphans leave and upon realizing she was alone she ran to catch up. Layoni and Kihari heard her coming and stopped to wait for her and welcome her back into the group.
The orphans were busy enjoying feeding at the far northern side of the hill and the pickup took the milk to them there as they did not come near the waterhole due to the cold weather and prevailing dark cloud cover.
Kenia and Tundani browsed side by side throughout the day and together with the rest of the orphans enjoyed feeding on the tall green grass that they found.
Nelion led the orphans back to the safety of the stockades in the evening which was quite a treat for a relative newcomer.
04 June 2015
The morning was busy with socializing games after the orphans finished their supplement feeding. They went all around Msinga hill before arriving at the big water pool in time for the milk dependent’s group noon bottle.
In the afternoon the cloud cover that had dominated the morning cleared paving way for some sun. It got quite warm and the orphans had to seek refuge under a big tree as the temperatures rose.
Naipoki was in a mischievous mood and kept putting as much weight as she could on to Tundani’s back. Nelion who seemed unhappy with what was happening to his special friend picked up a dry stick as if intending to smack Naipoki. Naipoki saw what he was doing and he had to change tactics and act as if he was playing and trying to bite the stick.
In the afternoon the boys enjoyed strength testing games before heading back to the stockades for the night with Mzima walking with Layoni while Taveta walked with Dabassa.
05 June 2015
It was a nice day today as orphans enjoyed the cooler browsing conditions and were in no hurry to go to the waterhole. As such the babies of the group had their milk on the western side of the hill before rejoining their older colleagues who had continued to browse nearby.
Later in the afternoon they visited the big waterhole for a quick drink before resuming their browsing activities nearby.
When all the stockade dependant orphans were in their respective stables, Wasessa who has been missing rushed in and was allowed into one of the stables where she enjoyed feeding on grewia branches while catching up with Lesanju who welcomed her back as did the rest of the orphans who were all happy to see her. The keepers were also over the moon to see that she was well and were happy to have her back in the safety of the stockades.
06 June 2015
It was a wonderful morning with Wasessa exiting her stable and running to greet Bada, Mudanda and Ndoria all of whom she considers to be her “babies”.
Ishaq-B who has been looking after Bada was taken by surprise and protested Wasessa’s arrival charging in to take over by biting her trunk in disbelief before reluctantly giving in and joining the rest of the group who were enjoying some supplemental goodies.
The orphans later moved towards the browsing grounds where Wasessa busied herself renewing her ties with the little ones under the watchful eye of Ishaq-B who was missing Bada whom she has come to love very much and formed a strong bond with.
07 June 2015
The day started well as the orphans left their stockades in the morning and enjoyed milk and supplemental feeds. Wasessa looks much bigger than the rest of the group and as such seems to have more authority over them as they all gravitate towards her waiting to see what she will do.
In the afternoon Emily’s herd came to the stockade. Missing from the group was Thoma, Mweya and Icholta. Emma and Eden are growing fast and seem bigger each time they visit. A big wild bull was busy chasing Seraa and trying to mate with her. This big wild bull seemed to be very tame and resembled Dika who has not been seen since 2007. The bull had his tusk chopped off just as Dika did, making the keepers sure that it was Dika who was with Emily’s group which made them so happy and excited as it is Dika who is believed to be the father of Ella, Edie’s first born calf.
The group all had a drink at the stockade before heading to the browsing fields. Sadly they did not meet up with the keeper dependent group.
08 June 2015
It was a cold morning as Mbirikani took the lead of the orphans steering the group to the northern side of Msinga Hill. The keepers called the milk dependent babies down the hill for their noon milk bottle after which they moved back up the hill to rejoin their older friends.
At 2pm they made their way to the water pool where they found that the water barrels had been emptied by some wild elephants. As such the orphans had to settle on having water from the water pool. Tundani, Lentili and Nelion ran back to the keepers who were resting in the shade of a tree. The three were hoping to find some milk but were out of luck as it had been finished a long time ago.
The afternoon was spent browsing near the water pool before heading home for the night.
09 June 2015
The orphans left the stockades at first light and headed out to the browsing fields. Thankfully the clouds cleared allowing the sunlight to come through as the orphans made their way to the waterhole where they enjoyed a mudbath.
Kenia and Rombo engaged one another in a mud bathing competition which was keenly watched by Ndoria who stood close by. Kivuko saw Ndoria and tried enticed her into playing some mud bathing games before heading for a dustbath. Tundani enjoyed scratching his neck against the trunk of an acacia tree before joining the rest of the group. Kihari took charge of leading the group back to the stockades in the evening.
10 June 2015
It was a beautiful morning as the orphans exited their stockades and chased off a baboon group before settling to enjoy some copra cake and dairy cubes. They then had a nice time playing games at the stockade compound before making their way to the browsing grounds.
At noon they visited the big water pool whey they quenched their thirst and had a quick mudbath before continuing with their browsing.
In the evening Laikipia came to the stockades where he was given a hero’s welcome by the juniors. Layoni and Laikipia seem to have formed a bond with one another and Laikipia was happy to stroke Layoni with his trunk showering him with love and affection. As the rest of the orphans went into their respective stockades Layoni chose to stay with Laikipia for a while before entering his stockade to feed on grewia branches.
Laikipia remained at the stockade until midnight after which time he headed back to the browsing grounds in the park.
11 June 2015
It was a wonderful morning as the orphans exited their stockades full of energy and enjoyed a game of hide and seek at the stockade compound before heading to the browsing fields.
Ishaq-B tried to keep Bada behind in an effort to steal Bada from Wasessa for a short while but Wasessa was having none of it and drove Ishaq-B away. Bada who is very fond of Ishaq-B was unable to do anything and had to stand by helplessly watching her friend being reprimanded.
As it was a cold day none of the orphans partook of the mudbath when the came to the waterhole at noon. The milk dependent babies had their milk before the orphan group all had a drink of water before heading back to the browsing fields.
As the orphans were making their way back to the stockades in the evening they had a lovely surprise when Tassia made an entrance and joined them having had a few nights out. Upon seeing Tassia Taveta become very excited and tried to engage him in a wrestling match, but Tassia did not seem interested in playing choosing instead to just walk among the group all of whom were happy to have him with them.
12 June 2015
Tassia was the first to exit the stockades after the morning milk bottle and supplemental feeds. The keepers have noticed that he is becoming more independent and are happy to see that he is taking the next step to his eventual return to the wild.
Tassia led the orphans out to the browsing field where they spent the morning before heading to the waterhole at noon. At the mudbath Lempaute and Lentili were enjoying wallowing games which Lesanju decided to join and lay down between the two surprising Lempaute who had her back to Lentili as they were playing and as such did not know that Lesanju had disrupted their game. Upon realizing what had happened she came out of the water and headed off to browse.
Sinya was also busy surprising everyone today as she went into the water for a mudbath before enjoying some dusting games as well. After the mudbath Tassia headed off to join some wild elephants who were browsing along the Voi river circuit.
13 June 2015
Tassia did not return to the stockades last night and as such as soon as the stockade doors were opened in the morning the orphans left the compound in a hurry making their way towards the airstrip and the Voi river as they searched for their friend.
They arrived at the water pool at about 11:20 where they had their noon milk bottle and enjoyed a brief mudbath.
The orphans spent the rest of the day browsing close to the waterhole before returning to the stockades for the night.
At noon the tame wild cow, who often visits the stockades, came to drink at the stockade water trough together with two of her babies before heading up the hill to rejoin the rest of her herd.
14 June 2015
It was a busy morning as the orphans enjoyed lots of stockade games. Wasessa was lying down soil dusting and Kihari took advantage of this to try and to entice Mudanda to play with her and the two enjoyed a game of lying on one another. Rombo saw the fun they were having and wanted to join in. All he managed to do was spoil their game as he kept hitting them in the back with his sharp tusks causing them to cry out which brought Lesanju, Sinya and Wasessa running to their rescue, after which the entire group headed to the browsing fields.
Today the wild elephant cow that was at the stockade yesterday visited again this time with her entire herd. They all enjoyed drinking clean water from the stockade water trough, and relaxed at the stockade compound for more than twenty minutes before heading off to browse.
15 June 2015
The orphans had a wonderful time playing dust bathing games as well as hide and seek at the stockade compound before heading out for the day.
Today the orphans decided to explore further afield into the main park, moving and browsing along the Mombasa Mzima water pipe line area. They drank water and took a mudbath here after which Lesanju lead them to the northern side of Msinga hill so that the juniors could have their milk bottle.
Wasessa came to stand behind Bada so as to ensure that Ishaq-B would not be able to entice him away after the milk feed. The orphans enjoyed feeding on some tall grass for the rest of the day and did not visit the waterhole at all.
16 June 2015
The orphans came out of the stables in a jovial mood with the milk dependant orphans enjoying a morning milk bottle before joining their senior colleagues in Lesanju’s herd for some supplement feeding.
The orphan herd encountered a wild herd of elephants that had come to drink clean water from the stockade water trough early that morning.
Lesanju was making a great effort to keep her group away from the wild herd and led them out to the bush. Panda, Kenia and Kihari stayed behind watching a wild calf suckling its mother. The three caught up with the rest of the group a few minutes later and headed to the browsing grounds. The wild herd remained at the stockades for another 10 minutes before heading into the park.
After four hours of undisturbed browsing, a small wild elephant herd joined the orphans.
Lempaute moved to the front of the group to prevent Mudanda from running off with the wild group as she showed a lot of interest in them. The orphan group headed off to the mudwallow without Mzima and Rombo who stayed with the wild herd for half an hour before joining their colleagues for a mudbath at the big water pool as well as the noon milk feed with saw the babies running for the bottles.
17 June 2015
It was a wonderful morning with the orphans leaving the stockade compound at the first light of day for the browsing fields. The sky was clear and the sun was beating down on the orphans forcing them to take refuge under some trees.
Nelion and Lentili led the milk dependant orphans in a race to the milk bottles in the afternoon. The orphans that came in last did so trumpeting and making a huge racket believing that their milk had already been drank by the others, which was not the case.
On arrival into the big water pool, Ndoria and Bada each took position on either side of their adopted mother, Wasessa, who protected them from the other orphans as they all enjoyed a mudbath.
Layoni then led the group in soil dusting games. Lempaute was having a lovely time rolling around in the loose earth until Kihari decided to come and sit on her stomach preventing her from continuing her game. Lempaute then decided to go and scratch against a tree pushing Dabassa out of the way in order to do so.
Naipoki enjoying leading the group back to the safely of the stockades in the evening where they were joined by two wild herds who came for a drink at the stockade water trough.
18 June 2015
It was a nice morning with the orphans concentrating on their browsing. They moved slowly around the browsing grounds grabbing as much food as they could. They stuck to their daily routine and headed to the water hole as usual at noon. Mzima lagged behind the rest of the group and upon joining them found that Kenia was showing off in the mudwallow as all the other orphans stood at the edge watching her. Mzima was not happy about this and charged into the water pushing Kenia out with his tusks before enjoying a wallow. Kenia went and joined Ndii was dust bathing.
Kihari who was busy enjoying a dustbath in a trench area was given a reminder by Rombo to be careful not to hurt herself by falling too deep into the trench. .
19 June 2015
It was a lovely day with the orphans spending the better part of it browsing before playing some games at the water pool at noon. Lesanju managed to steal Bada away from Wasessa for some fun and games in the mudbath. However it was not long before Wasessa noticed what had happened ignored Bada and went to play soil dusting games with Mudanda. Bada was jealous that Wasessa ignored him something that was not lost on Ndii who stretched her trunk to welcome Bada to play with her but he declined the offer choosing instead to return to Wasessa and try and get back in her good books. This did not take long and the rest of the day was spent browsing peacefully until it was time to return home for the night.
20 June 2015
This morning the orphans browsed on the northern side of the hill before making their way to the waterhole for the afternoon. The weather was quite cold and as such not all the orphans partook of the mudbath. Ishaq-B followed Bada into the water while Wasessa, Lesanju and Lempaute stood watching the two. When Bada exited the mudbath Wasessa took him to play soil dusting games where the two lay in the loose soil having a lovely time. Lesanju and Lempaute were jealous of the interaction the two were having and pushed their way between them effectively forcing Wasessa to move away and leave Bada to play with the other two. Bada tried to mount Panda and ride on her back something which Panda was not going to allow and kept fighting him off.
Naipoki led the group back to the stockades later in the afternoon..
21 June 2015
As the orphans were making their way to the waterhole they went past a wild herd but did not even stop to greet them as they were on a mission to get to the mudbath. It was a warm day and they all enjoyed a cooling wallow in the water.
At the stockades two herds of wild elephants came from a drink from the water trough. The first group drank for about 20 minutes before moving away to give the second group a chance to have a drink. The second herd had two small calves who had fun playing on the flat rocks at the stockade compound. The two babies were watched over closely by their mothers and sisters. They had some fun for a while before both heading back to the park.
In the evening a small herd of three, a wild female mother, her small calf and a teenage female elephant came for a drink at the water trough. The keepers believe that the rest of their herd was browsing nearby and chose not to join them..
22 June 2015
The orphans spent the entire morning browsing and lost track of time. Before they realized it was time to head to the mudbath. The milk dependent orphans were the first to arrive and had their milk while the rest of the group made their way into the water. Wasessa picked up a dry stick to try and scrape away a tick that was bothering her and seemed successful in doing so.
In the evening a wild elephant cow with a tiny baby and a five year old calf came from a drink from the water trough. The orphans were already in their stockades and were only able to rumble in greeting before other members of the wild her joined the wild cow and her calves for a drink. The tiny calf climbed onto the flat rock at the compound and enjoyed playing there for a while. About 20 minutes after they had arrived the wild herd left heading back into the park having had their fill of water..
23 June 2015
The orphans spent the morning at the browsing fields where they fed before heading to the mudbath where the juniors emptied their noon milk bottle before the older colleagues joined them and the group headed to the main water pool.
Soon after their arrival there a big herd of wild elephants joined them. Taveta and Lempaute were the first to make their way towards the group and greet them. Among the wild here there was a tiny wild calf and the two orphans were trying to get to it but were prevented from doing so by one of the calf’s sisters who came in and blocked their advances, standing firm and refusing to move. Taveta and Lempaute did not fight the sister and instead the wild group and the orphans all browsed together for a while before the orphans followed their wild friends to the Voi River circuit after which Sinya and Lesanju led them back to the safety of the stockades..
24 June 2015
The main event today took place when a wild herd of elephants approached the orphans in the evening as they were preparing to head home for the night. Panda Mbirikani and Mudanda were the first to welcome the wild elephants to their group. Chaos broke out when Wasessa and Sinya decided to snatch a tiny wild calf from the herd. The wild herd was not happy about this and started to chase the two orphans who were intent on keeping the calf with them. Mzima, who is the strongest bull among the orphan group, assisted Wasessa and Sinya by taking on two wild calves who were trying to prevent the two girls from stealing the baby. The rest of the wild herd then became very agitated and charged the orphan herd closing ranks around the baby preventing any of the orphans from getting anywhere near it
Lesanju, who tends to be the leader of the group and likes to keep the peace made the decision to move the orphan herd away from the wild elephants and led them back to the safety of the stockades.
25 June 2015
Wasessa and Sinya led the orphans out this morning taking them back to the browsing grounds they were in yesterday afternoon in an effort to locate the wild her that had joined them there yesterday. The wild herd was nowhere to be seen so the orphan herd turned and made their way to the water pool to have a drink and a mudbath.
While they were busy wallowing a wild herd joined them. One wild calf ran through the group and plunged head first in the mud. The orphans were happy to have the baby with them and tried to take it and play with it but were prevented from doing so by its mother who was not letting the calf go anywhere. The orphans did not persist in their efforts and chose to instead leave the waterhole and head back to the browsing fields for the afternoon.
Lentili was happy to take the lead of the orphan herd in the evening steering them home for the night.
26 June 2015
This morning the wild herd of elephants that has two little calves visited the stockades to drink water. The two wild calves proceeded to their favourite playing spot of the flat rock that is at the stockade compound. They enjoyed fun and games here before the entire herd made their way to the browsing fields.
Later in the day as the keepers were busy with their daily activities they received word that a wild elephant calf had become trapped in a man hole along the Mzima Springs-Mombasa water pipeline. The report came from the KWS Tsavo radio room after a tour driver on a game drive had spotted the troubled calf and reported the matter to KWS. The mobile veterinary team together with the keepers was requested by KWS Tsavo Management to assist them in rescuing the calf and reuniting it with its mother and herd who were nearby watching helplessly unable to help the baby who was drowning in manhole.
The rescue of the calf was made difficult by the wild elephant herds who kept charging the rescue team every time they tried to approach the calf to give assistance. A second vehicle had to be gotten from the stockade to assist in keeping the wild elephants at bay after which the keepers were able to successfully rescue the calf from the manhole and reunite it with its mother and herd.
27 June 2015
It was a wonderful morning with the cold weather normally experienced at the end of June setting in as the orphans headed out for the.
While out in the browsing fields Bada lay under Wasessa’s tummy and enjoyed a soil dusting session. Naipoki was jealous of Wasessa’s interaction with Bada and over to watch Bada’s game before trying to join him but was prevented from doing so by Wasessa. She bit her trunk in anger before rejoining the rest of the group who were busy browsing.
In the evening about 10 minutes before the arrival of the milk dependant orphans at the stockade Tassia arrived and had a drink before running to welcome the orphans who were making their way home for the night. The orphan herd trumpeted in excitement and welcomed him into their group. In the evening he joined Lesanju in her stockade and remained there until the morning no doubt telling them about all his adventures out in the park.
28 June 2015
The morning started well with Tassia coming out with the other orphans to feed on the supplements before quenching his thirst at the stockade water trough. He did not partake of the stockade games and instead took the lead of the group away from the stockade to the browsing grounds. He took them to the farthest browsing grounds found along the Voi river circuit. The milk dependant orphans hung back and visited the big waterhole at noon without their senior colleagues form Lesanju’s herd and Mbirikani all of whom were with Tassia.
The seniors, especially Wasessa, missed the youngsters of their group and they all headed back, together with Tassia, to join them for an afternoon browsing session before returning to the stockades for the night.
29 June 2015
The orphans left their stockades very early this morning and headed out to the browsing fields earlier than normal so that they could browse for as long as possible. They fed in single file amid light rain showers, with the seniors browsing a little longer before joining the juniors who had gone to the waterhole for their noon milk bottle.
Ngulia our Zebra had a busy afternoon chasing away the baboons who had come for a drink at the stockades
In the evening, the wild elephant cow that has a tiny calf came alone to drink water at the stockade water trough leaving her other family members browsing on Msinga hill above Malaika house. At around midnight she returned for another drink together with the rest of her herd.
30 June 2015
This morning Ngulia, who has developed a special hatred of baboons, took charge and chased all the baboons away so that the orphans could enjoy the supplemental feed in peace and quiet.
The orphans went out to the park under the leadership of Sinya, Ndii and Kenia. They had a wonderful day browsing day before returning to the safety of the stockade that evening. The single wild elephant cow and her calf who had visited the stockade for a drink twenty minutes before the orphans returned was still hanging around the stockade compound and the group was able to interact with her and her baby.
Tassia did not go into the stockade tonight choosing to remain with the wild cow and leave with her to join the rest of her herd for the night all of whom were browsing nearby.