Keepers' Diaries, March 2003

Voi Reintegration Unit

Nursery Elephants:- In the evening of the 21st March 2003, we welcomed another tiny orphaned elephant into the Nursery, again from Sosian Ranch in Laikipia, the same privately owned Ranch that yielded the two year old orphan called "Sosian", now in Tsavo. This latest tiny newcomer, as usual, was airlifted to Nairobi by East African Air Charters, attended by a K.W.S. Veterinarian and two of our Staff members. Because she was so young with no fear of humans, we were able to avoid the risk of sedation for the journey.

01 March 2003

At the noon mudbath Solango and Sosian had a wonderful time, Sosian allowing Solango to climb over him as he lay in the mud. This made Solango very happy. A tough tussle broke out between Icholata and Lolokwe over a branch they both wanted. Icholta had the advantage, since the fingers of her trunk are intact, whereas Lolokwe's were damaged before he came to us. In the end Natumi arrived to reinstall the peace by touching their mouths with her trunk and the Keepers lowered the branches for them so that both could have their share. In the evening Edo was at the Stockades, and Aitong refused to go inside, wanting to spend time with Edo outside. It was 8 p.m. before she went inside, and only when Edo decided to leave.

02 March 2003

All the orphans had a wonderful mudbath today. Ilingwezi picked up a huge log and threw it in the air, when it landed amongst the Keepers, but no-one was injured.

03 March 2003

Sweet Sally went to rescue Thoma today, when Sosian refused to share a branch with her. Sally got shoved hard by Sosian, and suffered a small tusk wound, which was treated by the Keepers. During the mudbath, Salama tried to suffocate Nyiro by holding the tip of his trunkful of water tight so that he could not breathe, forcing Nyiro to go to the next drum! Mweiga did not want to cross a shallow trench became she has always been weak, so she walked along it until she found a shaloower place, and then joined the others.

04 March 2003

A herd of about 200 buffaloes approached the orphans at the mudbath. Mweya, Sally, Thoma, Burra, Solango and Sosian were afraid and ran to Emily and Aitong who took them into their midst. Then Emily and Aitong tried to deter the buffalo, but failed, so the babies ran to the Keepers, while the buffalo finished all the water in the mudbath. This gave the Keepers extra work to fill it again for the orphans. During the retreat, Solango's foot was pierced by a large thorn. The Keepers pulled it out and gave him painkillers and the foot, although swollen, was much better the next day.

05 March 2003

Mweya had a wonderful mudbath, rolling round and round and trumpeting happily. However, Aitong thought she was in difficulty, and pulled her out, which did not please her.

06 March 2003

Due to the dry season, the visitors find that they have many wild visitors to their mudbath. Today it was a herd of waterbuck, whom Mweya, Sally, Sosian, Burra and Thoma chased off, and then returned to mudwallow happily.

07 March 2003

Due to the dry season, the visitors find that they have many wild visitors to their mudbath. Today it was a herd of waterbuck, whom Mweya, Sally, Sosian, Burra and Thoma chased off, and then returned to mudwallow happily.

08 March 2003

Thoma and Solango had a tussle in a trial of strength, which Thoma won. After the mudbath, Salama, Nyiro and Lolokwe played a wonderful game of hide and seek. Laikipia saw this and joined in. The game ended when Salama and Nyiro had a head-on collision round a bush!

09 March 2003

Mweya, who is always mischievous when she sees visitors, tried to charge Angela and Robert when they visited the mudbath. Emily was very interested in Angela's two little sons, who were in the vehicle with their Ayah.

10 March 2003

Mulika, who is usually with Yatta's group, decided to join the baby group today, which made Nasalot, who is her best friend, very restless. In the afternoon Nasalot joined Mulika and the babies, and both took good care of the youngsters. In the evening Tsavo mounted Ndara who was near the electric fence, and both bumped into it, getting a small shock.

11 March 2003

Ndara tried to take Solango's share of milk at noon feeding time, so Solango gave her a shove, and sent her on her way.

12 March 2003

Upon leaving the Stockades in the morning, the youngest orphans met a herd of impala on the road. Burra, Sally, Thoma and Mweya herded them slowly along for about 50 metres, until one impala ran, and the rest followed. The orphans tried to round them up again, but were unsuccessful. It was a very hot day today, so all the orphans arrived at the mudbath together, and had a wonderful session. Later there was a shower of rain, when Yatta, Kinna, Mukwaju and Nasalot had a good time, playing in the puddles.

13 March 2003

Having left the Stockades, Sally wanted to be with Emily's group, which made Tsavo jealous, who tried to push Sally away. Emily gave him a warning shove, and thereafter everyone fed peacefully together.

14 March 2003

At l0.30 a.m. on their way out into the bush, Sosian came upon a bull buffalo lying in a thicket. Sosian screamed, the buffalo stood up, and all the orphans fled back to the Keepers, Solango leading the retreat! Meanwhile Lolokwe found himself left behind on the slopes of Mazinga Hill, so he did a lot of "baby screaming" which brought Aitong to the hill to escort him down. He was greeted lovingly by Natumi who touched his mouth with her trunk in an elephant "kiss".

15 March 2003

Mweiga allowed Solango to suck her ear, and seemed to enjoy this, allowing Solango l0 minutes of sucking before beginning to feed again. Nyiro found that he couldn't climb out of the mudbath because it was so slippery, so Aitong helped him by supporting his head with her forefoot and trunk, pulling him up.

16 March 2003

Nasalot escorted the young babies to the Milk Tractor for their noon milk today, resting her trunk across Thoma's back lovingly, before pleading for some herself. Loisaba and Salama, who are always at loggerheads, found themselves sharing the same pile of Copra cake in the evening, which began a fight. Emily stepped in between them to restore the peace.

17 March 2003

As the orphans were leaving this morning, Mweya spotted a baboon, and led Nasalot and Sally in a chase, treeing the baboon. Edie and Emily were both sitting on the same tree trunk scratching their bottoms, when it collapsed, and they both fell to the ground. Emily screamed, which worried Tsavo and Loisaba immensely. They came rushing over to reassure themselves that Emily was O.K.

18 March 2003

During a wonderful mudbath, Sally did not realise that the others had gone to get their bottles at the milk tractor. When she suddenly saw this, she ran very fast, disrupting the feeding, thinking that she might have missed her share. The Keepers called her aside and gave it to her. Natumi, Tsavo and Loisaba chased an ostrich for a long way on their way back to the stockades, but could not catch up with it.

19 March 2003

Burra was feeling the heat after the mudbath, so he went beneath Emily, and opened up her ear to shade himself further. Emily did not mind. Kinna, Lolokwe, Natumi and Laikipia became scared when they heard some baboons barking. They fled back to the Keepers for protection.

20 March 2003

Sosian, Solango, Burra and Thoma were very afraid when Ndume joined the orphans soon after they had left the Stockades. The babies wanted to run to the Keepers, but Emily and Aitong pulled them back with their trunks, so that they were forced to greet Ndume, who touched them all gently with his trunk. Ndume later left the group, but joined them again with Dika at the Stockades in the evening. It was noticed that Ndume had a small wound on his right shoulder, which the Keepers treated.

21 March 2003

There was a tussle over milk today between Mweya and Solango. Later Natumi became very scared when a plane passed overhead. She screamed, and Aitong came rushing along to comfort the group.

22 March 2003

Tsavo became unpopular when he tried to mount one of the youngsters. Kinna, Yatta and Mulika joined forces to chase him away, and he retreated back to Emily. At 6 p.m. near the Stockades, Burra and Solango trumpeted and charged at a tree where two hornbills were making a clicking sound, but were confused when they could not reach them.

23 March 2003

Mukwaju found himself in trouble when he tried to push Sosian over, and instead found himself pushed onto Loisaba, who was lying in the mud. She came up fast for revenge, and the Keepers had to intervene to protect Mukwaju.

24 March 2003

The orphans were having a wonderful mudbath when Sally slipped off Thoma and fell into the mud. She screamed so loudly that all the others fled from the mudbath, fearing the worst, before Mweiga returned to rescue Thoma.

25 March 2003

It was another very hot day, so Aitong led the babies under the shade of a tree that was occupied by a herd of impalas. Aitong chased them off, reinforced by Yatta, Nyiro, Mvita, Icholta and Ilingwezi, all of whom were trumpeting so loudly that the whole bush came alive with elephant trumpeting. In the evening, Sosian would not allow the others to share his pile of Copra, so Burra, Thoma and Solango combined efforts to discipline him, after which he capitulated.

26 March 2003

Edie and Mulika did not want to go into the mudbath today, so the others splashed water onto them. In the evening Burra and Solango were sharing a branch of Grewia bicolor, each taking the bark from a different end. In the end Burra left it to Solango, who was very happy because he thought he had won.

27 March 2003

All the orphans joined a wild herd of about 12 elephants this morning, one of whom had a small baby of about 6 months. Mweya, Sally, Thoma and Burra were allowed to touch the baby, but Aitong and Emily were denied that privilege.

28 March 2003

Sally, Sosian, Mweya , Thoma and Burra had a wonderful mudbath with two waterbucks watching close by. When they had finished, they enjoyed chasing them off. Meanwhile, all the others found it a bit too cold, having tested the water with their trunks. Salama tried to push Laikipia in, but Laikipia wasn't having any, and ran away.

29 March 2003

Mweya enjoyed showing off to Angela and Robert in the mudbath, rolling round and round and throwing her trunk into the air. Edie, Laikipia, Nasalot, Mulika and Nyiro were highly scared when a rat ran past them near the mudbath, making them flee back to the Keepers! Emily, as usual, went to greet Angela's two little boys in the car, whilst Icholta scratched her bottom on a tree, until Nyiro interrupted.

30 March 2003

The day was cloudy and cool today, with big storm clouds brewing, which made all the orphans joyous. They ran around trumpeting and pushing down small trees. Later, the rain fell, filling puddles and waterholes, and they wallowed happily in every puddle they found, all day long!

31 March 2003

The orphans all remained together at the foot of Mazinga Hill today, enjoying the rain puddles, Emily setting the pace for them all.