Keepers' Diaries, March 2004

Voi Reintegration Unit

Nursery Elephants:- Do elephant’s dream? Now, we know that they definitely do, for normally a baby elephant cannot trumpet properly until the age of 9 months – 1 year, and even then, the first trumpet simply happens unexpectedly when in a high state of excitement! Moreover, it usually startles them, coming as a complete surprise! Suddenly, one evening at dusk, as Daphne was walking around the yard, there sounded a full-blown very adult trumpet, which amazed her, and by questioning the Keepers, she was able to establish that it was little Ndomot who had trumpeted in this way, an infant of only 5 months old, who has never managed a trumpet before, or since! Furthermore, he was sound asleep, and never woke up! The first trumpet of all our Nursery elephants has happened when they are excited, usually chasing the warthogs who hang around the mudbath, or anything else that will oblige by running away. That Ndomot managed this very grown-up trumpet, when fast asleep is surely proof that elephants do dream, although those of us who know that one has to think “anthropomorphically” when dealing with elephants, it would be very surprising if they did not!

01 March 2004

Laikipia spent most of the day browsing close to Solango. He tried to mount Solango, but Solango managed to avoid him, so they continued feeding close to one another.

02 March 2004

At a wonderful noon mudbath, Sosian lay close to little Morani. They both stretched out their trunks to touch one another tenderly, and spent a long time together like this in the mudbath.

03 March 2004

There was an altercation between Sweet Sally and Nyiro, when Sally tried to block his exit from the Stockade, which irritated him immensely.

04 March 2004

It was extremely hot and humid today, which forced the orphans to move from one tree to another, seeking shade.

05 March 2004

Aitong pushed Sosian aside when he tried to block Mweiga from taking her morning bottles of mnilk. Aitong then stood next to Mweiga until she had finished her milk, ensuring that Sosian kept away.

06 March 2004

Irima and Mpala fell out during the mudbath when they both tried to play with a floating tree trunk. Irima gained possession, and enjoyed kicking it round and round the pool watched by all the other orphans.

07 March 2004

Mweiga took another route into the Stockade in the evening, because the resident Monitor Lizard was busy digging up worms. This Monitor Lizard is a resident at the Stockades, and often scares the elephants! He is not afraid of any of them!

08 March 2004

Burra and Solango were testing their strength and pushing one another here and there, which prompted Ilingwezi to come in and disperse them.

09 March 2004

There is always competition within the younger set about who should lead the group out into the bush each morning. Today Mweya, Solango and Seraa were competing, and accidentally pushed Mweiga, making her fall down. Immediately both Aitong and Emily rushed to Mweiga’s rescue and helped her to her feet.

10 March 2004

Burra stood quietly behind the Keeper who was giving Mpala his noon milk feed. Burra (who has now been weaned off milk) stretched his trunk and gently touched the Keeper’s back as though “asking for a little favour”.

11 March 2004

Thoma and Mukwaju joined forces to try and push over a tree. They both engaged their heads on the trunk, pushing with all their might, but failed to fell the tree!

12 March 2004

After the noon mudbath, Emily tried to scratch her neck on Yatta’s back, which made Yatta scream. Emily stopped instantly and gently touched Yatta’s mouth with her trunk to calm her.

13 March 2004

The orphans became very scared when they a terrapin touched Natumi’s foreleg, forcing her to retreat “screaming”. The others all did the same, surrounding the waterhole to see what was swimming in there. Upon seeing the terrapin, they decided to splash water over their bodies rather than risk going in!

14 March 2004

Solango and Mpala each held one end of a dry stick in a tug of war, but the stick suddenly broke, sending them both tumbling down!

15 March 2004

Sweet Sally was bent on plucking a branch high up in a tree, balancing on three legs in order to try and reach. The Keepers felt sorry for her, and climbed the tree to get her the branch.

16 March 2004

Burra spent the entire day browsing close to Morani, resting with him under the shade of the same tree in the afternoon. Natumi, Edie, Ilingwezi, Mvita and Nasalot were joined by Mukwaju to chase two waterbucks away from their drinking bins at noon. Their excited trumpeting attracted all the other orphans, which prompted a long distance chase. All returned exhausted and took a long rest under a tree.

17 March 2004

Emily left the mudbath ahead of the others and went to strip bark from a nearby tree, sharing the strips with Seraa, who took them from her mouth.

18 March 2004

Today there was a competition between Mulika and Icholta as to who should lead the orphans out into the bush. Each one tried to pull the other back with a trunk, and while they were so occupied, Ilingwezi stepped in, and took the lead.

19 March 2004

It was a very hot day today, and the orphans went far afield, browsing. Most of them drew on reserves of stomach water to cool themselves, drawing the water out with their trunks and spraying it over their bodies. (Elephants do this when necessary, since they rely on water and shade to keep the temperature even, being devoid of the ability to sweat).

20 March 2004

While the orphans were resting in shade after their noon mudbath, a group of about 40 impala approached them. The orphans allowed them to pass peacefully, lifting up their trunks to smell them.

21 March 2004

Edo joined the orphans out in the bush at 3.30 p.m. Tsavo, Ndara, Mpala, Morani, Thoma and Burra tossed their trunks to touch him gingerly. Edo spent the rest of the day with the orphans, but remained behind when they returned to the Stockade.

22 March 2004

Edo again joined the orphans on their way to the noon mudbath, and joined them in the mudbath, wallowing and soil dusting with them extensively. He later peeled off at 3.20 p.m. and went on his way alone.

23 March 2004

Tsavo tried to squeeze himself between Emily’s forelegs, trying to suckle her. Loisaba became jealous and pushed him away.

24 March 2004

Aitong accidentally almost suffocated Mvita in the mudbath by lying on Mvita’s head. The Keepers had to intervene having realised that she was in trouble.

25 March 2004

After a wonderful noon mudbath, Emily stood on the side, and watched Laikipia and Yatta enjoying a dust-bath.

26 March 2004

The orphans enjoy testing their strength with each other. Seraa took on Thoma and Tsavo took on Nyiro.

27 March 2004

Kinna and Edie were busy each trying to wrestle the same branch from one another, and during the ensuing battle, accidentally touched the electric wire, which made them dump the branch and run in different directions!

28 March 2004

Aitong dug the compacted soil with her tusks in order to create a dust-bath for Sally and Morani. Later the Keepers came to help.

29 March 2004

At the foot of Mazinga Hill, Laikipia picked up a stone with his trunk and deliberately threw it at Tsavo’s feet. Not knowing what was happening, Tsavo got a huge fright and ran to seek refuge with Emily.

30 March 2004

Tsavo and Nyiro engaged each other in a shoving match, but when Loisaba saw that Tsavo was losing, she came in to help him, and together they won the game.

31 March 2004

Sosian and Kinna enjoyed a chasing game, chasing each other hither and thither. At 8.30 a.m. Dika was spotted near the KWS Airstrip, feeding on his own.