Keepers' Diaries, March 2009

Voi Reintegration Unit

The 4 ex Nursery babies, who were hurriedly moved last month to free up space for the growing number of new Nursery arrivals, have settled in very well at the Voi Stockades, and are clearly enjoying the new phase of growing up. Daily routines involve stockade games in the compound as the Keepers prepare themselves for the day out in the bush, a drink at the Stockade trough, and enjoying the long green grass that has grown in the fertile soil of the older ex orphans’ larger enclosure beyond the Staff Canteen. Accompanied by their Keepers they are then escorted to the chosen feeding area of the day, make their way to a nearby waterhole for their milk and a noon mudbath, followed by a dust-bath and rest under shade until temperatures fall.

01 March 2009

Shimba, Wasessa, Siria and Mzima began the day enthusiastically, feeding below the Stockades and moving to Mazinga Hill later in the day, led by Wasessa, after a brief stop-over at the Stockade water trough. At 11 a.m. the Keepers took the four orphans to the noon mudbath at a natural waterhole, where they took their milk and had a lot of fun playing in the water. The afternoon was spent resting under shade, because it was very hot, returning to the Stockades in the evening at 5.30 p.m.

02 March 2009

Mzima was first out of the Stockade this morning, and first at the Stockade water trough, which irritated Wasessa, who looks upon herself as the Leader of the small group of boys. She cornered Mzima at the water trough, and would have pushed him in had the Keepers not intervened. Shimba, who is always calmed, went close to Mzima to console him. Wasessa then led the group out to feed, followed closely by Siria, while Shimba and Mzima spent the day feeding closer to the Keepers while the other two ventured further afield. All returned in the evening well fed and happy.

03 March 2009

Wasessa led the others to feed on some soft green grass growing in the larger Stockade, until the Keepers called them to proceed out into the bush along the western part of the Mazinga hill. During the heat of the day they sheltered under shade, and enjoyed their afternoon milk and a wonderful mudbath later on in the day.

04 March 2009

Mzima and Shimba enjoyed a playful pushing match early this morning as soon as they emerged from their Night Stockade. Mzima bellowed loudly when Shimba pushed him against the electric wire, after which both ran in different directions. Wasessa and Siria rushed towards them to establish what was going on, tenderly touching the two with their trunks to comfort them. Out at the feeding grounds, the four enjoyed feeding as a compact group, and had a wonderful time in the mudbath, making their way slowly back to the Stockades in the evening, feeding as they went. Happily they went into their Night quarters, feeling well satisfied having had a wonderful day out.

05 March 2009

Today the four fed on the Eastern side of Mazinga Hill. They enjoyed their milk at noon, after which they had a wonderful mudbath, trumpeting excitedly and rolling around together. They fed enthusiastically throughout the afternoon, returning to the Stockades in the evening well satisfied.

06 March 2009

The orphans emerged in a jovial mood this morning, and enjoyed plenty of Stockade games, chasing each other around the compound and trumpeting with happiness. Today Shimba had the privilege of leading the others out to feed, while Mzima was the star of the mudbath, rolling in and out of the soupy mud. Later they rested under shade until temperatures fell, before resuming feeding until it was time to return to the Stockades in the evening.

07 March 2009

On another nice morning the orphans began another busy feeding day. As it was hot, they fed under shade wherever possible. They enjoyed a leisurely mudbath, Mzima and Wasessa rolling around together, watched by Shimba and Siria. All went well for the afternoon feeding session, and the orphans returned happily to their Stockades in the evening.

08 March 2009

The orphans fed along the Eastern side of Mazinga Hill today. Wasessa and Siria decided to climb a short way up the hill, while Mzima and Shimba remained at the base, close to the Keepers. Soon Wasessa and Siria came down hurriedly, bellowing for help, having been scared by some fighting baboons. After mudbath, Mzima was looking for trouble when he tried to grab Siria’s share of milk in the evening, and Siria wanted to retaliate. The Keepers kept the peace.

09 March 2009

The orphans fed just above the offices this morning before moving towards the waterhole, which they reached on time, being expert time-keepers! Siria climbed onto Mzima in the mudbath, so Mzima decided to move out and splash water over himself instead. All then followed suit, before moving off for the afternoon feeding session.

10 March 2009

It was a hot day so the browsing activity began early in the morning, as the orphans fed making their way to the Eastern side of Mazinga Hill. Having had their noon milk feed, they all jumped right into the mudbath and immersed their entire bodies in the water, with just their face and trunks showing, resembling hippos! Later, they basked for a while in the sun, and in the evening Shimba led the group back home.

11 March 2009

Today feeding took place on the Southern side of Mazinga Hill, the orphans making their way slowly to the noon waterhole for their milk and a wallow. Wasessa kept tossing her trunk skywards in happiness, and Siria remained in the wallow for quite a long time after the other three had left. He ran to join them. At 8 p.m. 2 wild cows and a 3 year old calf came to drink at the Stockades and the orphans rumbled a greeting to them, which the wild elephants returned. The wild group spent quite a long time at the trough, splashing water on their bodies, before leaving.

12 March 2009

Another wild cow with two teenaged calves plus a small one came down from the hill in the morning the drink at the Stockade trough. Wasessa immediately ran to greet them, followed by Siria, who kept a short distance from them. The orphans then left for the feeding grounds, while the wild elephants moved back up the hill. At the mudbath Mzima was again the star of the show with fantastic wallowing until Siria spoilt everything by again trying to climb onto his back. They all returned happily to the Stockades in the evening.

13 March 2009

Stockade games took place at the compound before the orphans left to feed. Mzima challenged Shimba while Siria took on Wasessa. They enjoyed a soft soil bath before leaving for the feeding area, where serious feeding took place. At the noon mudbath Siria took his milk bottle from the Keeper and held it himself without any assistance, not spilling a drop! Because the day was cool, the orphans decided against a wallow, but instead fed throughout the afternoon, returning to the Stockade in the evening.

14 March 2009

The orphans emerged in a happy mood, and took a drink at the stockade before heading out to feed. It was a cool day, so the mudbath was not popular. Instead, Shimba lay on some soft soil, enjoying the warmth it imparted, before all four then resumed serious feeding until it was time to return.

15 March 2009

Siria and Wasessa decided to feed apart from the Keepers and Mzima and Shimba until it was time to join up to go to the waterhole for their noon milk feed. Wasessa and Siria enjoyed a very active time in the mudwallow, but Shimba and Mzima decided not to join them. Shimba took the lead back to the Stockade in the evening, wanting to be first for the milk.

16 March 2009

The orphans emptied their milk bottles rapidly in the morning before heading out for another day, led by Wasessa. At the waterhole Siria and Wasessa splashed their bodies from the drinking buckets of water before joining Shimba and Mzima, who were already in the water. Later, upon emerging, Mzima enjoyed a scratch against the banks and all then rested under shade before feeding slowly making their way back to the Stockades for the evening milk feed and night.

17 March 2009

The feeding journey out began early today. Because the orphans were taken a little further towards the Northern side of Mazinga Hill. The mudbath was popular, with Siria, Mzima and Wasessa dominated events, while Shimba opted to be a spectator, and later took a rest. Wasessa came out of the wallow to scratch her buttocks against the bank, and Siria remained in longer, joining the others for the afternoon feeding.

18 March 2009

Wasessa had a happy time in the mudbath, tossing her trunk skywards, trumpeting with excitement as Siria rubbed himself against her rump. Shimba decided against joining them in the water, instead spraying water over himself using his trunk. After the afternoon feeding session, Shimba, as usual, led the way back home.

19 March 2009

After a hurried drink of water at the Stockades, the orphans went to the western side of Mazinga hill to feed, filling their mouths with green grass, until by noon their bellies were protruding and full. After the mudbath they rested under a tree for an hour, before slowly making their way back, feeding as they went.

20 March 2009

After the usual early morning routine, drinking at the trough, and indulging in Stockade games, Mzima led the orphans out today at the foot of Mazinga Hill. It was a hot day, so they took to shade on their way to the mudbath. Because it was so hot, Shimba, who is not overly fond of bathing, decided to go in after all, having first splashed water from the drinking drums over himself. When the day cooled down a little, they all fed during the afternoon before heading towards the Stockades.

21 March 2009

The morning browsing took place on the eastern side of the hill. Shimba took the lead when it was time for the noon milk and mudbath. Wasessa and Siria enjoyed a brief mudbath after taking milk, before all resumed feeding again.

22 March 2009

While the Keepers took their morning tea, the orphans occupied themselves feeding around the compound before leaving for some serious browsing that continued throughout the day, but for a brief mudbath, which was enjoyed by all having taken their noon milk feed.

23 March 2009

The orphans left early to feed around Mazinga hill, where there is still some browse since not many wild elephants have been utilizing that area recently. At the noon milk feed Mzima surprised the Keepers by holding his own bottle without help, and returning it to them once finished!

24 March 2009

Feeding took place on the Northern side of Mazinga Hill today. Siria and Wasessa paid a lot of attention to some fresh elephant droppings that they came across. Since it was cool, the orphans decided against going into the noon wallow, but instead enjoyed their milk and resumed feeding until it was time to return in the evening.

25 March 2009

There was a light drizzle of rain this morning, so the orphans enjoyed eating the wet grass, and didn’t need either a drink of water or a mudwallow. Instead they concentrated on feeding throughout the day.

26 March 2009

It rained again in the morning, so the orphans sheltered from the rain under the awning of the large Stockade until the rain stopped, when they left for Mazinga Hill. A wild herd was spotted moving across the plain opposite, but the orphans did not join them. They had fun playing in the pools of rain water and rolling in the damp earth. At 4 p.m. a single cow and her calf came to drink at the Stockade trough and were very docile, ignoring the movements of the Keepers nearby. They left before the return of our orphans, so did not meet up.

27 March 2009

Wasessa led the orphans out to feed on a cool day, with heavy clouds obscuring the sky. The orphans enjoyed feeding throughout the day, but for a brief stop for their milk, until Shimba decided it was time to head back in the evening.

28 March 2009

There were active Stockade games this morning, with the orphans running up and down the incline at the back of the stockades. The game ended when Siria and Mzima collided head on, each falling to their knees screaming. Wasessa rushed to see them, while Shimba took to his heels and ran back to the Keepers. The Keepers then led the orphans out to feed; to their noon milk venue and mudbath and back again in the evening.

29 March 2009

The orphans enjoyed charging and chasing a troupe of baboons who turned up at the stockades early in the morning, forcing the baboons down the hill to the headquarters, where they are not welcome! Later the elephants fed throughout the day, enjoyed their noon milk and a wallow, fed again in the afternoon and returned in the evening, led, as usual, by Shimba.

30 March 2009

Intermittent showers of rain fell throughout the day, so the orphans enjoyed the cool conditions to concentrate on feeding all day until it was time to return in the evening.

31 March 2009

The orphans enjoyed the small shoots that had already started to sprout following some rain. They fed calmly throughout the day, enjoyed their milk and a bath at noon, and returned happily in the evening.