Keepers' Diaries, March 2012

Voi Reintegration Unit

The death of 5 year old Dida during the early hours of the 10th March, though not entirely unexpected, was nevertheless no less painful for all who had nurtured and loved her since her arrival in the Nursery at the tender age of just one month. As soon as she had died, the Keepers quietly removed her body so as not to overly distress her friends when daylight came.

01 March 2012

Sinya and Kenia led the orphans half way up Mazinga Hill, overtaken by Shimba and Mzima who climbed higher up. When running for their mudbath milk fee, Rombo, Dabassa and Layoni screamed when they were overtaken by Ndii, Taveta and Tassia, Layoni screaming again when Ndii approached his second bottle, having finished her share.

02 March 2012

Ex Orphans Solango and Burra joined the Juniors out in the field today, surrounded and touched admiringly by many small trunks. The two Big Boys spent 20 minutes browsing with the Juniors before heading off to the Stockades, followed by Layoni, who as called back by the Keepers. At the Stockades Burra and Solango enjoyed a drink and a handout of Dairy Cubes before leaving again.

03 March 2012

During the usual morning Stockade games, Taveta and Shimba were play wrestling, with Kenia and Rombo interested spectators. Lesanju then led the group out, and all browsed peacefully throughout the day, enjoying the noon mudbath break.

04 March 2012

Whilst rushing for the morning milk bottles, Dabassa accidentally knocked weak Dida down. Kenia instantly stopped running for her milk, and instead returned to help the Keepers lift Dida back to her feet. Lesanju also came to investigate, but found Dida already up taking her milk. Dida has been under medication for a long time, and was looking dull today. Lesanju, Lempaute and Sinya spent the day browsing next to her, and due to Dida’s weakened condition, the orphans did not go far to feed today.

05 March 2012

The Ex Orphan kudu, “Aruba” brought her newly born baby close to the stockade for the first time, having previously hidden it in a thicket. The baby, a female was in fine shape, but was nervous of the humans, whereas her mother, having been reared by humans, was perfectly relaxed. After a while, both antelope went off into the bush.

06 March 2012

The orphans fed peacefully throughout the morning. At the noon mudbath Shimba and Taveta were joined by Tassia in the water, which encouraged Sinya to also go in. Rombo led the herd back to the Stockades in the evening.

07 March 2012

Taveta and Tassia had an altercation on the way to the mudbath, which Lempaute and Sinya tried to break up unsuccessfully. The combatants arrived late at the mudbath, and took their milk well separated from one another. On the way back to the Stockades Kenia kept pace with weakling Dida, who trailed the others.

08 March 2012

Dida’s condition worsened, so the Vet was called to examine a swelling that had developed beneath her chin and another in her stomach area. She was too unwell to go out with the others today, but instead remained behind in one of the Stockades, with Dairy Cubes and hand-picked greens. The others were very reluctant to move from the Stockades without Dida. Kenia remained behind as company, but later wanted to join the others. When the orphans returned in the evening, Lesanju and Kenia ran to Dida’s Stockade to check on her, before entering their own.

09 March 2012

Today, Dida’s condition was worse. All the orphans gathered around her, clearly disturbed to see her thus. Eventually, they slowly moved out to browse. When they returned in the evening, all ran to see how she was, Lesanju rumbling deeply as though predicting the worst. Dida died during the night. The Keepers moved her body away in order not to panic the others.

10 March 2012

The death of Dida was very upsetting, not only for the Keepers, but for the other elephants who searched for her in vain at dawn and throughout the morning. They took only a very brief mudbath and noon, and then resumed the search, running to the Stable she previously occupied in the evening, only to find her missing. All were extremely subdued. All were very disturbed to find her missing. The postmortem revealed defective lungs, and heart, which explained her lengthy deterioration.

11 March 2012

After another search for missing Dida, the orphans went to the Northern side of the Stockades. All enjoyed the mudbath, Wasessa occupying the prime spot soon joined by Sinya and Lempaute. Wasessa then enjoyed a lengthy scratch against a tree, joined there by Emsaya and Kivuko. All then made their way back to the Stockades, browsing as they went.

12 March 2012

On a lovely morning the orphans settled down to browse on the Southern side of Mazinga hill. Today the mudbath took place at the Stockades, since the orphans had an appointment with school children, entertaining them royally, Lempaute, Ndii and Kenia anxious to join the kids on the other side of the fence. Shimba then took a trunkfull of water to spray over the children, making them run off and laugh. Lesanju then enjoyed a scratch against the big rock near the trough, pushing Layoni out of the way in order to do so. All then went off to browse for the rest of the day.

13 March 2012

The orphans had a second lively encounter with children who were brought to see them in the Trust’s Bus as part of the Community Outreach Programme. All had a wonderful time, before the orphans moved off to browse for the rest of the day.

14 March 2012

Today Dabassa, Rombo and Layoni were first at the mudbath, securing the prime spot. Tassia then forced his way between them, prompting Dabassa and Layoni to leave, but Rombo remained to challenge Tassia. Taveta then became jealous, and joined in, poking their bottoms Rombo rapidly moved out, followed by Tassia, who wanted to avoid a confrontation with Taveta.

15 March 2012

At noon the day was cool, so the orphans were reluctant bathers. Emsaya sprayed water over herself while Ndii took Kivuko for a soil dusting session after which Kivuko led the herd back to the Stockades in the evening.

16 March 2012

On a sunny morning Shimba and Lempaute enjoyed scratching themselves against a tree out in the browsing area while Tassia, Ndii, Dabassa, Layoni and Rombo enjoyed a game of hide and seek that lasted 5 minutes before settling down to browse. All had an enjoyable mudwallow Kivuko, Sinya and Wasessa especially active, remaining in the mudbath after the others began moving off.

17 March 2012

There was drama when Kivuko gulped down her milk and then demanded Rombo’s share, which prompted a tough and rowdy fight which Rombo won. As it was cool, the orphans did not wallow. In the evening Layoni led the herd back to the Stockades.

18 March 2012

A wild elephant herd were close to the orphans as they made their way to the waterhole at noon. Wasessa took Emsaya and trailed the wild herd to the waterhole drinking and bathing in amongst them until the wild elephants moved off towards the Voi river. Wasessa and Emsaya then came to join their orphan peers and enjoyed a second wallow 20 minutes later.

19 March 2012

Memories of Dida continue to plague Lesanju, who again searched high and low for her, leaving the others to their usual Stockade games. She even remained behind to continue the search when the others had moved off, following them slowly later. While the others seem to have accepted the absence of Dida, Lesanju has not yet come to terms with this loss.

20 March 2012

Shimba and Taveta engaged one another in a Pushing Game, which Tassia was eager to join, approaching slowly and respectfully. He was accepted on the side of Taveta and together he and Taveta managed to get topsides of Shimba, who sneaked off. For a moment it looked as though they would engaged one another, but since the others were moving away, they decided against this.

21 March 2012

The orphans climbed the Eastern side of the hill to browse today, Shimba and Ndii the expert climbers. It was an extremely hot day, so they came down slowly to seek shade. Taveta caused a diversion when he approached Kivuko for a Pushing Game, but Lesanju disciplined him by sending him out of the herd for a while. He was later allowed back to join his colleagues, and was well behaved during the mudbath.

22 March 2012

It was very hot at midday, so having downed their milk, Emsaya, Dabassa and Rombo ran into the waterhole before drinking from the barrels of clean water. Layoni watched Taveta playing in the waterhole, but was not tempted to join him. Instead Sinya went in, while Layoni wandered off to join the others who were feeding.

23 March 2012

Tassia and Taveta had another head to head encounter after the mudbath in an attempt to settle a longstanding score. Lempaute and Lesanju thought about intervening, but the two kept shifting their position to continue the fight. Tassia later backed off, leaving Taveta standing on a rock like a village elder signifying victory.

24 March 2012

After Stockade Games when Mzima and Taveta enjoyed chasing each other around, the orphans went off to browse the Eastern side of the Park until noon when they moved to the mudbath. It was an active mudbath with pushing, sliding, rolling and mimic mounting in the water. Tassia and Kivuko teamed up, striking the water with their trunks which caught the attention of all the others, until Lesanju, Lempaute and Sinya began to move off to commence browsing.

25 March 2012

All had a very lively mudbath at noon, until Shimba sprayed some muddy water into the eyes of Taveta and Kivuko, prompting a mass exit. Lempaute went to comfort Kivuko, while Mzima and Taveta went back in once Shimba had moved out.

26 March 2012

Wasessa was the focus of attention at the mudbath today, surrounded by an admiring audience of all the others. In the evening Tassia and Taveta had another altercation, separated by Mzima who stood between them triumphantly.

27 March 2012

Today the orphans concentrated on feeding, Kivuko and Emsaya remaining close to Wasessa to avoid the naughty boys.

28 March 2012

The orphans browsed the Eastern side of Mazinga hill today where there is some green grass. Light showers left them in no hurry to come down, so their noon milk feed was late. Ndii led the herd back in the evening.

29 March 2012

Today the orphans browsed the Southern side of Mazinga hill above the KWS offices. Lesanju led them back to the Stockades for their noon milk, Rombo and Dabassa coming later. All then returned to the same feeding area.

30 March 2012

It was warmer today, so the orphans arrived at the mudbath early, before the arrival of their noon milk feed. All emerged to take their milk after which Mzima, Ndii and Taveta teamed up for bathing games while Tassia and Dabassa opted for dusting. Rombo led the way back today.

31 March 2012

Another rain shower left some pools, which the orphans enjoyed drinking. They took their milk out in the browsing area, bathing in mud in between playing in the rain pools. Kenia led the way home in the evening.