Keepers' Diaries, March 2013

Voi Reintegration Unit

Intermittent rain showers have kept the vegetation around Mazinga Hill green for our Orphans this month, who have enjoyed drinking and wallowing in rainfilled puddles, sometimes browsing the base of Mazinga Hill, and at other times climbing up to seek out tasty shoots sprouting in between the rocks. Sadly, the rescue of a lone calf with a bad leg on Galana Ranch was unsuccessful, for the calf in question was about 7 years old and far too strong and aggressive for our Keepers to subdue. They stood by awaiting the arrival of the Vet attached to the Trust’s Tsavo Veterinary Unit only to be told later that the Vet had another emergency call and could not come so the rescue team returned empty handed. The wounded calf who had an arrow still imbedded in its leg, has not been seen again.

01 March 2013

Lesanju and Ndii led the orphans out this morning, heading for the Eastern side of Mazinga Hill. Lesanju had to rush back to intervene in a tough fight between Taveta and Kenia, in which Sinya was already intervening. The two Big Girls managed to settle the dispute, urging Kenia to go to the head of the column and Taveta at the back. Lesanju and most of the youngsters settled to browse the base of the Hill, while Mzima, Shimba, Taveta and Rombo climbed higher. All enjoyed the mudbath today, followed by a wonderful soil bath.

02 March 2013

Following the milk and supplements, the orphans headed out to browse, Lesanju leading and Lempaute at the rear. The day turned hot so the orphans took to shade until temperatures dropped. All enjoyed the mudbath today, the older elephants rushing to wallow while the milk dependent babies downed their bottles.

03 March 2013

At about 3.30 p.m. as the orphans came for their second mudbath on a very hot day, Taveta and Tassia engaged one another in what began as a playful head butting competition, but which deteriorated into a fight after Taveta pulled Tassia’s trunk. Taveta found himself pinned down screaming an apology at the top of his voice which prompted Tassia to release his friend. Meanwhile Rombo monopolized the mudbath without competition from Taveta and Tassia.

04 March 2013

All enjoyed their milk and supplements, Panda having hers on the other side of the electric wire in order not to be disturbed by the Big Boys. Later she joined “Lualeni”, her orphaned zebra friend. Lesanju tried to persuade her to accompany her and the other elephants, but Panda opted to remain with her friend, the zebra. At 11 a.m. the orphans headed to the mudbath, leaving Shimba, Mzima and Lempaute browsing. Later Lesanju led her group back to join those three, and all fed together until the evening when it was time to return to the Stockades.

05 March 2013

Having emerged from their Night Quarters, the orphans enjoyed the usual Stockade games after their milk and supplements. Dabassa engaged Rombo in a Pushing Game while Tassia took on Taveta and Kenia and Ndii raced around the compound. Lesanju then led the orphans out to browse until time for the mudbath. Ndii, Kenia and Taveta led the orphans to the milk venue while Shimba led the rest to the waterhole. Today, being hot, the orphans enjoyed a second wallow before returning home in the evening.

06 March 2013

During the Stockade Games, Kivuko ambushed Rombo and knocked him down. Rombo bellowed so the Keepers rushed to his rescue, while Kivuko hurriedly ran off, fearing retribution. Kivuko, who has no tusks, tends to be naughty, probably feeling that she has to act tough to deter bullying from the Big Boys. At the field the orphans split into small groups to browse until it was time for the mudbath, when Shimba and Mzima opted out in order to remain browsing high up the hill.

07 March 2013

The orphans browsed at the foot of Mazinga hill until Kenia led the group to the mudbath. Rombo occupied the best position in the middle of the waterhole. Ndii waded out to join Kenia who was at the edge, splashing water over Kenia to prompt a game, but Kenia, who is a very calm character, failed to respond. Taveta came to join Kenia and Ndii who were wallowing happily away from the rest, but he spoiled the party by mounting onto Kenia. With the help of her friend, Ndii, Kenia dislodged Taveta and sent him away screaming!

08 March 2013

The orphans browsed the main Park today, enjoying a small waterhole along the pipeline at around 3.50 p.m. Dabassa began wallowing, which attracted Tassia, Taveta and Mzima. On their way back in the evening, a wild cow elephant with a tiny calf walked past them. The orphans were anxious to fraternize but were warned off by the Mother, who confronted them with outspread ears and a low rumble.

09 March 2013

The orphans enjoyed wonderful Stockade games before heading out to browse. As it was a hot day, they all rushed back to the Stockade mudbath to wallow at noon, Mzima initiating a game by climbing out on his knees and rolling back in, splashing water over all the others in the process. Shimba and Taveta then joined him doing the same. Taveta lay in the mud while Kivuko and Rombo frolicked in the pool and Lesanju and Wasessa rubbed their bottoms against a fallen log, Emsaya taking the opportunity to rub against Kenia. Ndii became jealous and chased Emsaya off so that she could rub herself against her friend, Kenia.

10 March 2013

The orphans gathered around the Stockade water trough before the Copra Cake handout after which they browsed at the base of Mazinga Hill. Later on Dabassa led the milk dependent babies to the milk venue while Tassia, Taveta and Shimba out-did Rombo at the wallow, rolling, splashing and playing mounting games in the waterhole until Mzima and Lempaute took over. All then fed peacefully for the remainder of the day.

11 March 2013

A young wild bull joined the orphans at 11.20 p.m., his arrival at first un-noticed by the orphans until they raised their trunks and smelt the intruder. The bull charged the Keepers who were being protected by the orphans, so the wild bull ran off, bemused and looking over his shoulder trying to work out why the Orphans protected the human Keepers!

12 March 2013

As the orphans were browsing out in the field, they were joined by a herd of wild elephants at 9.10 a.m. After an exuberant greeting of rumbles and trumpets , the orphans browsed in amongst the wild herd until the milk dependent babies heard the milk truck coming, and ran to meet it. This startled the wild herd who ran off with tails aloft, alarming the older Orphans who could not understand what had panicked their wild friends! The Keepers had a difficult time calming them down.

13 March 2013

Today the orphans had a marvelous mudbath, Rombo, Layoni and Tassia all vying to be the best wallower. Kivuko ran and jumped in to challenge the three boys and emerged the star of the day, which left Layoni jealous. During the soil bathing Wasessa kept a close eye on her favourite, Emsaya to ensure that she was not disturbed by the Big Boys.

14 March 2013

Wasessa head butted Lempaute who was patiently waiting as the Keepers prepared the Copra Cake handout. This prompted a tough fight between the two Big Girls which brought Lesanju to the rescue. When Wasessa spotted Lesanju coming, she left Lempaute who walked back with Lesanju and was first at the Copra handout, Wasessa keeping a safe distance from them both. Later the orphans headed out in single file, Lesanju at the front, Wasessa in the middle and Lempaute at the rear.

15 March 2013

As the orphans browsed peacefully, a herd of bachelor impalas kept interrupting them by chasing each other around, and jumping over bushes. Kenia stopped feeding and advanced slowly towards the impalas, who paid no attention to her until she charged, scattering them in all directions as they leapt higher! Responding to Kenia’s trumpet Tassia and Taveta came to back Kenia up, and together they chased the impalas a couple of hundred metres away, before settling down to browse away from the main group. All headed to the waterhole at l0.30 a.m. to enjoy milk and wallowing.

16 March 2013

Only Lesanju noticed the absence of Layoni as the others headed out to browse, even before the Keepers! Shimba led, some of the orphans pausing to browse the base of the Hill while others like Shimba climbed further up. Tassia and Rombo shared a tasty bush until it was time for the mudbath. Rombo, Kivuko, Tassia, Layoni, Taveta and Kenia wallowed actively, Rombo emerging as the star of the today. All then had a quick dustbath before browsing resumed for the remainder of the day.

17 March 2013

Kenia, Rombo, and Shimba ran to scoop up as much Copra Cake as they could before the Big Girls arrived, while little Panda rushed for her milk ration. Being greedy and pushy, Wasessa had her share of Copra separately from the others. Later Tassia and Taveta enjoyed a Pushing Match while Layoni decided to take on Big Boy Mzima. The older girls, Sinya and Wasessa opted for a dustbath while Lempaute and Lesanju scratched their bottoms on the rock near the trough. Today Panda browsed with her zebra friend inside the electric fence where both food and shade is plentiful. The orphans had a wonderful mudbath, Rombo and his Junior team winning the wallowing contest.

18 March 2013

It was a very happy day, because all the Ex Orphans turned up at the Stockades early. Front-runners Irima and Mweya went instantly to quench their thirst before being joined by Emily and the rest of the Ex Orphans. The greeting between them and the Juniors was exuberant. Whilst Lesanju enjoys the company of the Ex Orphans, she does not want to loose any members of her group to them, and is eager to round them up and head out ahead of the others with Emily and the Ex Orphans following later. Out in the field the two groups merged and browsed together happily, Icholta and Thoma continually walking around checking on all the Juniors, touching them lovingly with their trunks. Morani and Shimba struck up a close friendship remaining close as they fed, and when Emily led her herd off heading westwards, Morani remained behind with Shimba and Icholta with the others. At 11 a.m. as the milk dependent orphans moved to the milk venue and Lesanju led the older orphans to the waterhole, Icholta and Morani peeled off, heading west in the direction taken by Emily, while Shimba went to join his peers at the wallow.

19 March 2013

The Ex Orphans did not show up today. Shimba and Mzima enjoyed a Strength Testing exercise as did friends Tassia and Taveta. Emsaya left Wasessa’s side to reinforce Dabassa charging the baboons, who merely took to the trees, leaving the elephants confused! Lesanju led her group out to browse in an area where there were a lot of wild herds, but the orphans did not attempt to mingle with any of them, fully focused only on filling their bellies until it was time for the mudbath.

20 March 2013

After the usual Compound games, Lesanju led the orphans out to browse. The orphans met up and mingled with a group of wild elephants comprised of a Matriarch and her two daughters, each with a baby, plus a young bull of about 8 years. This family was very friendly and the orphans browsed alongside them for the first half of the day until it was time for milk and the mudbath. In the afternoon Wasessa took Ndii, Tassia, Emsaya and some of the other Juniors to cool off in a small puddle while Mzima and Taveta enjoyed a Pushing Game.

21 March 2013

As usual, greedy Wasessa had her share of supplements apart from the others. Lesanju, Taveta and Dabassa led the orphans out while Lempaute remained at the back. All browsed peacefully until mudbath time when Sinya, Mzima and Lempaute were first in the wallow, soon joined by all the others, followed by a dustbath. Mzima then led the group out to browse for the remainder of the day.

22 March 2013

At l0 a.m. the weather turned unbearably hot, so all the orphans, save Rombo, Kivuko and Kenia headed to the Big Waterhole for an early cooling off. The remaining three joined them later, and all had a wonderful time in the water, followed by a dust bath that turned them the colour of the red soil of Tsavo.

23 March 2013

Following their morning supplements, the orphans browsed the base of Mazinga Hill before climbing higher up. Water and fodder is plentiful following rain. Sinya and Lesanju led the orphans to their milk venue just before 11 a.m., pausing to rest in shade under a huge tree on the way because it was so hot. At the waterhole all jumped in to cool off as they awaited the arrival of the milk truck.

24 March 2013

Again the orphans focused on browsing the base of Mazinga Hill, seeking out tasty snippets from between the rocks. When the day turned hot, the orphans sought shade until Sinya led the group to a large puddle of rainwater, where they quenched their thirst and then wallowed. When most of the Youngsters decided to leave, Taveta and Sinya remained, behind, pleased to have it all to themselves until Sinya frightened Taveta by rubbing her bottom against his body. He let out a loud bellow which brought both Wasessa and the Keepers to the rescue so Sinya beat a hasty retreat.

25 March 2013

Lesanju led the orphans out, Lempaute as usual at the back of the column. They browsed the slopes of Mazinga Hill, the Keepers close by to ensure that there was no shoving and pushing that might result in an injury against the rocks on the hill. At noon Lesanju led the group to a rain puddle at the base of the hill where they quenched their thirst and wallowed briefly before joining a friendly wild herd who were browsing nearby. The Keepers kept their distance in order not to disrupt the pleasure our orphans were deriving by being part of this friendly wild herd.

26 March 2013

Panda joined the orphans for their Copra Cake supplement today, welcomed by the Big Girls. All relaxed around the compound until Lesanju led them out to the slopes of the Hill as usual. At l0 a.m. the Keepers were alerted that an Elephant Rescue was needed at Galana Ranch. After a rough journey to the venue, the Keepers arrived at 1.30 p.m. only to find that the orphan was too big to subdue being about 7 years old and also very aggressive. He had a poisoned arrow embedded near the elbow joint of one leg. The Keepers stood by awaiting the arrival of the Vet, only to hear that the Vet had been called for another emergency and was not coming after all. The Rescue team could do nothing except return back to Voi.

27 March 2013

The orphans headed out anxious to join the same friendly wild herd as before who were browsing in the far distance, so the orphans joined them there, and remained with them until about 4 p.m. when they returned to where the Keepers were waiting up the hill. Emsaya and Layoni enjoyed a friendly Pushing Game, closely monitored by Wasessa who watched her favourite pin down Layoni. Meanwhile Dabassa and Kivuko seem to have mended their differences, for they played happily together when normally they are at logger-heads! Tassia and Taveta wrapped up the days events with a thrilling Test of Strength, before it was time to return in the evening.

28 March 2013

Again the Orphans hurried out to try and find their wild friends again, while the Keepers took to higher ground in order to monitor their movements. Sadly the Orphans were unable to contact their wild friends today, but nevertheless enjoyed browsing new terrain, until the Keepers called them at the top of their voices for their milk. The milk dependent Youngsters came rushing to down their bottles hurriedly before returning to rejoin the rest of the herd. Lesanju rounded up her unit at 4 p.m. and they made their way through the bush to link up with the Keepers. On the way home, they came across a small waterhole and all scrambled for space to wallow to cool themselves down, Kivuko, Tassia, Layoni, Taveta and Emsaya playing pushing and rolling games that lasted for about l0 minutes.

29 March 2013

Panda is independent and enjoys feeding on her own where, being the smallest, she can’s be pushed around by the others. At 9 a.m. the Vet arrived requesting a blood sample from Panda, so she was enticed back to the Stockade with a bottle of milk so that this could be done. It only took a few minutes to get blood from an ear vein, after which she returned to her feeding spot. Meanwhile Lesanju led the older orphans deep into the bush, hoping to link up again with the friendly wild herd. They returned at about 4 p.m., totally red having wallowed in an area where the soil is bright red!

30 March 2013

Mzima and Dabassa enjoyed a wonderful game in the compound, Mzima lying down so that the younger elephant could mount onto him. This attracted the attention of Lesanju, who came over, which did not sit well with the two boys, prompting Mzima to get up and wander off. Dabassa followed hoping to persuade him to resume the game, but by that time Mzima was too busy feeding. The day turned very hot, so Shimba led the Orphans to shade where Tassia and Taveta enjoyed a Pushing Game. Led by Kenia and Ndii, the Youngsters headed to the milk venue and the Big Waterhole where they wallowed for a full 20 minutes before dusting themselves and feeding for the remainder of the day.

31 March 2013

After the usual morning supplements, Tassia, Lempaute, Dabassa and Taveta enjoyed a different Pushing Game today, standing in a line, some being pushed from the back while others pushed from the front After a while Lempaute and Tassia opted out, leaving Taveta and Dabassa to continue alone. Tassia spotted Rombo playing alone near the Stockade mudhole, so he invited him to a Pushing Match, Rombo accepting the challenge. The orphans dallied around the compound for a long time before Lesanju signaled the order to leave, Tassia and Dabassa leading on this occasion, with Lesanju brought up the rear.