Keepers' Diaries, March 2017
Voi Reintegration Unit
The best news arrived early at our stockades this month in the form of Ex Orphan Ndara’s first-born baby, a little boy we named “Neptune”. Together with Kinna’s baby at Ithumba, this makes a total of 25 wild born babies to our Ex Orphans and we couldn’t be more delighted with the success of the Orphans Project in this respect. It was on the 4th of the month the Keepers noticed an unusual gathering of Eve, little Emma, Safi, Eden, Thor and a few more of the female Ex Orphans in Emily’s herd. Upon approaching them, they were greeted with the news that Ndara had delivered a baby boy and Emma, Emily’s second born calf, was obviously basking in the attention the little one was paying her, touching her with his little trunk. Mweya was also a self-appointed Nannie of the little one.
01 March 2017
The morning was good with the stockade dependant orphans coming out of their stockades and downing a bottle of milk before settling to enjoy some supplements after which they headed to the browsing grounds.
Nelion and Mbirikani led them to the eastern side of Msinga Hill where they spent the morning browsing before coming down in the afternoon to go to the middle water hole.
Ajali and Nguvu today had a wonderful time interacting with the others in mud bathing games, although Ajali was still a bit wary of the older boys who often try to engage him in strength testing games.
Lesanju, Lempaute, Sinya, Dabassa, Mzima, Layoni and Kivuko came to drink water from the stockade water trough this afternoon. They were closely followed by Icholta and Inca who came in without the other members of Emily’s herd. They drank water and hung around the stockade compound for an hour before leaving together for the browsing grounds.
02 March 2017
It was a nice beginning of the day with the stockade dependant orphan elephants sticking to their usual feeding routine before following Kenia, Kihari and Naipoki out for the day.
The orphans went up Msinga Hill under the leadership of Tundani and Bada. They all scattered to different parts of the hill in search of some green vegetation.
The orphans had been browsing for three hours when Laikipia arrived and rumbled a greeting to his young friends before he made his way to the far northern side of the stockades where the members of Emily’s herd were believed to be browsing.
The juniors later visited the middle water hole in groups of five for milk and to quench their thirst. The rest of the days browsing activities took place close to the waterhole.
03 March 2017
The morning started well with the stockade dependant orphan elephants enjoying their morning milk bottle and supplements before teaming up in groups of favorite friends for some socializing games. Their game of chase was thoroughly enjoyed and ended when Mweya arrived alone at the stockade. Kenia, Ndii, Naipoki and Kihari were quick to lead the rest of the group away from the stockades and to the browsing fields. Mweya was surprised by their actions as she expected that they would happily welcome her into their herd.
The four leaders drove the others high up Msinga Hill to browse, with Mweya bypassing them completely when she came looking for them after she had quenched her thirst at the stockade water trough.
04 March 2017
It was a wonderful and historic morning with the stockade dependant orphan elephants heading to the browsing grounds after the milk and supplement feeding was over. After browsing for two hours the keepers noticed an unusual gathering of Eve, Emma, Safi, Eden, Thor and a few more of the female Ex Orphans in Emily’s herd.
Upon carefully approaching them, they were greeted with the great news that Ndara had given birth and the gathering was a welcoming of her baby, who we have named Neptune. Emma felt very happy when Neptune approached her stroking her all over her body with his little trunk. Mweya ascertained her position as the nanny of the tiny new baby.
The Ex Orphans spent the day slowly browsing along the western browsing grounds of Msinga Hill. This was done so as to strengthen little Neptune’s legs so that he would not have any problem keeping up with the group.
05 March 2017
It was another wonderful beginning of the day with the stockade dependant orphan elephants drinking a morning milk bottle before engaging in some hide and seek games at the stockade compound after which they made their way to the browsing fields.
At 11.20am, Icholta and Inca visited the stockade without the other members of Emily’s herd. Lesanju’s herd came in twenty minutes later and they all drank from the stockade water trough before joining Icholta and Inca who were relaxing around the compound. It is apparent that Icholta might be slowly separating herself from the Emily’s herd which is worrying as Inca is still very young and could become a target for the Tsavo lions who would not hesitate to take advantage of the situation.
06 March 2017
The morning was good with the stockade dependant orphan elephants leaving the stockade in almost a perfect straight line as they headed to the browsing grounds for the day.
A male elephant calf that was orphaned after falling into a water hole along the Mzima spring-Mombasa water pipe line, was reported to the Voi Stockade keepers by a tour driver in the late afternoon. It was subsequently rescued and taken to the Voi stockades for the night. There was no elephant family that was seen any where nearby when the calf was rescued and as there was a pride of lions very close to the orphan it was a good thing that it was rescued before nightfall.
The keepers made sure to go and look for Emily’s herd that had not been seen at all yesterday. We were happy to find them in the afternoon at Ngutuni ranch and they later came to the Voi Wildlife Lodge for a drink of water. Little Neptune was using his mouth to drink water as he is slowly learning to use his trunk. Wasessa seems to have a soft spot for Neptune and is often seen following the little one around.
Another tiny wild elephant calf that had been attacked by lions was rescued in the evening. It had been seriously injured in the lion attack and was unable to feed. Its chances of survival were very minimal, but we wanted to give it as much of a chance as possible, rescuing it so that it could be treated at the Voi stockades and airlifted to Nairobi.
07 March 2017
The day began with preparations to air lift the two orphan elephants to the Nairobi nursery. The injured orphan elephant calf had been treated and had managed to drink some milk. The calf was put on a drip and was struggling to breathe due to its trunk being practically severed. The plane to take the two babies touched the Tsavo East air strip at 10.30am, with the injured elephant calf getting loaded first. The second orphan was then prepared for loading. Sadly while the team was strapping the orphans for the flight the injured calf passed away and it had to be removed from the plane and was taken by the Voi team to be buried while the other calf made its way to Nairobi.
In the afternoon, Emily’s herd was seen drinking water at the Voi Wildlife Lodge water hole.
They had a wonderful bathing moment, with Thor riding on Safi’s back. Neptune was close by, curious as to what the two were doing and he kept touching them with his tiny trunk.
An orphan baby lesser kudu that was rescued by the KWS rangers in Chakama yesterday was taken to Kaluku today where it will be raised by the team there. The baby Kudu has been named Chaka after the area from which it was rescued.
08 March 2017
It was a nice beginning of the day with the stockade dependant orphans engaged in some wonderful socializing games at the stockade compound before heading to the browsing grounds.
The orphans browsed in single file visiting the middle water hole in groups of five to quench their thirst before having a wonderful mud bath after which they returned to the browsing fields.
Ndii found herself left behind by the others but rather than panic she simply slowly walked and browsed until she rejoined the rest of them. Naipoki and Kihari, on the other hand, were busy having a private browsing session began charging around looking for the orphan herd when they noticed they had been left behind.
Lesanju, Lempaute, Sinya, Mzima, Dabassa, Kivuko and Layoni were later seen browsing about a hundred meters from the stockade dependant orphans but they did not link up with them.
09 March 2017
The morning was good with the stockade dependant orphan elephants heading to the browsing grounds after their milk and supplement feeding. Mbirikani, who was leading, attempted to lead the others up Msinga Hill but Naipoki and Kihari over rode her decision and led the orphans to the flat grounds on the northern side of the hill.
There was a lot of fun at the mud bath, with Ndii shining a lot in the games. Tundani who was competing with her went and lay on her, preventing her movements and stopping her from being the star. On seeing the bathing activity was rather vigorous, Kenia chose to stand guard over Araba who was lying down at the edge of the water. Suswa and Bada enjoyed a dust bath after the mud bath.
10 March 2017
It was a wonderful beginning of the day with the earliest callers at the stockade being Icholta, Inca and Taveta. The three came at 6.30am, drinking water from the trough before briefly inspecting the renovation construction going on at the stockades.
It has become evident that Icholta is slowly detaching herself from Emily’s herd and seems to want to join Lesanju’s herd that had been browsing around the Msinga Hill area. The three left the compound before the stockade dependant orphans exited their night quarters.
Soon after the orphans finished their morning stockade routine Ishaq-B and Arruba led the orphans out in the same direction that the three older orphans had taken. Unfortunately they were not able to catch up with them.
Later on in the day, during a monitoring patrol, Thoma and Thor were seen making their way from Ngutuni ranch to the Voi Wildlife Lodge water hole where they would be able to have a drink and enjoy a wallow. The other members of Emily’s herd were suspected to have been in Ngutuni, but were not seen today.
11 March 2017
It was a perfect beginning of the day with Bada waking up in a competitive mood. As soon as the milk and supplement feeding was over, he decided to engage Ajali in a strength testing game. Ajali stood firm ready to take Bada head on, but Bada shied when he noticed that Ajali was ready to take him on.
The orphans followed Lentili and Rorogoi to the browsing grounds. Nelion and Mbirikani then took over the lead and the group followed them to Msinga Hill. The orphans were in no hurry to come down, only doing so at 1pm, two hours later than normal. They proceeded to the water hole where they had a lovely time playing mud bathing games.
Nguvu, who had come with the first group to the water hole, had a brief bath, leaving the water hole before the arrival of Ndoria and others. The rest of the browsing day took place close to the water hole.
12 March 2017
It was a nice morning with the stockade dependant orphan elephants energetically running to grab their delicious morning milk bottle as soon as the gates of their stockade were flung open. There was some amazing games of hide and seek coupled with baboon chasing before heading to the browsing grounds.
Kenia stuck with her adopted baby Araba on noticing that Suswa and Arruba had teamed up in a huge campaign to snatch the little one from her. There was a separate competition between Ishaq-B and Kihari who also seemed to be keen on taking Araba away from Kenia. Kenia stayed bumper to bumper with Araba blocking all those missions from materializing.
Later in the afternoon, Icholta once again came into the stockade with Inca and Taveta. The three seem to have been together since they were last seen the day before yesterday.
They drank and hung around the stockade for an hour, to allow Inca to milk feed, with Taveta feeling great to be accorded a board guard position over the two.
13 March 2017
The morning broke with the stockade dependant orphan elephants concentrating on their milk and supplement feeding before heading to the browsing grounds. Naipoki and Rorogoi led them half way up Msinga Hill, where they enjoyed browsing on some nice green grass, before coming down and heading towards the middle water hole for an afternoon milk bottle and to enjoy mud bathing games.
Later in the day, they headed back to the foot of Msinga Hill for the rest of the days browsing activities. Icholta, Inca and Taveta were seen close to the big water hole browsing towards the Voi River. They never linked up with the stockade dependant orphan elephants.
A monitoring patrol in the Ngutuni ranch was done in the afternoon, with Emily’s herd being seen together with Rombo and Wasessa while the other members of Lesanju’s herd were browsing around Msinga Hill.
14 March 2017
The morning was bright and warm with the stockade dependant orphan elephants playing happily in the stockade compound before exiting to the browsing grounds. The orphans settled into single file reducing their browsing pace so as to grab as much food as they could, as the dry season continues to grip the entire Tsavo area.
The orphans visited the middle water hole at noon where there was huge bathing action in some thick mud as a wild elephant herd that preceded the orphans had drunk nearly all the water from the water pan.
Arruba, Suswa, Mbirikani and Lentili had a wonderful sliding game from the top of the soil piles on the banks into the water; a game that amazed many of their friends.
Today Bada formed a friendship with Ajali and Nguvu who are both older than him. He was sure to accord them the necessary respect that a younger bull gives an older one so that there is some form of bull hierarchy as in the wild.
Ndii and Kenia faced each other head on in wonderful mud and soil bathing games, before rejoining the group who were browsing close to the water hole.
15 March 2017
The stockade dependant orphans came out in happy mood lining up for their delicious milk bottle in a very organized manner this morning. There were some brief games at the stockade compound before Nguvu and Naipoki took the lead to the browsing grounds. The orphans browsed in single file throughout the day with both Kenia and Ndii enjoying some close browsing ties with little Araba.
Soon after the afternoon milk bottle, the orphans headed to the far northern side of the stockade for the afternoons browsing session. They scattered all over the browsing grounds each grabbing as much food as they could. They spent afternoon browsing in this area that had tall grass and bush.
Ajali was left behind by the others as they made their way back to the safety of the stockades in the evening. He showed his intelligence by walking slowly without running and charging to catch up, as he knows where the stockade is situated and knew he would get there.
16 March 2017
It was a nice beginning to the day with the stockade dependant orphan elephants lining up behind the fence to feeding on the special Lucerne grass pellets.
Kore, Tawi, Jamhuri and Ngulia stayed on the inside of the fence, to enjoy the same pellets. Tawi the male orphan eland stood on the raised balcony of the stockade store complex occasionally using his sharp long horns to scare the others away from the sweet Lucerne grass pellets. The keepers had to intervene to allow the rest to enjoy their share, making sure to take any necessary precautions to prevent any injuries that could occur should Tawi decide to be aggressive.
Mudanda was mistakenly left behind by the others when they left the fields to return to the stockades in the evening but she saw them leaving and was able to join them before they got too far from her.
17 March 2017
The morning was good with all protocols being observed by the stockade dependant orphan elephants who concentrated on their milk and supplement feeding, before engaging in some brief games at the stockade compound before heading to the browsing grounds where they spent the day browsing stopping at noon to visit the middle waterhole for milk and to quench their thirst.
At 3pm Kivuko arrived alone and joined the orphans, getting Embu to come and spend some time feeding privately with him. Kenia was caught busy watching Kivuko with Embu and did not see Nguvu snatch Araba from her too. Kenia stopped browsing to look for her adopted baby and ended up joining Nguvu and Araba, and the three spent some time browsing together. Embu later rejoined the rest of the orphan herd as they headed back to the stockade. Kivuko followed them browsing as he went, arriving after the rest of the group. She left a few hours later to return to the park where she joined Lesanju’s group.
18 March 2017
The morning was good with Kenia leading the orphans away from the stockade to the browsing grounds as soon as they had finished their milk and supplement feeding so as to avoid getting caught up by the Ex-Orphans.
Kihari and Ndii took over half way out and led the group to browse half way up Msinga Hill. They were reluctant to come down at noon but did so once they heard the milk truck arriving with their afternoon milk bottle which they did not want to miss.
Later in the afternoon we received a report of an orphan elephant calf from Satao camp and a rescue team was immediately sent to the area. After a twenty minute search the rescue team located the orphan elephant calf which was quickly rescued as there were lions only a hundred meters away, preparing for an attack. The orphan elephant calf was taken to the Voi stockade to wait to be air lifted to the Nairobi Nursery the next day.
19 March 2017
It was another wonderful morning with the milk and supplement feeding getting priority before the stockade dependant orphans followed Ishaq-B, Rorogoi and Lentili to the browsing grounds.
Soon after they had arrived at the browsing fields we received a report of another orphan elephant calf that had been seen close to the Galana River. A rescue team was quickly mobilized and a search was equally conducted on foot with assistance from the Trust’s aerial team. Sadly we were not able to locate the orphan and the search had to be called off so that yesterdays rescued orphan could be taken to the airstrip to be airlifted to the Nairobi Nursery.
20 March 2017
The morning was good with the orphan elephants playing happily around the stockade compound before heading to the browsing grounds.
Today Mashariki and Lentili were in competition as to who would lead the group to the browsing fields. They continually overtook one another to take the lead, something that continued until they reached they reached the fields.
Lesanju, Lempaute and Sinya were seen in the afternoon looking for the stockade dependant orphans. They walked around Msinga Hill but did not meet up with the orphans as they had already left for the middle water hole to have a drink and enjoy a mud bath. The three headed to the stockade where they gulped clean water from the stockade trough before returning to the park an hour later.
It was a wonderful evening as a wild elephant herd that came to drink water from the stockade water trough saluted the orphans in their stockades with deep rumbles. Mashariki, Rorogoi and Ishaq-B responded to them by lifting their trunks to smell them and rumbled a greeting. The wild elephant herd kept on hanging around the stockade for half an hour before leaving for the park.
21 March 2017
It was a wonderful beginning of the day with the stockade dependant orphan elephants enjoying socializing games at the stockade compound before leaving for the browsing grounds under the leadership of Lentili and Kihari.
When the Trust pilot, Neville, was heading to Lualeni to look for an orphan buffalo, he spotted an orphan elephant calf in the Irima area. The pilot mobilized the Burra de-snaring team to monitor the orphan elephant to ensure that there was no elephant herds nearby. In the afternoon the Voi stockade rescue team was mobilized to assist the Burra team with the rescue, with the Trusts pilot proving to be of great help in the air as the orphan elephant calf was running around, it got confused and ended up in thick thorny bush. The calf was successfully rescued and was air lifted to the Nairobi Nursery.
22 March 2017
The morning was good with the stockade feeding activity taking place in the morning after which the orphan elephants left for the browsing grounds in high spirits, settling to browse at a slow place to fill their stomachs with as much of the drying vegetation as they could. They were thankfully able to find some moist green grass to feed on as well, and as their milk was delivered to the northern side of Msinga Hill, they did not visit the water hole.
23 March 2017
It was another beginning of the day with the stockade dependant orphans enjoying the milk and supplement feeding in the morning. There was then some wonderful dusting and hide and seek games with Suswa grabbing Ndoria’s tail in a game. Ndoria did not like having her tail grabbed and quickly ran away from Suswa.
The orphans had a wonderful browsing morning with a report of an orphan elephant calf being seen close to the Dida Harea wind pump. The calf was seen by a tour driver who reported the situation to Nairobi. The stockade rescue team was mobilized and on arriving found that another tour driver who had seen the lonely and desperate orphan baby had reported it to the Tsavo Trust team who were in the process of rescuing the orphan elephant calf. They then headed to the Voi stockade with the two teams linking up at the stockade where the two week old calf was given its routine injection and milk by the keepers. The orphan elephant calf was later on air lifted to Nairobi together with another orphan elephant rescued from Ziwani.
24 March 2017
The morning was good with the stockade dependant orphan elephants emptying a delicious morning milk bottle in a rush before assembling for copra cake feeding. The orphans enjoyed some brief socializing games before making their way to the browsing grounds under Naipoki’s leadership. On arriving at the western side of the stockade, Layoni, who was browsing half way up Msinga Hill, came down to join the stockade dependant orphans for the browsing session.
Ajali and Embu separated themselves from the rest of the group who seem to have been set a quick browsing pace. The two enjoyed a private feeding session before linking up with the rest as they headed to the water hole in the afternoon.
Layoni remained with Kenia’s herd for the day returning to the stockades with them in the evening. Suswa and Mudanda had a soft spot for Layoni, staying with him as he drank from the stockade water trough. When they entered their stockade for the night, Layoni headed back to the park.
25 March 2017
The morning started well with the stockade dependant orphans downing their morning milk bottle and settling for the supplement feeding before moving to the browsing grounds under the leadership of Ishaq-B and Kihari.
After browsing for three hours, Layoni joined them and had a wonderful browsing moment with them. Rorogoi, who was busy browsing, got left behind when the group moved on. She came running up to rejoin the group later. Mbirikani and Mashariki turned to welcome her into the herd assuring her that being left behind was an unfortunate mistake.
As they continued browsing, Layoni moved to join Kenia and Araba who were browsing together. Kenia thought he was coming to steal her baby and screamed loudly driving him away. Layoni could see that Kenia was uncomfortable and made sure to keep his distance so as not to upset her further.
Layoni again returned to the stockade with the orphan group and remained there until 7:30pm, when he left towards Msinga Hill.
26 March 2017
The morning was quiet with the stockade dependant orphan elephants concentrating on their milk and supplement feeding before following Lentili and Ishaq-B to the browsing grounds.
There was some huge bathing action today, with Mbirikani, Arruba, Suswa, Bada and Panda competing in buttock scratching games after the mud bath. Kenia kept guard over her adopted baby Araba as she bathed. Kenia noticed Nguvu taking an interest in Araba and chased him away.
The rest of the days browsing activities took place close to the mud bath.
27 March 2017
It was a beautiful beginning of the day with Layoni, who spent the previous night browsing on Msinga Hill, being the earliest caller at the stockade. He joined the stockade dependant orphan elephants for the supplement feeding before leaving with them for the browsing grounds.
This is the second day that Layoni has spent the whole day with Kenia’s dependent herd. Kenia, Ndii, Naipoki and Kihari looked more settled as Layoni kept a low profile, leaving the decisions as to what direction to browse in to be made by the orphan group.
They spent the morning browsing peacefully before visiting the middle water hole that afternoon where they had a wonderful mud bath. Nguvu went to play with little Araba in the water with Kenia coming in at high speed, chasing him out of the water, keeping her adopted baby Araba by her side.
On returning to the stockade in the evening, Layoni interacted with Rombo, Wasessa, and Lempaute who had come to the stockade an hour earlier. Other members of Emily’s herd, whom Wasessa and Rombo were a part of, were not seen.
28 March 2017
It was a nice beginning to the day with the stockade dependant orphans engaging in games after the milk and supplement feeding. They later went to the park, browsing in single file, as light rain fell wetting the grass.
In the evening, when the stockade dependant orphans were in their stockade, Lesanju, Sinya, Lempaute, Dabassa, Tassia, Kivuko and Layoni came to drink water from the stockade water trough, with them was a wild elephant bull friend, who is a little older than they are. The wild bull was very happy to be among Lesanju’s herd. They hung around the stockade compound for an hour before heading back to their usual browsing grounds in the park.
29 March 2017
It was a perfect beginning to the day with the stockade dependant orphans chasing the baboons after the milk and supplement feeding. Their running and charging around ended when they arrived at the browsing grounds where they settled to feed on the northern side of Msinga Hill. In the afternoon they made their way to the middle waterhole where they had a lot of fun playing mud bathing games after their afternoon milk feed.
The afternoon was spent browsing towards the big waterhole before turning to head home, browsing all the way back to the stockades.
A few minutes before arriving at the stockade, Kihari introduced a game of sliding into an erosion trench, a game which caught Naipoki’s attention so much so that she came to see if she could join in which she couldn’t as the group was not stopping to play wanting to get home for the night.
30 March 2017
It was a calm morning with the stockade dependant orphan elephants coming out amidst a light rain shower. They headed to Msinga Hill under the leadership of Tundani, Embu and Nelion where they settled to browse.
At about 1pm they came down for their milk bottle after which they visited the middle water hole for a drink of water. None of them really had a mud bath as it was cold and cloudy when they arrived at the waterhole.
Lesanju’s herd was seen from afar with Layoni but without their wild elephant bull friend.
31 March 2017
It was a wonderful beginning to the day with the orphans waking up early this morning and catching up with the first light of the day as they walked out to the browsing fields. They had a peaceful morning browsing with Kenia keeping a close eye on Araba while maintaining her distance from Nguvu and Ajali who she feels may try to steal her baby.
At 10.00 am, the keepers conducted a routine patrol along the staff houses electric fence line, which has been installed and maintained by the Trust. Ngulia had taken the two orphan eland Tawi and Kore while Jamhuri followed them. Ngulia became excited and ran past them managing to get them all lost. A search operation was conducted and it took an hour before they were located. Ngulia, who had become quite confused, was happy to be united with the keepers and the group followed them back to the stockades.