Keepers Diaries, March 2018

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Voi Reintegration Unit

Rains fell across the lower plains of Tsavo near the Voi stockades this month, transforming the once parched landscape to a carpet of lush green. Grass, creepers, and bushes sprouted and flourished throughout the month, providing a lot of vegetation for the orphans to choose to browse from. Sometimes they like to go down on their knees to reach the fresh greens sprouting from the ground, which look the most enticing. They also made sure to step carefully after the rain so as not to slip, especially when crossing rocky areas.

One of their favourite things to do after the rain, whilst the soil is moist and cool, is to find the small erosion trenches that form from flowing water and soil collapsing down the hillside. Arruba is especially fond of rolling in this cool soil but, unfortunately, banged her head one day when sliding in a rather inelegant manner. Kihari came to console her, and reminded her that the best way to enter is on one’s bottom, rather than head first. When the weather was too cold and cloudy, the orphans chose not to visit the waterholes but instead found water in all manner of places, including in-between the rocks and in the holes of trees. The rain softened the hard layer of top soil as well, and allowed the elephants to dig up tasty baobab roots with their small tusks and relish their prize.

Despite the rainfall, when elephants would normally disperse across a landscape now filled with plentiful water sources, we did see some of the older Ex Orphans this month as they chose to visit the stockades. New mum Seraa, her baby Solar, Wasessa, Lesanju, Sinya, Lempaute, Tassia, Layoni, Dabassa, Ndara and baby Neptune, who celebrated his first birthday this month, all chose to visit and we were delighted to see Wasessa, Sinya and Lesanju being such dutiful nannies towards the babies Solar and Neptune. Solar had some trouble from a troop of baboons who were trying to steal the elephant supplements in the compound but Seraa took charge and chased the baboons away. It seems that Ndara may be forming a splinter herd from Emily’s, together with Seraa and their Nannies. After Ndara’s herd moved off into the Park, Layoni and Dabassa stayed behind and we saw them quite a few times this month. Kenia and Ndii were happy to be with the two older boys as they knew they were no threat to ‘their’ herd and had no interest taking their adopted babies Tahri and Araba. This was not quite the case, however, and Layoni and Dabassa did try to woo some members of the herd to follow them. They particularly focused on Panda who resisted all their attempts as she remains devoted to the dependent orphan herd. They turned their attentions to Nelion and finally to Tundani, who chose to leave and browse with them for a day, only to return to the stockades just before five in the afternoon.

With regards to the other orphans being raised in the stockades, it is evident that Tawi, one of the orphaned elands, is developing a special love for Oltukai, the baby buffalo. Old animosity and all reservations seem to have evaporated between the buffalo and everyone else in the stockades. Tawi runs up to Oltukai’s room in the morning and knocks on his door to invite the buffalo to play. The two are often seen jostling and playing, Tawi making sure not to injure Oltukai with his long horns. We also saw Aruba this month, the kudu who was successfully raised in the compound and who rejoined the wild some time ago. She approached the stockades with her family of five and the keepers noticed that her first born had given birth to a female baby. It was wonderful for us to see that Aruba, raised in the stockade compound, has now become a grandmother. Later on in the month the kudus visited again and the keepers realized the father of the babies was none other than Mukuki, another orphan kudu that had been successfully raised and released from the Voi stockades. On the 3rd the Keepers found a baby waterbuck, less than a month old, running around in total confusion with no sign of its mother. After monitoring it for a few hours, they decided to rescue it and it was taken to the DSWT Kaluku Tsavo HQ to be raised with the other orphan waterbucks residing there.

March 2018 day to day

The morning began with the orphan elephants lining up for their morning milk bottle and supplement feeding. Naipoki wanted to lead them out of the stockade compound but they were not ready to leave as they were enjoying soil dusting and scratching games. The orphan elephants spent the morning browsing on the northern side of the stockades before making their way to the middle waterhole. Before arriving they changed their mind and instead visited the baobab water hole where Lentili jumped into the water trough for a drink. She stood there with her front legs in the water. Araba had a wonderful time bathing with Ishaq-B until Kenia came and got her for some soil dusting games. The afternoon was spent browsing close to the waterhole.

Ishaq-B enjoying the mudbath

Lentili jumping into the water trough

Araba enjoying the mudbath

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