Keepers' Diaries, March 2020

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Voi Reintegration Unit

The area around Voi remains beautifully lush and green; with ipomoea creepers still found carpeting the area in a green like lace, their broad-faced white flowers resembling snow for as far as the eye can see. It is also a favourite delicacy for our orphans as they spend each day munching through trails of it. We received further rain showers too this month during which the orphans are less inclined to enjoy mud bathing in the main waterhole near the Baobab tree, but instead they love rolling on the cool wet slippery red earth and playing in the trenches which are created by the rainwater as it flows down the side of Msinga hill. Some of our orphans are hardened mud-bath lovers however, and even when the weather was cold and windy, this did not deter Pika Pika and Embu from enjoying a muddy swim and dominating the mud bath, showcasing their bathing skills while the other watched from the water’s edge. 

One day Embu was having such a fun time swimming and wallowing that she was left behind when the rest of the herd walked away to continue browsing, and she had to run to catch up with them. With such a green landscape at the moment the Voi orphans have not had too many interactions with wild elephant herds or bulls recently, as they have travelled far and wide with the availability of such varied vegetation and water points everywhere.

Arruba and Suswa are weaned from their milk bottles but still remain with the Voi-dependent herd and return to stay in the stockades at night with the others after a day’s browsing. Being the oldest and in the absence of the old matriarchs Kenia and Kihari it is now up to them to dish-out discipline whenever it is necessary, and make sure everyone is still well-behaved. Mudanda was being a little naughty, perhaps thinking she could get away with it without Kenia and Kihari around, and she was seen occasionally picking on some of the other younger orphans; one day she kept picking on Ngilai who was feeding next to her by taking the same pellets that he was trying to feed on. Arruba came to the rescue by making Mudanda move away so that everyone could enjoy the Lucerne pellets in peace. The older girls are also very useful for digging up piles of soil with their long tusks, which can become compacted in the rain, and which is fun for everyone to play on.

Mashariki still flits between the Voi dependent herd and Kenia’s herd (Kenia, Tundani, Nelion, Ishaq-B, Ndii, Ndoria and Araba) who are partially-dependent; members of her group only choose to visit the dependent-orphans in groups with at least two or three members from her independent herd visiting in a day. This especially applies to Ishaq-B and Mashariki, and sometimes they are accompanied by Tundani as well. Sometimes they are waiting patiently outside the stockades for their younger friends to come out early morning, so they can lead them out to the Park for the day, and if they have spent the day together often they then choose to accompany the dependent orphan’s home to the stockades in the evening, but they leave once their younger friends are settled for the night, to return to the Park to browse and fraternize with wild friends. Ndii is always delighted to be reunited with little Tahri and enjoys browsing with her enormously.

On morning’s when the entire Voi herd has reconvened Godoma becomes very greedy over the food supplement pellets the Keepers put out, and picks up trunkful’s of pellets and puts them up onto the terrace to enjoy them all to herself, doing her best to hide her stash from the rest of the group. She and Tahri are quite the greedy babies and some mornings, when they are feeling impatient and bang on their gates to be let out for their breakfast despite it not quite time yet, when the Keepers give in and open up their door she and Tahri rush out as fast as possible and run towards them at break neck speed in an effort to get their bottles first. One morning Ndoria, who is part of Kenia’s herd, did not seem to be in a very welcoming mood and kept pushing Arruba away from the food so that the Keepers had to intervene and tell her off.  

Since Kenia’s herd is spending a little more time away, Pika Pika and Arruba have become inseparable. The two always seem to be browsing together, as do Emoli and Sagala. Mbegu’s little mini-herd of babies she came with from the Nursery including Godoma, Ngilai, Ndotto, Murit, Lasayen and Emoli remain in high spirits and have been enjoying the plentiful times in Voi; one morning they were spotted running down a slope near the stockades in sheer joy, their ears and trunks flopping about as they came charging down jubilantly to follow their friends out deeper into the Park. 

Diria, our orphan baby zebra who was rescued on the 20th of February after his mother was killed by lions, is developing well and is always seen closely following one of his Keepers, who wears a zebra print jacket so that he can imprint on the black and white stripes, which will make reintegrating him back into the wild much easier. Zebra’s imprint on their mothers stripes so we have found in the past with other Zebra’s we have raised that this approach is helpful. 

March 2020 day to day

01 Mar

The orphans exited the stockades for their morning milk feed and were joined by independent orphans Mashariki and Tundani who arrived in time for the supplement feed. Godoma, Emoli and Tahri were the first in line for the milk and when done they moved away, giving room for the next group to be fed.  Godoma made her way over to the terrace wall where she had fun swinging her trunk back and forth over the wall.  

Ndotto and Rorogoi became engaged in a sparring game while Pika Pika had fun digging up dirt with her tusks at the far end of the stockade compound while Kenia watched.  Ndotto then engaged Mashariki in a pushing game with Ndoria coming to join the two and they all happily played together.  

Sagala led the orphans out for the day and they settled to browse at the foot of Msinga Hill. At noon the orphans made their way to the baobab tree area for their milk, a drink and a mud wallow. Suswa, Rorogoi and Lasayen walked straight to the water trough while the other orphans headed to the mud wallow. Once they had a drink of water, Suswa and Lasayen joined the others at the wallow leaving Rorogoi on her own.  

Ndotto, Godoma, Emoli, Embu and Mbegu all enjoyed swimming and rolling in the mud bath. Murit took a quick break from wallowing to enjoy a scratching session against the baobab tree before getting back in the water.  Tahri then had a turn scratching against the baobab tree while Pika Pika enjoyed a dust bath before joining the rest of the group who were heading back to their browsing activities.  

Mashariki comes to the stockade

Pika Pika front & others having fun at mud bath

Ndotto, Godoma & Ndoria sit on Mashariki