Keepers' Diaries, May 2010

Voi Reintegration Unit

Established females of the Voi Unit are Lesanju, (the main Matriarch) Lempaute, Wasessa, Sinya and Kenia, Shira having left with a wild herd a month or two ago. The boys of the unit are Siria, (seemingly the most assertive) Shimba and Mzima who are good friends, and Taveta and Tassia who are also close, although Tassia is very possessive of his adopted “mother” Wasessa, having been chosen as her favourite early on.

01 May 2010

The orphans emerged in a happy mood, Shimba, Mzima, Siria and Tassia playing a rolling game on soft soil ;until the Keepers signaled that it was time to head out to browse. At the mudbath Siria, Wasessa and Mzima teamed up for fun in the mudbath. Later they fed close to the waterhole until Lesanju led them back home in the evening

02 May 2010

Today after the usual Stockade games, Lesanju led the orphans out to browse, when Taveta found a ditch to lie in, which attracted Mzima, who joined him. At mudbath Kenia bathed wonderfully with Shimba, whilst Lesanju and Lempaute interacted in the water. Later Sinya tried to hijack Tassia from Wasessa, but Wasessa noticed her intention, and blocked her. Shimba led the group back to the stockades in the evening.

03 May 2010

Mzima enticed his friends to a rock scratching game, until Lesanju decided it was time to head off to browse around the foot of Mazinga Hill, when Shimba took a ride on the back of Taveta. On the way to the noon mudbath Siria found an erosion gully in which he lay down, hoping to be joined by some of the others, but they were so focused on their noon milk feed that they paid no attention to the invitation.

04 May 2010

For sometime Emily’s group has been absent around Mazinga Hill. They were spotted on Ngutuni Ranch, Emily with an arrow in her rump. The Keepers encouraged them back across the Voi river, and left them there as darkness set in.

05 May 2010

The Keepers left the Stockades early in the morning to establish the whereabouts of Emily in preparation for the arrival of the Vet attached to the Trust’s Mobile Veterinary Unit. They found Emily and her group about 200 yards from the Stockades, on their way back, Emily knowing that she needed help because the imbedded arrow head was causing her a great deal of discomfort. The Keepers encouraged the group into the Stockade, but Sweet Sally refused to go in, being the Nannie for Emily’s calf, Eve, and was very concerned when Emily was immobilized so that the Vet could remove the arrow head, which was deeply imbedded. The Keepers pacified her, and kept her and the calf from distracting the attention of the Vet as he removed the arrow head, and treated the wound, before waking Emily up again. Irima, who had an old arrow wound, was also immobilized, because the wound was still suppurating slightly, and the Vet thought the arrow head might still be imbedded. In fact, it wasn’t. and the wound was healing well from the inside, so Irima was woken up and joined the group.

06 May 2010

The Keeper Dependent orphans joined Emily’s unit on the southern side of Mazinga Hill. The wounds of Emily and Irima still looked fresh, but clean, and little Eve was seen suckling her mother which was a relief, thinking that the immobilizing drug might inhibit Emily’s lactating capacity. Siria enjoyed playing with the big boys, and Lesanju’s unit thoroughly enjoyed being with that of Emily. Lesanju was not happy about that, especially when Emily took them to the Western side of the hill. However, Lesanju managed to get her group back for the noon milk feed, and during the afternoon decided on the opposite direction to that taken by Emily.

07 May 2010

Siria, who thoroughly enjoyed his time with Emily’s bigger boys, led the group back hoping to find Emily’s group in the same place. However, in this he was disappointed, because they had moved on. At noon they took their milk at the Stockades, where they had a lot of fun playing with some visiting school children before moving off to the Eastern side of the hill. It was a very hot day, so they sought shade after their noon mudbath until temperatures dropped a little.

08 May 2010

This morning Mzima tried to entice Lesanju to a wrestling match, but she was not interested. At the noon mudbath Shimba put on a solo display before being joined by Wasessa and Lesanju, who rolled around like fishes, watched closely by Tassia. They then fed close to the waterhole during the afternoon, and were led back home by Kenia in the evening.

09 May 2010

Whilst some of the Keepers accompanied the orphans on their usual browsing outing, other Keepers prepared a new waterhole for the new Nursery arrivals, expected in a day or two. Having browsed at Mazinga Hill, Lesanju and her group enjoyed sampling the new waterhole at the stockades, when they came for their noon milk feed. They later went to browse in the main Park, and were led back by Sinya in the evening.

10 May 2010

Today Emily’s ex orphaned group arrived at the Stockades just before Lesanju’s group came for their mudbath and noon milk feed in a rush, obviously fearing that Emily’s group might take their share. They were not mistaken because Lolokwe tried to get Shimba’s bottle, Solango went for that of Lempaute and Big Boy Laikipia wanting that of Siria! The Keepers kept the ex orphans at bay, as they enviously watched the youngsters down theirs. The entire group then hung around the Stockades for a full hour, Lesanju, Wasessa, Sinya and Lempaute not allowed to play with the calves of Emily and Edie, but played wrestling games with the Big Boys. Solango took on Siria and Nyiro engaged Mzima. Emily then led the ex orphans to the Western side of Mazinga Hill, and Lesanju took hers in the opposite direction.

11 May 2010

It was an exciting day anticipating the arrival of the Nairobi Nursery orphans. Lesanju’s group were led a short distance away to await the arrival of their Nursery friends. Edie’s group (minus Emily and some of the others) arrived at the Stockades and sampled the new mudwallow, which they enjoyed before leaving for the Western side of the hill, obviously bent on meeting up with Emily’s group. Soon the trucks carrying the new arrivals drew into the Unloading Bay, whilst Lesanju’s group were busy taking a mudbath and dusting themselves. As soon as the new arrivals walked out of their respective truck, they were greeted very warmly by the Voi group, especially Lesanju, Lempaute, Sinya, Siria and Kenia, who remembered them well from their Nursery time. Wasessa was focused on Tassia, and never had such close ties as the others with the new arrivals. Kimana felt the heat of Tsavo, and jumped straight into the drinking trough to cool down, taking his milk whilst standing in the water. All then enjoyed wallowing together after which they were taken to the foot of Mazinga Hill. Siria had a soft spot for Kimana and Kenia and Lesanju remained close to Dida and Ndii. Ndii felt the heat and had water coming from her mouth , so the group returned several times to cool off in the Stockade mudbath. It always takes Nairobi Nursery newcomers a little while to adjust to the change in temperature between the highlands of Nairobi, and the low country of Tsavo.

12 May 2010

Having taken their morning milk, the orphans left the Stockades. Kimana and Ndii were still attached to their Keepers, but Dida was more independent and happy with the older elephants, who were very attentive to the new arrivals. The new arrivals were very attached to the Voi Keepers, who had been with them in the Nairobi Nursery a few months ago, so they were happy to be reunited with them again. All thoroughly enjoyed the noon mudbath due to the heat of Tsavo, Sinya taking care of little Kimana, softly urging him into the deeper part of the wallow, but instead he decided to leave it when Lesanju escorted him to the soil pile for a dusting session. The orphans fed close to the wallow for the rest of the day, frequently going in to cool themselves. In the evening Kenia and Taveta joined the newcomers for the night leaving the established orphans in the top stockade with Tassia who is Wasessa’s special baby.

13 May 2010

When the orphans reached the main Park feeding grounds, Mzima and Siria engaged one another in a Pushing Match hoping to attract the others, but instead they clustered around their Keepers. There was contention over the Leadership of the new arrivals, Lesanju coming up against Kenia, especially over Kimana, who is the smallest. All enjoyed the mudbath, and returned happily to the Stockades in the evening.

14 May 2010

It was a cool day, with Wasessa and Shimba urging the herd to climb Mazinga hill. At noon the orphans came for their milk in two groups, Kenia, Taveta, Mzima, Shimba and Siria in the first batch, while Tassia waited for Wasessa who came in the second group. At the mudbath Siria, Wasessa and Mzima were the bathing stars of the day rolling in the water wonderfully, while the others watched from the sidelines. During the afternoon, they all browsed their way back to the Stockades.

15 May 2010

The new arrivals have been the centre of attention for all the Voi Keeper Dependent orphans making Tassia more possessive of his adopted “mother”, Wasessa, engaging Taveta in a fight when he came close to Wasessa. Wasessa separated the two, Taveta seeking shelter under Siria. In the evening the new arrivals wanted to return to the Stockades ahead of time, but the Keepers kept them back.

16 May 2010

On another hot day, the orphans browsed under shade as much as possible. Kenia is very focused on Kimana, so Lesanju concentrated on befriending Dida, feeding close to her throughout the day and treating her to loving gestures, laying a trunk gently across Dida’s back. Kenia led the group back to the Stockades in the evening.

17 May 2010

Competition for the new babies continues with Ndii choosing to keep close to the Keepers. On the way to the mudbath and milk venue, Shimba and Mzima lagged behind the others, playfully engaging one another in a pushing game on the way.

18 May 2010

The competition for Leadership became more pronounced today, with Kenia separating Kimana from Lesanju, and persuading Taveta, Shimba, Sinya, and Lempaute to join her group, leaving Lesanju with the rest. They rejoined later, Kenia paying close attention to Kimana and Lesanju still concentrating on Dida. They all had a lot of fun in the mudbath, the older females very attentive to their chosen favourites. In the evening Mzima led the group back home.

19 May 2010

During a normal motorized ex Orphan monitoring patrol, we came across Emily’s group and Irima lagging behind, limping slightly accompanied by Nyiro and Burra. Emily’s wound is healing rapidly.

20 May 2010

Dida, Kimana and Ndii are now integrating well with the others, and not being so clinging to the Keepers. Dida’s condition has improved noticeably. Emily’s group came to the Stockades at 6 p.m. when the Keeper Dependent orphans were already in their Stockades for the night, so the greetings were trunk waves. Emily’s group enjoyed a hand-out of Copra, and then moved off.

21 May 2010

The orphans assembled outside their Night Stockades in readiness for the days browsing. Kimana and Ndii led the group towards the Northern side of Mazinga hill, but encountered a dikdik on the way, which sent them tearing back to their Keepers! The older orphans and the Keepers comforted and reassured them. In the Stockades, Siria kept trying to mount little Tassia, who was then moved to the lower stockade with Kenia’s group, leaving Wasessa at the top.

22 May 2010

In the morning Wasessa left her milk bottle and ran to collect Tassia, who welcomed her with happy charges and screams, after which Wasessa returned to take her milk having established that Tassia was fine. They later fed close to one another for the entire day. In the evening the Keepers tried again to separate the two so that Tassia could be in with Kenia’s group, and not be pestered by Siria.

23 May 2010

Kenia is besotted on Kimana, who is allowed to suckle her ears, and screams loudly when Kenia moves to interrupt his ear suckling. Lesanju stood by jealously, but seems to have given up trying to change that close relationship.

24 May 2010

The orphans emerged in a happy mood today, and all fed peacefully until Kenia and Kimana led the herd to the waterhole. Taveta lay down in the shallows hoping to entice the new arrivals to climb on him, but instead Kenia came to sit on him, which irritated him. Meanwhile, Lempaute joined little Kimana at the soil bath, but Kenia rapidly came over to reclaim him.

25 May 2010

It was a peaceful browsing day along the Southern side of Mazinga hill for the orphans. They returned for a wallow at the Stockades where they took their milk and Ndii introduced the others to a rock scratching game. In the afternoon they fed along the eastern side of the hill before returning in the evening.

26 May 2010

The orphans browsed calmly throughout the morning. At the mudbath Mzima, Lesanju and Wasessa hurried into the wallow and lay down. Mzima and Kimana went to climb over them, but Mzima was intercepted by Siria and engaged in a Pushing Game instead. Lesanju led the group home in the evening, with Ndii following the Keepers.

27 May 2010

As soon as the Stockade gates were opened, Lesanju, Kenia and Wasessa went to take possession of their adopted babies, Lesanju taking Dida, Kenia taking Kimana and Wasessa taking Tassia, leaving Sinya to take the lead. Out in the field Shimba and Taveta enjoyed playing together. At the mudbath the close attachments continued, Kenia escorting Kimana and Dida out of the wallow, with Lesanju moving following, quickly taking over Dida. The orphans fed slowly making their way back to the Stockades in the evening.

28 May 2010

It was a cloudy morning, with a promising possibility of rain. Shimba, Mzima and Siria decided to forage on the high ground above the KWS offices. Sinya, who was following, stepped on a loose rock which tumbled down the hill, frightening the orphans who all began screaming! The Keepers had to calm them, and brought them down the hill for their milk at noon. The afternoon was spent feeding along the Eastern side of the hill.

29 May 2010

There were rain showers in the morning as the orphans went to feed in the main Park. They warmed themselves up by lying on the warm soil, when Siria accidentally lay on Tassia’s front leg, making him scream. Wasessa came to the rescue rapidly, and took Tassia away from the others to feed alongside her. The orphans enjoyed playing in the rain puddles throughout the day, so were not interested in the mudbath.

30 May 2010

The orphans left the stockades on a cold and cloudy morning, but temperatures rose as the day progressed, so the orphans began to make their way to the mudbath. Siria and Mzima were first in, striking the water with their trunks, which enticed Ndii to follow suit. Mzima tried to mount onto her, so she left screaming, prompting Lesanju and Lempaute to come to the rescue. All fed peacefully for the rest of the day.

31 May 2010

Taveta and Tassia enjoyed a wonderful game of hide and seek after the noon mudbath, burying the difference they had over proximity to Wasessa. Wasessa has a soft spot for Taveta as well, now that the big girls are concentrating on the new arrivals. Kenia and Kimana are inseparable now, leaving Lesanju and Lempaute both wanting Dida, and Ndii still more attached to the Keepers than any of the other elephants. Many wild elephants have moved from the Park onto the neighbouring Ranches. Emily’s group has not been absent from the Mazinga Hill area for a week now, and Shira has not returned, obviously still with the wild herd with whom she went off.