Keepers' Diaries, May 2011

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Voi Reintegration Unit

Since the only explanation available to us after the postmortem on Kudup seemed to be an absorption malfunction, and since Dida also shows signs of being somewhat fragile, we decided to remove the Replacer Milk from her diet, and concentrate instead on Coconut which contains the correct type of fat for an elephant, plus other supplements such as Horsemeal, Dairy Cubes and Lucerne. Dida is now 3 years old but still somewhat stunted for her age. However, she loves her Coconut “milk” diet and according to Joseph Sauni, the Head Voi Keeper, seems to be a better shape, losing the bloated stomach look she had before.

Since the only explanation available to us after the postmortem on Kudup seemed to be an absorption malfunction, and since Dida also shows signs of being somewhat fragile, we decided to remove the Replacer Milk from her diet, and concentrate instead on Coconut which contains the correct type of fat for an elephant, plus other supplements such as Horsemeal, Dairy Cubes and Lucerne. Dida is now 3 years old but still somewhat stunted for her age. However, she loves her Coconut “milk” diet and according to Joseph Sauni, the Head Voi Keeper, seems to be a better shape, losing the bloated stomach look she had before.

This month the Voi orphans have enjoyed a lot of interaction from Emily and her group who have been joining them regularly, not always all together, but often just individuals turning up to join the Juniors. On the 1st it was bulls Burra and Lolokwe, scaring Dida and Ndii by their silent approach, when Lesanju had to move in to reassure the two youngsters with a trunk kiss! On the 8th Emily’s entire group joined the Youngsters, Burra challenging Siria to a wrestling Match and a few days later on the l0th Emily’s group came again, this time with Tsavo amongst them, now sporting sizeable tusks. Tsavo visited the Stockades last month with a wild friend, but this time the wild friend was absent. At first he appeared somewhat reticent around the Stockades, but was soon mingling happily amongst all the others and their attendant Keepers.

On the 11th Solango came alone, joining the Juniors near the Big Waterhole in the evening, and interacting as usual with Siria with whom he forged a strong bond of friendship during the convalescence of his leg. He returned with the Juniors to the Stockades in the evening, and hung around before leaving at midnight. It is rewarding, indeed, to have Solango now healed and able to be out and about again.

On the 16th Emily’s group came to the Stockades at 4 p.m., meeting up with the Juniors as they were making their way back in the evening. A highly charged greeting took place, trumpeting, bellowing and urinating in a mutual expression of joy. Solango enjoyed a wrestle with his friend, Siria. Emily’s entire unit again joined the Juniors early the next morning and on this occasion Siria had Burra as his wrestling partner. The two became so engrossed that they found themselves left behind after the rest of the herd had moved on, and had to run to catch up.

On the 20th when Emily’s group was spotted browsing on the far southern side of Mazinga Hill, Emily’s wild-born baby, Eve, was enjoying close attention from Sweet Sally who is one of her Nannies. And on the 22nd Emily’s group linked up with the Youngsters on the eastern side of the hill and brought them back to the Stockades early for some supplementary feeding at 3.40 p.m. Later the entire herd browsed together, Dida, Ndii and Kenia following Edie’s wild-born baby, Ella, around, but being denied close contact by Nannies Mweya and Vita.

On the 23rd Icholta led a Splinter Group comprised of Bulls Burra, Mpala and Solango to meet up with the Youngsters at the Stockade. Icholta and Mpala took on Siria together, which Siria found somewhat overpowering! On the 25th it was Ndara and again Icholta who turned up without the rest of the unit, Icholta surrounded by the Keeper dependent unit “like a Queen” enjoying being caressed by the touch of the Juniors’ trunks. On the 28th it was Seraa who came alone to escort the Juniors out to browse and spent the entire morning with them, returning with them at noon for their milk feed, and stretching her trunk out to the Keepers as though pleading for a bottle of milk for herself! She left the Youngsters only in the evening as they were returning to their Night Quarters.

The Juniors had a wonderful day on the 30th when they encountered a large wild herd at the Big Waterhole at noon. Siria and Wasessa secured some wild friends for a wrestle in the pool while Mzima and Tassia were absorbed by a small wild calf, but were denied close contact by its mother. Having enjoyed time with the Juniors, the wild herd eventually moved off towards the Voi River but that same evening a large wild cow and her calf, accompanied by a teenaged bull came to drink at the Stockades, but only after the Juniors were already in for the night.

Icholta was back again on the 31st, this time with Mweya who challenged Siria to a wrestle. Lesanju did her utmost, unsuccessfully, to try and persuade her group to leave, obviously visibly anxious that some members might be tempted to go off with the Big Girls when they decided to take themselves off. She was very relieved when that did not happen and when the Big Girls departed again 3 hours later!

May 2011 day to day

01 May

As the Juniors were enjoying their daily ration of supplements, Ex Orphan Bulls Burra and Lolokwe turned up unexpectedly and un-noticed behind them, scaring Ndii and Dida, who were calmed by a “trunk kiss” from the Mini Matriarch, Lesanju. The two Senior Bulls remained with the Juniors throughout the morning, but eventually parted, heading towards the airfield, presumably to meet up with the rest of Emily’s Ex Orphan unit. Siria headed off with them, but the call of milk brought him back to rejoin the Junior set.

Burra at the stockade

Siria following the others

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