Keepers' Diaries, May 2012

Voi Reintegration Unit

Sadly, the long expected rains have all but failed throughout the whole of Tsavo this year, so the orphans, and all wildlife, especially the elephants, face another very grueling dry season unless unseasonal rain relieves the situation. Nevertheless the Voi orphans have made the most of what little sporadic rain did green up the pasture briefly.

01 May 2012

The orphans fed calmly throughout the morning. Unusually, at the mudbath, Sinya, who usually does not favour water, was first in, watched by all the others who then joined in and spent longer than usual in the water. Rombo led the orphans back in the evening.

02 May 2012

Whilst browsing this morning Layoni and Dabassa were curious about some birds’ eggs laid on the ground where they were feeding. The Keepers encouraged them away so that they did not disturb the nest. Since it was cool, none of the orphans wallowed today. Ndii enjoyed browsing close to Emsaya during the afternoon until it was time to head back, Ndii leading the way home.

03 May 2012

It was a hot day, so Rombo and Dabassa sought shade under a hug boulder on the slopes of Mazinga hill, joined by Lempaute and Taveta. Emily and Edie’s Ex Orphaned group joined the Youngsters briefly just before noon, when Icholta and Sweet Sally escorted them to the mudbath venue. Ex Orphan Lolokwe joined them later, scaring all the Youngsters who ran away, going faster and further as he tried to follow them! Emily’s group caught up with them later. Lempaute wanted to wrestle with Emily’s calf, Eve, but Sweet Sally and Vita (Nannies of the day) would not allow this.

04 May 2012

Lesanju and Sinya contested Leadership of the Juniors today, won by Lesanju. All went well and as usual throughout the day.

05 May 2012

The orphans were joined by a herd of impalas as they browsed today, but dispersed the impala herd with bush-bashing when a male gave his guttural call. All enjoyed the mudbath today at the Big Waterhole.

06 May 2012

The orphans browsed up Mazinga hill, after spending a little time with Ex Orphan Ndara, who is still recuperating at the Stockades from the operation on her foot, following a poacher’s arrow that penetrated the joint. The Juniors climbed to the top of the hill and came down on the Northern side, missing out on their noon milk and the usual mudbath.

07 May 2012

Layoni and Rombo climbed the hill again after their morning milk, and were soon at the top. Icholta came alone to join the rest of the herd who were feeding at the bottom of the hill. Icholta is believed to be pregnant and Dabassa and Shimba took an interest in sniffing her genitals. Later she went to the Stockades for water and a hand-out of Copra Cake before heading for the Pipeline area to locate her peers. Meanwhile Layoni and Rombo remained up the hill browsing, missing their noon milk feed and the mudbath. They came down in the evening to join the others in their Night Stockade.

08 May 2012

It was a cool morning, so the orphans declined to wallow, instead splashing some water over their bodies, although Kivuko and Taveta sat in the water. Shimba then joined them for a dustbath, after which all browsed peacefully for the remainder of the day.

09 May 2012

Today was a warm day, so the orphans had fun in the mudbath, especially Wasessa and Taveta who put on a good display for all the others. Rombo then mounted onto him, followed by Sinya and Mzima, but Taveta emerged victorious, congratulated by Kivuko, who intertwined trunks with him.

10 May 2012

All the orphans focused on browsing today. Taveta wanted to challenge Rombo to a Pushing Bout, but Rombo ignored him.

11 May 2012

Following their morning milk, the orphans had fun around the compound playing the usual Stockade games before heading out to browse in single file. The mudbath was filled with activity today – Tassia and Shimba teaming up to out-do Taveta while Ndii rolled in the water like a mudfish, cheered on by Dabassa, Layoni, Rombo and Kenia. Kivuko then challenged Ndii who was already coming out while Emsaya decided to bathe away from the competitors.

12 May 2012

Kivuko and Rombo enjoyed a game of Hide and Seek at the Compound while Ndii and Dabassa enjoyed rolling down an incline. Meanwhile Shimba, Mzima and Layoni kept Ndara company in her Hospital before catching up with the others as they headed out to browse. It was a cool day – inclement weather for the mudbath.

13 May 2012

Layoni, Shimba and Mzima climbed high up the hill leaving their colleagues half way up, and remained there after the others headed to the waterhole at mudbath time. They reluctantly came down in the evening, urged to do so by their Keepers who were concerned about safety.

14 May 2012

Aruba, the female Ex Orphan kudu accompanied by her bouncing baby came with two wild friends to the Stockade at 6.30 p.m. Mkuki was not with them. Aruba’s baby was very shy, and ran off as soon as it spotted the Keepers, followed by the wild females and her mother. Today, a female Elephant calf of about 4 years of age left a passing wild herd to join the Orphans as they were approaching their noon mudbath venue. She settled happily back into the Orphaned herd. We believe that this is Shira, who went off with a wild herd some years ago. She returned with the Orphans to the Stockades in the evening, going back in with them.

15 May 2012

Shira came out of the Stockade this morning, in amongst the others, a little shy of the human Keepers. The other orphans appear to have forgotten her, Lesanju and Sinya attempting to drive her out of the herd, fearful that she would usurp their Leadership role! Shira stayed put, taking a great interest in Tassia. She accompanied the Orphans to the mudbath, but did not go in, instead keeping a close eye on the Keepers. She returned with the herd in the evening and went back into the Stockades along with the others.

16 May 2012

As soon as the Stockade Gates were opened, Shira went to look for Tassia. She was more settled today, and more comfortable with the Keepers, but returning in the evening, she charged one of the Keepers, knocking him down. He sustained minor injuries and was treated at the Voi Hospital. During her wild years, Shira ha learnt not to trust humans.

17 May 2012

The orphans browsed the Southern side of the hill today, returning to the Stockade compound at noon where some local school children awaited them. Later in the afternoon the orphans browsed in amongst a large herd of impalas until Taveta chased the antelopes off, after which Tassia challenged him to a pushing match. Sinya interrupted the bout.

18 May 2012

The orphans enjoyed their mudbath today in the Big Waterhole, but Mzima is missing his friend Siria, who joined Emily’s group of Ex Orphans sometime ago. Taveta targeted Layoni and Rombo, climbing onto Rombo, but Lempaute spotted him and drove him out of the pool. Kenia led the way back in the evening.

19 May 2012

Shira is still in the Junior herd, and is settling in well with her peers now until a wild herd of elephants passed by on the northern side of Mazinga hill at l0.30 a.m. and she joined them. The wild elephants gave her a very warm welcome and went with her to the Orphans Middle Mudbath where they all took water before moving off with Shira amongst them towards the Voi River. Another wild calf within the group was particularly happy to have Shira back.

20 May 2012

The Keepers undertook a motorized recce to try and locate Shira and the wild herd, but amongst the many herds that were browsing around Mazinga hill, it was difficult to identify Shira, who had spent just a short while with us.

21 May 2012

Layoni made the Keepers laugh when he grabbed his second milk bottle and ran off with it, gulping down his milk far from the Keepers, and dropping the bottle once it was empty! All the orphans enjoyed their mudbath today. Mpenzi and her two calves were sited browsing happily near the Mzima pipeline road below the Voi Safari Lodge.

22 May 2012

The orphans browsed high up Mazinga hill again, and came down for a late bottle of milk, where some local school children were waiting to see them. They took their mudbath at the Middle Waterhole today, and browsed the Eastern side of the hill until Lesanju led them back in the evening.

23 May 2012

Ndii and Taveta were enjoying a joint mudbath today until Taveta sat on Ndii’s head, almost drowning her. She managed to offload him and went to join her colleagues who were browsing nearby.

24 May 2012

Taveta and Tassia engaged one another today in a tough contest to settle an old score, but Shimba separated them, threatening to prod them with his long tusks. Shimba celebrated success with a trumpet blast! In the evening Dabassa led the herd back to the Stockades.

25 May 2012

Today Lesanju, Shimba, Mzima and Wasessa would have liked to climb the hill but their comrades chose to remain at the foot, so they opted to remain with them. They took their mudbath at the Middle Waterhole, after which they browsed their way back home in the evening.

26 May 2012

After the usual Stockade Games, the Juniors headed out to browse in the main Park area, reaching the waterhole at noon. Kivuko and Mzima enjoyed scratching their bodies against the banks while Rombo and Ndii slid in on their buttocks. Emsaya and Layoni opted for a dust-bath instead. All moved slowly back in the evening.

27 May 2012

The orphans browsed the Western side of the hill today, took their mudbath at noon before moving to the northern side. There Tassia ambushed Taveta, knocking him down a rocky slope, so the Keepers rushed to save him. Taveta screamed, and no doubt will seek to settle the score at some future date. Tassia and Taveta have always been rivals.

28 May 2012

The Orphans had a wonderful noon mudbath today, Layoni enjoying climbing onto Taveta which Taveta tolerated, but having been dislodged, Layoni took the precaution of running out of the waterhole in case Taveta sought revenge! Dabassa remained in the middle in deep water, but Mzima and Ndii decided against going in, instead rubbing their bodies against a tree.

29 May 2012

Wasessa emerged from the Stockades this morning, limping, so the Keepers sprayed her foot thinking she must have cramp. She improved later. Tassia and Shimba teamed up to romp in the mudbath at noon, but Taveta gave Rombo such a hard time that he decided to vacate the mudbath and move out for a dust-bath instead.

30 May 2012

The Orphans browsed peacefully all morning. At the mudbath Kenia paid Emsaya special attention until Wasessa moved in swiftly to reclaim her special baby. Kenia sought alliance with Dabassa who promptly tried to mount onto her, but Mzima moved in to drive him away and have a go himself!

31 May 2012

Tassia demonstrated his strength today in an unusual way – pushing his forehead against the waterhole walls during the mudbath hour. Taveta was first in the pool, soon joined by Tassia, this time seemingly on friendly terms! Layoni dug mud up with his foot and tossed it on the bathers, which prompted them to come out. Emsaya played apart from her more exuberant colleagues and today it was Rombo who led the herd back in the evening. Notes:- Ndara has shown great improvement. The swelling on her injured foot has subsided and she can now move a little further from the Stockades and come and go at her own pleasure. The body wounds caused by another two arrows are also healing well.