Keepers' Diaries, May 2013

Voi Reintegration Unit

It has been an action-packed month for the Voi Keeper Dependent unit, who have enjoyed a great deal of attention from Emily’s Ex Orphan herd in the habit of turning up on most days, either all together, or in Splinter Groups to partake of the Supplements handed out for the Juniors each morning. Ndara, now healed from the poisoned arrow wounds, is back as one of them. The Ex Orphans are all very interested in the progress of Shimba, who is still recovering from his lion mauling, Big Boy Lolokwe making a special solo journey just to check up on him. Should the Juniors already have left by the time the Ex Orphans arrive, any hand-out leftovers are eagerly hoovered up and, if they are lucky, even a fresh batch provided! Previously the Ex Orphans have missed meeting up with little Panda who has been elsewhere browsing with her little zebra during their visits. However, they met her on the 3rd when Mweya, Sweet Sally and Thoma were eager to take possession of her, and since then always try and seek her out. Panda has formed a close bond of friendship with Shimba as well as her little orphaned zebra companion “Aruba”.

01 May 2013

With a rumbled greeting, the Ex Orphan under the leadership of Emily arrived just as the supplements were being produced for the Juniors. All socialized with the Juniors before enjoying the hand-out, Big Boy Lolokwe resting his trunk lovingly on Ex Orphan Seraa’s back and Ex Orphan Irima with a soft spot for Kenia. A wild Boy who came in with the Ex Orphan group enjoyed a Pushing Match against Mzima, watched by all the others. Lesanju then urged her “family” away from the Ex Orphans, trailed by Mweya and Thoma for a while. The rest of the day proceeded as usual for the Juniors.

02 May 2013

There is always a lot of competition over the supplements each morning when a Keeper has to stand between the bigger elephants - Lesanju, Wasessa, Sinya, Lempaute and Mzima and the smaller ones, so that the smaller elephants can get their fair share! It is humbling that one frail human can control 5 Big Elephants who tower over him and who are greedy for the supplements! Even one of the Junior Elephants could flatten him if they so wished! Once the Younger elephants have had their share, the Keeper stands aside, and the Big Elephants move rapidly in. Although Rombo is friendly with Taveta the two engaged in a vigorous Test of Strength while Kivuko separated herself from the rest of the herd. Dabassa whilst seeking his friend Layoni for a Match, inadvertently pushed Kivuko, who was furious with him, and forced him to race off, pursing him for a short distance in revenge. The rest of the day progressed normally.

03 May 2013

The Ex Orphans again arrived in time to partake of the Supplements, accompanied by a different wild bull, who was very affectionate towards little Ella, the wild-born calf of Edie. He placed his trunk lovingly on the baby’s back, and shared the Copra hand-out with her. It was the first time the Ex Orphans had met little Panda, who has been browsing closer to the Stockades along with her little zebra friend, not yet sufficiently robust to accompany the others. Mweya was particularly excited to meet Panda, who is smaller than the Ex Orphans’ two wild-born babies, Eve and Ella. Mweya escorted Panda to the Copra Cake pile and later left with her and was reluctant to release her when the Keepers went to retrieve her. Panda is still milk dependent, and too young to be hijacked into the wild unit! Taveta and Ex Orphan Thoma enjoyed time together, drinking side by side at the trough and later engaging one another in a Pushing Game. As usual Lesanju managed to urge her unit away from the Ex Orphans, who remained at the compound, but later turned up to join the Juniors at the Big Waterhole, which was not popular with Lesanju. Wasessa put on a spirited display in the mudbath, congratulated by Ex Orphan Seraa who placed her trunk over Wasessa’s back the moment she emerged. Wasessa began to trail the Ex Orphans as they made their way to the Voi river, but returned later. Meanwhile Dabassa enjoyed a dustbath with the Ex Orphans’ wild boy. Kivuko led the group back in the evening.

04 May 2013

The Juniors enjoyed protracted Stockade Games at the compound today, Lesanju eager to take them out to browse. There Kenia separated Ndii, Layoni, Kivuko, Dabassa and Taveta to browse away from the main group, but all teamed up when it was time to head to the mudbath venue at noon. The mudbath was brief, since it was cool, and later the orphans browsed their way back in he evening, Tassia and Taveta taking time out in a head-butting session.

05 May 2013

Today the Juniors browsed the North side of Mazinga Hill, as the Ex Orphans came from the Water Pipeline side in search of them, but missed meeting up with them. Instead Morani diverted the Ex Orphans to meet up with a small wild herd instead with whom they enjoyed a lot of fun before moving to the Big Waterhole. Lesanju’s group came later, and did not meet up with the Ex Orphans today. Wasessa seems to be focusing again on Tassia for her chosen favourite, now that Emsaya has joined the wild elephants.

06 May 2013

Today it was time again to clean and dress Shimba’s wounds, a procedure watched by Kenia and Ndii, who came to lay their trunks lovingly over his back once it was over to comfort him. Although Shimba has the longest tusks, despite the pain, he allows the Keepers to clean and dress his wounds, which is very humbling. He later enjoyed the Supplements with Panda, the others having left for the field to browse. The mudbath was given a miss today, it being too cool so browsing continued for the remainder of the day, ending up at the western foot of Mazinga hill.

07 May 2013

It was an uneventful morning for the Juniors who concentrated on browsing. It being too cool even for a wallow at noon. Tassia and Taveta enjoyed the usual Pushing Match which was won by Taveta. Later there was competition between Dabassa and Layoni as to who should lead the column back home, Layoni screaming loudly every time he was overtaken by Dabassa!

08 May 2013

Today Sinya assumed Leadership of the Junior group, something obviously condoned by Lesanju, who did not object. At noon Kenia led the milk dependent group to their milk, and later all enjoyed a brief wallow with more emphasis on a dustbath. Lempaute and Wasessa had a difference during dusting in which Sinya intervened. Wasessa then went to spend time with Tassia, who is obviously again her chosen favourite.

09 May 2013

On a beautiful morning Dabassa and Taveta found themselves left behind involved in a wrestling match, and had to run to catch up. They enjoyed the Big Waterhole today, Mzima, Layoni and Tassia wallowing stars of the day while Sinya played during the dusting session, watched interestingly by Kenia. The day ended with Rombo and Tassia enjoying a Pushing Match.

10 May 2013

The Juniors left the Stockades for the browsing area earlier than usual today. Ex Orphans Emily, her calf Eve and Thoma and Icholta came ahead of the others to check on Shimba and Panda, Emily rumbling a greeting to Panda when she came for her milk, and stood beside her as she took it. The other Ex Orphans then arrived, Seraa also anxious to be with Panda who was being monopolized by Emily. Today only Big Boy Morani was with the females of Emily’s unit. As Emily watched little Eve enjoy a dustbath, Seraa and Thoma rushed forward to meet Shimba as he walked towards the compound to enjoy his milk and porridge. Meanwhile Ex Orphan Nanny Sweet Sally assisted by Irima, on the other side of the electric divider, were having a difficult time to prevent little Eve from jumping into the water trough again, something she did as a newborn the day Emily first brought her to meet the Keepers! Out in the field the Juniors cooled themselves in a rainwater puddle by splashing water over their bodies, before moving to the Big Waterhole, where again Taveta and Tassia enjoyed a wrestling game, overseen by Kenia.

11 May 2013

The orphans left the Stockades as usual on a dull day, and concentrated on browsing throughout the morning. It was too cool for a mudbath, so browsing continued after the milk dependent babies had fed. Sinya and Leseanju led the Juniors to browse the slopes of Mazinga Hill in the afternoon, coming down at 4.30 p.m. in preparation for the return to the Stockades. Taveta and Rombo, who have become close friends, enjoyed a Pushing Match which was interrupted by Tassia. Dabassa then pushed Rombo from behind so Rombo gave chase and engaged him instead, emerging the winner! Dabassa led the Juniors back in the evening.

12 May 2013

Shimba came to enjoy his Supplements, which are given to him away from the others to avoid any shoving of his painful lion mauls and also separate from that of Panda. Little Aruba, the zebra orphan, also enjoys the Copra cake, but does not want to be in amongst the elephants for obvious reasons. Instead she waits patiently for them to finish before moving in to get her share. Taveta and Rombo then enjoyed a charging game, chasing each other around the compound until Taveta attempted to mount onto Rombo, who put up a brave resistance. Taveta then ran off, but bumped into Wasessa who was guarding Layoni and this held him up so that Rombo had a chance to mount him instead! Wasessa then turned her attention to Panda before leaving to browse. All enjoyed a brief wallow at the Big Waterhole at 2 p.m. followed by a dusting session.

13 May 2013

The Juniors enjoyed browsing along the fenceline today until about 8 a.m. after which they posed for a photo session, Lempaute stretching her trunk to the camera, Wasessa spreading her ears wide open to boost her size, while Kenia stood majestically and Lesanju coiled her trunk! They then climbed the hill where they browsed for the rest of the day, a light shower anchoring them up there, so that they even missed coming down for their milk at noon. Back at the Stockades Ex Orphans Mweya, Sweet Sally and Lolokwe turned up to see how Shimba was doing, aware of the time that Shimba always appears at the compound for his noon milk. The three Ex Orphans remained with Shimba, eager to coax him to come away with them, but Shimba went back to his Stockade where soft greens were provided for him, along with a pile of dry earth to dust himself. Sally and Mweya watched him closely as he walked away, before Mweya went to scratch against a rock and Sally went to join Panda who was inside the fence. She reached her trunk through the electric wire to try and persuade Panda to come and join her, but Panda was having none of it. The two Ex Orphans then left heading westwards presumably to join up again with Emily’s main Ex Orphan herd. Since there were many wild elephant herds in the area, along with a wild couple busy mating at the base, Lesanju and the Juniors chose to remain up the hill.

14 May 2013

After the morning supplements, Stockade games proceeded as usual, before the group moved off to the foot of Mazinga hill, led by Lesanju. Although there were many wild herds around, Lesanju made sure that the orphans did not meet up with them again steering them higher up the hill and browsing quietly, just the flapping of ears to betray their presence. They came down the hill only at 4 p.m. Wasessa leading the way back.

15 May 2013

The Ex Orphans arrived to finish what was left of the Copra Cake supplement after the Juniors had already left, Icholta come ahead of the others soon joined by Emily and her calf, Ndara and Morani and later Big Boy Lolokwe. The rest of the herd came later only for water. Meanwhile, at the browsing area Rombo and Dabassa split from the others to embark on a Pushing Match behind a large boulder but their competition was interrupted by an elephant bellow from the other side of the rock, which sent the two scampering off. When they turned to investigate the cause of the elephant scream, they spotted Wasessa chasing after Taveta and understood that he had obviously pushed her favourite, Tassia. Lesanju also turned up to investigate the cause of the commotion. 20 minutes later Ex Orphan bull Irima accompanied by a wild male friend briefly joined the Juniors who began trailing the two boys, but Wasessa rushed forward to prevent that happening.

16 May 2013

The Ex Orphans again came to the Stockades after the Youngsters had already left. Mweya was first to arrive and immediately went in search of Panda and Shimba, but failed to locate them. She then returned to the compound where Ex Orphan Edie and her calf, Ella, along with Icholta and Lolokwe were busy finishing off the leftover Copra cake. They received a bonus of a fresh hand-out from the Keepers. Lolokwe engaged Sweet Sally in a Pushing Game after which Big Boy Lolokwe went to guard little Ella as she drank from the Stockade trough since Nannies Seraa and Thoma were busy browsing along the fenceline. The Ex Orphans then went in search of the Juniors, recruiting two wild teenaged boys into their herd en route, and meeting up with the Juniors at the Big Waterhole. Lolokwe barred the two wild Attachments from going into the waterhole with the Youngsters. They had to wait until both the Ex Orphans and the Juniors had left! As the Juniors were walking off, Seraa remained with them for a while before returning to catch up with Emily’s herd again, who were heading to the Voi River.

17 May 2013

Shimba, Kenia, Ndii, Rombo, and Panda are the first sitting for the Copra Cake handout each morning, followed by the Bigger Elephants who tend to be somewhat “pushy” at such times. The Ex Orphans then began arriving in small Splinter Groups in time for the hand-out, headed by Ex Orphan Morani who was welcomed by Tassia. Last to turn up were Ex Orphans Laikipia and Irima In the meantime Lesanju had managed to steer her group away from the Ex Orphans, settling down to browse the base of Mazinga hill. On the way to the Big Waterhole at noon the orphans met a wild cow and her two calves, one a 5 year old and the other newborn, also on their way to the waterhole. There the wild cow left her small baby with Lesanju, Wasessa and Lempaute and went in to cool herself down. The three girls were all desperate to monopolize the small calf, which unerved the baby who screamed. This brought the mother out of the water at the double to chase the three orphans away from her calf.

18 May 2013

All the Juniors underwent a de-worming today, parasites having been spotted in their dung the previous day. After the Orphans had left, Shimba and Panda were browsing around the compound when the Ex Orphans began appearing, initially Edie and her baby, Ella, who rushed forward to greet the two Juniors. Edie’s baby Ella charged the nearby Keeper who was documenting the encounter but when the Keeper failed to budge, she gave up and returned to her mother. Ex Orphans Thoma, Seraa and Mweya were next to arrive, who also greeted Shimba and Panda warmly before joining Big Boys Lolokwe and Irima who were busy at the Copra leftovers. Sweet Sally then arrived accompanied by a very nervous wild boyfriend, who kept his distance and paced impatiently up and down waiting for for Sally to rejoin him, but she was in no hurry and took her time! The wild bull was visibly surprised to see how the Ex Orphans reacted to the human Keepers! Last to arrive were Emily, Eve, Laikipia and Ndara who took a drink before all then headed out again.

19 May 2013

This morning Mzima gave chase to the resident herd of impalas, who were feeding near the large Enclosure. Layoni herd his trumpets, and came to join him reinforced by Lempaute. After Stockade games which lasted about an hour, Dabassa led the Juniors to browse up Mazinga hill, but his lead was overtaken by Sinya after he failed to find a suitable ascent. Lesanju then came to take over and lead the group up the hill where Mzima and Lempaute found a spot covered in wild flowers and Taveta and Layoni enjoyed creepers. Having browsed for about two hours, the Juniors took a rest under shade, Taveta and Rombo enjoying their usual pastime of wrestling. Sinya led the way to the Big Waterhole at noon where all the orphans had a lot of fun, since it was a hot day. The afternoon was spent browsing their way back.

20 May 2013

Shimba always takes his time, and was last at the Copra Cake hand-out this morning, as the others were about to leave led by Lesanju, pausing en route to enjoy the tall grass in the large Recuperation Enclosure. At noon the mudbath took place at the Stockade compound, after which the Juniors took to shade due to the intense heat. When temperatures dropped at about 3 p.m. they resumed browsing for the rest of the day.

21 May 2013

the Ex Orphans were browsing the base of Mazinga Hill at first light, and did not bother to turn up to share the Copra Cake hand-out today. Later they came only to drink before joining the Juniors at the Eastern side of the hill and remain with them until it was time for the Juniors to move to the mudbath. Kivuko and Dabassa were centre stage at the mudbath joined by Taveta and Kenia. Kenia was involved in a sliding game while Taveta caused mayhem in the pool by trying to mount those in the mud. Kenia moved in to punish him by driving him out, warning him as he tried to resist with outspread ears and her trunk curled under her chin. Having got the message that Kenia meant bsiness, Taveta took himself to the far corner of the pool while Taveta and Rombo enjoyed a Pushing Match on the banks and Mzima sat down in the dustbath to scratch his buttocks.

22 May 2013

After their milk and supplements, Lesanju led the Juniors out to browse, Wasessa and Tassia pausing at some tasty vegetation on the way. Having noticed that the others had gone, they began bellowing and trumpeting until a Keeper returned to escort them to the others who were already half way up the hill. Lesanju saw their approach and rushed forward to welcome them back. The orphans enjoyed the Big Waterhole at noon, followed by the usual dustbath before the afternoon browsing session and their return in the evening.

23 May 2013

Emily’s Ex Orphans passed by the Stockades at l0 a.m., accompanied by 4 wild Bulls. Having taken water, they all headed towards the eastern side of the Hill led by Icholta who was obviously hoping to meet up with Lesanju’s Juniors. Ex Orphan Tsavo walked behind the Big Bulls and Laikipia made sure he was sheltered from them by Emily. Meanwhile the Juniors remained at the top of the Hill, coming down to wallow led by Wasessa only at 2.30 p.m. All were enjoying a wallow at the Big Waterhole when they were startled by the sudden appearance of Icholta, who loves the Juniors, and who had left Emily’s group to join them. Icholta reassured them with a soft friendly rumble, after which Kivuko, Rombo and Dabassa made space for the Big Girl and Dabassa chose a piece of wood with which to play in the water. Mzima tried to engaged Icholta in a Pushing Match, but found himself pushed clear of the pool. Upon finding the drinking bins empty which they themselves had drained, Wasessa, Dabassa and Taveta began kicking the bins around. All then resumed feeding for the rest of the afternoon, Icholta eventually leaving the Juniors to return to Emily’s unit.

24 May 2013

Emily, her calf, Eve, and Mweya visited the Stockades this morning, Mweya as usual searching for Panda and Rombo, while Emily took a nap resting her trunk against the rock near the water trough. After about an hour Emily, her calf and Mweya left the Stockades to return to the rest of the group who were browsing at the base of Mazinga Hill. At noon Panda and Shimba came for their midday milk ration after which they enjoyed a dustbath together before going through the Spring Gate to browse within the fenced area.

25 May 2013

On a chilly morning the Juniors embarked on their usual Stockade games, Tassia and Taveta engaging one another in a tough Pushing Match. Ndii moved in to separate the two boys, but Taveta saw her coming, and took off only to be punished instead by Kenia, who head-butted him hard as he fled past! Later the orphans browsed until noon, when they took a cooling dip, with a second wallow at 3 p.m. on a very hot afternoon.

26 May 2013

Taveta and Rombo enjoyed chasing baboons this morning, after which Kenia and Ndii led he Juniors towards the Eastern side of Mazinga Hill to browse. Before the mudbath Tassia tried to mount onto Taveta who then engaged him in a wrestling match that lasted about 5 minutes. At the waterhole Kenia, Lesanju, Wasessa and Ndii joined Dabassa and Rombo in the pool while Mzima and Sinya watched from sidelines and Sinya and Mzima opted for a dustbath instead. On the way back in the evening the orphans were joined by a friendly wild herd of elephants with whom they browsed happily until Wasessa thought it was time to return, and attempted to lead the Juniors back. However, they were having none of it, and only returned after dark.

27 May 2013

Emily’s group came to the Stockades in the morning again accompanied by wild Bulls whilst Taveta and Rombo were engaged in a wrestling Match. As the wild Bulls came in, all the Juniors halted whatever they were doing at the time to watch the huge Bulls take a drink at the Stockade trough. The entire elephant herd then left together, Thoma obsessed with the Juniors until it was time for their wallow at the Big Waterhole at noon. Emily’s group turned up later after the Juniors had already left.

28 May 2013

After the usual morning milk and supplements, and the Stockade Games, the Juniors browsed until noon when they headed to the Waterhole, led by Kenia. Everyone enjoyed wallowing today before returning to browse until time to return in the evening. There was the Rescue of a new orphan today who was trapped inside a KWS fence erected for Research purposes near the Aruba Lodge. The calf was brought to the Voi Stockades for the night, it being too late for the plane to come from Nairobi that day.

29 May 2013

As soon as the Orphans emerged from their Night Stockades, and before heading out to browse, they all rushed to greet and welcome the new arrival. Emily and her baby Eve then turned up at around 9 a.m. and having taken water, waited until Sweet Sally arrived to join them. The Rescue Plane arrived at 11.30 a.m. and the new orphan left for Nairobi having had a Nuroclav antibiotic to guard against pneumonia.

30 May 2013

Emily’s group again visited the Stockades in the morning and went to quench their thirst. Emily then went to rub her chin on the rock, after which her calf, Eve, copied her and did the same, overseen by Mweya. Icholta, Ndara, Irima and Seraa then turned up to drink. Out in the field the orphans were joined by a wild herd with whom they browsed together, Taveta, Tassia and Rombo engaging wild friends in friendly Pushing Bouts. The Juniors browsed in amongst this friendly herd for the better part of the morning after which they enjoyed a wallow before returning to browse for the afternoon. Layoni was happy to lead the group back in the evening.

31 May 2013

Emily’s group was absent today, which pleased Lesanju because she had her family all to herself! Lempaute then led the Orphans half way up Mazinga Hill to browse where a light shower anchored them until the milk dependent babies heard the tractor and ran down to get their milk, leaving the bigger elephants up the hill. An altercation between Layoni and Dabassa followed when Layoni tried to snatch Dabassa’s share. Afterwards the small orphans returned to join their peers up the hill. Other News:- Shimba’s wounds are almost healed now, although his one earhole seems to have closed, which is a worry and something that may need surgical intervention later. He has lost some condition during his long painful convalescence but is enjoying milk and supplements as well as cut browse to build him up again. Meanwhile he enjoys the close companionship of little Panda, with whom he has formed a close bond of friendship. The two browse together in the fenceline and around the Stockades rather than join the others who venture further afield on a daily basis.