Keepers' Diaries, May 2014

Voi Reintegration Unit

During the month of May the orphans went about their business and regular routines as normal. Starting out early in the morning, consuming their milk and supplements, then on out to the field to browse, until eventually ending up at the water hole around noon, to wallow. This was followed by more browsing in the afternoon and a stroll back to the stockade for their evening milk and bed. The climate at the Voi Stockade was varied, ranging from hot sunny days to cloudy, cold days, sometimes so chilly that the orphans didn’t dare venture into the nippy mud bath waters!

01 May 2014

Laikipia arrived early at the stockade early and alone this morning, joining the small ones in copra cake and dairy cubes. He loves the supplements and the keepers often say ‘Laikipia dreams of copra cake and the dairy cubes the whole of the night!’ He have become a firm favorite with the small orphans as he is always calm and reserved around them. He even allowed Panda and Kihari to sniff and smell his genitals with their small trunks. Lesanju group left their idol Laikipia at the stockade as they headed out into the field to browse. Laikipia hung around for more than two hours exploring the whole area. Emily’s group did not turn up to find him so he for decided to follow the small ones in the bush.

02 May 2014

The orphans in Lesanju group were in a happy mood today and marched towards the bush as soon after they had taken their share of the copra cake and the dairy cubes. Emily and the other ex-orphans visited the stockade later that morning accompanied by a big wild elephant bull marching majestically behind them. The wild bull had fantastic, huge tusks. As the ex-orphans were busy drinking water, Lolokwe and Mweya enjoyed a game of buttock scratching close to that water trough. On seeing the big wild bull approaching the water trough, Lolokwe, Laikipia and Irima moved off allowing a safe distance between them and the intimidating bull. They later went on a mission to search the small ones. Mweya and Seraa separated from the ex-orphans, exploring the area and were easily able to locate the small ones. They joined and browsed with them until mid day, eventually they headed off to join their herd.

03 May 2014

It seems Laikipia has included Irima and Moran is his dreams copra cake and the dairy cubes as they joined him at the stockade in this morning for the feast. This caused much excitement for the little ones! The orphans enjoyed hosting the three big boys and participated in some show off games! Rombo mimicked mounting onto Kihari’s back. Kivuko, Dabassa and Mbirikani showed off their expertise in a rock scratching and Naipoki sat on Kivuko stomach as she lay down for soil dusting. Rombo and Layoni engaged in a pushing game, their sole intension being to impress the three big boys. Lesanju was watching the fun and games with some concern but she didn’t seem as worried of the boys as she is of the big girls in Emily herd. The three boys followed the small ones out to the field but walked off towards the water pipe line side as soon after arriving there.

04 May 2014

It was a nice start to the day with Mudanda finishing her milk before going to suckle on Wasessa’s. Mudanda closed her eyes in great enjoyment until Ndii, who was watching everything closely pushed Mudanda away out of jealousy. The orphans later left the stockade for a long day of browsing in the bush. It was fairly cold when they arrived at the waterhole, so they only splashed a little water before returning to browse. Aruba the ex-orphan kudu and her two babies visited the stockade in the evening when the orphan elephants were already in their stables. Aruba’s last born baby was very shy and kept herself hidden.

05 May 2014

The day began with a lot of fun and baby games with both Taveta and Tassia chasing Kenia to mount her. Kenia tried her level best not to be caught by the two and Mzima came to her rescue inserting himself between them separating the two from Kenia. They later strolled off to feed out in the field where they browsed until noon before marching in single file to the mudwallow. They had a lot of fun mudbathing, frolicking and splashing around before heading to the foot of the Msinga hill for the remainder of the day. Emily’s herd visited the stockade in the evening after the youngsters had entered their stockade. They drank water and enjoyed a pile of copra cake before Edie played a pushing game with Lolokwe. Morani and Lolokwe later were busy trying to mount Mweya and Lolokwe succeeded before she ran away with the others following closely behind.

06 May 2014

It was a cold and cloudy morning as the orphans came exited the stockade. They browsed their way to the western side of the stockade eventually reaching the middle water hole by noon. Wasessa, Mudanda, Mzima, Tassia and Taveta who had separated themselves from the others during the browsing session reached the water hole a little earlier than the rest and enjoyed a 20 minute private bath. Lesanju had a quick spray of mud before entering the pool to fully participate in the wallowing activities. Naipoki enjoyed leading the milk dependant orphans back to the stockade in the evening.

07 May 2014

The keepers, smartly dressed in their new uniforms, walked gently behind the orphans as they marched to the far northern side of the stockade for browsing. Lesanju, Lempaute and Sinya made sure no one strayed from the herd to maintain a cohesive unit. They arrived at the water hole that afternoon, but the orphans did not partake in bathing as it was cold and cloudy. A filming crew who were present today enjoyed the whole experience despite the orphans not taking a bath. Mzima, Mbirikani and Panda led the orphans to Msinga hill where they managed to climb half way up Msinga hill whilst Wasessa, Mudanda, Panda and Taveta preferred to browse at the base of the hill. Lesanju was left in the middle of the hill, not knowing which group to follow! Kihari enjoyed leading everyone back to the stockade that evening.

08 May 2014

The orphans left the stockade amid rays of sunshine this morning. Kihari, Ishaq-B and Naipoki attempted to play as soon as they arrived at the browsing grounds but the others were having none of it and kept moving! The orphans arrived at the water hole one hour earlier than usual due to the hot sun beating down on them. They enjoyed a great wallow with Kivuko and Taveta playing some mimic mounting games in the water. Tassia tried to do the same to Kenia who at was lying in the water she was having none of his antics and bounded out of the water chasing him with vengeance! Tassia took refuge under a tree, engaging in a scratching game. The rest of the day was taken up with the usual browsing until evening when Naipoki led everyone back to the stockade. Emily’s herd visited the stockade water trough at noon and Laikipia played a game with Eve before heading back to the park.

09 May 2014

Emily’s herd was back at the stockade early this morning with Mweya, Icholta, Lolokwe and Laikipia being the first members to arrive followed by the rest of the group ten minutes later. Lesanju and Wasessa were busy regrouping their herd before moving on with their normal browsing routine. Mbirikani didn’t want to travel far as she was more intent on filling up her stomach! She instead placed herself in a strategic place linking up with the others as they heading to the water hole at noon. It was cold again today so the did not have a bath. Rombo sucked up a considerable amount of water into his trunk, then emptied it spraying himself and anyone around him! The cold water caught his colleagues off guard sending them running off as if they had been stung by bees! In the evening Aruba her two babies in company of a big herd of impala came to drink water at the stockade. They hung around grazing behind Lesanju’s stable until it was dark.

10 May 2014

The orphans took their breakfast as usual which included milk, copra cake and dairy cubes. They later engaged in socializing games, where Mzima and Kenia competed in a wrestling match which was won by Mzima. He later went to reward himself by jumping onto the back of Kenia enjoying a ride for a short distance. The orphans then headed out to the bush and browsed half way on the hill. Sinya separated Panda and Tassia from the others and snuck into the thick bush to enjoy some untouched greenery. At noon they rejoined the others to walk to the water hole. On the way down, Wasessa and Ishaq-B assisted Mudanda to safely descend the slippery rocky area of the hill. Kihari reveled in leading everyone safely back to the stockade in the evening.

11 May 2014

It was a wonderful and cool morning with the orphans happily playing around the stockade compound after the young ones in Kenia’s group had taken their milk bottle. Panda teasingly engaged little Mudanda for a pushing game, but the little ones adopted mother Wasessa protected her. Rombo and Layoni enjoyed strength testing games until Taveta spoilt their fun by insisting Rombo play with him instead! The keepers later led them out of the stockade for a lovely browsing session. The orphans arrived at the water hole in good time, with Sinya sticking close to Lempaute. Sinya later regretted hanging out with Lempaute when she accidentally sprayed water all over her! Mzima later led everyone away from the mud bath for an afternoon of browsing. Mbirikani decided to slowly lead the group back to the stockade in the evening.

12 May 2014

The orphans took their morning milk bottle in a happy mood and teamed up for some short games at the stockade compound before following behind Kenia and Ndii to the bush. They enjoyed some scratching moments as well on the rocks at the base of Msinga hill before settling down to browse. At the noon mudbath they guzzled their milk before entering the water with Kivuko taking the initiative and plunging in first. They played and wallowed happily until Taveta, who was playing it rough, kicked water with his fore leg forcing all the others to move away. The rest of the day was uneventful with Naipoki leading everyone back to the stockade that evening. A big wild herd of elephants that had previously been sighted high up the Msinga hill came to drink water at the stockade when the orphans were already in their stables. The wild herd had a small calf with them and Panda, Naipoki and Ishaq-B peeped between the electric wires greeting them with a rumble.

13 May 2014

After consuming their morning milk, the orphans were led out of the stockade into the field by Kihari who was swinging her trunk from side to side in pleasure! Mzima led the orphans to the noon mudbath where they seemed unsure as to whether or not to enter the water! Kivuko showed off an unusual swimming style, with Naipoki watching closely. After a long session of mud wallowing, Sinya who generally stands at the edge of the pool led them off for remaining part of the day.

14 May 2014

It was a wonderful morning with the orphans coming out of their respective stable in a jolly mood. They didn’t waste any time before heading out to the field. On arrival they settled down to browse and later ambled off to the water hole for milk and water. Soon after leaving, Icholta, Ndara and Lolokwe turned up to browse and spend time with the small ones. They stayed for two hours, with Icholta focusing her attention on Mudanda. It was a great relief for Wasessa when they left, leaving her to look after he beloved Mudanda! Kihari took the lead of the orphans for the march back to the stockade in the evening.

15 May 2014

In the morning Laikipia emerged from Msinga hill and joined the youngsters who were busy feeding on copra cake. A few minutes later Seraa turned up, followed closely by Thoma. Thoma and Seraa fed close to little Mudanda, occasionally stretching their trunks to touch and assure her. This didn’t sit well with Lesanju and Wasessa who quickly decided to give up their copra cake feeding to move their herd away from the three ex-orphans.

16 May 2014

The morning was hot with the orphans running out of their stables for a bottle of milk. Tassia and Layoni played a pushing game close to Lempaute who was busy feeding on a delicious bundle of Lucerne. Lempaute was annoyed by them and turned quickly engaging them in a fight. The two ran off stopping their game and joined others in feeding! Today Ndii led the orphans to the browsing grounds and due to the heat they went to the water hole early. Emily’s group arrived at the mudwallow a few minutes after the youngsters had left. They patiently waited under a big tree, before reluctantly moving off without having spent time with the little ones.

17 May 2014

The orphans entered the browsing field in high spirits hopping for a peaceful browsing session. Lempaute moved secretly close to Mudanda with the sole intension of stealing her away from Wasessa. However, Wasessa noticed that something was up and browsed bumper to bumper with Mudanda giving Lempaute no chance to tempt little Mudanda away. At noon, the orphans arrived at the water hole where they enjoyed some dusting games instead of mud bathing due to the cold weather. Ndii entertained the keepers by rolling around in an erosion trench. Rombo and Dabassa stood to watch Ishaq-B’s games as she cavorted and rolled around in the dust.

18 May 2014

It was another beautiful morning and the orphans quenched their thirst with water at the stockade water trough soon after they had drunk their morning bottle of milk. They later gathered to feed on their morning buffet of copra cake and dairy cubes. They only had a brief moment of playing at the stockade before obeying Lesanju’s command to move off to the browsing field. The orphans spent the morning hours browsing on the northern side of the Msinga hill. At mid-day, they went to their normal water hole for milk and a wallow. There was a lot of fun and baby games today, involving rolling, sliding, splashing, mimic mounting and pushing games. Ndii and Dabassa engaged in a competition to prove they are the best at mud bathing! Kenia took baby Mudanda for a fun buttock scratching game on the water hole embankment. Ishaq-B enjoyed leading them back to the stockade that evening.

19 May 2014

The orphans left the stockade amid light rain showers. Lesanju was very cautious not to climb the hill due to the danger of slippery rocks. During the cold morning a wild herd of elephants appeared but Lesanju avoided them by leading the orphan herd in the opposite direction. Mzima followed them for a while and joined them to move to the water hole. There was little action here today, due to the cold weather and so they headed back to the browsing area for the rest of the day. Kihari took lead of the milk dependant orphans as they headed back to the stockade for the night.

20 May 2014

It was a good morning with the orphans emptying a bottle of milk before assembling around the stockade water trough to guzzle some water. Mudanda nuzzled Wasessa’s teats, enjoying the sensation so much that she closed her eyes. Rombo watched jealously as if he wanted to suckle too. In the evening when the orphans were browsing their way back to the stockade, Taveta and Tassia took each other on in a tough pushing match. On the other side, Ndii and Kivuko teamed up to scratch on some big rocks they had come across. They then walked peacefully and safely back to the stockade.

21 May 2014

It was a nice day once again with Lesanju ensuring her herd was safe whilst joining a wild elephant family this morning. They stretched their trunks to warmly welcome the orphans when they arrived at the browsing grounds in the morning. Tassia and Taveta ignored Lesanju’s matriarchal role and briefly joined the wild herd but were later chased off by a teenage wild elephant when she noticed the pair’s main intension was to appropriate a small wild calf from them! Naipoki and Sinya today separated themselves and browsed together for an hour before rejoining their colleagues when heading to the water hole at noon. There was a great deal of fun had during the mud bath time before they eventually moved off to browse again.

22 May 2014

Today there was a wee kafuffle when Lesanju, Wasessa, Lempaute and Sinya engaged in a head on battle over little Mudanda. They all surrounded her, holding and pulling with their trunks. Mudanda made a distress scream calling for the keeper’s intervention. This gave Wasessa, with relief, the opportunity of taking her loved one away from the clutches of the others! Kivuko decided to push Rombo off from a scratching stone in the stockade compound, allowing himself the chance to scratch on the preferred rock! The rest of the browsing day went on well with Wasessa taking Mudanda for a scratch on a fallen tree trunk a few minutes before joining the others to head back to the stockade in the evening.

23 May 2014

The morning started well with the small ones in Kenia’s group joining their colleagues in copra and dairy cube feeding. Kenia, Mudanda and Panda were comfortable to share one pile of the supplements without any hassle. Taveta came in slowly behind the three on a different mission of mimic mounting Panda, who noticed his intensions well in advance and moved off close to Lempaute for protection. The orphans then proceeded towards the field for their morning browsing session before heading to the water hole that afternoon. The mid day mud bath was as usual full of antics and activities with Kihari, Ndii and Layoni playing some rolling games into the water. Taveta and Dabassa decided to play a game of rolling and kicking the empty water barrels before the keeper’s intervened stopping the game for fear of the two injuring themselves! Lesanju took little Mudanda for some dusting games away from the others but the games were soon over and all the orphans resumed browsing for the rest of the day.

24 May 2014

In a wonderful noon mud bath session, Dabassa took the opportunity to ride Ndii, though she wasn’t really interested in him. Rombo decided to show off his mighty strength and energy by pushing against the walls of the water hole with his fore head. Others watched him in awe and amazement. Dabassa wallowed in the central position of the pool trying his level best to remain important in this bathing occasion. Kivuko enjoyed scratching her buttocks on a fallen tree trunk after the bath. The final browsing session of the day started close to the water hole and ended on the way to the stockade.

25 May 2014

The morning started well with the orphans marching behind Lesanju to the bush after a wonderful supplement feeding. The sun grew warmer and the orphans had a great deal of fun frolicking in the mud at the water hole. Ndii, Dabassa and Mzima tried to impress the other during a bathing competition. Mudanda enjoyed scratching her neck on Wasessa’s front leg whilst dust bathing. Amazingly, Sinya took part in the mud bathing today, this is very rare for her, but she had a thoroughly good time and loved her time in the pool. Aruba and her two babies visited the stockade once again in the evening. The babies are growing strong and fit.

26 May 2014

It was yet another bright day, as the young babies quietly settled for the supplement feeds. The stockade compound was then action packed as Mbirikani and Ishaq-B were busy engaged in a game of chasing the baboons out of the stockade compound! Rombo and Kenia played a game of hide and seek as the others happily rolled or soil dusted. The orphans browsed their way to the eastern side of the park arriving at the water hole well in the afternoon. At the mud hole, the orphans enjoyed wallowing with Wasessa, Taveta and Layoni being the centre of attention. Lesanju and Lempaute later joined them but soon moved out of the water to join Sinya in a scratching game.

27 May 2014

The day was nice with Mbirikani and Taveta resorting to remain together and behind their peers who were setting a faster pace than normal whilst browsing. However, they rejoined them on the way to the water hole that afternoon. The weather was a little chilly so none of the orphans ventured into the cold, sludgy water. The trust’s pilot Nick Trent reported that an orphan elephant calf had been sighted on the boundary of the Salt Lick and Lualeni Ranch. The orphan elephant calf had a very bad wound was subsequently air lifted to the Nairobi Nursery for treatment and care.

28 May 2014

Today Kivuko seemed to miss the love and attention she used to get from Wasessa before the arrival of Mudanda. She reminisced about the old good days and lent on Wasessa like a baby! Kivuko ended up giving Mudanda a wee push when they arrived at the browsing grounds. However, kind Wasessa has enough love for everyone and embraced both Kivuko and Mudanda in a trunk hug. They all stayed there for a few minutes embracing companionship and peace, resulting in happy and contented elephants! Layoni and Tassia had a wonderful wrestling match in the evening when the others set off for the stockade.

29 May 2014

The day was cold and the orphans spent most of the day browsing. In the evening they joined a wild herd of elephants with Naipoki making the initial step to join up with them. Lesanju, Sinya and Lempaute were very interested in absconding with a tiny wild elephant calf from the herd but were unable to even touch her as she was being escorted like a princess by her whole family! The orphans then gave up the struggle and detached themselves from that wild herd instead heading back to the stockade for the night.

30 May 2014

The day was cool with the orphans leaving the stockade early so they arrived at the browsing fields at first light. No excitement or action went on at the noon mud bath as no one was willing to participate in a cold water bath. Elephants are quiet susceptible to pneumonia, so it was wise for them to stay warm. On reaching the foot of Msinga hill on the way to the stockade in the evening, the orphans engaged in a massive rock scratching session! Ishaq-B showed apparently scratching skills as she was praised by Lempaute who committed little time to watch and cheer her up. Rombo took a different tack, boasting with his long sharp tusks, digging and punching holes into a tree trunk. When they left for the stockade they formed a nearly perfect straight line. It was wonderful to have a group of school children from the trust community programme visit the orphan elephants at the stockade this evening. They thoroughly enjoyed viewing these majestic creatures and it is hoped that an important message and impression was taken on by the students.

31 May 2014

Dabassa teased Naipoki to join in a pushing game at the stockade in the morning. Their game took a long time and they seemed so involved that they didn’t notice their friends leaving the stockade for the field. They then ran behind them in frenzy, charging and trumpeting, with their game changing into hide and seek soon after they arrived at the browsing grounds. There was little activity afterwards with the orphans carrying out their daily routine of visiting the water hole at noon to have fun in the mud as well as feeding on milk.