Keepers' Diaries, May 2016

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Voi Reintegration Unit

The first day of the month heralded the arrival of some long lost friends, Lesanju, Lempaute and Layoni, who had been missing from the area for more than two and a half weeks. Lempaute immediately assumed leadership of the dependent orphans, much to the displeasure of Kenia and Ndii who view themselves as the matriarchs of this junior group, consisting of Mudanda, Arruba, Suswa, Embu, Mashariki, Mbirikani, Mudanda, Naipoki, Kihari, Ishaq B, Lentili, Panda, Rorogoi, Ndoria, and boys Tundani, Bada and Nelion. Little Embu seems to have developed a great fondness for Lempaute and chooses to follow her around whenever she is visiting.

The first day of the month heralded the arrival of some long lost friends, Lesanju, Lempaute and Layoni, who had been missing from the area for more than two and a half weeks. Lempaute immediately assumed leadership of the dependent orphans, much to the displeasure of Kenia and Ndii who view themselves as the matriarchs of this junior group, consisting of Mudanda, Arruba, Suswa, Embu, Mashariki, Mbirikani, Mudanda, Naipoki, Kihari, Ishaq B, Lentili, Panda, Rorogoi, Ndoria, and boys Tundani, Bada and Nelion. Little Embu seems to have developed a great fondness for Lempaute and chooses to follow her around whenever she is visiting.

Troops of baboons seem to have been a source of great entertainment to the orphans this month, especially in the morning when they try to ambush the elephant’s delicious copra cake handouts. Defending the copra cake becomes a game in itself as the orphans take up defensive positions against the devious scheming baboons. Kenia and Ndii have been very defensive of their copra cake managing to obtain entire piles for themselves, chasing anyone away who ventures close. Tundani on the other hand is one elephant that continues to avoid confrontation. Quite unusual for a young bull, one of only three boys in the dependent group, and he will do all he can to avoid it. This was on display on the 11th when he deliberately lay down on the ground to avoid play fighting with Nelion. He was then ambushed by both Panda and Bada who took advantage of his prone position and lay on top of him! Luckily Ishaq B came to the rescue ensuring Tundani was left in peace.

Later the same day, Lesanju, Lempaute, Dabassa, Sinya, Layoni, Kivuko and Mzima, who seem to have separated themselves from Emily’s herd recently forming their own, were seen browsing on the southern side of Msinga hill. Towards the end of the month Kivuko and Mzima teamed up, perhaps temporarily, with Emily’s herd again without the other members of Lesanju’s herd joining them. Lesanju’s oscillating herd always includes at any one time herself, Lempaute and Sinya with Layoni and Taveta, Dabassa, Mzima and Kivuko, coming and going. It is clear that Lesanju is a natural matriarch and born to lead and she takes great pride in leading her own herd.

Nelion and Bada have been interacting and spending time together with Bada becoming more independent recently of the females who were keeping him under their watchful eye. It seems he is growing into a mature young bull.

The orphans have interacted repeatedly with other wildlife this month, now more prolific as they gather around common water sources with the Voi area remaining relatively dry due to poor rains. Sometimes the elephants block the odd unwelcome visitor such as a buffalo or two from the waterhole while they hog things for themselves first. On the 9th the keepers spotted Chia, a Kudu orphan raised in the Voi stockade, in the company of her 3 wild born babies. It is with pride and comfort we see ex-orphans of all species flourishing in their wild environment.

Towards the end of the month, through our Community Outreach initiatives, a few school groups from within the Tsavo Conservation area visited the Voi stockades to enjoy the orphans there. There was a big congregation of dependant orphans together with a number of Ex Orphans who also chose to visit that day, so the school children were amazed, and all enjoyed an experience they will never forget. Panda seems to like these visits the most and always moves close so that she can interact with the children.

Emily’s Ex Orphan herd was around and sighted regularly by our ground patrols close to home for most of the month, but towards the end of May she and her Ex Orphan herd, now full of babies, moved further afield in search of greener pastures, and they have not been visiting the dependent babies recently.

May 2016 day to day

01 May

The morning started well with the orphans happily coming out of the stockade compound and drinking their morning milk bottle before settling to eat some copra cake. There were only some brief games of scratching on the stockade rocks before the orphans left for the browsing grounds. After some three hours of a serious browsing, three unexpected guests arrived, Lesanju, Lempaute and Layoni, as they had been missing from the area for more than two and a half weeks! There was a highly charged greeting and Kenia and Ndii became slightly deflated as Lempaute assumed the leadership of their herd as soon after the initial greetings were over. Embu evidently had a soft spot for Lempaute and kept following her around whilst browsing. The juniors went to drink milk and water at the middle water hole, followed by the three arrivals, before moving off to browse in the area close to the mud bath. Lesanju, Lempaute and Layoni later left the stockade dependant orphans at around 3.20pm, heading towards the Voi River. It was a relief for some of them, as Lentili and Ishaq B resumed the leadership role after their three superior had left.

Embu following Lempaute

Lempaute taking charge of leading Kenia's group

Lempaute browsing with the juniors

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