Keepers' Diaries, May 2017
Voi Reintegration Unit
We have been so impressed with Ndii this past month. She is such a friendly and welcoming girl and has been so kind to Ajali, the oldest member of the herd who joined us most recently when he was hit by a vehicle and we rescued him from the Tsavo river junction. He had broken ribs and was unable to move to feed, and we brought him to the confines of our stockades so that he could heal and be fed in order to survive. At the time the prognosis for his recovery was extremely guarded, but Ajali has done well, healed and decided to remain with his orphaned friends who were such great company for him during his ordeal. Pasaka, who was rescued last month in Tsavo, is of slightly older age and so was taken straight to the Voi Reintegration Unit, and he joined the rest of the stockade dependant orphans out in the bush for the first time this month, having become accustomed to the keepers and the routine during his time in the ‘taming stockade’. For some reason Ndoria was not very friendly towards him and kept engaging him in pushing games but once again Ndii stepped in and chose to take him under her wing and browsed close to him keeping the bullies like Ndoria away. As the month wore on Ajali’s strength grew and soon Ndoria found it difficult to win any wrestling match! Cosseted baby Araba is also jealous of Pasaka due to the attention he is enjoying from the other orphans being the newest one to join the herd, and sometimes she teams up with Mudanda in an effort to bully poor Pasaka! Their naughty behaviour is quickly brought to a grinding halt by Naipoki and Ndii assisted by the keepers. Ndii is also very protective of the younger orphans along with matriarch Kenia, who likes to be with the little ones at all times and is not very good at sharing them, despite Ndii’s best efforts.
Voi has sadly had very poor rains, which is a worry and the Southern sector of Tsavo remains extremely dry. The clouds have been building however, meaning some days the orphans chose not to wallow in the main mud bath because of the colder temperatures. Sometimes some of them couldn’t fight the urge however, like Embu and our wallowing-star Ndii, and braved the cold to have a fun game in the muddy water. When light rain did fall elephants like Rorogoi enjoyed digging up the moist soil with their feet and tusks and throwing it onto her back. Others like Bada and Ndoria enjoyed rolling around on the ground and in the erosion trenches where the cool soil could be found.
Sad news this month came from our little eclectic group of buffalo and eland orphans led by Ngulia the zebra. They got very excited in their games one day and suddenly ran out of the compound towards the Voi air strip. They were running back and forth having a wildly exciting time with the keepers following them as best they could when out from nowhere a lioness ambushed little Jamuhuri the buffalo, killing him instantly. The trio, were left very sad and distraught with the loss of their friend and stayed close to the keepers for the rest for the day and the days to follow. These events shook everyone.
Ex Orphan Emily’s herd was not seen for the whole month, evidently having wondered north or somewhere else further away where more rain has fallen. The partially dependent orphans Kivuko, Lempaute and Layoni visited the dependent orphans a few times this month and Ndii and Kenia made very sure to keep the babies in their herd, close. Lempaute, Kivuko, Layoni and Dabassa were often seen browsing around Msinga Hill; eight year old ex orphan Dabassa visited the orphans several times, playing with them and joining them for supplement feeding in the morning. One day Bada, Panda, Nguvu and Tundani followed Layoni and Kivuko back to the stockades where they demanded to be given their milk bottles even though it was not time for their milk feeding yet! The keepers fed them their milk anyway, after which they joined Kivuko and Layoni for a browsing session above the stockade compound high on Msinga Hill. While Ex Orphans Mzima, Sinya, Taveta, Tassia, Rombo and Wasessa are believed to be with Ndara and her wild born baby Neptune.
01 May 2017
The morning began with the stockade dependant orphan elephants emptying their morning milk bottle before enjoying some copra cake and lucerne. They then had a wonderful but brief moment playing around the stockades before making their way to the browsing grounds.
While in the browsing fields Ishaq-B tried to woo Araba away from Kenia but was not successful in her attempts and soon gave up as she saw that all her efforts were futile. The orphans made their way to the middle water pool in groups of five enjoying their milk bottle and obeying their thirst before moving to the main water hole where they circled the mudbath not wanting to get in the water as it was cloudy and cold. Embu suddenly plunged into the water for a wallow but was not able to get any of the other orphans to join her.
Later in the day, an orphan baby kudu that joined a Maasai herd of goats was rescued and taken to the Voi stockade by the Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit.
02 May 2017
The orphans exited their stockade full of energy and downed their milk before enjoying some supplement feeding after which they headed to the browsing grounds under Naipoki and Kihari’s leadership. The orphans browsed in single file throughout the day, linking up with a few members of Lesanju’s herd in the evening.
Kivuko, Lempaute, and Layoni arrived at the stockade ten minutes before the juniors. Dabassa joined the stockade dependant orphan elephants as they made their way to the stockade, running behind Rorogoi who was busy trying to get to her milk as quickly as she could and was suspicious of Dabassa, thinking he might want to steal her share. Lempaute demanded Panda’s milk bottle which meant that the keepers had to come in and prevent her from taking something that wasn’t hers.
Lempaute then tried to get close to Araba while Ndii protested loudly, holding Araba tightly with her trunk. Lempaute saw that she would not be successful in her attempts to get Araba and went for a scratching session instead. The four seniors remained at the stockade until 7pm when they returned to the park.
03 May 2017
The morning started well with the orphan elephants leaving the stockade as soon as the milk and supplement feeding was over. Once out in the field the orphans scattered in an effort to grab as much browse as they could as there has not been that much rain received in Voi yet. Ndii got the opportunity to enjoy browsing with Araba for a short while before Kenia took her back under her care.
After the noon mudbath Kihari and Bada had a wonderful browsing moment in a private place away from the others.
04 May 2017
It was a perfect morning as the orphans enjoyed playing around the stockades. Bada invited Nelion for a drink from the stockade water trough and the two enjoyed the moment. Bada was a little surprised to see Nelion drinking straight from the trough with his mouth instead of using his trunk.
Tundani enjoyed a scratching session against a rock boulder.
Today Lentili led the stockade dependant herd away from the stockades and out to the browsing grounds. In the afternoon, Dabassa, came and joined the babies and went straight for Ndoria so that the two could enjoy a private browsing session. They remained together for the better part of the day and Dabassa returned to the stockades with the orphan group in the evening.
05 May 2017
The day was cloudy with the stockade dependant orphan elephants concentrating on their usual milk and supplement feeding before heading to the browsing grounds. In the afternoon they visited the middle water hole where they had a drink before returning to their browsing activities as it was too cold for a wallow.
The afternoon’s browsing activities took place have way up Msinga Hill where Nelion found a nice tree trunk to scratch against. In the afternoon it started to drizzle while Mbirikani, Embu, and Mudanda enjoyed a scratch against some boulders. Arruba and Suswa enjoyed rolling around in the wet soil. Their games were closely watched over by Mudanda.
06 May 2017
The orphans enjoyed a game of hide and seek at the stockade compound before they headed to the park for the day. Today Voi received 4mm of rain which though lovely, is nowhere near enough.
At the noon mudbath Ndii, Araba and Kihari all shone as they enjoyed rolling games in the water. Kenia and Naipoki came in to watch while Ndii lay down in the water and tossed her trunk skywards as she wallowed.
The afternoon was spent browsing close to the big empty water hole, with Ishaq-B taking on Arruba in a tough wrestling match before the orphan herd returned to the stockade for the night.
07 May 2017
This morning the sky was full of heavy clouds which meant that Voi would hopefully soon be blessed with some decent rains. The orphans downed their morning milk bottle after which they enjoyed playing around in the stockade compound before heading to the browsing fields.
The orphan herd browsed on the western side of Msinga Hill while under the leadership of Naipoki and Kihari. They browsed in single file while making their way slowly to the middle waterhole where they enjoyed a quick wallow in the water.
Rorogoi was mistakenly left behind by the others as they headed back to the browsing fields for the afternoon and she had to rush to catch up with the rest of the group. Ndoria attempted to take
leadership of the orphan herd but was beaten to it by Panda who enjoyed being the boss for the afternoon.
08 May 2017
The stockade dependant orphans enjoyed their supplement feeding following their delicious milk bottle before heading out to the bush under the leadership of Suswa and Mashariki. They spent the morning browsing before making their way to the mudbath at noon where they drank their milk and returned to the fields.
The afternoon was spent browsing on the eastern side of Msinga Hill. Ajali and Nguvu decided to climb up Msinga Hill while the rest of the orphan herd remained at the foot of the hill. Some light rain showers fell in the afternoon and Rorogoi enjoyed digging up the moist soil with her front foot and throwing it up onto her back. Bada enjoyed rolling around in an erosion trench where he was soon joined by Ndoria.
09 May 2017
Today was a big day for Pasaka who joined the rest of the stockade dependant orphan elephants out in the bush. For some reason Ndoria was not too friendly towards him and kept engaging him in pushing and fighting games. Ndii on the other hand had a soft spot for and browsed close to him so that she could help to try and keep the bullies like Ndoria away from him
The orphans spent the day browsing on the southern side of Msinga Hill with Pasaka taking the lead. The orphans came for a drink of water and their afternoon milk bottle at the stockade as it was close to where they were browsing.
10 May 2017
The morning began with the stockade dependant orphan elephants coming out of their quarters and downing a morning milk bottle after which they enjoyed some copra cake and dairy cubes.
Araba became jealous of Pasaka who was getting quite a lot of attention from the other orphans. Araba teamed up with Mudanda in an effort to bully Pasaka. Their naughty behaviour was quickly brought to a halt by Naipoki and Ndii assisted by the keepers.
Lentili led the group towards the browsing grounds. Ndii separated Pasaka from the rest of the orphans embracing him and giving him some browsing time away from the others. Later in the afternoon, Suswa practiced being a matriarch by taking over Pasaka’s care from Ndii for the rest of the day.
11 May 2017
The weather was cold this morning with the orphans coming out of the stockade amid some light rain showers. They enjoyed browsing on moist grass upon arrival at the browsing grounds.
Mbirikani, Nelion and Rorogoi attempted to lead the entire group up Msinga Hill for the morning browsing session but were unsuccessful in doing so, so they all remained at the base of the hill.
The orphans visited the middle water hole for a mudbath, but didn’t really wallow as it was quite cold. They then browsed their way to the big water hole before turning around and slowly making their way back to the stockades for the night.
12 May 2017
Today Ngulia the zebra took the two orphan elands Kore and Tawi together with her precious friend Jamuhuri the buffalo on their usual running games ahead of the orphan elephants. They were extremely excited as they played and the four ran past the big water hole, traversing the air strip and running around the staff fence line on the return journey to the stockade. The keepers were following them and keeping an eye as best they could but sadly about three hundred meters from the air strip the four encountered a lion which ambushed Jamuhuri, killing him instantly. Ngulia, Kore and Tawi ran back to the stockade with the keepers catching up to them trying to calm them down and console them about the loss of their friend. Ngulia, Kore and Tawi were so sad that they didn’t want to eat and were very skittish as they kept reliving Jamuhuri’s attack. The keepers stayed close to them for the whole day to give them as much reassurance and comfort as they could.
13 May 2017
Another morning began with the dependant orphan elephants assembling outside their stockades for a delicious milk bottle before settling down for the supplement feeding. Dabassa was the earliest caller at the stockade this morning and enjoyed supplements with the younger orphans.
Panda engaged Dabassa later in a tough pushing game with Panda bravely climbing up the new stockade terrace to increase her advantage by making her higher which allowed her to nearly defeat him; in order for this not to happen he followed her up to the stockade terrace.
The orphans spent the day browsing on the peak of Msinga Hill under the leadership of Tundani, Ishaq-B and Ajali. They came down hill at 1.20pm, two hours late for their afternoon milk bottle, and settled on the foot of the hill for the rest of the day.
14 May 2017
The morning was calm with the stockade dependant orphan elephants coming out of their night quarters full of energy, emptying a morning milk bottle and enjoying their supplements before playing hide and seek games in the stockade compound.
On the way to the browsing fields Pasaka heard Layoni rumbling a greeting as they passed by him. Layoni was browsing half way up Msinga Hill and Pasaka stopped to browse at the base hoping that Layoni would come down the hill and join him, which did not happen. A keeper remained with him until it was time to return to the stockades in the evening and the two arrived half an hour before the rest of the group.
In the browsing fields the orphans joined a herd of wild elephants around 9.30am, browsing with them for twenty minutes before they left for the Mzima-Mombasa water pipe line area. Nguvu followed them for a while with the Keepers calling him back to re-join the orphan elephant herd.
15 May 2017
The morning was good with the stockade dependant orphan elephants coming out of their respective stockade downing a morning milk bottle and settling for copra cake, lucerne grass pellets and dairy cubes before leaving for the browsing grounds.
Ngulia today took Tawi and Kore the orphan eland running in front of the elephants as they made their way to the browsing grounds. The keepers called the three back worried that they may be attacked by lions just as Jamuhuri was. The keepers succeeded in getting Ngulia, Tawi and Kore to come and browse close to the stockades where they would be safer.
16 May 2017
The orphans lined up in a straight line behind Kihari as they headed to the browsing grounds where they fed for three hours. While browsing it started to drizzle which the orphans enjoyed as the day became cooler. Today their noon milk bottle was brought to them on the western side of
Msinga Hill where they busy feeding.
In the afternoon Kenia went up the eastern side of Msinga Hill together with some of the other orphans. Araba saw that the path that Kenia was taking was rather slippery and decided to stay at the base with Panda, Naipoki and Ishaq-B. This upset Kenia who did not like to be without her baby and she came running down the hill to join him.
Nelion had enjoyed browsing in the company of Ajali while Suswa and Embu enjoyed being together for a spell before rejoining the herd when it was time to return to the stockades for the night.
17 May 2017
Another morning has come with the stockade dependant orphan elephants congregating for milk and supplements outside their stockade where they had spent the previous night enjoying the grewia branches that had been cut for them. Rorogoi and Bada enjoyed a game of dust bathing on the ground while the others watched.
The long awaited journey to the browsing grounds was initiated by Arruba, Suswa and Mbirikani and the rest of the orphaned herd followed. Ndii pushed herself between Kenia and Araba in an effort to try and steal Araba away from Kenia who was having none of it and managed to keep Araba by her side.
On arrival at the browsing grounds Nelion settled to browse alone on the eastern side of Msinga Hill, with the rest choosing to stay at the base. Nelion rejoined them on the way to the water hole in the afternoon where they had a lot of fun playing mud bathing games.
In the evening, Ishaq-B stopped browsing to engage Tundani in a tough pushing game after which the orphans proceeded to the safety of the stockades for the night.
18 May 2017
It was a wonderful morning with the stockade dependant orphan elephants enjoying their milk bottle and settling for the supplement feeding. There were brief socializing games before they headed to the western side of the stockade to browse.
After three hours of browsing Mudanda and Embu came together and enjoyed a quiet moment under a tree close to a big rock boulder. Ndii went to join Ajali for a private browsing session which Ajali was thrilled about and the two had a lovely time in each other’s company.
In the afternoon Kivuko came to the stockades where she went straight to the water trough for a drink. She remained on the compound for about half an hour before leaving for the browsing fields. Unfortunately she did not meet up with the stockade dependent group.
There was an amazing pushing game between Tawi and Kore at the stockades this afternoon, testing their strength as they competed with each other. Their game was refereed by Ngulia.
19 May 2017
The morning started well with the orphan elephants enjoying some dusting games followed by a game of hide and seek after which they headed out to the browsing fields.
Ajali was the leader of the group when the keepers suddenly saw him jump and ran back towards them. When they got to where he had been they found a puff adder and quickly moved the orphans in different direction away from the dangerous snake.
In the afternoon Kihari went and leant against a big tree trunk and fell asleep while the others watched wondering what she was doing and what could have possibly made her so sleepy.
20 May 2017
It was a cloudy and dark morning as the orphans exited their stockade and enjoyed some games around the compound following their milk and supplement feeding. Today Pasaka did not want to interact with the other orphans and headed straight to Msinga Hill upon exiting his night quarters. He settled to browse in his private browsing space above the stockade office. A keeper stayed behind to keep an eye on him.
Following the noon mudbath the orphan herd joined a wild herd. The stockade dependant orphans joined a wild herd and the two groups browsed together for more than an hour. Ndii and Mbirikani went on a mission of trying to steal a wild elephant calf from its mother, an event which brought the friendly encounter to a quick end. The orphan herd quickly started to move away while Ajali followed the wild group. The keepers called him back and he did not hesitate in returning to his friends and their keepers.
21 May 2017
This morning the stockade dependant orphan elephants concentrated on their milk and supplement feeding before moving away from the stockade compound to the browsing grounds.
Here they settled in single file and browsed until it was time for the noon milk feed. They quenched their thirst at the water trough but did not go in the mudbath as it was very cloudy and quite cold. Despite the cold and cloudy weather it has not rained much in Voi which means that there is still a shortage of decent browse for all the wildlife in the area.
At about 4pm in the afternoon, while browsing at the foot of Msinga Hill, the stockade dependant orphans heard the rumbling salute of Layoni and Kivuko as they walked past them headed to the stockade. Bada, Panda, Nguvu and Tundani collectively followed them and joined up with the at the stockade where the four milk dependent babies demanded to be given their milk bottle even though it was not time for their milk feeding yet. The keepers fed them their milk anyway, after which they joined Kivuko and Layoni for a browsing session above the stockade compound. When they heard the rest of the orphans returning to the stockade for the night they came down, leaving the two Ex Orphans on the hill, and entered their night quarters.
22 May 2017
It was a nice morning with the stockade dependant orphan elephants playing around the stockade compound after drinking their milk and enjoying the supplements. They later headed onto the browsing grounds under the leadership of Kihari and Lentili.
The orphan elephants had a wonderful time browsing for four hours before a big wild elephant herd come and browsed close to them. Mashariki and Ajali joined the wild herd for more than half an hour before re-uniting with the rest of the orphan elephants as they made their way to the waterhole.
The orphans drank their milk and some water but did not mudbath as it was quite cold. They browsed close to the waterhole with Kenia keeping Bada by her side. Rorogoi led the group back to the safety of the stockades in the evening.
23 May 2017
The morning was wonderful with Naipoki and Suswa leading the other orphans towards the browsing grounds once the milk and the supplement feeding was over. The orphans spent the day browsing but did not visit the water hole as it was a cold and cloudy day.
In the afternoon it drizzled slightly and the orphans enjoyed the feel of the rain on their skin. Tundani teamed up with Nguvu and Ajali and the three had a lovely time rolling around on the wet soil. Panda and Bada enjoyed a similar game a few meters away from them as they copied their friends. Arruba, Suswa and Bada scratched their bottoms against a big tree trunk taking turns in an organized manner. The rest of the days browsing activities took place on the northern side of Msinga hill.
24 May 2017
It was a bright morning today with scattered clouds as the orphans left the stockade for the browsing fields under Mudanda’s leadership. The orphans were very focused on their browsing activities as it is still very dry in Voi since hardly any rain has fallen.
The orphans visited the middle water hole in the afternoon, but didn’t take a birth due to the cold weather. Later in the afternoon, Araba followed Nelion to a private browsing area away from the rest of the orphan elephants. After browsing for more than ten minutes, Araba decide that she missed Kenia and started screaming which surprised Nelion who didn’t know what was wrong and started screaming as well. Kenia and Nguvu ran to them with Kenia going straight to Araba to calm her down and reassure her that everything was ok.
Embu enjoying leading the orphan herd back to the stockades for the night.
25 May 2017
The orphans exited their night quarters in a happy mood trumpeting loudly as they made their way to their morning milk bottle after which they settled to enjoy some supplements before enjoying a game of hide and seek around the stockade compound.
Once out in the browsing grounds, Bada and Ajali hung behind the rest of the group as they felt the others were browsing too quickly. The two later caught up with the group as they made their way to the waterhole. Embu and Panda kept towards the back of the group and ended up a short distance in front of Bada and Ajali.
The orphans had a wonderful mudbath with Ndoria engaging Ajali in a strength testing game. Ajali has become quite strong and Ndoria had hard time getting Ajali to concede any ground and in the end gave up the game as she could not get Ajali to move even an inch.
Mudanda seemed to enjoy lying on the ground, tossing her trunk side by side throwing soil particles towards the others who were quick to move away from Mudanda as they did not want to get any soil in their eyes. This brought an end to the mudbathing activities for the day and the orphans returned to the browsing fields for the afternoon.
26 May 2017
The morning started well with the orphan elephants sticking to their normal feeding routine at the stockade compound before heading to the browsing grounds. A short while before leaving, Tundani decided to ride on Mudanda’s back which Mudanda refused and responded by fighting with Tundani, who quickly realized his error and moved away, joining Bada for a tummy scratching session before following the rest of the group.
Lempaute, Dabassa, and Kivuko were the only Ex Orphans to visit the stockade in the afternoon, quenching their thirst at the stockade water trough. They remained at the stockade compound for two hours before returning to the park and did not cross paths with the dependent orphans.
27 May 2017
It was a perfect beginning to the day with the orphan elephants leaving for the browsing grounds after the milk and supplement feeding was over. The orphans browsed on the western side of Msinga Hill with Nguvu making the decision to head up the hill as it had better vegetation. He came down a short while later to rejoin the group who had remained at the base.
Tundani and Naipoki, who had followed Nguvu, secured a perfect browsing spot between some big rock boulders where they also enjoyed a buttock scratching session.
The entire group returned to the stockade compound for their milk bottle and a drink of water. They also had a lovely time mudbathing before making their way to the big waterhole for another wallow after which they started the journey back home for the night.
28 May 2017
The morning was good with the first batch of Lucerne grass bales arrived at the stockade as supplements for the orphans following the failure of the rains this season. The orphan elephants enjoyed feasting on the fresh grass before heading to the browsing fields under the leadership of Lentili and Mbirikani.
Ngulia, Kore and Tawi were extremely happy to have fed on the Lucerne bails together with the orphan elephant. Ishaq-B and Tundani engaged one another head on in a tough wrestling match with their friends watching their interaction. The match only broke up when it was time to return to the stockades in the evening and they had to bring a halt to their game in order to catch up with the rest of the group.
Today Kivuko and Layoni visited the stockade when the juniors were already in their night quarters feasting on the grewia branches that had been cut for them.
29 May 2017
This morning Bada was enjoying wonderful scratching session when he noticed that he had been left behind by his friends who had already left the stockade for the browsing fields. He took of running to catch up with them and came charging up as he rejoined the group.
At the stockade, Kore and Tawi, who have come to love the fresh and green grewia branches brought in for the orphans elephants were busy enjoying their own share. The two feasted on the grewia branches as Ngulia enjoyed a scratching session nearby. Tawi was in an energetic mood attempted to climb on Kore who responded by engaging Tawi in a pushing game in an effort to dissuade him.
Lempaute, Dabassa and Layoni visited the stockade in the evening. Layoni had a wonderful wrestling match with Lempaute. The three Ex Orphans returned to the park for the nights browsing activities at 9pm.
30 May 2017
It was a wonderful beginning to the day with Dabassa coming arriving at the stockades at first light. Once the orphans exited their night quarters Dabassa engaged Bada in a strength testing and pushing game. Bada tried his level best to outdo his older opponent, but soon sought reinforcement from Nelion who came to his aid for short while before the two joined the orphan herd as they made their way to the browsing fields.
In the afternoon a wild herd of elephants visited the stockade and quenched their thirst at the water trough. They remained on the stockade compound for about 20 minutes before heading back to the park. The wild herd met up with the orphan elephants at the foot of Msinga hill as they were heading back to the safety of the stockades for the night. Panda and Naipoki attempted to steal a wild elephant from the herd. Their actions scared the calf which ran off and took refuge under its mother’s chest.
Although Pasaka is now out of the stockade he chosen to remain on his own browsing on Msinga hill, refusing to follow the other orphans. We believe that as he gets stronger and more used to the orphans activities he will join the orphan herd on their daily outings.
31 May 2017
In the morning the orphans enjoyed a game of around the stockade compound once they had finished enjoying their milk and supplements. Kenia and Ndii quickly took charge and together with their baby Araba the two led the group out to the browsing grounds.
The orphans had a lovely time browsing and as it was fairly cold they chose not to go into the waterhole. They had their noon milk bottle at the foot of Msinga Hill after which they went further uphill under the guidance of Mbirikani, Suswa and Nelion. Climbing the hill was quite tiring and the orphans looked for ways that they could cool off.
Emily’s herd was not seen this month even though the keepers carried out extensive monitoring patrols. Lempaute, Kivuko, Layoni and Dabassa were often seen browsing around Msinga Hill, while Mzima, Sinya, Taveta, Tassia, Rombo and Wasessa are believed to be with Ndara and Neptune.