Keepers' Diaries, November 2000
Voi Reintegration Unit
It was very dry for the first part of the month, but eventually the rain came, although they have been sporadic and patchy rather than overall. Luckily, however, some of the heaviest downpours fell within the home range of our orphans, and once the green flush appeared, it was party time, with play and fun over-riding the search for food. Most active when it comes to playing is Salama. He, Laikipia, and Lolokwe are best friends and also very competitive, so never a day passes when there is not a tussling match between these young bulls.
01 November 2000
Emily's Group and Natumi's group left the Stockades together as usual, but then separated, again as usual. Natumi's gang encountered 2 waterbucks on the way, and Natumi and Edie charged around for 20 minutes, rushing backwards and forwards. Emily's group joined the baby's for the 10 a.m. milk feed and they all then wallowed together at 11.30 when Nyiro played with Lolokwe and Edie climbed over Natumi who was lying down in the dusting place afterwards.
02 November 2000
This morning Mweiga played with Ilingwezi on leaving the Night Stockades whilst Icholta played with Lolokwe. After the 10 a.m. milk feed Laikipia and Salama had their usual wrestling match. There was a wonderful mudbath today, with Imenti and Emily indulging in their usual game, and Mweiga and Ilingwezi also putting on a lively show. At 3 p.m. a group of wild elephants with a baby the size of Lolokwe joined the orphans and Salama and Edie were "highly welcomed and even allowed to play with the youngster". Edo has taken over Lewa and Uaso, who are with him all the time and they, along with Dika and Ndume all turned up at the Stockades at 5 p.m.
03 November 2000
Emily's and Natumi's groups separated at the Spring Gates where Aitong played with Emily and then Imenti.. Thereafter Natumi's group ran into 3 buffaloes and Laikipia, Natumi and Edie joined forces to "menace them with their trunks". Emily and Aitong, who were still nearby, sensed their fear and rushed over to join them, standing nearby. Aitong was particularly attention to Nyiro. They were all at the mudbath together 11.30 a.m., but did not wallow because it was too cold. In the afternoon the elephants ran into some warthogs, whom they enjoyed chasing, trumpeting in the process. Dika, Ndume, Edo plus Lewa and Uaso reported back at the Stockades at 4.30 p.m.
04 November 2000
Having left the Stockades, the orphans enjoyed chasing 4 waterbucks. Both groups were at the wallow together, rolling, pushing and playing with each other, whilst Emily had fun chasing another warthog backwards and forwards. Meanwhile, Dika and Ndume turned up at the Stockades at 9.30 a.m. in the morning. Dika left at 1 p.m. but returned at 3 p.m. with Edo, Lewa and Uaso in tow. The other orphans came in at 6 p.m. as usual.
05 November 2000
This morning Icholta played with Nyiro and then Lolokwe whilst the others fed. On the way to the wallow Salama found himself behind and began to panic, yelling with fear. Immediately Aitong reacted by rushing back to comfort him. Today the orphans enjoyed two mudbaths, because it was very hot. Edo and the small boys arrived back at the Stockades at 4.40 p.m. followed by Dika, who came in at 5 p.m. with Lissa, Mpenzi and Lissa's calf, little Lara.
06 November 2000
Edo, Lewa and Uaso accompanied the others when they all left in the morning and Laikipia engaged Lewa in play for 20 minutes. Emily's group joined the babies for the milk feed and later at 12 p.m. for the wallow when Dika also arrived, but didn't stay long. When the orphans returned to the Stockades in the evening, Dika and Lissa's group were already there, as were Edo and his small boys, Lewa and Uaso.
07 November 2000
Emily's group parted from Natumi's at 7.30 a.m. At 8.30 a.m. Emily's group were joined by Edo and his boys and later, Dika. After the milk feed Nyiro played with Lolokwe whilst Salama took on Ilingwezi and the others went under shade. Later, after the mudbath, shortly before 4 p.m., Lissa and her calf joined up with the babies and Natumi enjoyed a game with Lara. Emily went heading West leaving the boys, who returned to the Stockades at 2.20 p.m.
08 November 2000
This morning Emily went through the Eastern Spring Gate with Edo and the small boys, but joined the babies at the milk venue at 10 a.m. Meanwhile within Natumi's group, Salama tussled with Laikipia, whilst Natumi took on Edie. After the 10 a.m. feed Edo and the small boys remained with the babies until the mudbath, when Icholta played with Edie. Dika was with Edo and the boys when they returned to the Stockades at 4.10 p.m.
09 November 2000
All the orphans left together, joined today by Lissa's group. Natumi enjoyed a game with Lissa's baby, Lara soon after leaving the Stockade. Just before the 10 a.m. feed Mweiga and Salama had a wonderful play, after which Emily took her group off. Lissa stayed behind with the babies, but left them just before the mudbath., when Emily rejoined them, and Edie and Salama played together. The babies spent the afternoon away from Emily's group, reporting back at 5.30 p.m. whilst Emily came in at 6 p.m. A little later Dika, Ndume and Edo and his charges turned up.
10 November 2000
The orphans left together. Mweiga and Natumi played together whilst Salama tussled with Laikipia as usual just prior to the 10 a.m. milk feed. It was too cold for a wallow today, but Ilingwezi, Natumi and Salama had a long session of play that lasted almost 2 hours. Emily spent most of the day with Natumi's group with Aitong obsessed with little Nyiro, encouraging him to remain with her rather than go to the Keepers. Dika, Edo and the small boys returned to the Stockades at 5 p.m.
11 November 2000
Both groups remained together until the mudbath when Icholta and Lolokwe rolled about together joyfully. During the mudbath Aitong "showed her motherly love" by rescuing Mweiga who had fallen down in the wallow and had difficulty in getting out. Afterwards Edie and Natumi indulged in a pushing match whilst the others browsed. At 3.30 p.m. the orphans were joined by a wild group when Aitong played with one of them her size. Emily hung back with the wild group in the evening, so Aitong escorted the babies back to the Stockades where, to be joined by Emily later. Dika, Edo and the small boys, Uaso and Lewa, had returned to the Stockades at 3.45 p.m.
12 November 2000
Edo and the small boys accompanied the other orphans this morning. Lewa and Natumi "shared friendly and welcoming gestures" before Edo and the boys left the others at 9 a.m. The rest sheltered under the shade until it was time to head off for the mudbath when they were alarmed by the appearance of 2 waterbucks and their young. Natumi, Edie, Salama and Ilingwezi plucked up courage to charge them. In the mudbath Edie and Mweiga played together whilst Ilingwezi and Laikipia followed suit in the dustbath. All had a wonderful time. Dika and Edo and the small boys reported back to the Stockades at 5 p.m.
13 November 2000
All the orphans left together, but separated later, Emily rejoining the others only briefly for Mweiga's 10 a.m. feed but again leaving them soon after, meeting a wild group with whom Aitong and Emily played. They remained with this group, who accompanied them to the mudbath, and stayed with them all afternoon. Meanwhile the babies had wallowed ahead of Emily's group, and been frightened by four zebras as they approached. Salama and Ilingwezi played during the mudbath. Later Edo and his boys joined the babies at 3 p.m. when Natumi gave Uaso and Lewa an exuberant welcome. Edo and his boys left shortly afterwards, and at 3 p.m. turned up at the Stockades with Dika and Ndume in tow.
14 November 2000
Aitong obviously sees herself as the surrogate mother of little Nyiro. She enjoyed playing with both him and Salama this morning before accompanying Emily on her travels. It was drizzling today, so the little orphans had a lovely time rolling on the anthills whilst Salama and Laikipia indulged in their usual sparring match. Emily's group rejoined the babies at 10 a.m. and then again at 1 p.m. In the afternoon they all joined up with a wild herd, and spent a lot of time playing with their wild age-mates.
15 November 2000
Another rainy day today, and again the little orphans had a wonderful time in the rain. It was too cold for the mudbath, but Mweiga and Salama enjoyed a game whilst the others did "running exercises", tackling each other whenever they happened to meet. All the orphans were together all day.
16 November 2000
Both groups left together in the morning, but separated as usual, meeting up again at the 10 a.m. milk venue. Salama and Laikipia sparred repeatedly early in the morning, whilst Loisaba took on Salama after the milk feed. Emily and Imenti likewise enjoyed a game. On the way back in the afternoon, Emily's group gave chase to some zebra.
17 November 2000
Left all together as usual, feeding in close proximity to one another until the 10 a.m. milk session. Aitong kept up a shuttle between the two in order to keep tabs on little Nyiro, whom she adores and has done so from the very first meeting. After milk, Natumi's group took a different route to the mudbath where they joined up with Emily's group again when Mweiga and Nyiro had a wonderful time playing. Meanwhile Laikipia skidded and fell, and Aitong rushed to his rescue. They were all together in the afternoon, returning as one group to the Stockades in the evening.
18 November 2000
The morning was spent all together, enjoying the showers of rain, rolling in the mud and rubbing up against anthills, during which time Emily and Imenti put on a "dramatic" display. At 4 p.m. the orphans joined a wild female who had two youngsters with her, the size of Emily and Aitong, so Emily and Aitong played with them. In the evening Emily remained behind with this wild herd, so again it fell to Aitong to escort the babies back home.
19 November 2000
The orphans left together as usual, and encountered a group of 4 wild elephants. Aitong played with a calf of her size. Emily's group left the others after the 10 a.m. feed, but joined them at the mudbath, where Nyiro and Icholta were having a great rolling game. Mweiga and Loisaba played together later in the sandbath. Emily's group returned at 6 p.m., a little while after the babies.
20 November 2000
Soon after leaving the Stockades in the morning at 6 a.m., 4 waterbucks scared Imenti, who yelled before charging them. His cries brought Emily to the rescue at the double, and together they sorted out the waterbucks, reinforced by Aitong and Loisaba and later still, by Natumi. During the waterbuck chase Mweiga yelled when she found herself left behind and this reversed events instantly as they all came running to her aid. During the afternoon it was Natumi who spearheaded the chase of some warthogs they happened upon, sending them scurrying off into the far distance!
21 November 2000
Both groups spent the morning together, and went to the mudbath together as well. Aitong again demonstrated her "motherly love" by rescuing Salama when he skid and fell. At 2 p.m. Emily's group went along to join a wild herd that was approaching. Aitong was very excited to meet up with them, and was tempted to remain behind with them when the others wanted to leave for the Stockades in the evening, delaying their return.
22 November 2000
Soon after leaving the Stockades, the orphans met up with a wild herd of elephants and exchanged greetings with them. Imenti and Emily were warmly welcomed and travelled with wild elephants for a considerable distance, playing with their age-mates. During the mudbath Mweiga bellowed because she thought she had been left behind as Emily and Aitong moved off. This brought them both back at the double to reassure her by resting their trunks over her back.
23 November 2000
Both groups left together and remained together, wallowing together at 11.30. Aitong and Emily gave chase to some waterbuck during the morning, joined by Imenti who put on a good demonstration, kicking and breaking bushes. Natumi and Edie, who at first seemed scared, then came as reinforcements. Today the mudbath was memorable because all the orphans could submerge themselves in a natural waterhole, which they did with just the tip of their trunks showing.
24 November 2000
This morning was a fun morning as the orphans played and covered themselves in mud rubbing themselves against the anthills, which they enjoy doing when it rains. Salama and Laikipia kept each other occupied rolling on each other whilst Mweiga and Loisaba had a good time together in the mudbath.
25 November 2000
Again, the orphans stayed together all day and were together at the mudbath where Aitong played her caretaking roll to the full, keeping a close watch on all the little ones. Mweiga and Ilingwezi had a marvellous romp in the mudbath, but Nyiro had difficulty getting out, so Aitong had to lift him. The afternoon was also spent all having fun together.
26 November 2000
Laikipia and Icholta were preoccupied with play as they left the Stockades during which time Emily's group separated from the babies, but rejoined them at 10 a.m. Later on a running dikdik terrified Icholta and Lolokwe but after some confusion they managed to pluck up enough courage to give chase! Meanwhile Lissa and her calf had met up with Emily's group and Imenti immediately challenged Mpenzi to a game. All were at the mudbath today where Lara enjoyed a game with both Natumi and Salama. Then Edie and Natumi had a "spectacular" session. Lissa and Lara remained with the other orphans until the late evening, when they left our group and headed for the Voi Safari Lodge.
27 November 2000
Both groups left together. They met up with a wild mature female and 3 youngsters the size of Mweiga, Lewa and Uaso. Laikipia played with the smallest calf whilst Salama charged around showing off on the sidelines. All the elephants enjoyed the wet anthills and the showers of rain which kept the temperature cool.
28 November 2000
After the 10 a.m. milk feed, Mweiga played with Salama before they set off for the mudbath. The mudbath was filled with activity, "climaxed" by Ilingwezi and Icholta getting stuck in the wallow when both Emily and Aitong rushed to the rescue, "playing their motherly role". Aitong also had to rescue Laikipia who likewise got stuck in the mud.
29 November 2000
Edie and Nyiro dominated the play amongst the baby group this morning, as all the orphans headed out together. Emily and Imenti enjoyed their usual game which lasted a long time. Both groups were at the mudbath when Laikipia, Salama and Natumi put on a spectacular show. In the afternoon Loisaba played with Salama as well as with Aitong. In the evening Edo, Uaso and Lewa reappeared from the Eastern side of the hill and remained at the Stockades until 9 p.m., when they left, taking Imenti with them.
30 November 2000
Both groups left as usual together, playing with each other as they went and were joined by Edo, Imenti and the little boys, Uaso and Lewa, at 8 a.m. Emily then left the baby group temporarily, joining them again at 10 a.m., and later accompanying them to the mudbath. Edo and his small boys took themselves off at 3 p.m. leaving Imenti behind with the others.