Keepers' Diaries, November 2002

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Voi Reintegration Unit

Nursery Elephants:- The month saw little Wendi getting stronger and more active every day, her cheeks filling out, until she was able to join the others at the noon visiting mudbath hour, providing an added attraction for all the visitors and fielding a host of foster-parents. She is quite a little "madam", who objects to being interrupted when she simply wants to fondle the blanket, which accompanies her wherever she goes, and is hung between bushes as a comforter. Thoma and Seraa adore Wendi, but the boys, Sosian, Mpala, Solango and Burra are wary of the tiny newcomer, and with ears outspread prefer to give her a wide berth whenever she joins them. It rained for the first time on the 5th, bringing on a welcome flush of green for the older babies, all of whom have had a good month. Sosian complains loudly every time his bottle is finished, and still often removes himself from crowds of people, waiting to join the others from the nearby bush as they leave. Sosian and Solango are best friends, whilst the others mix happily with each other. All in all, it has been a peaceful and rewarding Nursery month.

Nursery Elephants:- The month saw little Wendi getting stronger and more active every day, her cheeks filling out, until she was able to join the others at the noon visiting mudbath hour, providing an added attraction for all the visitors and fielding a host of foster-parents. She is quite a little "madam", who objects to being interrupted when she simply wants to fondle the blanket, which accompanies her wherever she goes, and is hung between bushes as a comforter. Thoma and Seraa adore Wendi, but the boys, Sosian, Mpala, Solango and Burra are wary of the tiny newcomer, and with ears outspread prefer to give her a wide berth whenever she joins them. It rained for the first time on the 5th, bringing on a welcome flush of green for the older babies, all of whom have had a good month. Sosian complains loudly every time his bottle is finished, and still often removes himself from crowds of people, waiting to join the others from the nearby bush as they leave. Sosian and Solango are best friends, whilst the others mix happily with each other. All in all, it has been a peaceful and rewarding Nursery month.

Tsavo Orphans:- A very exciting event this month has been the birth of Lissa's second calf on the 22nd, witnessed by the Keepers, and which is graphically explained in the Diary. Apparently, hormones released just prior to, and during birthing are similar to those when a cow is in season, and this would explain Lissa being mounted by a large bull immediately after having her baby, which might seem a bit bizarre to us humans! Our Keepers have not yet been able to ascertain the sex of the baby, but no doubt Lissa will bring it back to show her Orphan and Human Family in the fullness of time, as she did her first calf. Surrounded by so many wild elephant friends, followed by Lissa and her newborn being escorted into shade, the baby being helped along by others, touchingly indicates the caring and compassion of elephants towards one another, and the excitement and joy such happenings elicit.

For the elephants, November/December is the festive season, when rains turn the normally arid terrain into a veritable Garden of Eden, and playfulness replaces the serious business of survival. There have been exciting and usually scary encounters with Monitor Lizards, Squirrels, a Hyaena, Guineafowl and Impala, and another very exciting event has been the reappearance of Orphan Uaso, who has been absent with the wild elephants for many months. Ndume also makes another brief appearance at the mudbath on 12th, when Emily came across him lying down in the mud, and became agitated until he got up to greet them, after which they all had a wonderful time together. Edo has been a frequent visitor as usual, and again has mounted Aitong. He took the older orphans on a long walk far from home on 20th
when they did not return until 8 p.m. causing their Keepers anxiety. However, they were not eager to repeat the adventure the next day, being "very tired"!

Imenti has been something of a headache to his human family this month, but has had some "pushing tuition" from Edo, which might do his ego good and stand him in good stead with his peers! Mweya, as usual, takes pride of place in the Keepers' Diary, featuring more than all the others, with Sweet Sally and Maungu as best friends. It is rewarding to find Maungu's poor condition improving after a course of Vitamin B and Dairy Cube supplements and which will be helped further by the green season. It has been a very tough and long dry season for the babies, and Maungu has not coped as well as the others.

As usual, the Keepers' Diary is filled with stories of Emily and Aitong coming to the rescue when any of the youngsters scream, of competition amongst the young bulls, of retribution for wrong-doings and a slight and of many other very "human" traits, shedding light on the nature of these highly intelligent, highly social, very human animals.

November 2002 day to day

01 Nov

It was raining this morning, and the orphans were feeling the cold. Mweya initiated a mud game, lying down in a puddle, and Maungu and Sweet Sally joined in. Later on Mweiga lay in a puddle and Salama tried to mount her. She screamed, and Aitong came to the rescue, pushing Salama away gently with her tusks, and helping Mweiga back onto her feet.
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