Keepers' Diaries, November 2002

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.

01 November 2002

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.

02 November 2002

Maungu was very happy today, pulling up the grass by the roots, which was easy because the soil was wet. On the way to the mudbath Imenti charged some tourist buses which were on the road watching the orphans pass. (We, Keepers crossed away from the tourists so that they would not recognise the orphans). In the afternoon, when the orphans were resting in the shade, Natumi and Nyiro were terrified when a Monitor Lizard approached from behind. They fled towards the other orphans, accidentally pushing Kinna down in the rush. They all screamed, and this brought Emily along in a hurry, who trod on the lizard in the process, and herself became so scared that she ran to the Keepers for protection!

03 November 2002

Because of being seen crossing the road by tourist buses, we changed the mudbath venue to the foot of Mzinga Hill underneath a large Baobab tree. Natumi, Ilingwezi, Edie, Mukwaju, Nasalot and Mulika joined forces to chase a pack of baboons. However, one old dog baboon, who could not run fast enough, turned round and confronted them, whereupon all fled back to the Keepers, with Mukwaju at the back, screaming with fear. Loisaba and Tsavo ran to meet them. It was raining in the morning and all the orphans had a marvellous time playing in the mud. At the mudbath Mweya tried to upturn one of the drinking bins, but could not manage alone, so Sweet Sally came to help. Mweya pushed with her head and Sally reversed and pushed with a back leg, until the bin overturned, and then both rushed back into the mudbath trumpeting with excitement and happiness.

04 November 2002

Having downed their noon bottles of milk, Sally and Mweya tried to take Maungu's share, and had to be warned, so that Maungu could take her milk slowly in peace. Salama, who always wants to exercise authority, pushed Natumi until she fell down in competition for a tasty bush. Natumi retaliated and shoved Salama so hard that he screamed for help, bringing Emily to the rescue. After that he went to feed alone for about 10 minutes.

05 November 2002

Imenti was in a bad mood today, and kicked any of the orphans that came close to him, especially Natumi. When the Keepers warned him, he turned on them, and we had to take refuge in a tree. Maungu chased a squirrel which ran between Mweya's legs, scaring her so that she ran to the Keepers for protection.

06 November 2002

Mweya lay on Maungu in the mudbath, and the Keepers had to intervene. Imenti reported to the Stockades in the early morning, and joined the orphans as they left for the bush, but left them to go on his own. He returned to the Stockades with Edo at 6 p.m.

07 November 2002

At the mudbath Maungu, Mweya and Sweet Sally stood quietly to allow a group of impalas with small babies to take water first and then rushed into the mudbath. Kinna, Yatta, Nyiro and Tsavo left the other orphans at 11 a.m. to feed on their own, but became highly scared when two warring dikdiks raced past. They ran to Emily and Aitong and Emily calmed them down, resting her trunk on their backs. In the evening Maungu was given her first Vitamin B injection.

08 November 2002

At 9.20 a.m. Maungu, Sally and Mweya ran after the Tractor which was taking water to the bins at the mudbath, thinking that it was carrying their milk. During the mudbath Tsavo found himself in trouble when he was rolling round and round with Emily, and Emily accidentally squashed his leg. He screamed, and all the other orphans rushed out of the mudbath, Ilingwezi in the lead. Realising that she had accidentally hurt him, Emily calmed him by resting her trunk across his back.

09 November 2002

It was a hot day, so the babies went to the mudbath early. Mweya and Sally had a marvellous mudbath, whilst Maungu sprayed them with water using her small trunk. Edie, Kinna, Nasalot, Mulika, Yatta, and Mukwaju went to graze apart from the others, joining them at the mudbath, where they were greeted by Loisaba, who heard them calling and went to get them.

10 November 2002

At 7 a.m. Imenti became annoyed when he saw Edo mounting Aitong. He tried to block Edo and accidentally trod on Icholta's foot, refusing to move when Icholta started screaming. He did not like being reprimanded by the Keepers. At the noon mudbath, Mweya was having a wonderful time, but her two friends, Sally and Maungu were reluctant to go in. She grabbed Maungu's tail in her mouth and pulled her in. Maungu screamed, but later joined in the fun.

11 November 2002

The orphans decided to feed up Mzinga Hill today, but Mweiga had difficulty climbing and began rumbling. Aitong returned and tried to push her up, but was defeated, so decided to keep her company at the base of the hill. Maungu seems much better and more active since her injections of Vitamin B complex, chasing Mweya and Sally round bushes playfully.

12 November 2002

Sally and Mweya both wanted to lead the baby group when leaving the Stockades this morning. In the end, Sally won the right to do so. Later Ndara tried to snatch a branch from Nyiro's mouth, and Nyiro pushed her down. Salama saw this, and came to push Nyiro. Emily led the way to the mudbath, and was very alarmed to find Ndume lying in the mud. When she realised that he was alright, because he got up to greet her, they all had a wonderful mudbath together, very happy to be reunited.

13 November 2002

At l0.30 a.m. a squirrel ran between Maungu's legs, which made her scream loudly. Sally ran to the rescue but planted herself in a nearby thornbush as she was about to step on the squirrel. At 2 p.m., Uaso, with a group of seven wild elephants joined the orphans, and spent most of the day amongst them. When the wild group left, Uaso returned to the Stockades with the orphans, took his share of the Copra cake, and then left again. Whilst walking back to the Stockades, Mweya laid her trunk lovingly across Maungu's back, whilst Maungu majestically led the group.

14 November 2002

Early in the morning, Uaso came to greet the other orphans and joined them on their way out into the bush. He and Emily had a pushing contest, which Uaso won. Whilst resting under a tree at 2 p.m., Sally fell asleep resting her head and trunk on Mweya's back. When Mweya moved away later, she woke up with a start and screamed. Maungu received her second Vitamin B injection today.

15 November 2002

On the way back in the evening, Maungu got mixed up with some Safari Ants, which attacked her. She screamed and ran to the Keepers for help. Natumi was startled by a male Impala that made a barking sound nearby, but when she realised that it was just an impala, she turned round and chased it off.

16 November 2002

Laikipia tried to jump onto Ilingwezi, but without success. He then tried to do the same to Tsavo, but Loisaba pushed him away. On the way to the mudbath, Sweet Sally happened upon a male waterbuck, who refused to give way when threatened. Sally ran to the Keepers, but Maungu stood her ground, until the waterbuck moved off slowly.

17 November 2002

It rained heavily this morning, which prompted Mweya and Sally to start a wonderful game, playing hide and seek around a thick bush. The game came to an end when they had a head on collision and both fell to the ground. Mweya was up in a flash but was reluctant to join in the next game which Sally initiated, rolling in the mud. In the mudbath, Salama engaged Imenti in a tough battle for pride of position. In the end Imenti came out and allowed Salama to take his place.

18 November 2002

Sally, Maungu and Mweya could not resist wallowing in every puddle they found as they left the Stockades in the morning. Nyiro, who always looks upon Mweiga as a weakling, was surprised to find himself pushed down by her. Later on, in the mudbath, he retaliated by deliberately stepping on her trunk.

19 November 2002

Tsavo tried to jump on Icholta today, but she was wet and slippery so he fell off! Back at the Stockades in the evening, Maungu, Mweya and Sweet Sally cornered the resident Monitor Lizard in their Stockade, chasing it around with sweeping trunks. When it ran between Mweya's legs, she got very scared.

20 November 2002

Sally noticed that Maungu had been left behind when they left the Stockades, so she rushed back to join her, kissing her mouth with her trunk, and then walking slowly beside her with her trunk laid across Maungu's back. Edo accompanied the older orphans when they left the Stockades this morning and they all then joined a herd of wild elephants, and spent the entire day with them, many kms. away. When our orphans had failed to return to the Stockades by 7 p.m., the Keepers set out in the Tractor to find them. Eventually, the orphans turned up at 8 p.m.

21 November 2002

Maungu had diarrhoea today, probably because of the very green grass. She was better after a dose of Colloidal Silver. Edo joined the older orphans again at 10 a.m., but today they were too tired to accompany him, having walked many miles the previous day. He left after the mudbath. Maungu had her third and last injection of Vitamin B today.

22 November 2002

Today was a special day, the day Lissa's second baby was born. Having left the Stockades in the morning, the orphans and the Keepers found a group of about 50 elephants surrounding something at the foot of Mzinga Hill about 600 metres from the Stockades. The Keepers climbed a large rock, and could see that Lissa was in the middle, giving birth. Emily and Aitong so badly wanted to go in, but could not due to the large crowd of other elephants, which included some big bulls. Lissa gave birth, lying on her side, and as soon as she stood up, she was mounted by a very big Bull. This surprised everyone, but perhaps it is the elephant tradition. After the baby gained enough energy to stand, all the wild group escorted Lissa and supporting her calf, helped them both to the shade of a nearby tree, where they left Lissa and her baby with an attendant young cow of about 10 years old, (probably Lissa's Nannie, an ex orphan called Mpenzi). The young cow was very excited and was guarding Lissa and her baby, chasing away any wild animals that came close to the place, whilst the wild group fed about 100 metres away.

23 November 2002

A tug of war began when Mukwaju tried to mount Kinna. Kinna won. Edo joined the orphans at 10 a.m. and separated Imenti from the others to train him in pushing techniques. Emily, Aitong, Salama and Laikipia surrounded them rumbling, thinking that the two boys were engaged in a serious fight.

24 November 2002

Leaving the Stockade, Nyiro mounted Mweya, but Mweya just kept on walking. Yatta spotted this and came and pushed Nyiro down. Laikipia left the others at 9 a.m. taking Nasalot, Mulika, Olokwe and Mvita with him towards the mudbath, but on the way came across a large hyaena lying in a bush. They screamed in fear which brought Emily and Aitong at the run. Then, together, they all chased the hyaena away.

25 November 2002

Upon leaving the Stockades, Nyiro had another go at mounting Mweya, but she ran away, and although he chased after her, she could run faster. At 10.30 a.m. Emily, Natumi, Salama and Edie left the others heading for the mudbath because it was very hot. They were joined in the mudbath by the others at 11.30 a.m.

26 November 2002

En route to the mudbath, Yatta, Kinna, Mulika, Nasalot and Ndara were scared when they came across a large tortoise. Emily went to their rescue, and began kicking and rolling the tortoise who retreated into its shell. After the mudbath, both Laikipia and Salama wanted to mount Lolokwe, and had a fight about it, whilst Lolokwe stood by.

27 November 2002

There was a disagreement today in the mudbath between Mvita and Icholta over the middle position. The struggle extended to the sand bath and then Mvita gave up. In the afternoon, the orphans were very scared during a thunderstorm and all rushed to the Keepers, each one of the 15 wanting to be close to one of the 6 Keepers, who were nearly squashed in the rush. The Keepers sheltered under a large tree with Laikipia, Ilingwezi and Edie, but then Imenti rushed in to occupy the tree, chasing out us Keepers, who went to another tree.

28 November 2002

All the orphans had a marvellous mudbath today, which lasted about one and a half hours. Aitong lay on her side and allowed the others to roll on her. Maungu spotted two guineafowls on the edge of the mudwallow and began chasing them round and round the pool. Eventually she rushed in and sprayed them with water, so that they flew away. She then trumpeted loudly to celebrate the victory!

29 November 2002

At 9.20 a.m. Edo joined the orphans, and chased Aitong, wanting to mount her. Nyiro then tried to mount Salama and got knocked down. He was helped up by Yatta. Mweya and Sally ran to intercept the tractor bringing their milk. Having downed their share, they watched Maungu take hers more slowly, and then walked with her back to the shade where the Keepers were taking their lunch.

30 November 2002

At 8 a.m. Imenti separated Emily from the others wanting to practice pushing techniques. Aitong thought that they were fighting, and without hesitation rushed in to help Emily, pushing Imenti into a nearby thorn tree. He then charged them, sending them both on their way. Mweya, Sally and Maungu blocked the tractor carrying their milk, and would not let it pass until they had been given their bottles. Things went badly for Ilingwezi in the mudbath when Laikipia, Salama and Edie pushed her head into the mud. The Keepers went to her rescue.