Keepers' Diaries, November 2004

Voi Reintegration Unit

This month’s Diary is very interesting, since it is the first full month that Emily, Aitong and Sweet Sally have not been with the other orphans in the Stockades at night. Although they either present themselves first thing in the mornings to escort the younger orphans out into the bush to feed, they have on several occasions spent a day or two away, when Natumi and Icholta have been competitors for the role of Matriarch. Being slightly older than Icholta, but only by a few months, Natumi will probably emerge as Leader, particularly as it would appear that Icholta needed back-up from Nyiro on one occasion. Quite obviously, Natumi enjoys her elevated status, and is recorded as even trying to discourage contact with Emily who appeared with a wild bull friend of her age one day, which left Natumi jealous. At first Natumi tried to steer the younger orphans away from Emily and her escort, and then remained distant until the bull departed and only then did she come to greet Emily.

01 November 2004

Emily arrived early to escort the orphans, but without Aitong and Sweet Sally, who joined the group later at 8.16 a.m. Sally “showed off” in front of the others to show them that she was now a “grown-up” and out at night, posing with one back leg crossed and stretching only her trunk towards them as they approached to greet her!

02 November 2004

At 3.30 p.m. at the foot of Mazinga Hill where the orphans were browsing, a wild bull of about 12 years approached the group. Laikipia came forward to introduce himself, tossing his trunk forward to hold that of the wild bull. The orphans remained with the wild bull until it was time to return to the Night Stockade.

03 November 2004

Emily, Aitong and Sally came to escort the orphans in the morning. Sally had an altercation with Mweiga, jealously noticing that Mweiga wanted to be close to Aitong but Aitong stopped Sally, giving each equal attention, touching them both frequently.

04 November 2004

Salama and Nyiro, who have been eager to show off dominance to the younger bulls, engaged each other in a tough battle, which left Nyiro rolling down like an empty bucket when Salama pushed him down. Emily, who had already joined them in the morning, came to his rescue, and Salama, upon seeing her approach fast, took off!

05 November 2004

There was a lot of excitement when the orphans joined 4 wild cows, one of whom had a tiny baby of about 3 weeks old. Ndara rushed to touch the baby, but the mother denied her the chance to touch it, by bringing the baby beneath her forelegs. Emily went to comfort Ndara, placing her trunk on Ndara’s head.

06 November 2004

Emily, Aitong and Sally turned up to meet the other orphans in the morning. Loisaba, Tsavo, Ndara and Ilingwezi were very happy to see them, charging forward trumpeting with happiness when they saw the three coming down from Mazinga Hill where they had spent the night.

07 November 2004

There was confusion in the morning when Mweya, Thoma, Morani, Seraa and Mpala tried to chase off two bushbucks, and the bushbucks simply ran amongst the orphans! Chaos reigned until Mweya collided head on with Seraa and both fell down. By the time they got up the bushbucks had disappeared into a nearby bush. At the noon milk feed Solango tried to block Morani from getting his bottle, which made Morani yell. The Keepers came and reprimanded Solango

08 November 2004

Led by Emily, the orphans charged 2 giraffes and some zebra who were drinking at the mudbath. Burra and Solango, who were left behind, became alarmed and ran to the Keepers when they spotted the giraffes heading their way.

09 November 2004

Emily was late today, but met up with the group out in the bush. Mpala and Burra had a shoving contest, and Mpala became very excited when he managed to push down Burra, but only because Burra’s hind leg got caught in some grass. Mpala trumpeted with happiness, content at having won the bout. In the evening the orphans watched a large group of mixed wild elephant families numbering about 60 heading towards Mazinga Hill. The orphans did not join them, because it was time to return to the Stockade, but Emily, Aitong and Sally probably spent the night with the wild herd.

10 November 2004

The orphans raised their trunks to test the air, and then headed to Mazinga Hill, because Emily was there. Emily came down to greet them and stood quietly close to Natumi, touching her mouth as if to find out how her babies were. Emily then went to fetch Mweiga, who was left some way behind the others. At 3.25 p.m. the orphans briefly joined a wild group of 6 elephants, but did not spend much time with them since the wild group wanted to move on to another appointment.

11 November 2004

Emily and her group (Aitong and Sally) came with a wild bull of Emily’s age to join the orphans at l0 a.m. Natumi appeared jealous, and ignored their presence until the wild bull wandered off. Only then did she go and greet Emily, Aitong and Sally who were busy investigating a hornbill in its nest in a tree.

12 November 2004

Burra and Morani had a tussle in the morning, which lasted a long time. The Keepers tried to separate them, but they ran off, and started the battle again! The fight ended when Emily arrived to greet them

13 November 2004

Emily’s group was not seen all day. Morani fed close to Mweiga, feeling a little insecure. At 4 p.m. Catherine’s wild group of about 10 elephants came to drink water at the Stockade. One cow was very aggressive, charging the Keepers behind the electric wire. They wandered off before the orphans arrived for the night.

14 November 2004

It was a very hot day, so the orphans took their mudbath early and all had a wonderful mud wallow, except Mweiga, who stood watching. They got a fright near Mazinga Hill when whilst attempting to chase off a baby baboon, the big dog baboon came to the rescue, and chased the orphans off.

15 November 2004

Nyiro was being a pest to Salama, constantly trying to jump on his back. Natumi intervened and chased Nyiro off. Natumi has now taken charge of the orphans, since Emily, Aitong and Sally have been absent now for two days.

16 November 2004

Burra and Morani played a pushing game again, and this time Burra was very steady and he won the round. Later, a hyaena merging from a thick bush ran between the orphans’ legs, which left them motionless, and screaming. The Keepers had to spend time calming them down. Emily arrived later to join them at 9.35 a.m.

17 November 2004

There was a great deal of excitement when Ndara ran hither and thither and met up with Wmily’s group on the way to the orphans’ feeding ground. Emily rumbled a greeting and went to take her, and the two spent the day feeding close to one another.

18 November 2004

Emily’s group came to join the other orphas at 8.30 a.m. Upon noticing that they were coming Natumi tried to encourage the orphans to go in the opposite direction, but Emily came in to join them, leaving Natumi looking helplessly as all the orphans made a big fuss of greeting Emily. Irima, Nyiro and Lolokwe chased of 6 male impalas, a game that became so fascinating that Mweia found herself also embroiled, chasing the antelope for about 400 metres before returning to join the other orphans.

19 November 2004

There was rain and thunder during the night. Emily, Aitong and Sweet Sally remained close to the Stockades, and were ready to escort the orphans out in the morning, all enjoying the rain puddles and soft mud.

20 November 2004

Emily’s group was spotted feeding high up on Mazinga Hill. Icholta enjoyed leading the other orphans to the feeding area, but found herself in trouble with Natumi, who tried to push her back. A wild bull of 12 years old joined the orphans at 8 a.m. Salama and Laikipia combined forces to play a pushing game with him and spent about an hour with him before rejoining the others on their way to the mudbath.

21 November 2004

In the absence of Emily, there was a tussle between Natumi and Icholta over who should lead the orphans. Nyiro came to give Ocholta back-up, but suddenly they both turned round to find Emily close by. Icholta slowly disengaged, without even greeting Emily

22 November 2004

Ndara and Solango had a tussle today, which turned serious, so Natumi charged in to separate them. The orphans joined a group of 7 wild elephants today when Salana tested his strength against an age-mate whom he succeeded in pushing down. Two other wild bulls came to take on Salama, who soon found himself overpowered and rolling down the hill like an empty bottle! The wild Matriarch intervened to come to his rescue, and the two culprits fled.

23 November 2004

The orphans were very happy today, browse being plentiful after the rains. Thjey teamed up in groups of friends to play pushing games. Tsavo took on Sosian, whilst Mukwaju engaged Solango. Mpala went to investigate a dung beetle rolling its ball of dung along the ground, and got very scared when the beetle grabbed onto the end of his trunk, causing him to scream. This brought Emily along, who took Mpala off with her to feed close.

24 November 2004

Upon hearing baby screams, Emily, Aitong and Sally came rushing down Mazinga Hill to take charge of the youngsters, taking them back up the hill to browse until it was time for the mudbath.

25 November 2004

The orphans emerged from their Night Stockade looking active and happy. Icholta lay on Solango, which made him scream, so the Keepers intervened. At 6.37 a.m. the orphans joined a group of 13 wild elephants with whom they remained until the mudbath hour. Laikipia was left behind with the wild herd, but caught up with the others later.

26 November 2004

Emily’s group came to take the other orphans early in the morning. There had been heavy rain the previous night.

27 November 2004

Mweya chased off a lesser kudu this morning, but upon noticing that none of the others had given her any backing, she returned in a rush, and took it out on Seraa, whom she pushed down.

28 November 2004

Emily’s group joined the other orphans at 10 a.m., leading them to an early mudbath which they all enjoyed immensely. Natumi lay down and allowed Morani and Mpala to climb onto her stomach, but rose when Mvita came to join them.

29 November 2004

Emily’s group joined the other orphans as they were leaving the Night Stockade in the morning, and they all browsed together all day. Later a group of baboons ran down from Mazinga hill making a huge fuss, possibly because of the presence of a leopard. There was a great deal of confusion when they found themselves amongst the elephants, after which they took to the trees.

30 November 2004

The rains began early this morning. The orphans enjoyed rubbing themselves again anthills as they made their way out into the bush. At 10.20 a.m. Emily and Aitong charged and chased off two lions who were resting under a tree near Mazinga Hill. After this, Emily’s group celebrated their victory by trumpeting and breaking small bushes, whilst Sally, who was more scared, joined all the others trumpeting in excitement.