Keepers' Diaries, November 2006
Voi Reintegration Unit
The Voi orphans have also had a wonderful month, the drought conditions relieved at last by plentiful rain which has brought on a green banquet for this unit, which has had to search for every edible shoot for so long, having endured 3 years of drought. However, the vegetation is nothing like as plentiful as that in the North which has not endured such heavy browsing pressure from wild herds. Yet again, Mazinga Hill seems to be the place of choice when it comes to feeding, run-off from the hill obviously promoting better growth. Mukwaju remains the mountaineer of the group, always anxious to head up the hill, and be first at the top.
01 November 2006
Green vegetation is at last plentiful for the Voi Orphans following rain in October and more in November, which has come as a treat following two previous years of drought. Hence, the Voi Unit has been concentrating on browsing, heading out early in the morning, having a joyful mudbath in any of the natural waterholes that have filled with rainwater, and today, again heading up Mazinga Hill, led by the group’s mountaineer, Mukwaju, on this occasion facing competition from Vita. In the evening, as usual, Laikipia led “the majestic march” back to the Stockades.
02 November 2006
The orphans enjoyed their usual very playful morning before heading out to feed, the group having split into two. Sosian led some to the feeding grounds, while Laikipia headed up the hill again. There were showers all day, so there was no need for a mudbath so the orphans concentrated on feeding until it was time to return in the evening. Loisaba and Lolokwe, enjoyed playing in the damp earth before heading home.
03 November 2006
Today, it was Burra who led the group out, followed closely by Mweiga. They selected plants with care out in the field, while Natumi and Morani headed back up the hill, followed by Vita and Edie. The others foraged on the lower slopes of the hill until it was time to return in the evening.
04 November 2006
Salama and Nyiro intertwined trunks in a Good Morning gesture before all the orphans headed out to the main Park to feed. There they were joined by a wild herd, welcomed by Mweiga, and together the wild herd and the orphans fed for the next 2 hours, Ndara and Nyiro engaging age-mates in pushing contests. The orphans peeled off when it was time for the mudbath, and in the evening Burra and Solango led the way home.
05 November 2006
Again, after the usual morning fun and games, the orphans headed back up the hill to feed until it was time to take a drink and a mudwallow. Following this, they went back up the hill, until Laikipia and Burra led the way home.
06 November 2006
Today, after the usual morning games, the orphans went to feed on the slopes of Mazinga Hill until it was time for the milk run. As soon as Mpala and Mweiga heard the red Pickup approaching, they rushed to meet it and get their ration of milk. After this it began to rain, so the elephants headed back up the hill, where they enjoy a greater variety of vegetation.
07 November 2006
Again, feeding dominated the day. Mweiga paused briefly to rub herself against a rock and Salama climbed the hill. All the orphans concentrated on feeding until it was time to return home.
08 November 2006
Feeding again dominated the morning, the orphans led out by Mweiga. Edie and Morani took them to the mudbath at noon, after which, it was back to the slopes of Mazinga Hill to feast until the day ended and it was time to return.
09 November 2006
Feeding again dominated the day, interrupted by a wonderfully active mudbath, before the orphans headed back up the hill again. In the evening Burra and Solango led the way home today.
10 November 2006
Again, the herd headed for the slopes of Mazinga Hill, where they fed until Laikipia took them to the mudbath. Lolokwe and Loisaba led the group back to the hill afterwards where they fed peacefully until a lesser kudu scared them, prompting them to rush back to the Keepers, who calmed them down.
11 November 2006
Off again into the main Park for another busy feeding day, having rolled around to dust themselves at the Stockades. They had a wonderful mudbath, before foraging again during the afternoon until it was time to return in the evening.
12 November 2006
The orphans chased each other playfully around the Stockade before heading to the slopes of Mazinga Hill. At mudbath Laikipia, Ndara and Seraa rolled in the water splashing it around, prompting the other orphans to join in the fun. Laikipia then led the group into the bush to feed until evening.
13 November 2006
The day began with fun and games around the Stockade, accompanied by trumpeting, before the group headed out to feed. Mweya and Solango had a wonderful time in the mudbath before the orphans headed off again to feed until evening.
14 November 2006
The orphans were in a lively mood this morning as they played joyfully around the Stockade. Lolokwe and Nyiro tested their strength against each other, before heading off in single file for another busy feeding day. Laikipia and Salama could not hide their joy at the mudbath until Vita, Ndara and Loisaba led the group off to feed again, until it was time to return in the evening.
15 November 2006
The orphans welcomed daylight with exuberance, wishing the Keepers “Good Morning” by trumpeting, and after the usual fun and games headed out to feed until it was time for the mudbath. Laikipia, Vita and Irima were the main players during the mudbath, after which the elephants went to the Eastern side of Mazinga Hill where they fed until it was time to return in the evening.
16 November 2006
The orphans were joined by a wild herd at the foot of Mazinga Hill and spent the morning feeding in amongst them until it was time for the mudbath. There Mpala sat on his haunches in the mud, whilst Natumi submerged herself. Thoma then led the orphans back to the hill to forage, but the wild herd had meanwhile moved off.
17 November 2006
Today it was all the boys that led the way, which “miffed” the girls. The orphans foraged peacefully, until it was time to enjoy the mudbath, and this they certainly did, with Solango, Laikipia, Lolokwe and Salama rolling in the mud and actually swimming around in the deep middle of the large waterhole. Later they fed until it was time to return in the evening.
18 November 2006
This morning, the orphans were happy to be joined by Uaso out in the bush, who was with them all day, partaking of the mudbath, when Laikipia challenged him to a pushing contest. Although Uaso won, Laikipia walked away holding his head high, confident that the day is not far off when he will emerge as the winner. Uaso accompanied them home in the evening, and then left heading towards the hill.
19 November 2006
Before leaving, Solango, Lolokwe and Nyiro pushed each other around the compound until all were ready to march out to the feeding grounds, again the boys taking the lead. They fed joyfully, and had a wonderful time in the mudbath, splashing around and tossing their trunks skywards in happiness. They fed all afternoon until it was time to return in the evening.
20 November 2006
The orphans had a lively foraging morning, interrupted only by the mudbath having been led there by Laikipia. Mweya and Mpala engaged each other in a tough pushing game after Mpala attempted to mount Mweya. Edie stood on the bank splashing water around with his trunk. In the afternoon Mweya and Seraa fed close to one another, until Burra and Laikipia signaled that it was time to return back home.
21 November 2006
The orphans foraged eagerly throughout the day, interrupted by a wonderful mudbathing session when Natumi and Thoma rolled and played joyfully in the mud.
22 November 2006
Another busy feeding day, and another wonderful mudbath, after which the orphans headed back to feed at the foot of Mazinga Hill.
23 November 2006
Feeding again dominated the day, so that the orphans were reluctant to break off for the mudbath. In the end Burra persuaded them to do so.
24 November 2006
The orphans were eager to head out to the foot of Mazinga Hill to feed. Stars at the mudbath were Solango, Mweya, Salama and Edie, whilst Lolokwe engaged Nyiro in a pushing contest. Later Salama tried to mount Mweya. After the mudbath, the orphans fed peacefully until it was time to return in the evening.
25 November 2006
It was a chilly day today. The orphans went to the main Park to feed, and were not interested in a mudbath.
26 November 2006
The orphans again foraged on the slopes of Mazinga Hill before heading to the mudbath to quench their thirst. Seraa and Edie were latecomers to the mudbath.
27 November 2006
Having foraged all morning at the foot of Mazinga Hill, Mukwaju led the group to the mudbath, where they had a wonderful time, Lolokwe and Icholta engaging each other in a pushing context. Uaso then arrived to participate in the mudbath, demonstrating his swimming techniques which were eagerly watched by all the others. Uaso then accompanied them to the feeding grounds again, and remained with them until it was time to return for the night.
28 November 2006
Light showers fell during the morning. Salama decided to take a nap whilst Laikipia and Burra stood guard. Mweiga foraged with Uaso whilst the others kept to shade until it was time to return in the evening.
29 November 2006
The orphans could hardly wait to be out and about to feed again, heading for Mazinga Hill. They foraged happily until it was time to return in the evening, marching back in single file.
30 November 2006
Out in the feeding area, the orphans were again joined by Uaso, who remained with them all day, enjoying the mudbath with them, before heading out again to feed until it was time to return in the evening.