Keepers' Diaries, November 2010

Voi Reintegration Unit

The Southern section of Tsavo remained largely dry throughout the month with only light drizzle and showers on the 8th and 25th, so the Keeper Dependent Orphans routine has not varied much throughout the month, punctuated by Pushing Games between the young bulls, especially Siria and Mzima who on occasions have been so preoccupied that they have found themselves way behind the others as they head out to browse each morning. There have been the usual altercations when one tried to nick another’s milk and fun at the noon mudbath during hot days. The orphans have spent a lot of time browsing within the KWS Electric fence where food is more plentiful during the dry season, since wild elephants do not access it. At such times the noon milk feed and mudbath usually takes place at the Stockades, which, this month, have been renovated and received a much needed face-lift funded by the Trust’s US Friends organization. The Voi Stockades have been in use since the early fifties and were beginning to show it!

01 November 2010

Kenia consoled Ndii, who had been pushed by Tassia after he had finished his share and tried to snatch her bottle. Lesanju also moved over to comfort Ndii, but as the Matriarch could not punish Tassia for fear of reprisals from Wasessa, who adores and pampers him! Meanwhile, Siria and Mzima enjoyed a pushing match. At the mudbath hour, all enjoyed bathing except Sinya and Dida, who are not overly fond of cold water. Instead they stood on the edge, splashing water over their bodies with their trunk.

02 November 2010

As soon as they emerged from their Night Stockades, the orphans all enjoyed chasing the baboons, before Lesanju escorted her herd to the Northern side of Mazinga Hill to browse. The mudbath was brief today, because the orphans were anxious to move to the Eastern side of the hill to feed for the rest of the day.

03 November 2010

Shimba led the group out this morning, Lempaute and Sinya stopping en route to scratch themselves against a rock. Siria rolled in some soft sandy soil, but was ignored by the others, so resumed feeding alongside them. They returned to the Stockade for the noon milk feed and a mudbath. In the evening Mzima managed to sneak into the first sitting for milk, which is taken by Kenia’s group.

04 November 2010

The orphans followed their usual routine today, concentrating on feeding. Lesanju attempted twice to snatch some green browse from Shimba, who retaliated and pinned her down using his tusks, so that the Keepers had to intervene.

05 November 2010

The orphans concentrated upon serious browsing, since there had been no rain as yet. Lempaute fed close to Taveta throughout the day, which frustrated Kenia, who wanted her to leave Taveta. However, she remain attached to Taveta, even during the noon mudbath.

06 November 2010

Early in the morning, before Wasessa had been let out of the top Stockade, Dida and Ndii took on Tassia butting him before the arrival of Wasessa. However, as soon as they saw her approaching, they ran off. Today the orphans browsed along the Eastern side of Mazinga Hill.

07 November 2010

As the orphans were quenching their thirst Mzima and Siria enjoyed a Pushing Game before the group moved to the far side of the Hill, where they fed until it was time for the mudbath. It was a cool day, so the elephants took a dustbath instead.

08 November 2010

There was a light shower during the morning, which left the orphans in a jovial mood, chasing one another around. All went into the mudbath today, with Dida and Ndii occupying the centre. Later Lesanju led her group back to browse.

09 November 2010

It was a warm day, as the orphans left the Stockades and headed out to feed. At the mudbath Kenia was pushed out of the central position by Siria. Lempaute, Shimba and Taveta enjoyed lying against one another until it was time to continue feeding.

10 November 2010

A tough encounter broke out between Tassia and Taveta when Tassia attempted to take Taveta’s milk. The Keepers intervened to spare Taveta from strong head punches coming from Tassia. At the mudbath Sinya pinioned Tassia against the side, which made him bellow, bringing Wasessa and the Keepers in to relieve the situation. Sinya fled, understanding that she had done wrong!

11 November 2010

Siria and Mzima were left behind today, embroiled in a Pushing Match without realizing the others had left. They rushed after the others, welcomed by Lesanju and Lempaute, who turned back when they noticed that the two were absent. It was a hot day, so the orphans downed their milk in a hurry before moving to the mudbath where Wasessa, Tassia, Ndii and Lempaute had a wonderful time. Lesanju and Sinya led the way out, and took a dust bath whilst waiting for Mzima and Siria to join the group. Meanwhile Ndii and Dida enjoyed a strength testing game.

12 November 2010

Lesanju, Lempaute and Kenia led the orphans to begin browsing above the office before moving eastwards around Mazinga Hill. At the mubdath, all enjoyed a lot of fun, Mzima, Ndii, Tassia and Taveta rolling around in the mud, Mzima trumpeting his happiness. Siria began kicking the water with both his front and back legs. The orphans then resumed browsing for the remainder of the day.

13 November 2010

After taking their morning Copra Cake, Lesanju led the orphans to the Northern side of the hill. The day turned very hot, so the elephants had to seek refuge under the shade of two acacia trees, Sinya, Kenia, Dida, Ndii and Taveta under one tree and the others under the other. Later they moved to the mudbath where all had a lot of fun. They then browsed their way back to the Stockades in the evening.

14 November 2010

Shimba found himself left browsing alone as the others moved off. Half an hour later he joined them. Recent drizzles have failed to bring out any green browse, so the orphans went to feed inside the KWS Perimeter Fence where Wasessa went down on her knees to dig up some roots. The mudbath was back at the Stockades. The Stockades have benefited from a face lift recently, and are looking very smart.

15 November 2010

Upon leaving their Night Stockades, the orphans chanced upon our two orphaned ostriches and chased them until they took refuge amongst the Keepers who were taking their tea in the canteen. The orphans remained behind the fence waiting for the ostriches to come out, but the ostriches were tar too smart for that! In the end the orphans went off as usual to the browsing fields.

16 November 2010

Emily along with her entire group, which included that of Edie, were spotted on the Southern side of Mazinga Hill. Amongst them was a wild boy who is a favourite friend. They attempted to come back to the Stockades, but encountered the fenced barrier protecting the concrete of the new water trough, so left and headed instead to the pipeline side to drink. Edie was looking great. An interesting drama unfolded just before noon when three baboons approached the two orphaned ostriches in the present of a Keeper at close range. It surprised the Keeper to see the two ostriches opening their wings wide and confronting and chasing off the baboons from the stockade who arrived to try and share their food. The baboons were chased off by the ostriches who returned to continue with their meal unencumbered by the baboons.

17 November 2010

Dida led the other orphans out of their Stockades this morning, as light showers were falling. The orphans enjoyed feeding in between mudbathing in the rain filled pools and mudholes, Siria and Mzima sitting on Sinya, who lay down in the mud and was unable to get up. The Keepers and Dida came to her rescue.

18 November 2010

Today the orphans climbed half way up the Northern side of Mazinga Hill to browse, Mzima encouraging Ndii and Dida to go even further up the hill. He then mischievously came running down, which un-nerved the others who fled back to their Keepers for protection. The Keepers tried to reassure them, but they decided to come down the hill, led by Kenia. Taveta led them to the waterhole and milk venue at noon.

19 November 2010

The orphans went to drink at the new Stockade waterhole, where Siria tested its depth by inserting his front legs, and looked as though he was about to dive into it completely. The Keepers dissuaded him, so the orphans hung around playing games within the compound until it was time to head out to browse.

20 November 2010

On the way out to browse, Siria introduced the others to soil dusting in an eroded shallow trench. This attracted Taveta who stepped gingerly in, avoiding lying down which would have tempted Siria to mount on him! The orphans enjoyed a brief spell of fun at the noon mudbath before heading out again to feed.

21 November 2010

The orphans found plenty of fresh green leaves in the trees and shrubs, but the rains had not been sufficient to bring on green grass for them to eat. Ndii led the way to the noon waterhole and mudbath followed closely by Kenia, and they went straight in following their milk feed, taking water from the barrels later.

22 November 2010

The orphans decided to take a rest under a shady tree during the morning feeding time. Mzima lay down to sleep and Lempaute came to sit on his head, which was not popular! As soon as he arose to deal with Lempaute, Siria challenged him to a pushing match. Since it was a cool day, the orphans decided not to go into the mudwallow, but took a dustbath instead. In the evening Siria decided to sneak into the first sitting of milk feeds to grab Shimba’s bottle, but was prevented from doing so by the Keepers.

23 November 2010

After several days’ feeding along the lower slopes of Mazinga Hill, Shimba encouraged the orphans half way up the hill to feed. They came down for the noon mudbath, where Lempaute took the lead into the pool, when Taveta secured a seat on her bottom like a village elder addressing a crucial development meeting! Later they spent the entire afternoon feeding before returning to their Night Stockades in the evening.

24 November 2010

At the noon mudbath Siria taught Taveta some techniques, after which Taveta encouraged Shimba into the deepest part of the mudbath. On the way back to the Stockades in the evening, two tortoises were on the path, which prompted a rapid retreat by the elephants! The Keepers had to show them an alternative route home, because they were too scared to pass by the tortoises!

25 November 2010

Rain during the morning left the orphans very happy, playing in the puddles and rolling in the mud. At the noon milk and mudbath venue, they were not interested in wallowing, having had enough of it throughout the day!

26 November 2010

The orphaned kudus, raised by the Voi Keepers, returned to the Stockades for a visit. They were in good shape, Mkuki’s horns having grown huge. They hung around the Stockades, feeding on shrubs, until the evening when they left.

27 November 2010

The orphans fed throughout the morning, returning to the waterhole at noon for their milk and mudbath. Only Dida opted to go in, all the others hanging around the edge. In the evening they browse their way back to the Stockades.

28 November 2010

On a cool day the orphans fed until it was time for the noon mudbath., but due to the temperature, none were inclined to go in to begin with until Shimba splashed cold water over them using his feet. They then had second thoughts, Lempaute settling down to lie on Siria’s tummy, enjoying that privilege so much that she closed her eyes!

29 November 2010

The orphans browsed within the fenced compound throughout the morning, concentrating on getting as much food as they could. After the noon mudbath back at the Stockades, the elephants encountered the resident Monitor Lizard, which scared them witless, so much so that they all fled back and fed close to the Keepers for the rest of the day.

30 November 2010

Edie’s group was sited along the Pipeline on the Western side of Mazinga Hill and a few kms from the Orphans’ Stockades. She was without Emily and a lot of the other Ex Orphans. They looked great, showing no signs of the recent drought that has affected so many of Tsavo’s wild animals. Edie’s wild-born calf, Ella, was in good health and very wild, threatening to charge all the human Keepers!