Keepers' Diaries, November 2014

Voi Reintegration Unit

The rains have broken and in Voi this month the landscape was slowly transformed. With the transformation the Voi Orphans’ mood changed too and much of the month has been about play and mud wallowing! Wasessa has been shifting her attentions to little Bada who recently came into our care and this has created confusion for Mudanda who has enjoyed that privileged position for a long while. Thankfully the ever hopefuls in the wings are always quick to step in, Kihari, Ndii, Ishaq B, Kenia, Naipoki, Lesanju, Lempaute, Sinya, are all eager to shower love and attention on the little ones, Mudanda and Bada.

01 November 2014

The orphans began their day in a happy mood playing various games in the stockade compound. Lesanju and Lempaute visited the water trough first followed by the others. Ishaq B had a great time scratching on the soft cemented top of the water trough although this was a bit soft so she soon moved to rock near the trough for complete satisfaction. It seemed like the orphans were competing against Hussein Bolt today, they were so fast running towards the pick-up that was bringing the noon milk feed. Kivuko was first, followed by Kihari and Mbirikani - who soon moved into second place as if she had never had an injured leg from a snare. Afterwards they played in the soupy mudbath. In the late afternoon Lempaute tried to persuade everyone to go for a second mudbath but they were all too focused on getting back to the stockades. Panda speeded up as they were getting close to home, completing the final 100meters at a sprint and coming in first.

02 November 2014

The milk dependant orphans as usual woke up in a rambunctious mood, desperate to get to their milk bottles. There is no love lost between them at this time and Panda was quite mean to little Bada as she blocked him from getting to his milk bottle which was rather close to hers. Panda bravely managed to circumvent her and secure his own milk. Afterwards they went out to browse on Lucerne with the older orphans before engaging in some socializing games. Mzima and Tassia shook things up a bit by leading the way out to the bush, obliging the other orphans to follow them for a change. Once at the browsing field Dabassa and Rombo had fun chasing off two warthog that led them a merry dance away into the bush far from the other orphans. They only managed to rejoin the group at noon as they were enjoying the mudbath. Kenia had a splendid time lying down in the water and tossing her trunk skywards to put more and more mud onto her back. Ndii’s attempts to ride on her back were futile as she was constantly slid off. The orphans later left the water hole and browsed slowly arriving back at the stockade later that evening.

03 November 2014

It was a beautiful morning with the clouds building up and some light rain showers blessing the orphan’s browsing grounds. Wasessa and Lesanju both arrived simultaneously at the stockade water trough hoping to get to little Bada first for some loving. Lesanju was in luck and placed her trunk gently on Bada’s back stroking her softly. Bada enjoyed this so much he closed his eyes in pleasure. Wasessa covered up her embarrassment at missing out by sidling up to Panda. In the afternoon Naipoki was involved in a head-on collision with a thick bush as she rushed in to get her milk. She trumpeted as loudly as if someone was stealing her milk and Lesanju hurried to find out what all the fuss was about, but it was all over by the time she arrived. Kihari sneaked off early at the end of the day to reach the stockade first for her milk. Ishaq B had quite a disappointment as she had run so fast to try and get there first only to be confronted by Kihari washing her milky mouth in the water trough. Kihari had to be averted by the keepers as she sneaked around trying to steal the others milk bottles before they arrived.

04 November 2014

After the morning milk everyone had a lovely time playing. A fight broke out when Tassia helped himself to the Mzima’s lucerne but Sinya came between them to broker a truce, touching them with her trunk to reassure them that there was plenty to go around. Kihari watched Ishaq B scratching on a boulder and decided it looked so enjoyable that he joined in on the other side of the boulder. Later, whilst out browsing, Tassia and Taveta chased off Kenia as they were fed up with her mimic mounting. Lempaute, Ndii and Lesanju thought they were fighting Kenia and charged at them causing them to flee much to everyone’s amusement. They returned tentatively after about half an hour and rejoined the group. So much fun was had at the mudbath that it even enticed Sinya to join in. Afterwards she took Panda off for a good dustbath in the red earth and also covered herself in the process.

05 November 2014

It was a bad day today for Mudanda who was openly rejected by Wasessa who preferred to favour little Bada. Mudanda’s attempts to push Bada away from Wasessa were futile and eventually she gave up and went off to lean on Kenia for some much needed consolation and company. The same thing happened at the browsing grounds with Wasessa completely ignoring her previously beloved Mudanda to concentrate on Bada. This made Mudanda very sad. It’s not the first time Wasessa has behaved like this as she did the same thing to Kivuko, abandoning him in preference to Mudanda.

06 November 2014

The games started early this morning but soon ended up in trouble. Taveta chased Ndii for a mimic mounting game. Ndii ran off as fast as she could but finally Taveta caught up with her and tried to climb on her back but no sooner had he done this than Sinya grabbed the tip of his tail and bit down hard. Taveta came off Ndii quickly, screaming hard but luckily a revenge fight was averted as everyone started off to the browsing fields. Mbirikani and Kihari led the milk dependant orphans towards the water hole at noon where they enjoyed their milk bottle before plunging into the soapy mud for a bath. There was much jubilation with the orphans showing off their expert bathing techniques. Sinya stayed out but was happy to receive the light water showers that resulted from the others splashing.

07 November 2014

The young orphans began their usual baby games in the morning after finishing their morning milk bottles. Panda led baby Bada, Ishaq B and Mudanda in a game of sucking water into their trunks and raising it up and squirting it back into the water trough. They were sensible enough not to waste water by spilling it out onto the ground as they all understood that water is precious. Mbirikani and Naipoki sat on the walls of the water trough like village elders enjoying some buttock scratching. Kihari perfected her scratching as she draped her trunk down, pressing it against the rock with the help of her front leg toes. The orphans enjoyed the rest of the day browsing. As it was nice and warm they enjoyed a splash in the middle water hole at noon, entertained by Kivuko and Rombo who put on the best bathing performance.

08 November 2014

Emily’s herd visited the stockade at midnight, looking very thirsty they ran straight to the water trough to drink. It’s the first time they have been seen in 6 months and the sound of their gulping water woke the orphans. Bada, who had been fast asleep, was quite upset by all the activity but the keepers reassured her. Emily realized that her group were disturbing the little ones and took them off as soon as they had finished drinking.

09 November 2014

Everyone was celebrating the return of Emily’s herd today. There was a highly charged greeting, as the two herds had missed each other, and very close interaction between the orphans and the x-orphans as all went to drink. The keepers were delighted to see that all the x-orphans had come back in good health, without injury despite the high incidence of poaching recently. Emily, Edie, Icholta, Sally and Mweya were a little reserved and looking tired this morning, it could be that they are pregnant. For the others it was action time, Eve and Ella engaged in a hide and seek game with Tassia and Taveta although Mweya could not completely miss out and entwined her trunk with Mzima in an amazing game. Lesanju was not happy as she lost control of all the curious small orphans, who wanted to explore and play with the ex-orphans, and she went off to drink water with Lolokwe. Sweet Sally and Mweya who had been nursemaids for Eve and Ella concentrated on mothering Kihari, Naipoki and Ishaq B, stroking their backs, whilst Eve and Ella took the chance to play with their friends Taveta and Tassia away from their usual nursemaids. Icholta had a soft spot for Bada and chased off Wasessa, Lempaute and Sinya who attempted to snatch him from her. Lesanju finally decided she had had enough and led her little herd off to browse however the big elephants just followed them and she became rather depressed at the loss of her little ones. Luckily they only stayed for another half hour before moving off with Dabassa in tow, although he did return shortly afterwards. The keepers managed to rescue a tiny calf trapped in a very deep water hole along the Mzima to Mombasa pipeline today. It was a dangerous rescue as the mother and her teenage calf were still with the baby trying unsuccessfully to rescue it. The mother was upset by the number of humans that had been around, tour vans frequent the area, and charged the stockade’s pick-up and vet unit vehicle as they tried to steer her away from the baby so they could rescue it. She did some damage but finally settled a short distance away. The keepers quickly rescued the calf which started to run after and follow them, mother elephant did not like this at all so charged in again as the keepers leapt in to their vehicle and sped to safety leaving the family behind to happily reunite.

10 November 2014

It was a lovely morning once again and Lesanju moved her herd out of the stockade early in the morning without giving them a chance to play. It was as if she was scared Emily’s herd would revisit the stockade so she had to sneak off quickly to keep her little herd to herself. She stayed at the back making sure no one was left behind and Layoni was in big trouble when he tried to lag and she pushed hard on his buttocks to make him keep up. Lesanju was happy there were no further encounters with Emily’s herd

11 November 2014

Lesanju, with the help of Sinya, took charge of taking the orphans high up onto the northern side of the Msinga hill, seemingly still trying to hide them from the ex-orphans who might pop in at any time. There was little activity up there except heavy browsing. The noon milk bottle was taken at the base of the hill with the milk dependant orphans coming down and leaving their older counterpart browsing further up. Kenia and Ndii kept the small ones browsing on the foot of the hill, with the big ones joining them an hour later. Panda enjoyed leading them back to the stockade that evening.

12 November 2014

The morning was cool as the orphans headed towards the eastern side of Msinga Hill. Layoni was pushing Rombo towards a rock where he anchored his backside and became stronger in the pushing game. Layoni backed up and joined the others in browsing once he realized that Rombo had become immoveable. The rain showers started a few minutes afterwards so the orphans did not go to the water hole today but took their milk close to where they were enjoying browsing on the wet grass. Lesanju escorted them to take their milk and surprisingly requested some as well.

13 November 2014

The orphans left the stockade at first light and early Ndii and Kenia led them out to the field. After five hours browsing it started to rain. Naipoki, Kihari and Ishaq B separated from the rest of the herd for games. Naipoki lay down and rolled wonderfully in the mud, getting a big trumpet cheer from her friends Kihari and Ishaq B. Mbirikani thought it looked like fun and went close to them lying and rolling like Naipoki. Others, like Dabassa and Kivuko dug soil with their toes and threw it onto their backs to get a little warmth.

14 November 2014

It was a cool morning with the orphans taking a break from the normal browsing to rest under a small tree. Naipoki acted strangely trying to snuggle in behind Mbirikani’s ear for some unknown reason or perhaps for warmth. She keeps pursuing Mbirikani when she moved away but stopped when she realized Mbirikani was becoming uncomfortable. Kihari surprised the keepers when she picked up a dry wood stick and used it as a tool to scrape off a disturbing tick on her knee. The keepers assisted her to pull it off so she could concentrate on her browsing.

15 November 2014

The day started well with the orphans emptying a morning bottle of milk and engaging in socializing games before moving out to browse in the field. A few minutes before the orphan’s arrival at the water hole a wild herd of elephants came and drank almost all the water in the barrels. Quick in and out baths were taken by Kivuko, Layoni and Mzima at the waterhole as the water was cold. Rombo also tried his luck but it was too cold for him. Lesanju and Panda took a partial bath in a small water pool away from the main pool. Rombo splashed some water catching, Sinya unawares who then ran away like a mad dog. Bada enjoyed the cold water and took a nicer bath than all of them.

16 November 2014

The babies ran out happily once again to empty their morning milk bottles and assembled together to feed on dairy cubes and Lucerne. Lempaute led the way out with Tassia and Mzima later taking over and leading the browsing to the eastern side of Msinga Hill. After two hours of browsing Kenia took the small ones downhill for milk time leaving the big ones up the hill. Kenia’s effort in leading the small ones were confounded by Kihari who rushed ahead when she had the stockade pick-up coming with milk, leaving Kenia chasing behind completely unable to overtake her. The big ones heard the small ones running towards the water hole and followed them down. They only drank water and nobody attempted the bath as it was cold. The orphans browsed close to this water hole for the rest of the day with Panda enjoying the lead back to the stockade in the evening.

17 November 2014

Lempaute and Ndii led the way out to browse today. In the afternoon Lesanju took Mudanda for a bath in a small water pool close to the orphan’s main water hole. This small water pool has become a favorite bathing place as it is small and heats up quickly in the sun making it a lovely temperature for bathing. Taveta, Ndii and Kivuko soon joined in crowding the place out so they had to take it in turns. Wasessa got impatient and gave Taveta a huge push on the backside to get some bathing space. Mudanda thought this was a bit harsh and embraced Taveta in reassurance. Even Sinya was in the water today and everyone waited to see what she would do as she so rarely takes a bath. Rombo was rather jealous of all the attention she was getting and pushed her out of the water. Lempaute got a rare chance to be with Bada before Wasessa came out of the water hole. Ishaq B led everyone back to the stockade that evening where Bada now has his own new holding pen, away from Mudanda, where he now has his grewia branches.

18 November 2014

It was a dramatic morning today as Wasessa abandoned Bada for Mudanda. It is clear now that she loves both babies but can’t have them both as they get jealous of each other. Kivuko quickly came to Bada’s rescue and the two browsed together with Naipoki also coming in to help. Wasessa was back in the picture at midday and Bada was happy again. The afternoon was spent browsing with Tassia and Mzima remaining behind when the rest went back to the stockade in the evening. The two came in half an hour later boasting that they were becoming confident boys.

19 November 2014

The orphans browsed on the far northern side of the water hole in the morning turning slowly and heading back there at noon. Naipoki, Panda and Mudanda could not believe their eyes as Mbirikani raced past them for her noon milk bottle, her previously snared injured leg not slowing her down at all. Panda examined the contents on a hole in a big tree trunk but came to an abrupt halt on realizing that the hole was big enough to hide something she might not like. Kihari had a chance to pet Bada for a while before Wasessa noticed and rushing to take her baby. Lempaute and Rombo took a nice siesta under a tree where all of them were relaxing but Kivuko came and sat on Rombo’s stomach, disturbing him, but leaving Lempaute to sleep in peace.

20 November 2014

Ndii tried to steal Ishaq B’s milk this morning and the keepers had to intervene to save that situation. Kihari and Naipoki were disgusted with Ndii’s behavior and went off to browse without playing in the stockade compound. All the other orphans followed them with the browsing day commencing early than usual. At the mudbath Layoni and Kivuko did some amazing forward and back strokes in water wooing Bada into to play with them. Wasessa was quickly on the case retrieving her baby to go off and play an alternative soil dusting game. Layoni got very bored without Bada for the games and left the pool but Rombo jumped in to take his place. The orphans then browsed close to the middle water hole for the rest of the day and Lesanju took them back for a second bath later on the day. Wasessa assigned Tassia to look after Bada whilst she gave Mudanda some love and company as well.

21 November 2014

It was a nice morning once again full of playing activities in the stockade compound. Bada ran to greet her beloved Wasessa who was coming down from the upper stables whilst Ndii piled cold soil onto her back, throwing it with her trunk. Kenia and Ndii played a game of hide and seek in the stockade with Dabassa also joining in. Tassia and Layoni decided on the browsing route today, starting out and taking all the others high up Msinga hill above the beautiful Malaika house. Bada was quite exhausted as he is not used to climbing that high but he persevered and made it to the top with the others. The orphans had a good browsing day on the hill, with the milk dependant orphans coming down to take their noon milk bottle but heading straight back up afterwards. The older orphans in Lesanju’s herd didn’t even come down for water at noon but drank a lot when they returned in the evening.

22 November 2014

Taveta was showing off to the female orphans today by attempting to push down a very big tree. It was too big to be moved but at least he caught the attention of Ishaq B, Sinya and Lempaute, but not for long as it was time for the noon milk feed and all were in a hurry to get there. The orphans did not bath today as it was fairly cold. They browsed in small groups for the afternoon and wild elephants were seen in the distance coming towards Msinga Hill but they never arrived.

23 November 2014

The morning was warm enough as the orphans assembled around the stockade water trough drinking and tossing water onto their bodies to cool themselves down. There were no many games in the stockade compound today and Naipoki lead the way towards the browsing grounds. The day grew warmer and warmer and the orphans took refuge under three different trees while browsing on the lush long grass beneath. Mudanda and Bada found themselves under the same tree, but did not fight as the big sisters were watching them. The orphans went into the water hole half an hour before their normal time at 11am and only had their milk afterwards when they had finished their bathing games. Mbirikani enjoyed the lead back to the stockade in the evening.

24 November 2014

It was a nice beginning to the day with the young orphans running to empty their morning milk bottles and engaging in the normal socializing games. Lesanju took charge leading the orphans to the eastern side of Msinga Hill. This is the windward side which receives a considerable amount more rain than the other side of the hill and the green grass is tall making a good browsing place for the orphans. The Stockades are the closest water source from this side of the hill and the orphans came down to drink their water and milk there, later returning back up the hill. Coming back in the evening Lempaute showed her skill bravely plucking some nice green branches from a tree on the opposite side of the electric fence without touching it. She was enjoying the nice lush leaves so much she was left behind and came in ten minutes later than the others.

25 November 2014

It was a wonderful day once again with Lesanju taking little Mudanda off browsing early in the morning. Mudanda’s sadness at losing Wasessa’s favour is diminishing with time and the love the other females are lavishing upon her. On Msinga hill with Lempaute watched Kenia enjoying herself butt scratching on a big rock. Kenia opened her mouth wide in sheer enjoyment, making Lempaute very curious to see how what was causing so much pleasure, but the others were moving on and there was no time to find out.

26 November 2014

Wasessa joined the small ones for their noon milk bottle today. The keepers allowed her to stay as she was not causing any disruption to the milk feeding babies. Wasessa was well disciplined, watching at a close range behind the babies and staring at them as if to say that someday milk would also come from her too. Kenia and Ndii accompanied the second group of the milk feeding babies, with Kivuko, Layoni and Panda in tow. Ndii and Kenia had a wonderful dusting game that attracted Kivuko to join them. The three later left the game for the final browsing session of the day before following behind Panda and Ishaq B to the safety of the stockades in the evening.

27 November 2014

Two water bucks saluted the orphans when arriving at the browsing grounds in the morning. The orphans respected them and didn’t chase them away. Wasessa and Lesanju all concentrated on taking Bada today, leaving poor Mudanda at the mercy of the inexperienced Kihari who tried her level best to keep Mudanda’s spirits up. She did really well and later the two boasted about their newly created relationship to Bada who was a few meters away from them. Two wild bull elephants came briefly to browse close to the orphans after their noon mud bath. Mzima attempted to follow them when they left; heading towards the Voi river, but soon came back on realizing they were going faster than he expected. Two tortoises came to the stockade in the evening and started mating near the orphan zebra Ngulia’s stable. Ngulia saw them and watched for sometime before getting excited and running off kicking his hind legs the zebra way. He did not hit them but ran two circuits of happiness around them before moving into his stable for milk and night safety.

28 November 2014

Today Bada attempted to squeeze himself under Wasessa’s stomach. He could not fit under as he was a little tall but Wasessa stood calm, allowing him to carry on trying, until he learnt it was impossible. The orphans went browsing at the southern foot of Msinga Hill, coming to the stockade for milk and water at noon. Mzima had a wonderful game, putting his trunk deep into the water trough, fetching up water and tossing it skyward. Mzima’s game attracted Taveta, Rombo and Kivuko who came in to learn how to do the same. Wasessa altered the game slightly, fetching up the water with her trunk, and making a huge splash onto her body, with droplets hitting Bada. Bada enjoyed this as the weather was very hot and he stood still enjoying the shower. Kivuko rubbed the front of her trunk on a rock close to the water trough in a bid to impress little Bada. Naipoki, Ndii and Taveta took to their separate rocks for scratching as well. The orphans returned back to the same browsing grounds for the latter half of the day with Mbirikani enjoying the lead back to the stockade in the evening.

29 November 2014

The early clouds cleared slowly gave way to bright sun later on the day. At noon the orphans plunged into the water having lots of fun with mud bathing games. Mudanda, now happy without Wasessa, greatly enjoyed Lesanju and Lempaute’s attention. Kivuko tried to find an opportunity to step in but Lesanju stayed very close to Mudanda to prevent this. Mzima had a great time buttock scratching on the walls of the water hole. The orphans then browsed close to the water hole for the rest of the day with Kihari and Ishaq B competing to lead the others back to the safety of the stockade in the evening.

30 November 2014

Bada had a lovely morning nuzzling at Wasessa’s teats and sucking on them looking for extra milk shortly after downing her morning milk bottle. Wasessa thoroughly enjoyed this and closed her eyes in happiness allowing the little one to accomplish his mission. Later Laikipia emerged majestically from the bush and came into the stockade. The little ones went to touch and investigate Laikipia’s big genitals as he was busy feeding on the copra cake he had missed for so long. Lesanju seemed uncomfortable on seeing Laikipia, perhaps thinking that Emily and the others were following behind to hijack her herd, and stopped feeding to take her charges away. After three hours of browsing a wild herd of elephants briefly joined the orphans and browsed with them for ten minutes before moving off. One friendly wild elephant boy, who had fallen in love with Mzima, nudged him softly from behind to join them. Mzima went a short way but then returned to his own family. Laikipia went out of the stockade in the opposite direction with no sight of Emily anywhere.