Keepers' Diaries, November 2019

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Voi Reintegration Unit

Not much can top the joy we experienced this month when on the 17th November we were blessed with the arrival of two tiny little beings, Eco and Mwitu, Ex orphans Edie and Mweya’s respective wild born babies. This is 20 year old Edie’s third wild born baby, her first being ten year old Ella and four year old Eden. Her older calves must have stayed behind with Emily’s herd but these two ex-orphans were eager to share their joy with their extended family, and of course by arriving to spend time amidst the dependent orphans of Voi they find themselves with some twenty eager nannies too!  This is 18 year old Mweya’s first baby so she is a late bloomer but we are delighted she now has a little girl to stand by her side forever. We estimate Eco is about four months old and Mwitu only slightly younger at about 3 months. The dry season would have inhibited them moving any earlier with all the waterholes dried up, but with the onset of the early rains, and with their calves older and stronger, they were able to make that journey.  The ex-orphans in Voi have developed a pattern of visiting dry season ranges where the food remains plentiful well over 100 - 150 kms away.  

Their arrival proved to be momentous in other ways for the Voi dependent orphans too. Mweya and Edie continued to visit the stockades in the morning almost daily, choosing to then spend the days with the Voi dependent babies. Obviously the Voi orphans were delighted to have tiny orphans in their midst. Bada was so taken with the new babies he would cry and yell out to stay with them if Mweya and Edie tried to move away. Then, after only a few days of socializing with the Voi orphans, Mweya and Edie first managed to secure Bada and Nguvu as part of their little herd, walking off with them into the Park and staying out with them overnight, and after a few more days they managed to recruit Naipoki, Panda Lentili and Mbirikani too, to become nannies and helpful minders for their little babies. They took this duty very seriously, and by the end of the month Nguvu and Naipoki were happy to prove just what good nannies they were by preventing Tahri from playing with Eco. 

After losing five of their herd to Mweya and Edie, Kenia and Ndii weren’t too happy to socialize with them anymore and would always walk ‘their’ herd off in a hurry in the opposite direction when the ex-orphans were around. Kenia and Ndii worry about the fate of their leadership and their herd and don’t like to lose any members. Arruba, Ishaq-B and Lentili had to guard little Emoli, while Rorogoi was tasked to guard Pika Pika from walking off with the ex-orphans Edie and Mweya. Edie, Eco, Mweya, Mwitu, Nguvu, Bada, Naipoki, Panda, Lentili and Mbirikani still join the Voi orphans in the morning most of the time and to browse during the day, and only time will tell if they choose to stay with Edie and Mweya indefinitely, but it is huge step for them to leave the compound and spend the majority of their time out in the Park including at night, so we are very happy for these orphans. Edie and Mweya must be very happy to have such doting nannies to help with their babies as well.

Just before Mweya and Edie arrived, the Keepers had been letting Kenia, Ndii, Kihari and Panda out of their stockade during the night so that they could spend time browsing around the compound, but they always returned in the morning to round up their charges.

With Naipoki off supervising Edie and Mweya’s babies, Mbegu is happy to have Pika Pika to herself again and enjoys having this little girl as part of her tight-knit herd. Ndotto and Lasayen have been very much enjoying all the muddy puddles to be found everywhere with the on-going rain in Tsavo, and all the orphans are almost spoilt for choice about where to mud bath on the hot days between rain showers. Rorogoi and Ngilai in particular as well have been enjoying playing in the erosion trenches which are carved out on the side of the hill during the rains. Some of the grass has grown as tall as them in places, and at least now the orphans have plenty of options regarding vegetation as the Park has quite honestly never looked more beautiful. The amount of rain that has fallen has been widespread, causing the Voi River to burst its banks with flood plains everywhere which will only enhance the vegetation growth.  

November 2019 day to day

01 Nov

The stockade dependent orphans left their stockades for their morning milk bottle followed by the Lucerne pellet feeding after which they hung around the stockade for some fun and games before heading to the Park. Mbirikani invited Godoma for a game of lying on one another while Lasayen stood watching them biting his trunk, upset that he had not been invited to join in.  Kihari came in and broke up the game to engage Lasayen while Nelion took on Godoma for a strength testing game.  

Lentili and Bada took the lead of the orphan her to the park with Mbegu staying close to Pika Pika while both Kenia and Naipoki tried to get Pika Pika’s attention and get her to follow them. The orphan settled to browse on the foot of Msinga Hill, where Sagala tried to introduce a soil bathing game, but was unsuccessful in getting anyone to join in.  

The orphans headed to the baobab tree water hole at noon where they drank their milk before going to the water trough.  Ndoria was the first to enter the water hole for a quick bath with Rorogoi and Sagala joining in. Murit and Aruba were seen holding each other trunks as if in a deep conversation, before joining their friends for the afternoon browsing session which took place close to the waterhole.

Godoma lying on Mbirikani

Sagala dust bathing

Kenia with Pika Pika