Keepers' Diaries, October 2007
Voi Reintegration Unit
It has been an eventful month at the Voi Reintegration Centre where Mweiga (the weak elephant) returns to the Night Stockades on a daily basis, being too fragile to be on her own during the hours of darkness. The compassion and caring nature of elephants is vividly illustrated in this month’s Diary in that one member of Natumi’s now wild unit of orphans is assigned “Mweiga Sitting Duty” so that Mweiga is NEVER without the company of another elephant. This month this important duty has been shared between two young bulls from Natumi’s rehabilitated group, Burra and Morani. Burra was on duty at the beginning of the month until the 6th when Morani took over for a couple of days, leaving Burra to rejoin Natumi’s group. However, he was back on the 8th to relieve Morani but Morani returned to this assignment on the 11th and did a long stretch that ended on the 30th when Burra returned to take over again! It is very interesting for us that it is Morani and Burra who have alternated for Mweiga-Sitting this month, because previously her closest friends had been Mweya and Sosian. Perhaps Natumi, as the Matriarch that took over in the wake of Emily, and who now in charge of those orphans not with Emily, is the one who assigns this duty!
01 October 2007
Burra was the one that was detailed to “Mweiga” sit today. He and Mweiga left the Night Stockades early and soon met up with Natumi’s group, welcomed with a joyous reunion. Emily’s group was absent today. Later in the evening Mweya, Ilingwezi and Edie accompanied Mweiga and Burra to the Night Stockades, and left once the two had settled in.
02 October 2007
Mweiga and Burra left the Stockades at 6 a.m. Natumi’s group was up Mazinga Hill, but Mweiga and Burra chose to forage in the main Park area, so did not meet up with them.
03 October 2007
Mweiga and Burra left early as usual, and came upon Natumi’s group at the Spring Gates. After a joyful reunion, they spent time feeding together as one group, heading to the mudbath together, where they had an enjoyable time. In the evening Natumi’s group headed behind Mazinga Hill, leaving Burra and Mweiga at the Stockades.
04 October 2007
Mweiga and Burra fed on their own today, Natumi’s group being behind Mazinga Hill feeding below Voi Safari Lodge.
05 October 2007
Burra and Mweiga left early as usual, and met up with Natumi’s group at the foot of Mazinga Hill. After a happy reunion the orphans all fed together and enjoyed the mudbath together. In the evening Natumi’s group separated leaving Burra and Mweiga to return to the Stockades without them. Emily’s group, consisting of Aitong, Sweet Sally, Salama, Loisaba, Nyiro and Tsavo was observed feeding near the Voi Safari Lodge.
06 October 2007
Today Morani took over “Mweiga Sitting” duty from Burra, leaving Burra to join Natumi’s group who were feeding at the top of Mazinga Hill. Morani and Mweiga remained at the base of the hill whilst Burra made his way up to the top to join the others. Natumi’s group came to drink at the Stockade trough in the evening and left for the bush again, whilst Morani and Mweiga went into the Stockades for the night.
07 October 2007
Still in the company of Morani, Mweiga and he left the Stockades as usual and foraged together for the entire day. They returned to the Stockade in the evening. Rukinga (the orphaned baby kudu), who recently has shown great interest in a wild group of kudus who habitually frequent the Stockade area, today decided to join them. This wild herd consists of mature females, sub-=adult females and a male. Rukinga tried his luck mounting the sub-adult female, which turned into a running drama lasting until nightfall. The Keepers were unable to separate Rukinga from his friends, so for the first time he spent the night out in the bush.
08 October 2007
Burra returned to take over Mweiga, relieving Morani who left to join Natumi’s group. Burra and Mweiga foraged together but were joined by Natumi’s group at the mudbath. Having taken water at the Stockades, Natumi’s group foraged around the Stockade Hill until morning. Rukinga was nowhere to be seen today.
09 October 2007
As Mweiga and Burra headed out to feed this morning, the other orphans were seen in the company of a large wild Bull, but later joined Mweiga and Burra at the mudbath. The orphans fed together all afternoon after the mudbath, until Burra and Mweiga returned to the Night Stockade in the evening.
10 October 2007
Burra and Mweiga spent the day together. In the evening, back at the Stockades, they met up with Lissa’s group who was in amongst that of Natumi. Lissa’s group consisted of her three calves, 2 females and l male. Natumi’s group along with that of Lissa left the Stockades together in the evening, once Burra and Mweiga were in for the night.
11 October 2007
Mweiga and Burra left early, heading out to the main Park, whilst Natumi’s group was spotted feeding on the slopes of Mazinga Hill. Natumi’s group then came down the hill and came to the Stockade for water before heading out to meet Mweiga and Burra. In the evening Morani took over from Burra, and went with Mweiga back to the Stockades for the night.
12 October 2007
Mweiga and Morani spent an uneventful day foraging together, without aking contact with the other orphans. To the Keepers surprise and joy Rukinga (the orphaned kudu) reappeared with the wild kudu group. His affiliation with them seemed very strong, and he left to spend the night with them out in the bush.
13 October 2007
Morani and Mweiga had another quiet morning, but were joined by a wild group at the mudbath, and later in the evening by Natumi’s group, who accompanied the two back to the Stockades in the evening, and then, having taken water, left heading for Mazinga Hill.
14 October 2007
Again, it was a quiet feeding morning for Morani and Mweiga, but they were once more joined by the wild group at the mudbath, and had fun with them. After the mudbath, the two orphans fed in amongst the wild elephants for the remainder of the day until it was time to return to the Stockades in the evening.
15 October 2007
Today, Morani and Mweigba were joined by Natumi’s group on the way to the mudbath at noon, and Mweiga was in a joyful mood, as she led all the others to the pool. Mweiga and Morani peeled off from the others earlier to begin their journey back to the Stockades, and were later joined by the others. At the Stockades Lissa, her three babies plus Mpenzi arrived later, and left with Natumi’s group.
16 October 2007
Mweiga and Morani left as usual, and fed together throughout the morning in the main Park. They were joined at the mudbath by Edie, Irima, Mpala and Mukwaju leaving the rest of Natumi’s group feeding up Mazinga Hill. They arrived at the Stockade at 11 a.m. to drink, and then headed into the field to join up with Mweiga, Morani and the others. They all fed together until evening, when Mweiga and Morani peeled off to return to the Stockades.
17 October 2007
Mweiga and Morani fed together throughout the day, enjoyed the mudbath alone without company, and returned to the Stockades in the evening where they were joined by Natumi’s group who arrived for a drink at the Stockade trough. A short while later Lissa group arrived also, and spent time waking around the compound before leaving for the field.
18 October 2007
Another quiet day and a chilly one as well. At the mudbath Mweiga tried to encourage Morani to go in, but he refused. Natumi’s group came to join them at the Stockade in the evening, leaving after taking a drink.
19 October 2007
Today Mweiga and Morani joined the other orphans feeding at the base of Mazinga Hill after which the entire group left to forage in the main Park, and enjoy the mudbath together. Irima, Mukwaju and Mweya separated from the others early and returned to the Stockade where Mweya ran up and down the compound in a jovial mood. Later Mweiga and Morani arrived for the night
20 October 2007
Another lovely day for Mweiga and Morani, who spent the morning feeding together, and hurried to the mudbath where they had a wonderful time wallowing. Having reached the Stockade in the evening they were joined by Natumi’s group, and later by that of Emily who arrived for a drink. Later Emily and Natumi’s group left together.
21 October 2007
Mweiga and Morani spent a peaceful and joyful day in the company of just one another, the others absent all day.
22 October 2007
Mweiga and Morani spent another quiet day together, feeding and enjoying their mudbath at noon. In the evening, back at the Stockades, Lissa’s group arrived at about 6.30 p.m. and spent some time at the Stockades before heading off into the bush again. During the morning some of the Keepers, and the Mobile Veterinary Unit were notified by a tour bus that a lioness was “mothering” a newborn buffalo calf below the Voi Safari Lodge, the buffalo mother having been killed by other lions. The lioness was with the buffalo calf near the large empty pipes stacked to repair the Mzima – Mombasa main water pipeline. The Keepers were astonished to find this report to be true, and even more surprised when the lioness tried to carry the baby buffalo away as it would its own cub. Being too heavy, however, the buffalo was dropped as the lioness made its escape, and we were able to rescue it.
23 October 2007
Morani steered Mweiga towards the slopes of Mazinga Hill where they fed until it was time for the mudbath. Back at the Stockades in the evening they came across Uaso, who had arrived to take a drink. After a joyful reunion, and spending time with him, they went into their Stockade for the night, leaving Uaso to return to the bush.
24 October 2007
Mweiga and Morani again headed towards the slopes of Mazinga Hill, where they fed for the first half of the day before heading for the mudbath. Upon arrival back at the Stockades in the evening they were joined by both Natumi’s and Emily’s group, so there was a colourful reunion. Having spent time together, Mweiga and Morani went in for the night, and the others left together for the bush.
25 October 2007
Morani and Mweiga met up with Uaso who happend to spot spot Serena (the orphaned zebra foal) who was following the two elephants. He immediately took to his heels, but then noticing that Morani and Mweiga were quite relaxed around Serena, he stopped abruptly, and hesitatingly returned, watching the zebra keenly with outspread ears! At the mudbath, all three elephants were joined by Solango, Burra, Mweya and Mpala. Solango tried to mount Mweya with little success, amnd the rest of the day was spent foraging together until it was time for Mweiga and Morani to return to the Stockades.
26 October 2007
Morani and Mweiga fed on the slopes of Mazinga Hill today. Back at the Stockades in the evening they were met by Natumi’s group as well as that of Emily which included Aitong, Sally, Tsavo, Ilingwezi and Salama. The two now wild groups spent a long time together, and also left together.
27 October 2007
Today, there was rain during the morning and for part of the afternoon so there was no need to go to the mudbath. Instead Mweiga and Morani were joined by a wild elephant at the foot of Mazinga Hill, and spent the day with him. It was a red letter day for Serena, who met up with some wild zebra and spent time with them for the first time.
28 October 2007
Again it rained intermittently throughout the day, so Mweiga and Morani enjoyed fun playing in the puddles in between feeding at the foot of Mazinga Hill. Meanwhile back at the Stockade, Edie and Mweya arrived alone, and spent time playing around the compound, before heading back into the bush.
29 October 2007
A quiet day for Mweiga and Morani, who did not meet up with any of the other orphans throughout the day, and returned in the evening on their own.
30 October 2007
Today, Burra arrived to take over Mweiga-sitting duties, relieving Morani. Natumi’s group met up with the three at the mudbath and spent part of the afternoon with Burra and Mweiga until it was time for Mweiga to return to the Stockades. She and Burra then made their journey home, leaving the others to continue feeding out in the bush.
31 October 2007
More light showers occurred in the morning, leaving Burra and Mweiga in a jovial mood. They spent an uneventful day together in the company of their Keepers.
Voi Keepers’ Notes:- It has been an eventful month for the Voi Unit. The Keepers were happy to see a lot of Natumi’s group, and also that of Emily as well as Lissa, Mpenzi and Lissa’s three calves. Uaso also appeared during the month, and little Rukinga (the orphaned kudu) joined a small group of wild kudus making his rehabilitation back into the wild community a success. Serena (the female orphaned zebra also met up with some wild kin and spent time with them for the first time. Most interesting was the episode with the lioness and the baby buffalo, similar to that of the famous incident that took place in the Samburu National Reserve when a lioness twice adopted a baby oryx. The Voi Keepers rescued the baby buffalo from the Tsavo lioness and it is now an orphan at the Elephant Stockades in Voi.