Keepers' Diaries, October 2012

Voi Reintegration Unit

In view of what is taking place in terms of poaching in and around the Tsavo National Park, it was a huge relief when Emily, and most of her unit, including her own calf and that of Edie, returned to the Stockades, having been absent for a long time. Several of the bulls of her unit were missing, namely Burra, Solango and Siria, but perhaps they have attached themselves to older bulls, or separated from the female unit when adult bulls came to monitor adolescent females who are approaching the age when they could fall pregnant. Big Boy Laikipia, the largest Ex Orphan Bull within Emily’s unit turned up alone on the 12th which was followed by the appearance of Emily’s group on the 14th and a very joyful reunion with all the Keeper Dependent Youngsters when she went round touching each one in turn, and rumbling to them. Ndara, who has been recuperating from 3 poisoned arrow wounds, one of which was in a foot which left her so lame that she has had to be an invalid for many months, returning to sleep in her erstwhile Enclosure whilst handicapped and as such a target for the Tsavo lions, and either spending time feeding alone nearby, or accompanying the Keeper Dependent Youngsters browsing around Mazinga Hill. Ndara has been returning to her erstwhile Enclosure at night whilst she has been handicapped, and as such a target for the Tsavo lions. She was not at the Stockade compound when Emily first turned up on the 14th.

01 October 2012

During the morning milk feed Kivuko pushed Panda having downed her share, which concerned Kenia and Wasessa prompting guilty Kivuko to flee suspecting retribution. Taveta and Tassia enjoyed their usual Shoving contest until Lesanju and Kenia led the orphans out to browse the northern side of Mazinga hill. The noon mudbath was only brief before the orphans resumed browsing, since the search for fodder is now the main preoccupation of the orphans.

02 October 2012

Today there was an altercation over milk between Kivuko and Rombo, in which the Keepers had to intervene. After partaking of their Lucerne handout, Lesanju led her group to the western side of Mazinga hill. It turned very hot so the orphans had to retreat into shade, Kenia, Panda, Ndii, Sinya and Layoni under one tree while the rest gathered under another. The mudbath occurred at the Stockade mudbath today where there were fun and games, before Kenia, Ndii and Layoni led the group back to browse for the rest of the afternoon.

03 October 2012

It was a cool morning so the orphans enjoyed playing at the Stockade compound having taken their milk and Lucerne. The games were interrupted by 2 dikdiks emerged in hot pursuit of one another from the best next to where Layoni and Rombo were standing. The two orphans rushed to Lesanju, Sinya, Lempaute and Wasessa and had to be comforted by their Keepers. The Orphans enjoyed a prolonged mudbath today.

04 October 2012

Competition emerged about who should be first out in the morning, resulting in Panda bellowing having been pushed aside by Kenia. After a drink and their Lucerne, the orphans browsed the foot of Mazinga hill before heading to the Stockade mudbath where they splashed water over their bodies. The afternoon browsing happened along the northern side of Mazinga hill.

05 October 2012

Wasessa led the Voi orphans out today to the northern side of Mazinga hill where they settled down to feed. On the way Emsaya and Rombo enjoyed a game of hide and seek joined by Kivuko and Ndii. Just before noon the orphans ran down the hill, alarming the Keepers, who later deduced that this was a tactic triggered by Lesanju to hurry to the milk venue at the base of the hill! After an enjoyable mudbath the orphans browsed the Eastern side of the hill during the afternoon session.

06 October 2012

Taveta and Tassia were left behind by the others as they headed out, since the two young bulls were engaged in a wrestling match. Kivuko and Dabassa took the lead today heading to the northern side of Mazinga hill. They browsed their way to the Stockade mudbath, after which Taveta and Lempaute enjoyed a dust-bath, rolling in the pile of red earth and then scratching their body against the rocks. They browsed the Eastern side of the hill during the afternoon session.

07 October 2012

Dabassa and Rombo teamed up to take on Kivuko who is proving the strongest of the smaller orphans, before the older elephants were let out. As soon as they saw the approach of Lesanju and Wasessa, the two boys ran off, fearing a reprisal from the Big Girls. Panda and Rombo lagged behind the others as they made their way out to browse the eastern side of Mazinga Hill. All enjoyed the noon mudbath.

08 October 2012

Lesanju led her unit to the northern side of Mazinga hill to feed, heading towards the waterhole at noon since it was a very hot day. Only Panda did not wallow, instead standing on the edge and enjoying being sprayed by the others. All then played around the pool for a while before heading out to feed again for the remainder of the day.

09 October 2012

The orphans concentrated on feeding, browsing round the base of Mazinga Hill. Mzima invited Taveta for a Pushing Match, but Taveta was more interested in feeding. At the noon mudbath Ndii, Layoni and Dabassa plunged into the mud eagerly, Layoni lying down to allow Ndii and Dabassa to roll around him. Kivuko and Dabassa left the wallow for a dusting session, leaving Ndii behind.

10 October 2012

With browse running short due to the drought, there was competition between Lempaute and Mzima for the same twig with a few green leaves attached, each pulling at either end. Lempaute got it in the end! It was a very hot day so the orphans had to retreat into shade, where Kenia lay down. Mzima spotted an opportunity to mount onto her, which made her bellow, and this brought Lesanju to the rescue. The noon milk feed took place at the Stockades, after which the orphans returned to the foot of Mazinga hill to browse.

11 October 2012

The orphans enjoyed playing Stockade games within the compound today, having taken their milk and Lucerne handout. Lesanju and Kivuko led the group to the western side of the hill where they settled down to the serious business of feeding. At the mudbath Ndii, Kenia and Rombo were the star wallowers.

12 October 2012

There was a surprise visit today from Big Boy Laikipia. Having taken water, he hurried to join the Juniors at the Lucerne pile, welcomed warmly by Ndara who trumpeted an enthusiastic greeting, recognizing him instantly. These two Big Elephants then spent time together, fondling one another with their trunks, and making sounds of happiness. Later they spent all day feeding together, returning in the evening for a handout of Copra cake and a drink of water from the trough. The youngsters enjoyed their mudbath, Wasessa and Kivuko rubbing themselves along the banks while Dabassa and Ndii enjoyed rolling around in the dust.

13 October 2012

The Juniors browsed busily all morning. Panda plunged into the mudbath at noon, which surprised the Keepers, since she usually is not eager to get in first. When Taveta and Tassia joined her, she decided to come out rather than rough-house with the two boys!

14 October 2012

Another very pleasant surprise today. Emily’s group visited the Stockades having been absent for sometime. They joined the Juniors at the Lucerne where Emily went round touching each one in turn, rumbling and trumpeting excitedly, obviously so happy to see them all again. Later the two groups separated, the babies moving to browse the Eastern side of Mazinga hill while Emily’s group headed westwards. At the mudbath Mzima, Ndii and Sinya enjoyed sliding and rolling in the mud while Rombo, Dabassa and Taveta splashed water around. After the mudbath, the Juniors resumed the important business of feeding again.

15 October 2012

Having enjoyed their morning milk and Lucerne, the Juniors headed out to browse the main Park, during which Dabassa and Taveta enjoyed a chasing game while Tassia and Rombo were keen spectators. At the mudbath Kenia, Ndii and Rombo were the star wallowers of the day.

16 October 2012

Rombo, Emsaya and Dabassa fed close together today until Mzima and Taveta led the herd to the milk and mudbath venue. Since the day was cool, most of the orphans just splashed water over themselves but Mzima and Dabassa then ventured in and enjoyed a good wallow.

17 October 2012

Emsaya and Layoni embarked on a Pushing Match as the orphans entered the field today. At the mudbath Kenia and Ndii rolled on the banks watched over by Taveta, Tassia and Shimba. Shimba then followed suit, but Taveta mounted onto him, so his game soon ended.

18 October 2012

Today out in the field Shimba, Wasessa and Layoni climbed Mazinga hill to try and find food but their ascent was interrupted by the baboons, who were chasing one of their number around. This persuaded the orphans to change their mind and come down. All enjoyed the mudbath today, where there was a lot of activity.

19 October 2012

Having emerged in the morning, Kivuko and Rombo engaged one another in a Pushing game, Kivuko pushing from the rear while Rombo used his front legs as brakes. Kivuko then pushed his stomach, which made him bellow, and ended the game. At the wallow Taveta tutored Ndii, Emsaya and Kivuko in wallowing, joined later by Tassia.

20 October 2012

The orphans had fun chasing the baboon troupe around this morning, later browsing the base of Mazinga hill. At the mudbath Layoni and Taveta were the wallowing stars of the day.

21 October 2012

The orphans followed their usual routine today, Wasessa first to plunge into the mudbath at noon followed by Lesanju and Lempaute while Kenia kept a close watch over little Panda. Browsing occupied the rest of the afternoon.

22 October 2012

Having downed their milk, Dabassa and Kivuko had a disagreement, but Wasessa intervened to separate the two and keep the peace. The orphans concentrated on the western side of the hill today, Layoni, Shimba, Kivuko and Dabassa climbing up the hill to find more greens. After the mudbath Shimba dug his tusks into the ground to looses soil for a dustbath, which he later enjoyed. The afternoon was spent feeding at the hill before returning to the Stockades for the night.

23 October 2012

Kenia led the younger elephants to take their milk today. Out in the field Wasessa tried to gain possession of both Panda and Emsaya, but Lesanju insisted on joint possession of the two young ones, Panda enjoying the attention of both Big Girls. Rombo, Emsaya and Dabassa enjoyed a frenetic mudbath but it was Kivuko who was the centre of attention as she played on the banks.

24 October 2012

The orphans were in a hurry to head out and feed today, led by Lesanju, their Matriarch. All concentrated on feeding, with just a short interruption for the noon milk and mudbath.

25 October 2012

Taveta mounted onto Kenia at the Lucerne pile after which Ndii and Dabassa led the orphans towards the northern side of the main Park. En route Tassia chased after Taveta and tried to mount him while Layoni and Dabassa climbed almost to the top of the hill to search for feed. The mudbath was lively, Wasessa, Lesanju and Lempaute joining in the fun with the younger ones. Taveta and Kenia initiated a Pushing Game while Kivuko scratched her body against a tree. Shimba led the group away to feed for the afternoon after the mudbath.

26 October 2012

Wasessa and Lesanju were first to rush out of their Night Stockade this morning, watching the young ones take their milk, Panda rumbling appreciation and touching the two older elephants with her trunk. Taveta was very accommodating to Dabassa, allowing him to wrestle and allowing him the advantage. At the mudbath Tassia mounted onto Ndii while Taveta and Kenia settled an old score in the middle, and Wasessa almost drowned Kenia by sitting on her head!

27 October 2012

On the way out to browse Taveta and Tassia had fun chasing each other around while the others fed half way up the hill. Panda sneaked away early heading towards the milk venue, but the Keepers stopped her. Emily’s group came to the stockades in the evening, greeting Ndara, the Keepers and the Youngsters very warmly. Emily’s group spent a long time with Ndara, touching her leg and comforting her with rumbles. Having had a handout of Copra cake and a drink at the stockade trough Emily’s group left. There were four of her group missing.

28 October 2012

Ndii, Rombo Kivuko and Dabassa were the centre of attraction at the mudbath today and emerged exhausted. After a dustbath the group moved off to feed for the remainder of the afternoon.

29 October 2012

Today the Juniors joined a wild herd of elephants who had spent the night browsing up the hill and so enjoyed this interaction that they never bothered to come down for their noon milk and mudbath, only returning in the evening leaving the wild elephants at the hill. The wild herd came to drink at the stockades at midnight.

30 October 2012

Ndara spent the previous day and night outside her usual Night Enclosure in the company of the wild herd, but she came early in the morning to meet up with the Juniors. She then took Shimba with her to browse around the base of Mazinga hill while the rest of Lesanju’s group proceeded to the main Park. Later Shimba came to join the Juniors and Ndara came in the evening to enjoy the Copra came supplement before heading out again, probably to link up with Emily’s group who are very much around.

31 October 2012

The Juniors headed out to Mazinga hill having taken their morning milk and supplements. They were in a jovial mood when they came for their noon milk, since there had been a light shower of rain. Ndara did not return to the Stockades today and is likely to have reunited with Emily’s group, now that her wounds have healed and she is no longer so lame. Note:- When Emily’s group reappeared this month, after a long absence, some of the Bulls of her group were missing - namely Burra, Solango and Siria. We suspect that these bulls may have been persuaded to separate from Emily’s unit by the appearance of mature bulls coming to inspect adolescent females of the group, many of whom are now at an age when they could fall pregnant.