Keepers' Diaries, October 2013

Voi Reintegration Unit

A devastating tragedy for us all was the death of Shimba on the 20th, whose health had been deteriorating ever since he was attacked by lions in April as he was making his way back home alone after a night away. (The orphans were in amongst a wild herd when a loud thunderclap panicked the entire herd, and all the orphans fled along with their wild friends). Orphaned when 6 weeks old, Shimba was 7 years old when he died, on the cusp of joining the wild elephant community of Tsavo. He was a much loved and gentle character who was a great favourite of everyone and who has been sadly missed by all his orphaned elephant friends as well as his human family. The three youngest members of the Voi Unit, Mbirikani, Panda and Mudanda who were his constant companions during the time he was an invalid, especially missed him and have had difficulty coming to terms with the fact that he ha actually gone. For several days they returned to search the compound for him.

01 October 2013

Shimba walked slowly to the Stockade waterhole to quench his thirst after the others had finished, nervous of being shoved around in his weakened condition. Tassia then led the Orphans to the top of Mazinga hill where all browsed silently. Tassia, Wasessa, Mzima and Lesanju then climbed even higher but Lempaute found a tasty tidbit behind a rock, and devoured it quickly before the others homed in! Back at the Stockades Shimba, Mbirikani and Mudanda enjoyed their noon milk feed, Mbirikani splashing water onto her injured foot and Mudanda paced up and down, anxious to return to the browsing area.

02 October 2013

Kivuko and Taveta competed leadership of the Orphans, arriving at the top of Mazinga hill ahead of all the others. Tassia climbed a huge flat rock, swinging his trunk and flapping his ears as he enjoyed the cooling breeze. All browsed until noon opting for a dustbath up the hill, rather than come down for a wallow at the Stockades. Meanwhile Ex Orphan Lissa and her wild-born calves came to drink from the Stockade water trough, and enjoying some Lucerne. They remained at the Stockades for about 1 hour before leaving.

03 October 2013

Shimba as usual enjoyed his supplements without interruption from the others on the safety side of the electric fence before joining Mbirikani and Mudanda while Dabassa and Rombo engaged one another in a Pushing Match as they waited for Lesanju and the others to finish their morning handout. Taveta and Tassia then led the way out to browse up the hill again where they settled down to feed for the remainder of the day. Meanwhile, Panda and Mbirikani enjoyed their noon wallow and as soon as they had finished Shimba went and sprayed himself with water. In the evening a wild Bull visited the Stockades for water, greeted warmly by Layoni, while the girls kept their distance. Having quenched his thirst the wild Bull interacted with the orphans before they returned to their Night Stockades.

04 October 2013

Shimba was very dull today, apparently not interested in his Copra cubes or the Lucerne. As the orphans were pottering around the compound having taken their supplements, Wasessa spotted the approach of a wild Bull, which she signaled the other Big Girls who moved away to give him space while the young boys (Mzima, Tassia, Dabassa, Layoni, Rombo and Taveta) were intrigued by him, Dabassa edging closer and extended his trunk to touch the wild visitor. Having noticed that the bull was more intent on the Lucerne than them, the girls (Wasessa, Lempaute Lesanju and Sinya) then also moved closer until Sinya began to head out, the others filing behind her. The wild Bull was tempted to follow them, but then Layoni, who found himself left behind, sped past him to catch up with the others which persuaded the wild bull to do the same. All browsed together until it was time for the mudbath, when the wild Bull wandered off.

05 October 2013

Yesterday’s wild Bull turned up again to meet up with the Orphans in the morning, again leaving all the orphan boys fascinated, while the Big Girls moved to distance themselves until the Bull moved off. Stockade games then ensued, Panda enjoying a Pushing Game with Ndii which was interrupted by the intervention of Kenia. Meanwhile Mbirikani, Panda and Shimba watched the games from a safe distance on the other side of the fence. Later the orphans browsed the sides of the hill and after the mudbath, they browsed in the field until it was time to return.

06 October 2013

Lualeni, the orphaned zebra, joined her friend Panda to enjoy the Dairy Cubes. Mudanda charged the zebra who ran off kicking up her back legs while the latest orphaned newcomer, a baby male eland named “Jango”, watched from a distance preferring to remain close to the Keepers. Tassia and Taveta then led the elephants up Mazinga Hill to feed.

07 October 2013

Having finished his milk, Shimba walked around the Compound, while Kivuko and Dabassa picked up fallen leaves from Yesterdays cut browse. Shimba browsed near the fence while Mbirikani Panda and Mudanda went further to browse. Rombo and Ndii sized one another up and then initiated a Pushing Match until Wasessa signaled that it was time to head out. Just before 4 p.m. a wild herd arrived at the Stockades to quench their thirst at the Stockade trough before also heading towards the hill.

08 October 2013

As the orphans were taking their morning supplements, poor Shimba collapsed in his Stockade. Panda did her best to help him up, but in vain until the Keepers rushed in to help Shimba back onto his feet. He then walked slowly over to take his milk after which he joined his three little friends, accompanied by a Keeper due to his weakened condition. Having taken their noon milk feed, the Stockade group of four enjoyed their noon mudbath - even Shimba who splashed water all over himself. They then browsed until it was time to return to the Stockades.

09 October 2013

The Stockade four took their milk ahead of the others, and then their share of he supplements on the safe side of the fence, while the others rushed out eager for the supplements. Later Rombo and Taveta had a serious test of strength, now being much more evenly matched, while Ndii and Kivuko also engaged one another. Taveta then challenged Tassia, inadvertently barging into Wasessa in the process, which was not popular. She charged him furiously, but Lesanju intervened to restore order. Rombo and Dabassa then initiated another Pushing Match in which Layoni intervened to take over Rombo. Later all left for the Hill. At 3.20 p.m. a herd of wild elephants who had been browsing behind the Malaika House, came to the stockade trough to take water, leaving just before Panda, Mbirikani and Mudanda raced in, eager for a drink, Shimba following slowly.

10 October 2013

Sinya led the Orphans to the Eastern side of the Hill today, the peace of their browsing shattered when two tiny Klipspringer antelopes came leaping around chasing one another, causing the Elephants to bellow for help and retreat back to their Keepers, who had to calm them despite the fact that the antelope are just the size of a dikdik!

11 October 2013

Lesanju took the lead again today, Sinya, Tassia, Kivuko, Kenia and Taveta all having had their turn to lead. She headed towards the West side of the Hill where there was a green flush after recent rain. All had fun at the waterhole, after which they had a wonderful dustbath, blowing up huge clouds of red dust. In the evening the Stockade group of four pottered around until it was time for then to go in for the night.

12 October 2013

Shimba unusually joined the older orphans at the supplement handout today and, aware of his feeble condition, all gave him space and respect. Lesanju came and fondled him gently with her trunk, rumbling softly to him, before leaving silently. Next came Lempaute, Sinya, Wasessa, and Mzima, all of whom did the same and all rumbling to him, none of them doing the usual pushing and shoving, but allowing Shimba right of way. Out in the field the orphans browsed peacefully, but had to wait at the wallow for two old Bull Buffaloes to vacate it. Tassia was tempted to try and charge the buffaloes, but was deterred when they just stared back at him. However, when they heard human voices, they left in a hurry, and the Orphans then had it all to themselves. All returned to the Stockades with full stomachs today.

13 October 2013

Having taken their supplements in the morning, the Orphans enjoyed scratching their bodies against rocks, and generally pottering around the compound until it was time to head out to browse.

14 October 2013

Yet again, poor Shimba was unable to get up in the morning without the help of the Keepers. While all the others were running around enjoying their usual Stockade compound antics, Kivuko, who is tuskless had the supplements to herself. Many other residents also enjoy the pickings such as the resident hornbills who wait patiently outside the Staff canteen for their share of “chapatti”. Taveta decided to initiate a Pushing Game with little Panda, which caught the attention of Wasessa who moved in to ensure that there was no bullying. Having decided that he meant no harm, she returned to the Lucerne pile, not noticing that Taveta then tried to mount onto Panda. She dodged at the last minute, leaving him biting the dust. He then walked away sheepishly! At l0.45 having browsed all morning the orphans headed for the Big Waterhole where they drank, since the bins had been emptied. Kivuko was left kicking them around to show her disgust! It was a cool day, so the orphans just splashed themselves and took a dustbath instead.

15 October 2013

Today, Shimba was put on an infusion of Glucose and Saline, again being too weak to rise unaided. He was visited by the Vet, who administered injectable antibiotics and vitamins, and took dung, blood and urine samples. At 11 a.m. Shimba’s friends, Panda, Mbirikani and Mudanda came to check on him, eager to try and snatch Shimba’s milk. A Keeper then escorted the three youngsters back to browse. Ex orphan Lissa returned with her family to drink at the Stockades late in the evening and enjoy some Lucerne.

16 October 2013

As the orphans were browsing out in the field, they noticed a wild herd of about 15 elephants heading their way. Tassia, Dabassa, Lesanju and Wasessa went to meet them and all the orphans browsed along with the wild herd, all the same red colour so it was difficult for the Keepers to discern who was who! Tassia, Taveta, Mzima, Rombo and Dabassa found wild age mates whom they engaged in tusking games while the older girls decided to “Nannie” the small wild calves. The wild herd separated from the orphans when the Keepers called them for the mudbath where they had a lot of fun.

17 October 2013

As the orphans were browsing the slopes of the Hill they came across a tuskless wild cow with her two calves, one of whom was suckling. As soon as the Cow heard the Keepers’ voices, she threatened to charge, leaving the Keepers sheltering behind their Orphaned herd! As soon as the calf had finished suckling, the wild cow headed towards other wild elephants who were feeding below leaving our orphans to feast on vegetation up the hill. Many animals were grazing below along with wild elephants - a group of ostriches, Peters’ gazelles and Hartebeest.

18 October 2013

Lempaute posed today, waving her trunk to attract the attention of the Keeper wielding the camera so that he would focus on her rather than the others! She then led the herd out to browse, happening upon 2 impalas on the way, whom she charged. When Taveta and Rombo heard Lempaute’s trumpet, they rushed in to take over, so Lempaute left them having fun with the impalas. By the time they had had enough, the other orphans were already half way up the Hill! Meanwhile, back at the Stockades poor Shimba was back on an intravenous drip, his health rapidly failing, and the Vet at a loss as to know what more could be done to help him.

19 October 2013

Lualeni sought refuge from Rombo near the Keepers, so Rombo focused on Lesanju and Layoni, who ignored him since they were on the way to join Sinya, Kenia and Ndii who were browsing near the fenceline. He then spotted Mzima breaking down a branch, and headed towards him instead, but Mzima warned him off with outspread ears. Wasessa meanwhile joined Lesanju and Lempaute who had also managed to pull down a branch, which the girls all shared. Lesanju then rounded them up and headed out to browse, leaving greedy Dabassa at the Lucerne pile. He ran to catch up with them. Meanwhile, poor Shimba’s condition has worsened, despite the life supporting drips.

20 October 2013

All the orphans headed down the hill, pausing en route to scratch, dig up roots and snack on tasty greens. At 3 p.m. they moved to the Big Waterhole. Meanwhile, back at the Stockades, it was a tragic day, because poor Shimba finally succumbed as a result of the lion mauls he sustained in April which robbed him of his health. He was a much loved member of the orphan herd, very gentle and mellow – a polite and loving Boy who never bullied or put a foot wrong during all the years he was with us. Bravely, on that fateful night in April, having spent a night away after the orphans were scared by thunder in the late evening of the previous way, he was attacked by at least 3 lions as he made his way back home. Although he managed to fight them off, they left him with serious wounds around the head and hindquarters, but he managed to get himself back home and at least could die surrounded by the friends that loved him.

21 October 2013

Little Jango, the orphaned eland calf, loves to play with Lualeni, the orphaned Zebra, racing around the compound together. Panda, Mudanda and Mbirikani keep returning to the Stockades, looking for Shimba, hoping that he may still be around. Meanwhile the older orphans browsed silently on the hill, Kenia leading the younger ones to the Big Waterhole to have their midday milk feed going in two milk dependent groups – Kenia, Dabassa, Ndii and Layoni first and then Tassia, Taveta, Kivuko and Rombo. The older elephants joined them later in the mudwallow, where all had fun. After the dustbath, Sinya led them back to the Hill where they browsed for the remainder of the day.

22 October 2013

After the morning browsing, the orphans went to the Big Waterhole where they met up with a friendly wild herd, who welcomed them warmly. Kenia, Dabassa, Kivuko and Layoni were happy to be embraced by this herd who allowed them to play with wild age mates. When the rest of the orphans arrived, there were happy trumpets and rumbles after which the Big Wild Elephants watched their young ones having fun with the orphans. After which the entire group enjoyed a dustbath before parting company.

23 October 2013

A new orphaned elephant calf rescued last night from Tsavo West spent the night in the stables with Panda, Mbirikani and Mudanda next door comforting her. She was ready to charge the Keepers who brought her milk and water, but eventually capitulated and took both. Meanwhile she was allowed to rest until the Rescue Plane from Nairobi was near landing when she was taken to the airfield and loaded as soon as the plane landed, having had a Nuroclav injection to guard against pneumonia and put on life support for the flight back to the Nursery to maintain her strength.

24 October 2013

Lesanju led the orphans out earlier than usual, to take advantage of the green flush brought on by rain, and anxious to meet up with the many wild herds who have moved into the area since. Lesanju is no longer shy about joining wild herds that accept her and her group. However today they did not meet up with any wild elephants but browsed peacefully until it was time to return in the evening.

25 October 2013

Mbirikani, Mudanda and Panda raced towards their normal feeding grounds within the electric fence only to find the Spring Gate shut, since the Keepers felt they should begin fraternizing more with the older elephants now that Shimba is no longer with them. Dabassa engaged Panda in a Pushing Math under the watchful eyes of Kenia and Ndii. Rombo and Tassia also had a Strength Testing Match which was won by Tassia who then mounted onto Tassia, prompting Mbirikani to make herself scarce, while Mudanda sought refuge amongst the Big Girls. Having defeated Rombo Tassia took on Ndii, but Kenia moved in on the side of her friend. Out in the field the Orphans browsed amidst a friendly wild herd for about two hours before moving to the waterhole for their noon mudbath, which they all enjoyed.

26 October 2013

Kenia led the orphans to the Hill today, anxious to get there as soon as possible to take advantage of the fresh greens on the hill, while the rest of the Park remains dry. At the Hill the orphans split into several groups with Kivuko, Sinya, Wasessa and Lesanju browsing apart, Kivuko usually keen to avoid Tassia and Taveta who enjoy mounting her. Meanwhile Tassia and Taveta spotted some of the other orphans further up the Hill and went to join them, while Mzima joined Kenia browsing on a small green bush, taking charge and chasing off Dabassa, Layoni, Rombo and even his friend Tassia, when wanted a share of the tree. At noon the milk dependent Youngsters went to the Big Waterhole for their milk ration, joined later by the older elephants. All enjoyed the wallow.

27 October 2013

Strangely, since normally they are not on good terms, Kivuko and Rombo were browsing together today, but later parted. As Rombo was browsing a small shrub, he heard something behind the bush, and having listened carefully, he turned tail and bolted, triggering the screaming mass exodus of the entire herd. The strange sound behind the bush turned out only to be Taveta, so browsing resumed once order had been restored!

28 October 2013

It was a very hot day so the entire Orphan herd went to the Waterhole early to cool themselves down ahead of the arrival of the milk truck. After a lot of fun at the waterhole, the orphans returned to browse for the remainder of the day.

29 October 2013

It was another mud-bathing day for the Orphans, who went to the Waterhole soon after l0 a.m. and all wrestled for a space within. The Big Girls began to extend the waterhole gauging clumps of earth from the banks while others demonstrated their butt scratching and wallowing skills, all trying to out-do one another!

30 October 2013

It was a cooler day, so the orphans tested the temperature of the water in the Big Waterhole first, Kivuko the first one in, followed by all the others who thoroughly enjoyed themselves, Mzima trying to shove out Dabassa, Kenia and Tassia to make more room for himself. All then had a scratch at the erosion gulley before taking a dustbath and returning to browse for the remainder of the day.

31 October 2013

Jango, the orphaned eland joined Lualeni as she was grazing, the Keeper picking soft shoots for him to taste. Meanwhile the orphans were browsing as usual at the Hill and instead of wallowing, rested under shade, before resuming feeding. There was less activity today.