Keepers' Diaries, October 2016

Voi Reintegration Unit

Panda’s extreme greed seems to have amplified this month, probably due to the extremely dry conditions across the wider Tsavo region making the sourcing of browse more challenging. Having downed her share, she immediately homes in on that of the others, targeting those younger than herself such as Araba, creating a disturbance so that the Keepers have to be on “Panda duty” at feeding times. Another day she jumped the queue; whereas ordinarily the orphans come for their milk in manageable groups, and are obedient to this normal routine, Panda rushed in before the others in order to be first. Due to the drought conditions, lucerne cubes as well as bales are available to supplement their intake during challenging conditions, which are greatly enjoyed by all. The competition at milk feeding times sometimes result in collisions, such as the day that Rorogoi and Bada ran into each other!

01 October 2016

The morning was wonderful with the orphans coming out of the stockades in a happy mood. They drank their milk bottles before heading to the supplement feeding area. It was a busy day with the orphans leaving the stockade as soon as they had finished their supplements so that they could browse for as much of the morning as possible. They browsed until it was time for the noon milk feed which they had at the base of the northern side of Msinga Hill. Panda finished her milk bottle and started eyeing Araba’s share. Araba made a concerted effort to prevent Panda from stealing any of her milk and the keepers also intervened, giving Panda a stern warning to let Araba finish her milk in peace. The orphans then headed to the middle water hole under the leadership of Lentili and Naipoki. They stayed here for a short spell before continuing their browsing activities in the nearby fields. Half an hour before it was time to return to the stockades, Tundani and Nelion engaged each other in a tough pushing game. The tussle was seen as one of ascertaining their hierarchy among the bulls before the two followed the rest who were heading home for the night.

02 October 2016

It was a perfect bright morning when the orphans came out of the stockades and fed before they had a wonderful time lying down and playing with the red soil in the compound, after which they proceeded to the browsing fields. The orphans browsed in single file as they slowly made their way to the waterhole for the noon milk feed. Arruba enjoyed some amazing scratching games on the walls of the water hole with Lentili sitting on the opposite side challenging her to a competition of who could scratch best. The other orphans plunged into the water with all of them wallowing in their own unique bathing styles. Lesanju, Taveta and Tassia arrived at the waterhole before the orphans left for the fields. Kenia was quick to evacuate her group from the water as she did not want them interacting with Lesanju’s herd whom she feels will try to steal the babies from her group. Panda and Bada ignored Kenia’s request to leave and stayed back participating in the bath with the three ex-orphans. The five then went to join Kenia’s herd all of whom were browsing close to the big waterhole and the spent the afternoon feeding together. In the evening Lesanju’s herd escorted the juniors to the stockade and remained with them until 9pm when they returned to the park.

03 October 2016

Another wonderful morning has come with the orphan elephants linking up from their various stockades for a milk feeding session, before assembling for the special Lucerne grass pellets and copra cake supplements. The browsing day started in high gear soon after the orphan elephants arrived at the browsing grounds. The browsing pace was deliberately slow so that they could grab as much food as they could as it is still very dry in Tsavo. Kenia had some close browsing contact with her adopted baby Araba. Suswa, Mashariki and Embu led the first group to the waterhole for the milk feed and mudbath. Suswa had a wonderful time rolling in the water with the others joining her in the mudbathing games. Soon after the bath, Kihari went for an amazing scratching session against the trunk of a fallen tree, creating a perfect place for the little Araba to come for a scratch after Kihari had left. The afternoon was spent close to that water hole before following Naipoki to the safety of the stockades that evening.

04 October 2016

The morning started well with Lesanju, Taveta and Tassia coming to the stockades early in the morning. The three joined the juniors for the supplement feeding. There were no games in the stockade this morning as Kenia wanted to take her herd away from Lesanju which didn’t happen as Lesanju, Tassia and Taveta followed them to the field. Kenia made sure to keep her adopted baby Araba very close to her throughout the browsing time so as to prevent Lesanju from interacting with her. The orphans had a wonderful time browsing before heading to the waterhole at noon. While the orphans were enjoying a mudbath a herd of wild elephants arrived joining them in the water. At first the orphans moved out of the water to allow the wild herd of elephants to enjoy a drink, before returning to interact with them. This interaction was brief as the wild herd soon left heading towards the Voi river circuit.

05 October 2016

It was a sunny morning as the orphan elephants came out of their stockades in a happy mood, running and assembling for their morning milk bottle. While running for her milk Rorogoi nearly fell down when she accidentally had a head on collision with Bada; the two screamed in surprise before they continued running to catch up with the rest of the group. Embu, Mashariki and Suswa and Arruba left the group and enjoyed a private browsing session away from the other orphans for nearly a full hour before rejoining them. The orphans visited the water hole at noon but didn’t wallow as the sun was slowly being covered by clouds turning the weather un-favorable for bathing; but at least it was cooler! In the afternoon, Nelion tried to engage Tundani in a wrestling match. Tundani was not interested as he was busy browsing.

06 October 2016

The morning was good with the stockade dependant orphans coming out and emptying their milk bottle in a hurry then enjoying the supplement feeding before taking off to the browsing grounds. After browsing for two hours Lesanju joined them without Tassia and Taveta who are the two boys that are usually in her company. They had a peaceful mornings browsing session before heading to the mudbath at noon. After an afternoon milk bottle, Kihari positioned herself in the middle of the water enjoying a rolling game. Lentili and Rorogoi her giving Kihari some bathing competition and the three of them enjoyed a highly charged game. Ndii shone in the bathing games as Panda watched what she was doing in great amazement. After the bath Naipoki took little Araba for a browsing session but it was not long before Kenia moved in and recaptured Araba keeping her with her for the rest of the day. Lesanju returned to the stockade with them in the evening, returning to the park at 8pm.

07 October 2016

Another wonderful morning with Lesanju, Taveta and Tassia receiving the stockade dependant orphans as soon as they exited their night quarters. The three Ex Orphans joined the babies for some Lucerne pellets and copra cake. Lesanju took Bada close to her whilst they ate the supplement food as Kenia and the other girls stood by jealously watching their interaction. Ndii introduced an amazing scratching game inviting Tundani and Panda to join her. Embu, Rorogoi and Mudanda teamed up for a dust bath in the red soil. Their game was disrupted by Ndoria who wanted to join them but had other intentions than playing with them; she seemed she might want to bite their tails! The orphans headed to the browsing ground, with Kenia and Kihari taking the lead. They had a wonderful browsing moment half way up Msinga Hill before coming down and heading to the water hole in the afternoon. They had a lot of fun in the wallow before returning to browse for the rest of the afternoon.

08 October 2016

The morning was beautifully bright with Lesanju, Taveta and Tassia arriving and catching up with the stockade dependant orphans at the supplement feeding area. The orphans browsed in single file with Lesanju having a soft spot for Mudanda and spending the morning browsing closely with her. Embu, Rorogoi and Ishaq-B were left to take leadership of the orphans today, something that they thoroughly enjoyed doing as they led the orphans to the mudwallow at noon. Lesanju took the central position in the water, show-casing her bathing expertise. Nelion was showing off his long tusks, punching and digging huge chunks of soil from the banks/walls of the wallow with Rorogoi watching him closely. Bada went for a wall scratching game which Nelion saw and decided to join, scratching right next to him. Naipoki retained her position as the star of the mudwallow.

09 October 2016

The morning started well with the orphans enjoying feeding on supplements with Lesanju, Tassia and Taveta following Panda closely. After the milk and supplement feeding was over Ndoria made a friendly advance to Rorogoi for a pushing game who gave in to the request and the two enjoyed a friendly game. A short while later Kenia took off in high gear towards the browsing grounds, hoping to leave Lesanju’s herd behind, but she was not surprised to find Lesanju following the junior group. The orphans had a peaceful browsing session before obeying their thirst and having a drink at water trough near the mudwallow before having a mudbath. Bada, Rorogoi, Ishaq-B and Lentili were the stars of the mudbath today showing off as many of their bathing skills as they could. Rorogoi then went for a soil dusting session while waiting for the rest of the orphans to leave the water.

10 October 2016

It was a nice beginning of the day with Kenia taking the lead of her stockade dependant orphans as soon after they had finished feeding on milk and the supplement foods. She kept a quick pace, worried that Lesanju’s herd may show up and join them, but when she saw they were not around she relaxed a little. Her peace of mind did not last long however as just before the group made their way to the mudbath, Lesanju, Taveta and Tassia joined them in the browsing fields. Mudanda ran to welcome Lesanju getting in between her and Taveta, enjoying their warmth. Kenia, Ndii, Kihari and Ishaq-B were not interested in watching what was going and took off to the waterhole. The bathing session was very brief as Lesanju stuck to Mudanda making all the other stockade dependent babies very jealous. Embu took the lead of the orphans back to the browsing fields in the afternoon.

11 October 2016

It was a wonderful morning with both Lesanju and Kenia’s herd assembling for a wonderful supplement feeding after the stockade dependant orphans had emptied their morning milk bottle. After a few stockade games the orphans headed out to the browsing fields where they spent the day eating as much as they could. They stopped only for the noon milk bottle and a mudbath. A wild elephant calf that had been treated by the Tsavo Vet unit and returned to its herd yesterday continued to have difficulties walking and was getting left behind by its herd. As a result a rescue effort was mounted by the stockade keepers, the vet unit and one of the DSWT desnaring teams. The calf was captured and brought to the stockade where it waited to be airlifted to the Nairobi nursery.

12 October 2016

The day started with lots of milk and supplement feeding activity with Lesanju, Taveta and Tassia making sure they were there to enjoy the goodies. There were only brief games at the stockade compound before leaving for the browsing field where feeding has become more difficult due to the persistent dry season being experienced in Tsavo. After the noon milk bottle, the orphans were scared off by Ndoria who is known for her tail biting behaviour. She was quick to jump into the water at the mud bath which meant that Mashariki, Bada, Embu, and Rorogoi had to wait for Kenia’s herd to arrive before entering the water so that they could reprimand Ndoria when she misbehaved. Bada made sure to enjoy his mud bathing activities at the opposite end of the wallow, well away from Ndoria. Lesanju and Mudanda had a lovely time bathing and playing together in the water. The orphans left the wallow to continue with their browsing activities until it was time to return to the stockades in the evening.

13 October 2016

The morning was good with both the stockade dependant orphans and Lesanju's herd linking up for supplement feeding before proceeding together to the browsing grounds. Kenia looked very relaxed in Lesanju's presence today but she still made sure to keep but her adopted baby Araba by her side the entire time. A report of a friendly wild elephant herd that was frequenting the Mugeno water hole close to the sisal estate was received by both the vet unit and the stockade keepers. The report noted that there was an elephant with an arrow wound that needed treatment. On arrival it was noticed that it was Ex Orphan Emily's herd and that it was sadly Emily who had the arrow wound! The vet had to immobilize her in order to remove the arrow which was still embedded in her body. Her treatment was successful and she was able to rejoin her herd who were waiting nearby watching everything that was taking place. The keepers were happy to see that Icholta’s baby Inca was growing up quickly and was looking well.

14 October 2016

This morning the orphan elephants enjoyed playing happily at the stockade compound after they had enjoyed their morning milk bottles, lucerne pellets and copra cake. The juniors were joined at the stockade by Lesanju, Taveta and Tassia. Kenia is coping with the fact that Lesanju has taken Mudanda as her adopted baby as she knows that there is nothing she can do to prevent this from happening. Out in the browsing fields the orphans spread out and fed until 11am at which time they made their way to the mud wallow where Bada and Mashariki had their amazing time in the mud while Lesanju kept and eye on Mudanda while he bathed. Kenia stuck to her adopted baby for the day, Araba, as Kihari played in the water with Rorogoi.

15 October 2016

It was another wonderful morning with the stockade dependant orphans coming out with a lot of energy as they ran to get their equal share of milk. The orphans then browsed their way to the far northern side of the stockade before turning around and making their way to the waterhole at noon. They all had a brief wallow before resuming their browsing activities. Lesanju, who earlier in the afternoon had taken Mudanda for their own browsing activities, brought her back to rejoin the orphan herd as they returned to the stockades. Rorogoi, Ndoria and Mashariki made sure to stay ahead of the group as they made their way home, ensuring that they were the first to arrive at the stockades for the evening bottle of milk.

16 October 2016

It was a beautiful morning with the stockade dependant orphan elephants hurrying out of the stockade to drink a morning milk bottle and then settle for supplement food afterwards. There were only brief games in the stockade before the orphans left for the browsing grounds. After browsing for more than an hour, Lesanju, Taveta and Tassia arrived. Ndoria went to join Taveta and the two browsed together for half an hour together, before joining the rest of the orphan herd. It was then browsing as usual with the orphans occasionally taking refuge under the trees from the scorching sun. The orphans visited the water hole at noon where they had a very brief bath before resuming their browsing activities for the rest of the day.

17 October 2016

It was a warm morning today with the stockade dependant orphans joining Lesanju, Taveta and Tassia at the Lucerne grass feeding area. Mudanda was very excited to see her adopted mother Lesanju and wanted to browse with her. Lentili took the lead of the group to the browsing grounds with Kenia and Ndii following in the company of Araba, Bada, Rorogoi and Embu leaving Mudanda to come in Lesanju’s company. Later on in the day the Ex Orphan herd made up of Lempaute, Mzima, Sinya, Kivuko, Dabassa and Layoni were seen by the keepers around Ngutuni ranch as this area was very dry the keepers decided it was best to walk them back to the stockades so that they could be given some lovely green Lucerne grass. They remained at the stockades feeding on Lucerne, trumpeting happily. At midnight Lesanju, Taveta and Tassia came to the stockades and joined them. This is the first time that the group has been all together in three months.

18 October 2016

It was a wonderful beginning of the day as the stockade dependant orphans had seen the other members of Lesanju’s herd the previous night. After the supplement feeding the babies decided to head towards Msinga Hill to see if they could locate the Ex Orphans. Lesanju's herd was unfortunately nowhere to be seen which meant that the orphans did not meet up with them during the day, as they were undoubtedly browsing further afield than the orphans normally venture. However all nine members of Lesanju’s herd came to the stockades later in the day for a drink of water before enjoying the Lucerne grass that the keepers laid out for them. The group remained at the stockade for the entire day and there was a joyful reunion when the babies returned that evening.

19 October 2016

This morning the stockade dependant orphans herd missed the nine Ex Orphans in Lesanju's reunited herd as they had left the stockades at midnight for the browsing grounds. Kenia, Naipoki and Kihari took charge of the leadership of the group for the morning. When the babies arrived at the waterhole they found two buffaloes and a big herd of wild elephants all of whom had come for a drink at the orphan’s water hole. Nelion and Embu, who were at the front of the group having finished their milk first, stopped in their tracks while waiting for the rest of the orphans as they were wary of a big wild matriarch that had huge tusks and they found her rather daunting. When the wild herd left the mud bath they went to relax under a tree and the orphans joined them there after they had finished having their turn in the wallow. The orphans spent a couple of hours with the wild elephants before browsing their way back to the stockades in the evening. Lesanju's herd arrived at the stockades at 6pm and left four hours later. Today two orphans were rescued by the Voi team. Both orphans were very weak and were in a state of collapse. The younger orphan was air lifted to the Nairobi Nursery leaving the older one at Voi where he was put on a drip and treated by the Veterinary Unit.

20 October 2016

The morning was good with the stockade dependant orphans linking up with the whole of Lesanju's herd in the morning before proceeding to the browsing grounds, leaving their senior friends enjoying some bales of Lucerne grass given to them by the keepers. The Ex Orphans left the stockade at midday but did not join up with Kenia’s dependent herd. The orphan elephant that was on drip from yesterday was not looking any better today and did not seem to have gained any strength. The keepers made a make shift harness which they used to get her to her feet. The harness supported her as she stood and the keepers were happy to see her feeding on the green and tender grewia branches that they had managed to find for her.

21 October 2016

Another day of strapping the orphan elephant upright started in earnest this morning, when the very weak and worn out orphan elephant was unable to get back to her feet after laying down to sleep last night. The orphan had to be helped up several times during the course of the day and the harness was used to see her standing for a bit before letting her lie down to rest. Today Rorogoi enjoyed the lead of the stockade dependant orphans to the browsing grounds with Kenia comfortably leading from behind feeling safe in the knowledge that Lesanju's herd was absent today. The orphans had a wonderful day browsing, broken up with a visit to the waterhole at noon. Sadly, despite everyone’s efforts, the extremely weak orphan elephant that the keepers had been helping take care of over the past few days, died during the night.

22 October 2016

The stockade dependant orphans enjoyed the early morning sunshine as they assembled for their supplement feeding. Araba enjoyed browsing with Kenia on the Lucerne bales while Mudanda, Bada and Ishaq-B opted for a rock scratching game. Kihari led the orphan herd to the browsing grounds where they had a brief interaction with some impalas that were already feeding there. Panda today disregarded the usual order when it’s time to head for the noon milk bottles, and ran ahead wanting to be one of the first to be fed. After the milk feed the orphans had a lot of fun in mud bathing games with Arruba and Suswa teaming up for a wonderful dusting game after mud bathing. Mbirikani engaged Panda and Nelion in a massive bathing competition before the three joined the others for the afternoon browsing activities.

23 October 2016

A wonderful morning was had by the stockade dependant orphans who began the day with a milk and supplement feed before enjoying some games in the stockade compound. Suswa welcomed her long time friend Arruba to take care of the baboon menaces. The two orphans kept charging them, preventing them from entering the stockade compound by continuously chasing them away. Kihari and Mashariki enjoyed leading the orphans to the browsing grounds where they settled down to feed for the morning before visiting the middle water hole at noon where they had a lot of fun in mud bathing games, after which they browsed their way to the western foot of Msinga Hill where they remained until it was time to go back home. Taveta and Kivuko joined the stockade dependant orphans about twenty minutes before they returned to the stockades. Kenia was not happy to see them and screamed in protest, knowing that she would have to accommodate their presence. The two Ex Orphans returned to the stockade with the juniors and remained with them until 8pm when they returned to the park.

24 October 2016

The orphans had a nice beginning of the day with their usual milk and supplement feeding routine before leaving the stockade in a hurry under the leadership of Kihari and Suswa. Soon after they had left, Lesanju, Mzima, Sinya, Layoni, Dabassa and Tassia arrived at the stockade. They had a drink from the stockade water trough before enjoying some Lucerne grass that the keepers laid out for them. They fed for four consecutive hours before leaving for the park. At 11am when the orphans were ready to head to the water hole, Kivuko and Taveta, who had been absent from Lesanju’s herd this morning, were seen browsing on the slopes of the Msinga Hill. Kenia and Naipoki made sure to keep an eye on Araba so that the two Ex Orphans would not try and take her. Naipoki faced one way as Kenia faced the other, keeping Araba between them while always watching what the two Ex Orphans were doing. It was a wonderful day for the Voi keepers who received a report from Meno Ranch that one of the Ex Orphans in Emily's herd had given birth! The Ex Orphan, called Thoma, had given birth to a little boy who we named Thor. We are so happy to receive this joyful news this month.

25 October 2016

The morning was beautifully bright with the stockade dependant orphans leaving the stockade as soon as they had finished their milk bottle and supplement foods. They travelled to the far northern side of the stockade browsing as they went, before turning around so as to arrive at the middle water hole slightly later than usual. When moving towards the water hole for the milk feed, Nelion could not keep up with Rorogoi and so grabbed Rorogoi's tail in a bid to hold her back, but was unsuccessful in doing so. Nelson tried to engage Embu in a wrestling match but Embu however, ignored his advances. At the mud bath the orphans encountered a big wild elephant herd that was drinking some water and the orphans enjoyed a wonderful bath with their wild friends. Bada went to enjoy some wonderful scratching games on the walls of the mud bath as he showed off his games to the visiting wild elephant herd. The two herds browsed together for half an hour before the wild elephants left in the direction of the Voi river circuit. The stockade keepers were involved in the rescue of another orphan today. This orphan was rescued from Rukinga ranch and was immediately airlifted to the Nairobi Nursery.

26 October 2016

It was a wonderful morning for the stockade dependant orphans who were greeted by Lesanju’s entire herd when they exited their night quarters. They stayed together briefly before Kenia led her herd away, leading them to Msinga Hill for the mornings browsing activities. Lesanju’s herd did not follow or meet up with the babies the rest of the day. The orphans had a lovely time playing in the mud wallow after their noon milk feed.

27 October 2016

Emily's herd with Thoma and her new baby Thor walked all the way to the mud bath area the orphans use, and all the Ex Orphans celebrated together and had a lovely time getting to know Thor, taking him to the mud bath to wallow where the orphans and keepers could see him too. The keepers made sure to bring lots of supplement food for the Ex Orphans who enjoyed everything they were given. Today Rombo and Wasessa, who are normally part of Lesanju’s herd, were seen in the company of Emily’s herd on Mugeno Ranch near the Mwatate sisal estate.

28 October 2016

The morning was perfect with Sinya and Kivuko leaving the other members of their herd to greet the stockade dependant orphans who were happily playing at the stockade compound after their milk and supplement feeding routine. Suswa enjoyed playing with Embu while the others had fun playing a hide and seek game. Sinya and Kivuko tried to lead the entire group up the hill to join the rest of Lesanju’s herd who were busy browsing there but the babies did not follow them. Naipoki and Mbirikani remained on the cross road unsure of whether to follow the two Ex Orphans or not but soon decided it was better for them to stay with their herd, who were heading to the browsing fields. After the noon mud bath the rest of the day was spent feeding on the lower flat areas of Msinga Hill.

29 October 2016

The morning started well with the orphans coming out of their stockades, following their usual feeding routine, before heading to the browsing grounds under the leadership of Ishaq-B and Lentili. The orphans browsed in single file throughout the morning before going to the water hole later in the afternoon. The weather was fairly warm with Suswa plunging into the water and becoming the star of the day as she enjoyed rolling around in the water. Ndoria decided to challenge her game, while Kihari and Ishaq-B enjoyed a buttock scratching game on the walls of that waterhole. Tundani anchored himself against the walls, sitting in the water whilst watching the rest of the orphans enjoying their wallowing activities. The rest of the days browsing carried on half way up Msinga Hill.

30 October 2016

Both the stockade dependant orphan elephants and Lesanju's herd are all happy and are enjoying all the supplement food that the keepers give them. Most of the time the the two herds browse separately and today was no exception. The drought situation had hit the entire Tsavo Area and as a result we found another collapsed and abandoned orphan calf who we rescued from the Aruba area today. The calf named Malkia was airlifted to the Nairobi Nursery where it can get the care and attention that a young milk dependent orphan needs. The rest of the days browsing activities went well with Kenia guarding her adopted baby Araba as Ndii made some attempts to snatch her away from Kenia for some browsing company.

31 October 2016

It has been a very busy moth for the keepers with several rescues taking place. The best day was the day that we received the news of Thor’s birth. Despite the drought and all the difficulties that wildlife and the orphans are facing Ex Orphan Thoma was able to give birth to a lovely calf who is doing very well and is a testament to all the hard work done by the trust and the orphans human family. Today the stockade dependant orphan elephants and Lesanju's herd converged at the stockade for the crucial and usual supplement feeding that has helped to sustain them through the ongoing drought. When the two herds let the stockades they each went their separate ways and spent the day browsing in different areas.