Keepers' Diaries, October 2018

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Voi Reintegration Unit

This month the Keepers found the weaver birds singing in the trees and industriously creating their nests, which is always one of the first signs that rain is on the way. Whilst we approach the end of the dry season, the elephant orphans busied themselves with browsing throughout the day so as to get enough to eat before returning to the stockades in the evening.

The fact that food is slightly more scarce than usual means that some of the orphans have been slightly rowdy around the Lucerne pellet feeding area in the morning. Mudanda was witnessed several mornings in a naughty mood, chasing others like Rorogoi, Araba and Murit away from the Lucerne until the Keepers intervened. Another morning Mashariki tried to steal all the pellets that Ndotto had grabbed and coiled around in his trunk for safe keeping. Ngilai made us laugh too when he went straight to the water trough to have a drink after his morning milk bottles, but we believe his actual intention was to get rid of his ‘milk moustache’ as he came straight back to beg for another milk bottle! Ndoria does not tolerate any nonsense however, so before the Keepers could say anything to Ngilai he was sent away by Ndoria instead.

Ishaq-B has been denied playing with the ‘baby’ of the heard, Tahri, for so long by Ndii, that recently she has started to shepherd Mbegu’s herd away from the others, and browse alone with them for hours at a time. This way she gets to spend time with some of the younger babies without Ndii chasing her away, as most of her attention is focused on Tahri. Ndii does not like to let any of the older females, Arruba too, play with her little cosseted baby.

Mbegu has been happy for ‘her’ Nursery group to browse with Ishaq-B, but she still likes to consolidate her little Nursery herd away from the others too. If she sees Lentili or any of the other older females start to take the lead out to the Park for the day, she will gather her little six-member group together and try to overtake them, and assume leadership of the herd for the morning. It will be hard for her to relinquish her matriarchal duties which she had for so long in the Nursery, and indeed we do not think she ever will. Both she and Godoma were not very impressed with Tundani’s immature antics of jumping into the water trough one day when they were both drinking from it, and they walked away with very unimpressed faces.

All five members of her herd, Godoma, Ngilai, Ndotto, Murit, Lasayen, have settled into Voi well since moving there in May. Ndotto is happy to play with anyone, including the older girls like Kenia and Ndii, as size has never really been an issue for him. Kenia, who doesn’t usually like these kinds of pushing games, was even happy to oblige him! Godoma still likes to defend the group from any intruder, such as baboons, just like she did in the Nursery, and Murit and Lasayen are constantly engaged in one pushing game or another. One morning at the end of the month, Godoma awoke with a slight limp in one of her hind legs, but swift direction from Angela sorted that out in a matter of days, and she is walking fine again. Whilst she stayed behind in the stockades during the day for her treatment, Mbegu, ever the compassionate leader and doting elephant, stayed to accompany her as well.

On the 9th we received news about three ex-orphans that were seen in the ranch land area, historically the dry season range for many of Tsavo’s elephants. When the Keepers went to go and see who it might be, they found Ndara, her baby Neptune, Rombo and Taveta. Emily’s ex-orphan herd has not been seen by the Keepers recently, but they have heard reports of them and we are sure they will check in to the stockades once the rains come and they decide to return.

At the very end of the month ex-orphan bulls Dabassa and Layoni, who we had not seen for a while, came to say hello to the dependent orphans. Dabassa quickly noticed that Nelion’s tusks were almost bigger than his own and he happily engaged Nelion in a strength testing pushing game, while Layoni interacting with Mbegu’s herd until it was time for the dependent orphans to go for their milk.

On the 1st of the month, male eland Tawi, and father to Kore’a baby Karibu, came to the stockades to visit everyone. Everyone was happy to see him, and little baby Karibu followed him around the stockades all day long. He stayed for most of the month, until he decided to wonder back out to the Park again to reunite with the herd of wild eland and zebras he joined up with just over a month ago.

October 2018 day to day

01 Oct

The keepers woke up this morning to find that Tawi, the male ex-orphan eland that had gone wild more than a month ago, had come to visit. Tawi who is believed to be the father of Kore’s new born baby (Karibu) was back and the Keepers were all thrilled to see him. Tawi went to greet Kore and Karibu and their meeting was filled with joy. Karibu followed Tawi for walks around the stockade compound before settling down to feed from Kore. Ol-tukai the buffalo, Tawi’s best friend, upon seeing Tawi came out of his stockade and started jumping around full of excitement. He then engaged Tawi in a head butting game before settling with him to feed on Lucerne grass pellets.

The orphan elephants came out of their stockades for the morning milk feed. Ngilai came running out followed by Godoma and Tahri. The orphans then headed to the park for the days browsing activities under Tundani and Nelion’s leadership.

Oltukai playing with Tawi

Ngilai playing with Murit

Murit having a drink of water

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