Keepers' Diaries, October 2021

Select your unit:

Voi Reintegration Unit

The dry season stretches onward in Voi, without a rain cloud in sight. There was one storm that fell towards the Galana, but that was it. It is a very difficult time for all wildlife, but elephants feel the brunt of the dry season particularly keenly. They are a species who need plentiful vegetation to sustain themselves, and when browse is so difficult to find, they really struggle. 

Our Voi team conducted several orphan rescues over the course of the month. While some were tragically too far gone to survive, others are doing well in our care. When it comes to rescuing drought victims, time is of the essence. Having teams within Tsavo, armed with decades of experience and the ability to respond rapidly, has meant the difference between life and death for countless orphans. 

Like their wild counterparts, our Voi herd spends their days diligently searching for fresh greens. These are increasingly difficult to find, given the conditions. While they certainly feel the effects of the dry season, the orphans remain in remarkably good spirits. Each morning, they charge out of their stockades full of energy. They guzzle down their milk bottles and spend some time playing around the compound, enjoying some supplementary feed, before leaving for the day to browse.

Tamiyoi, Tagwa, and Sagala remain our team leaders and shepherd the herd out into the bush each morning. They are wonderful partners and clearly enjoy having such a big responsibility. 

Because it’s been so hot, the orphans are in fine form down at the mud bath. The Keepers love seeing how they all show off their unique wallowing styles. Godoma and Mbegu like to play along the edge of the water hole, so they can get nice and muddy without having to fully submerge themselves. On one particularly sweltering day, it was sweet to watch how Mbegu and Godoma cuddled one another and fanned themselves with their ears, in an effort to keep cool. Mashariki and Mudanda stood together, doing the same. This was quite unusual, as both elephants usually keep to themselves.

Our boys prefer their afternoons to be action-packed, especially Ngilai, Ndotto, and Emoli. They sometimes forgo the mud bath entirely, so they can spend the extra time wrestling and chasing each other around. One day, Ngilai and Emoli had a sparring match that drew a substantial number of spectators! After their match concluded, the friends coiled up their trunks, congratulating each other for their exemplary performance.

Of course, Tundani remains the most coveted sparring partner. He is the oldest bull in the Voi herd, but he always plays fairly with the younger boys. One afternoon, Ndotto decided to employ a few creative tactics in their wrestling match. He stepped into the water trough and raised his nose up, all in an attempt to look tall and threatening to Tundani, who is two years his senior!

When they’re not chasing each other, the Voi orphans love to chase any visiting birds. One afternoon, Ngilai and Ndotto had a great time pursuing guinea fowl. They were too efficient, however, and when Lasayen came to join the fun, he found that the birds had already disappeared into the nearest trees! Another day, Ndii chased some Egyptian geese who had come for a swim.

Kenia, Ndii, Panda and Arruba remain besotted with little Pika Pika. They are very possessive of her and rarely allow the other orphans to have access to her. Their singular focus on Pika Pika means that Araba, their first adopted girl, has been rather cast aside. This is not such a bad thing for Araba, as she now has the opportunity to forge new friendships with the other Voi orphans. As if proving this point, Araba saw Godoma in the mud bath one afternoon and ran over to play with her. She later jumped into the water trough to continue the game.

Jumping into the water trough has become something of a trend, spearheaded by Panda. This has become her favourite pastime, and most afternoons, she commandeers the water trough as her own personal pool. While Panda splashes and slides about, Suswa, Embu, Mashariki and her other friends stand just outside, watching her antics and calmly enjoying a drink.

Lions have taken up residence in the area, no doubt because of the dry season. Their continued presence means that Cheza, Ivia, and Diria, the orphaned buffalos and zebra, have to remain close to the stockade compound. They still spend their days browsing and exploring, but in a more manageable area and under very close supervision. Ngilai must miss having Ivia as his special playmate and sparring partner!

While we continue to wait for the rains to arrive in full, the month did end on a positive note, with a sprinkling of rain falling from the sky. We can only hope that this is a sign that real relief is on the horizon.

October 2021 day to day

01 Oct

The Voi orphans walked out of their night stockades, excited for the new day. Tamiyoi, Tagwa and Emoli ran for their morning milk bottles, then immediately proceeded to the lucerne pellet and grass feeding area. A few minutes later, Ngilai and Emoli were already having their morning pushing game. Pika Pika calmly fed on lucerne next to her adopted motherly figure, Ndii, but she became jealous when Araba got too close. She pushed her away from both Ndii and Kenia.

The orphans then exited the stockade for their day out in the Park, leaving Mashariki, Tundani and Ndotto behind to finish every last piece of lucerne they could find. Ndoria was being a bit of a bully to Godoma as they walked along and kept pushing her, but Mudanda ran over to rescue Godoma and push Ndoria away.

In the afternoon, the orphans walked down Msinga Hill for the noon milk feed and immediately proceeded to the mud wallow. Ndotto splashed about a little in the water and then walked over to the pile of loose soil for a fun dust bath. After playing around the mud bath for about 30 minutes, the orphans resumed browsing and spent the afternoon on the grasslands before returning to the stockades for the night.

Ngilai sparring with Emoli

Pika Pika and Sagala

Mbegu sparring with Murit