Keepers' Diaries, September 2002

Voi Reintegration Unit

Rescue of "Wendi". She is from the Imenti Forest, and, as it has transpired, was newborn, with a deep crease in one ear that stubbornly refuses to straighten. We are sure she must have been in the womb with one ear bent, and we suspect that she may even have been a twin - the weaker twin - and left behind when her mother left with the other. There is not much information about as to why she was orphaned. Only that she was found lying beside a swamp.

01 September 2002

When the orphans left at 6 a.m. Mweya and Sweet Sally began pushing each other, but each one wanted to lead the group. Nasalot intervened to separate them, and then she took control and led the group! Out in the field Aitong had a confrontation with a zebra, knocking it down when it refused to run away. The zebra got up and tried to kick her, but she was not scared and chased it off. In the evening Laikipia found a baboon stealing his ration of Copra, and, trumpeting, he chased it right up to the base of Mazinga Hill.

02 September 2002

Mvita and Kinna had a confrontation today over a piece of vegetation, which was won by Mvita. Emily and Imenti also had a disagreement over who should occupy the middle of the mudbath at noon. In the end Emily pushed Imenti out, but when she returned she found Natumi lying there, having a wonderful time. Emily watched for a long time, and then decided to let Natumi have her place, splashing herself with water and mud instead.

03 September 2002

During the youngsters noon milk feed, Ndara downed hers very quickly, and then tried to take Mweya's share. The Keepers' intervened, after which Ndara bit Mweya's ear and then quickly ran away. Mweya screamed and was very angry. During mudbath, Loisaba's happy game of rolling round and round came to an end when Tsavo stood on her trunk. Loisaba got up to discipline Tsavo, who ran to Emily for protection. Returning to the Stockades Ilingwezi tried to overtake Salama, who was in the lead. Salama pushed Ilingwezi into a thorn bush, which made her yell, but afterwards she did not contest Salama's right to lead.

04 September 2002

Mweya and Sweet Sally had a wonderful mudbath today, sitting down with their legs parallel to the ground. Kinna, Yatta and Mulika copied them, and they all had fun for a full hour. Later a fight broke out between Edie and Tsavo when Tsavo tried to eat from the tasty bush Edie had found. Edie won the round, after which Tsavo tried to mount her, but got chased off.

05 September 2002

At 9 a.m. the babies were terrified by a low flying Helicopter. Mweya, Kinna and Sweet Sally rushed to the Keepers for protection, and we had a hard time cooling them down. Meanwhile Aitong had taken Loisaba, Natumi Edie and Mweiga off to feed elsewhere, but Loisaba became restless, missing Emily. She took to screaming like a baby which made Emily leave the other group and came to comfort Loisaba, laying her trunk lovingly across her back.

06 September 2002

Whilst feeding down at the Voi river, the babies were scared by a lion roaring at close quarters, and even more frightened when two buffalo came rushing out of the shrubbery. Sweet Sally was the front-runner in the rush to reach the Keepers for protection. At noon Laikipia was having a lovely game running in and out of the mudwallow, but suddenly realised that Edo was just behind him. This gave him a scare, and he screamed. Edo immediately reassured him by putting his trunk to Laikipia's lips.

07 September 2002

Edo turned up at the Stockades early, and once they had all reached the Voi river, he pushed Imenti away from the other orphans, to join him. Both he and Imenti then left, and returned to join the others at 5 p.m. In the meantime Nyiro charged a giraffe to try and scare it away, but it would not move. He then tried another tactic, pushing Lolokwe and Nasalot towards the giraffe, but they would not cooperate, so he had to give up the struggle.

08 September 2002

Ndara pushed a big branch into the mudwallow with her hind legs, and then Mulika, Mukwaju and Lolokwe joined in the game, shoving the log around in the mud. On the slopes of Mazinga Hill, Natumi, Edie, Laikipia and Salama had a wonderful sliding game in some soft earth on the slope, before retiring to the Stockades for the night.

09 September 2002

Imenti joined a wild group of seven elephants this morning, but was knocked down by a bull of about 12 years old. This deterred Emily and Aitong from fraternising with the wild herd. It was a very hot day, and all the babies went under shade at l0 a.m. and then headed for the mudbath, which they greatly enjoyed, all bathing, even Natumi, who is not usually a "water baby". Salama and Ilingwezi triggered this by pouring water over her back with their trunks.

10 September 2002

Imenti was missing in the evening and did not turn up. He joined the orphans the next day, running and trumpeting as he came towards them. Salama and Laikipia went to receive him, and they all came to join the others, trumpeting and feeling very happy. Mvita occupied the middle of the mudbath today, and was joined by Mweya and Sweet Sally. Nasalot wanted to join in too, but Mvita wouldn't let her, dominating the entire mudbath. That night Imenti did not turn up

11 September 2002

On the way to the noon mudbath Nyiro wanted to overtake Mulika, but Mulika wasn't having any, although she allowed him to walk alongside her, but not in front! At 10.45 a.m. Salama and Laikipia went off on their own to feed away from the others, joining them later at the mudbath. Mweiga was late in coming for her bottle of milk at noon, scared to approach the milk tractor alone. She called Emily who came to escort her, and stood beside her whilst she fed before leading her back to the field.

12 September 2002

After mudbath Kinna and Icholta began testing each other's strength in a friendly bout that degenerated into war when Icholta bit Kinna's tail. Kinna pushed Icholta down and Yatta came to help punish Icholta, together with Kinna pushing Icholta down whenever she tried to get up. The Keepers had to intervene. On the way back to the Stockades, Natumi wanted to be the Leader but did not have the courage. Nevertheless, she kept blocking any of the others, until a Keeper came to walk in front, and then she was happy to be the leader of the elephants! (Natumi is, apparently, somewhat cowardly, according to the Keepers!) Imenti was in a very bad mood when he arrived at the mudbath. He chased all the Keepers and the visitors away.

13 September 2002

Just after eight a.m. Edo turned up to join the group, and began to spar in a friendly way with Emily. Salama was very concerned, following events closely whilst rumbling his alarm. After the noon mudbath, Loisaba pushed Sweet Sally when she tried to get close to Emily. Sweet Sally went to Aitong instead and began suckling one ear.

14 September 2002

Mweya, Sweet Sally, Ndara and Maungu surrounded a foster-parent's vehicle and would not let the occupants out, because they wanted their milk. When the tractor turned up, the foster-parents could alight. Edie, Laikipia, and Ilingwezi were very frightened by a running zebra, and in their haste to reach the Keepers, Edie collided with another member of the group and fell down. She screamed, and this brought Aitong along to the rescue.

15 September 2002

Sweet Sally spent the whole day glued to Aitong, which made Mweiga jealous. Mweiga kept trying to shove her away. Tsavo tried his luck, mounting Laikipia, which brought a strong reprisal. Tsavo sheltered behind Emily because Laikipia was mad.

16 September 2002

Natumi, Edie and Laikipia started a game of running here and there whilst kicking a piece of torn cloth they found lying in the bushes. Natumi got tangled in the cloth and fell down, so the game ended. The Keepers retrieved the cloth which was litter and took it for disposal at the Stockades. In the afternoon, Mukwaju mounted Kinna and rested on her back, closing his eyes. Mvita objected to this, and pushed Mukwaju down. At the mudbath, Aitong was very annoyed to find that wild elephants had drunk all the water from the bins. She began kicking the bins over with her rear legs, but the Keepers stopped her.

17 September 2002

Unexpectedly, the day was cloudy with rain, which enabled the orphans to walk far from the Stockades. The Keepers followed upwind to see how adventurous they were. Sweet Sally lost her nerve, so Aitong escorted her back to the Stockades early, and the others followed later at 5 p.m.

18 September 2002

Leaving the Stockades this morning, Aitong noticed that little Maungu could not keep up with the others. She went back, and placing Maungu gently between her tusks, helped her along to catch up with the others. Having being rained on for about 2 hours, Mukwaju, who isn't usually over fond of water, led the others to a puddle and he, Mweya, Ndara and Yatta and a wonderful time. Laikipia, Edie, Salama and Natumi went to the red waterhole at 9 a.m. and had fun chasing the impala and waterbuck that approached for a drink. They remained there, feeding, and guarding the waterhole, until the other orphans joined them at noon.

19 September 2002

Today Nyiro, Mukwaju and Lolokwe left the others to feed along down on the Voi river, joining the others only at the mudwallow. At 10.50 a.m. Edo approached the orphans in the company of 5 wild elephants, but would not allow the wild group to mingle with the orphans, diverting them elsewhere. Then he went straight to Aitong and tried to mount her. Emily was not happy about this, and followed them closely as he chased Aitong around.

20 September 2002

The baby group of Mweya, Mulika, Nasalot, Sweet Sally and Yatta found a tortoise shell lying on the ground and they played, kicking it like a ball until the noon mudbath. Laikipia, Edie, Natumi and Ilingwezi became very scared and started running away when they saw the Keepers in their raincoats. The Keepers called them back, and then they realised that the apparitions were, indeed, their human family! It rained almost the whole day.

21 September 2002

At the noon mudbath a wild cow with a 7 month old calf joined the orphans in the mudbath. The baby lay down in the mud. Sweet Sally and Mweya surrounded it, wanting to touch it, but the mother gently pushed them away. Later they gave up trying to touch the calf and simply joined in wallowing. Later Salama mistook Loisaba for Natumi and tried to mount her, but chased off firmly. He spent the rest of the day alone for fear of Loisaba taking revenge.

22 September 2002

Ndara wanted Emily to escort her to the milk tractor today, gently pushing Emily, coaxing her to do so. Emily obliged

23 September 2002

In the morning, Natumi, Laikipia, Salama, and Edie were scared by the bubbling sound of water coming down the dry Voi river, and ran to the Keepers. Imenti took Aitong with him at 3 p.m. and went to feed far from the other orphans. When Emily arrived at the Stockades at 5 p.m., she was restless because Aitong was not there. Later she heard Aitong trumpeting at the Spring Gate and ran back to receive her. They then returned to the Stockade together, trumpeting and feeling good. That the evening at the Stockades, Mulika went straight to eat the copra instead of taking her milk first, but then suddenly saw Nyiro approaching the Keeper for her bottles. She came in full force and pushed Nyiro down. Having finished her milk, she proceeded to fight him for wanting to steal her share.

24 September 2002

At 8.20 a.m. Kinna and Mweya paid close attention to a mother baboon with a baby riding on its back. After a while, they chased it up a tree, and then waited under the tree for a long time hoping it would come down. After the noon mudbath, Tsavo decided to take on Salama. Salama played a trick on him, pretending to be weak, when Tsavo took advantage pushing him to an open patch of ground. Salama then gave Tsavo a taste of his strength, and sent him running off to shelter behind Aitong.

25 September 2002

At the mudbath, Sweet Sally did not want to let Maungu come close to her, pushing her away. Mweiga was unable to get up out of the mudbath, so Natumi and Edie tried to support her, but couldn't. They called Aitong, who came to life Mweiga up.

26 September 2002

Maungu seemed unwell when she left the stockades this morning, and could not keep pace with the others. She joined the baby group of Mweya, Sweet Sally, Nyiro, Nasalot and Mulika to feed closer to the Stockades. In the older group, Laikipia tried to mount Ilingwezi, and got the sharp edge of her little tusks, which needed some attention. Tsavo joined Yatta's group and began mounting Nyiro who tried to push him off, but couldn't because Tsavo proved stronger. During the night, Sweet Sally kept pushing and kicking Maungu, so the Keepers took a bed into the Stockade in order to protect Maungu, who was weak.

27 September 2002

This evening, the Keepers transferred Sweet Sally to Nasalot's stockade because she had been mean to Maungu the night before. Edie tried to push the others from the Copra, but Emily intervened and pushed Edie away so that the others could get their share.

28 September 2002

At 9 a..m. the babies joined a wild group of cows who had three babies. Ndara tested her strength with a wild calf of her size, but was pushed away. She sought refuge with the Keepers. The water in the mudbath was very cold today, so no-one wanted to go in. Salama sucked some up in his trunk and sprayed it over Ilingwezi, who ran away, and refused to come close again. Imenti was absent the previous night, and most of the day today, but returned in a bad mood, charging the Keepers!

29 September 2002

During the morning Kinna accidentally stepped on Mvita's trunk and got severely chased and punished, running away screaming. Yatta intervened to help Kinna. Natumi wanted to lead the group today, but Aitong pushed her aside and took the lead. In the evening, Maungu's stomach was blown, and she didn't finish her bottles of milk.

30 September 2002

It was a very hot day and Mweya and Sweet Sally had to cool themselves frequently in the mudbath, and then seek shade. At 10 a.m. a lone female elephant with a baby came to join Emily and was happy to have company. She spent several hours with Emily, but got afraid when she spotted the Keepers. The older group also enjoyed the mudbath, especially Natumi, who is usually not eager to go right in.