Keepers' Diaries, September 2011

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Voi Reintegration Unit

A lone orphaned elephant was spotted near Kiwanjani Lodge near the Kasigau massif on the 22nd September, and rescued on the 23rd by the Voi Elephant Keepers and Trust De-Snarers. The calf, a bull of about 2 ½ years old, was transported to the Voi Stockades, from whence it was airlifted to the Nursery. It had obviously been without milk for some time, and had a suppurating spear wound in the top of the trunk, yet another victim of that particular and very brutal un-ele-friendly community who have settled this ancient migratory route between Tsavo West and East. The calf has been named Kasigau.

A lone orphaned elephant was spotted near Kiwanjani Lodge near the Kasigau massif on the 22nd September, and rescued on the 23rd by the Voi Elephant Keepers and Trust De-Snarers. The calf, a bull of about 2 ½ years old, was transported to the Voi Stockades, from whence it was airlifted to the Nursery. It had obviously been without milk for some time, and had a suppurating spear wound in the top of the trunk, yet another victim of that particular and very brutal un-ele-friendly community who have settled this ancient migratory route between Tsavo West and East. The calf has been named Kasigau.

Drought conditions prevail throughout Tsavo, which is categorized as semi desert at the best of times, but which has not experienced good rainfall for several years now. The Trust has had to send truckloads of Lucerne to supplement the orphans’ natural browse, which is sparse within their Stockade orbit. The Lucerne has also been greatly enjoyed by the Ex Orphans as well, and has played an important role keeping them close. Wild elephant herds have also been enjoying leftover Lucerne and helping them cope with drier than usual conditions. One small unit comprised of two cows and a calf have been regular visitors, drinking at the Stockades and enjoying leftover Lucerne on the 2nd, the l8th and on the 27th when another wild herd also came to enjoy the leftovers.

Members of Emily’s Ex Orphan Unit have been regular Stockade visitors to enjoy supplements. Hence the Junior Keeper Dependent Youngsters have had a lot of interaction this month with the Ex Orphans as well as with wild herds in the area. Big Boy Laikipia came ahead of Emily’s group on the 5th, and was back the next day accompanied by Ex Orphan Mpala. Selfishly he did not want to share the Lucerne with Mpala, so the Keepers gave Mpala a separate bundle of his own. On the 7th Laikipia arrived on his own, and on the 8th both Emily’s group plus that of Edie turned up, Icholta apparently appearing heavily pregnant. On that occasion the Juniors were too focused on their evening milk and their supplements in their Night Stockade to intermingle with the Ex Orphans although Siria left the Night Stockades to greet them.

The Keepers believe that Emily is trying to expel Mpala from her unit, obviously deciding that it is time for him to become more independent. He was seen trailing her and her group, and appeared reluctant to join them at the Lucerne pile, so the Keepers took pity on him and gave him a handout separately. Mpala was again spotted on the 16th browsing up Mazinga Hill, this time with a wild friend and that evening he brought his wild friend to enjoy some Lucerne and a drink at the Stockades.

On two occasions this month, wild elephant herds have been quietly and patiently waiting at the Orphans’ artificial Middle Waterhole in the Park, almost within trunk reach of the Tractor as it discharged water into the drinking bins and the waterhole. The wild elephants obviously understand that the tractor is doing them a favour and display no aggression. On each occasion the Juniors have turned up in time to mingle happily with the wild elephants, sharing both the drinking water and the mudbath with them. When the wild herd began to leave on the 28th, Siria and Wasessa went off with them, Wasessa focused on a small wild baby. The other Juniors, including Dida, then also followed for a short distance before returning to their Keepers. Because Dida was comfortable with this herd, the Keepers believe that it must be familiar with the orphans.

Dida, usually gives the mudbath a miss, especially when exuberant bulls are romping around in it, but this month she has enjoyed some quality bathing time thanks to Kenia and Lesanju, who ensure that exuberant members of their unit do not rough and tumble near her since she is somewhat fragile. All the females within Lesanju’s unit look out for Dida, but especially Kenia who goes out of her way to give Dida special loving, touching her gently with her trunk whilst browsing out in the bush. The friendship of Shimba with Taveta has blossomed this month to the extent that Shimba, who is normally focused on food, takes time off to trunk wrestle with his friend. Such bouts are often interrupted by Wasessa, who doesn’t like Tassia getting involved. She guards him diligently, and won’t allow the bigger boys to push him around. Siria is the main “dude” of Lesanju’s unit, and also the most outgoing, first to fraternize with wild visitors. He often enjoys challenging Mzima to a test of strength.

On their way to the noon mudbath venue on the 11th the Juniors met up with a wild herd who was on its way to drink at the Stockades. On this occasion, Lesanju diverted and joined the wild herd, having spotted a small wild calf amongst them. The Juniors changed direction and came with the wild herd to the Stockades instead, which was unusual, since Lesanju does not like exposing her unit to either the Ex Orphan groups or wild elephants, fearing that she might lose some of them to older Matriarchs. However, on this occasion, Lesanju’s baby snatching intentions were thwarted by the baby’s Big Sister.

Generally, it has been a happy month for the Voi Keeper Dependent orphans, who have greatly enjoyed the supplements sent from Nairobi, and had two visits from local school children, as part of the Trust’s Community Outreach initiative.

September 2011 day to day

01 Sep

The orphans browsed the Northern side of Mazinga Hill today. At the noon mudbath there was a large herd of wild elephants waiting patiently behind the tractor that was bringing water for the orphans without any sign of aggression. Obviously the wild elephants understand that they also benefit from the water brought for the orphans. As soon as the tractor had filled the bins and wallow, the orphans mingled in with their wild peers, all emptying the bins and topping up from the main waterhole. After a brief wallow, the wild herd left heading for the Voi river, and the orphans took their milk.

Wild group joins the orphans for a drink

Orphans drinking water

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