Keepers' Diaries, September 2011

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.

01 September 2011

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.

02 September 2011

The orphans again browsed the Northern side of the hill, and visited the Middle Waterhole for a wallow at noon. Just before heading back in the evening Shimba and Taveta had an amazing head on test of strength, which lasted until the orphans had moved on towards the Stockade. Once ensconced for the night two wild cows and a calf came to drink at the Stockade water trough. The calf looked in good condition, since the wild elephants have also been enjoying leftovers of Lucerne put out for the Ex Orphans.

03 September 2011

The orphans browsed the Southern part of the hill today, and came to the Stockades for their noon milk and mudbath. Shimba and Taveta were again embroiled in a head on encounter, Wasessa standing close to Tassia to ensure he did not become involved. The orphans then browsed their way to the middle waterhole where they took a brief bath before returning home, Ndii leading.

04 September 2011

Sinya and Kenia led the group out today. Shimba and Taveta enjoyed chasing off a herd of impala they encountered en route. By noon the orphans had reached the Middle Waterhole, but since it was a cool day, none of them wanted to wallow although Siria attempted to push Mzima in, but was unsuccessful.

05 September 2011

The orphans enjoyed the usual Stockade Games before heading south of the Stockades to browse within the fence where the browse is intact. They returned to the Stockade for their noon milk and a mudbath where they met Laikipia, who had come ahead of Emily’s remaining unit. Siria approached Laikipia for a game, but Laikipia had set his mind on the supplement handouts. Meanwhile Lesanju took the Youngsters, fraternizing briefly with Emily’s group, who were on their way to join Laikipia at the Stockades to enjoy the supplements.

06 September 2011

Laikipia and Mpala from Emily’s group came bouncing into the Stockades without the others at 10 a.m. and drank peacefully. Thereafter, as soon as the Copra handout was available, Laikipia refused to share with Mpala, driving him off with a prod in the rump. The Keepers then put out another pile some distance away for Mpala. Having taken their fill, the two then met up happily, as though nothing untoward had taken place!

07 September 2011

Laikipia again turned up at the Stockades, begging for a handout of Copra Cake, which the Keepers gave him. The rest of his group never turned up.

08 September 2011

Both Emily’s and Edie’s groups came to the Stockades a few moments ahead of the Juniors in the evening. The Keeper Dependent unit ignored them, focused on their milk and supplements in the Stockades. Only Siria came out to greet the Ex Orphan visitors warmly welcomed by Icholta, whom the Keepers believe is heavily pregnant. The Ex Orphans then enjoyed their Lucerne handout, and Siria returned to the Stockades, where he was given his share of the Copra.

09 September 2011

Lesanju and Siria engaged in a tough fight, about what the Keepers could not determine. Mzima found himself on the receiving end when he intervened on the side of Siria, allowing Lesanju to escape, but pinning down poor Mzima. Mzima managed to extract himself, but Siria bit his tail as he left. Siria did not take on Lesanju again, but bit his own trunk in anger, before settling down.

10 September 2011

Shimba and Taveta are now best friends, but enjoy trunk wrestling every morning as soon as they have finished their milk. Today Mpala appeared behind them, and they stopped the game to greet Mpala. Yesterday Mpala was trailing Emily’s main group, possibly at the age when Emily feels he should leave the female family. Mpala enjoyed a handout of Lucerne, while the Dependent Orphans headed off to browse.

11 September 2011

As the orphans were coming down from the Eastern side of the hill, heading for the middle waterhole, they encountered a wild herd with a small calf on their way to drink at the Stockades. The orphans changed direction and accompanied the wild herd to the Stockades instead. Lesanju, who normally tries to entice her group away from wild visitors, was instead intent on trying to entice the small calf from its mother, but the calf’s older sister blocked her. Lesanju then took her group off towards the Middle Waterhole, while the wild elephants enjoyed the Lucerne leftovers.

12 September 2011

At noon, it was a cool day, so the orphan circled the Waterhole, dipping their trunks in to test the temperature. Eventually Ndii walked in, but did not lie down, Mzima doing the same. Meanwhile Sinya and Siria lay on the bank rubbing their buttocks in the earth while exploring the water with their trunks until Sinya sprayed a trunkfull at Siria, who rapidly got up and ran off. Mzima went to engage his friend in a pushing game. All went well for the remainder of the day.

13 September 2011

Lesanju and Kenia led the orphans to browse north of the Stockades. It was a hot day by the time they reached the waterhole at noon, so all enjoyed a wonderful wallow, trumpeting and playing in the water. Ndii led the orphans back in the evening.

14 September 2011

The orphans browsed their way to the eastern side of Mazinga hill. The day turned hot, so they sheltered under shade during the morning. All enjoyed the noon mudbath today, Siria and Mzima dominating events, Siria sitting on Mzima, making him scream for help, which brought the Keepers to the rescue.

15 September 2011

Taveta and Tassia had a disagreement after their morning bottle of milk. Shimba, who is friendly with Taveta decided to back up his friend by attacking Tassia from the back. His bellow brought Wasessa to the rescue at the run who chased Taveta and Shimba off, forcing them to lag behind all the others as they made their way out to browse.

16 September 2011

Mpala and a wild age mate were seen browsing up Mazinga Hill. They came to the Stockades after dark, and fed on the leftover Lucerne.

17 September 2011

The orphans enjoyed their mudbath today, since it was warm. Even Dida went into the water, but exited as soon as the mudbath games became exuberant. Later they remained near the waterhole, browsing and bathing until it was time to return in the evening when Taveta led them home.

18 September 2011

At 4 p.m. a small wild elephant family comprised of two cows and their calf came to drink at the Stockade water trough, and then went to feed on the leftover Lucerne. Later Mpala arrived with a second wild group, amongst whom he was quite comfortable. The second group then chased the first herd off the Lucerne, and spent time feeding late into the night.

19 September 2011

It was a cool day when the orphans arrived at the waterhole at noon. After taking milk Shimba stood with his back legs on the bank and the front legs in the water, which attracted Wasessa, who reluctantly went in. Lempaute tossed huge chunks of red soil in the air, which disturbed all the others who left the waterhole.

20 September 2011

Today was hot, so Sinya and Dida, both of whom normally don’t like bathing, went into the waterhole at noon. Kenia was careful to shield Dida in the waterhole, preventing boisterous boys like Mzima from barging into her. It was amazing to see how she shielded Dida, and felt good for doing so, tossing chunks of mud in the air. Ndii led the group back in the evening.

21 September 2011

Again Sinya and Dida enjoyed the mudbath at noon. Taveta enjoyed a gentle game with Dida, under the watchful eye of Kenia. Later Sinya sided with Tassia, both taking on Shimba, who bellowed for help. This brought Wasessa, who thought it was Tassia who was bellowing.

22 September 2011

An orphan elephant calf aged about 2 years which had been seen near Kiwanjani Lodge near Kasigau was rescued today. The Rescue team went there, but could not find him that day.

23 September 2011

The Rescue team managed to find the orphaned elephant calf reported yesterday, and rescued him. Today Lesanju and Kenia paid Dida a lot of affection whilst out browsing, touching her softly with their trunks. Mkuki and Aruba, our two Ex orphan kudus, came to the Stockades in the evening and enjoyed browsing around the Malaika House. Both looked wonderfully well.

24 September 2011

Unusually, Dida was first into the mudbath today at noon and enjoyed five minutes of uninterrupted bathing under the careful watch of Kenia. When Siria’s crew went in, she came out and enjoyed a dustbath. Mzima and Siria had a lot of fun playing in the mudwallow until Siria sat on Tassia, which brought Wasessa to the rescue. She pushed them all out, and the afternoon browsing session ensued.

25 September 2011

The orphans browsed their way to the far side of Mazinga hill today, arriving at the waterhole late, which did not worry them since light showers fell throughout the day, and they had enjoyed wallowing in rain-filled puddles. Orphan Kudu Aruba came alone to the Stockades today, but did not stay long.

26 September 2011

The friendship of Shimba and Taveta has blossomed, so much so that Shimba, who is usually very diligent about browsing, takes time off feeding to play with Taveta.

27 September 2011

The small wild herd with a calf, who are regular Stockade visitors, came again in the evening after the orphans were in their Stockades. Kenia and Ndii greeted them, lifting their trunks. Having had a drink the wild group enjoyed the Lucerne leftovers.

28 September 2011

A herd of wild elephants was at the waterhole waiting for the tractor to fill the water bins. The orphans mingled amongst them happily. Later when the wild herd was leaving, Siria and Wasessa followed them, Wasessa focused on a small wild calf who was amongst them. Later the other orphans also joined the wild elephants, including Dida, but Kenia remained behind, scratching her body against a tree. Wasessa and Siria returned to rejoin their orphan colleagues later.

29 September 2011

Lesanju initiated a game, sitting and scratching her rump on the rocks near the Stockades, which attracted the attention of Lempaute, Wasessa, Sinya and Mzima. Later they enjoyed a visit from school children who came in the Trust’s bus as part of the Trust’s Community Outreach Programme.

30 September 2011

The orphans downed their morning milk, and enjoyed chasing the baboons who were coming down from Mazinga hill and heading towards the KWS staff quarters. Later the orphans had another school visit. The Dida Harea Windmill was visited by the Kijito Engineers, who repaired it, installing new washers. The Trust’s three Windmills in the Southern Section of Tsavo are lifesavers for thousands of wild animals, who rely on them for water, now that the Aruba dam has dried out completely.