Keepers' Diaries, September 2017

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Voi Reintegration Unit

The Voi September diaries paint a dire picture as drought continues to ravage the greater area. At one stage the keepers were sending out a rescue party almost every other day to rescue an orphan found wandering alone, lost without a herd or mother. Sometimes the mother was found in a collapsed state or already dead from exhaustion and lack of food, or the calf itself was found collapsed as well. Tour guides, Kenya Wildlife Service Rangers our own Anti Poaching teams and our Aerial Surveillance pilots flying every day over all of Tsavo worked together to report such cases and our keepers were fast to respond as time is of the essence when these young elephants are so close to the brink. Most of the orphans came directly to the Voi Stockades as they were slightly older but one, Sagala, was flown straight to the Nairobi Nursery by our own helicopter. Sadly, not all of rescued orphans made it, having gone for too long without Mothers milk and food, but at the end of the month Tahri and Kavu rescued on the 17th and 29th respectively were looking okay, and Chedi rescued on the 28th was improving but still very weak.

The Voi September diaries paint a dire picture as drought continues to ravage the greater area. At one stage the keepers were sending out a rescue party almost every other day to rescue an orphan found wandering alone, lost without a herd or mother. Sometimes the mother was found in a collapsed state or already dead from exhaustion and lack of food, or the calf itself was found collapsed as well. Tour guides, Kenya Wildlife Service Rangers our own Anti Poaching teams and our Aerial Surveillance pilots flying every day over all of Tsavo worked together to report such cases and our keepers were fast to respond as time is of the essence when these young elephants are so close to the brink. Most of the orphans came directly to the Voi Stockades as they were slightly older but one, Sagala, was flown straight to the Nairobi Nursery by our own helicopter. Sadly, not all of rescued orphans made it, having gone for too long without Mothers milk and food, but at the end of the month Tahri and Kavu rescued on the 17th and 29th respectively were looking okay, and Chedi rescued on the 28th was improving but still very weak.

Whilst working hard to save these young babies our Keepers were also obviously doing their utmost for their own dependent charges in the Voi stockades. Every day they are fed lucerne grass and pellet supplements to make sure they had enough food with so little browse around, and Ex Orphans Kivuko, Lempaute, Layoni and Dabassa were seen almost every day as well as they came to partake in these supplements or joined the dependent orphans for a cooling dip in the water hole.

Our ground teams are working hard to ensure all the water troughs at boreholes drilled by DSWT in the drought stricken southern area of Tsavo are cleaned weekly, to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness in providing critical water points for all animals. As we work hard to provide enough water points for wildlife we realize it is a lack of vegetation that is the leading cause of death in this drought. The keepers made sure to take extra bales of lucerne to the mud bath feeding point on the days they felt the orphans have not had enough browse. On the 7th the keepers made their way to the Mwatate estate where Ex Orphans in Ndara and Lesanju’s herd are browsing these days. It had been reported that one of our Ex Orphans had potentially given birth there, but it was a wild elephant cow. Whilst there the Keepers noticed that Ndara, Lesanju, Tassia and Sinya looked in good health but little Neptune, Ndara’s baby, seemed to have lost a little weight. Bales of lucerne and pellets plus copra cake were delivered to the sanctuary store to be given to the Ex Orphans over time and some bales of lucerne were given to them then and there by the Keepers.

The dependent orphans were very welcoming of all the new arrivals at the Voi stockades. Suswa, Lentili, Mashariki, Suswa, Rorogoi and Mudanda would greet new arrivals with low reassuring rumbles in the morning before heading out for the day. One morning Ndii realised the presence of Tahri who she had not met before as her stockade is further away and she made her way over to greet the new orphan through the bars of her stockade. As welcoming the girls are to new arrivals they still prefer to be without the company of the four Ex Orphans and Kenia and Kihari were quick to make sure little Araba was by their side as their adopted favourite, whenever they were around. Layoni was more interested in the company of older orphans like Panda and Bada however, wanting to browse or play with them.
The new water hole near a large baobab tree is proving a huge success with the orphans who enjoy covering themselves in mud before going for a good scratch on the tree. One day there was a commotion when Ndoria gripped Rorogoi’s tail in her trunk in an attempt to bite it. This sent Rorogoi running out of the water screaming. The rest of the herd soon followed fearing that there may be something in the water! They remained wary whenever she entered the mud bath after that, worried that she might come along and bite their tails again! Poor Rorogoi was victim to another mud bathing incident when one day Ishaq-B came along and sat on her head, submerging it under water. Tundani came to her rescue and called the Keepers to help; Ishaq-B ran out of the water as if she had done nothing wrong and poor Rorogoi looked very confused. Ndii was very innovative one day when she decided to make her own little mud pool alongside the main one. She didn’t feel like swimming but instead used her trunk to pour water on the ground until she achieved the desired thickness of mud, and proceeded to roll around in her own shallow bath. She wanted Araba and Kenia to come and play with her there but they preferred the main mud wallow that day.

September 2017 day to day

01 Sep

This morning the orphans made their way to the northern side of Msinga hill to browse. They spread out on the hill in search of palatable and nutritious vegetation to feed on. On arriving at the afternoon milk feeding place, Panda who had come with the first group of orphans, chose to not drink her second milk bottle and instead ran to join Ajali who was feeding on range cubes thinking that he would finish all the supplements while the rest of the group were busy having their milk. After the whole group had their fill they made their way to the baobab water trough where they had a drink followed by a wallow in the mudbath. The orphans rolled and wallowed submerging themselves completely in the deep water with Suswa and Mudanda using their trunks as a hose to wet and plaster themselves with water and mud before going for a scratching session against the huge baobab tree. The afternoon was spent browsing close to the waterhole with Lentili enjoying the lead back to the stockades in the evening.

Arruba at the stockades

Mbirikani browsing

Dabassa tusking Naipoki

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