Keepers' Diaries, September 2017
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.
01 September 2017
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.
02 September 2017
It was a wonderful beginning of the day with Kivuko and Lempaute arriving at the stockades first thing in the morning. Together with the orphan herd they enjoyed feeding on Lucerne pellets that had been mashed together with copra cake. The babies left their older friends feeding on Lucerne grass when they headed out to the browsing grounds.
The orphans browsed in single file, grabbing as much browse as possible in a slow and deliberate pacing motion. Nelion, Tundani and Mbirikani moved half way up the western side of Msinga hill rejoining the rest of the orphan herd when it was time for the noon milk feed.
The orphans as usual came in groups of five, downing their afternoon milk bottle and proceeding for the range cubes followed by wonderful mudbathing games. There was some commotion when Ndoria gripped Rorogoi’s tail with 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.
03 September 2017
It was a nice beginning to the day as Kivuko, Lempaute, Layoni and Dabassa came to the stockades just as the orphans were finishing their morning milk bottles. The two groups then converged on the Lucerne grass pellets and range cubes after which they all enjoyed some socializing games with Layoni engaging Panda in a strength testing game.
Layoni was having such fun with the babies that he joined them when they headed out to the browsing grounds and spent the morning with them, following them to the mudbath at noon leaving the other three to their own devices.
Tundani and Mashariki lay down next to each other and had a lovely time rolling around the soil in a dust bathing game. Ishaq-B welcomed Layoni to the wallow where they enjoyed swimming in the water. Layoni spent the rest of the day browsing with the babies and only separated from them when they returned to the stockades for the night.
04 September 2017
Following the morning milk and supplement feeding the orphans enjoyed some dust bathing and rock scratching games around the stockade compound after which they headed to the eastern side of Msinga hill for the morning browsing session.
Araba kept close browsing ties with her adopted mother Kenia while Ishaq-B and Ndii tried to get her to come and join them. Upon arriving at the milk feeding area in the afternoon, Mbirikani who came in with the first group, followed Ajali to the range cube feeding area after which she came and demanded to be given her milk bottles.
Today Arruba grabbed her second milk bottle from the keepers hand and ran with it towards the range cube feeding area, dropping it as soon as she had emptied its contents. The orphans had a lot of fun playing mud bathing games, with Embu getting left behind by others as they returned to the browsing fields. She did not seem to mind being left behind and stopped for a scratching session against a tree before making her way to join the rest of the group.
05 September 2017
It was another bright morning with the sun rising above the horizon of the park predicting a warm and sunny day. The orphan elephants proceeded to the browsing grounds after feeding on milk and supplements.
Mashariki showed an interest in leading the stockade dependant orphan elephants up Msinga hill, but later found herself all alone as the rest of the group remained at the base of the hill. Kenia rumbled loudly to get Mashariki to rejoin the group who were heading to the fields. Mashariki screamed loudly to get the attention of the rest of the group before she came down the hill and joined them.
Later that morning, an orphan elephant calf came to drink water from the Mzima spring Mombasa water pipe line area after where it collapsed. The calf was seen by some rangers who reported the calf to the Voi Stockade and the Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit. The two teams joined forces to rescue the calf and put it on a drip. The calf was air lifted to the Nairobi Nursery in the afternoon.
06 September 2017
The orphans welcomed the day with some hide and seek games around the stockade compound once they had finished their milk and supplement feeding. Lentili and Kihari then took the lead of the rest of the group marching them halfway up northern side of Msinga hill.
Lempaute visited the stockade an hour after the juniors had left and settled to enjoy her share of Lucerne grass and pellets. She then enjoyed feasting on the green acacia trees in the stockade compound.
The stockade dependant orphan elephants enjoying a peaceful morning browsing before making their way to the baobab water hole to drink from the water trough and enjoy a bath. Lentili and Rorogoi had a quick wallow after which they opted for a scratching session against the baobab tree. Ndoria entered the water a little before they left and sidled up to the. They were both quite wary of her as she is known for her bullying behaviour and is quite a tail biter.
07 September 2017
This morning the stockade dependant orphan elephants were joined by Lempaute, Kivuko, Dabassa and Layoni at the Lucerne grass feeding area. Kenia, Naipoki and Kihari unanimously made the decision to lead the juniors away from the stockades leaving the four ex-orphans enjoying the nutritious Lucerne grass.
Later in the day, a wild elephant cow that had given birth to a calf the previous night was seen alone and engaged Ndara and Lesanju’s herd in a greeting ceremony in the Mwatate sisal estate sanctuary. The sanctuary scouts thought she was an ex-orphan from Emily’s herd re-uniting with Ndara. The keepers mobilized and made their way to the Mwatate sisal estate to see if they could identify the cow but got there too late as the cow and her calf had already moved on.
Ndara, Lesanju, Tassia and Sinya were looking very well and fat, but little Neptune seems to have lost a little weight due to the biting drought. Several bales of Lucerne grass, range cubes and copra cake were delivered to the sanctuary store to be given to the ex orphans and some Lucerne bales were given to them immediately.
08 September 2017
It was a quiet beginning to the day with the stockade dependant orphan elephants following their daily routine of downing a morning milk bottle before proceeding to the supplement feeding area.
As they were leaving the stockade, Lempaute, Kivuko, Dabassa and Layoni arrived and headed to the water trough to quench their thirst. The four ex-orphans watched as the juniors left the stockade for the fields but did not join them as they wanted to enjoy their share of the supplement foods.
Later in the morning a report of a collapsed wild elephant calf was reported by the trust pilot to the vet unit. The vet unit together with some keepers rescued the calf and took it to the stockade. The calf was about two and a half years old and was very weak and severely dehydrated. It took several drips before the calf was able to get back to its feed. Sadly the calf died in the early morning hours of the following day.
09 September 2017
It was a nice cool morning with light rain sprinkles welcoming the stockade dependant orphan elephants as they exited their respective stables, downed a morning milk bottle and settled to enjoy range cubes and copra cake.
The orphans headed to the browsing grounds under the stewardship of Naipoki and Suswa, and spent the morning browsing more on the northern side of the stockade before slowly making their way to the baobab water hole. Ndii became very innovative and created her own water hole next to the main water hole. She did this by drawing several gulps of water, pouring it onto the ground until she achieved the desired effect. She then rolled in the shallow water hole while attempting to woo Araba from Kenia but was unsuccessful in her attempts.
The orphans were led home in the evening by Bada and Arruba who got the whole group back safely.
10 September 2017
The morning started well with the stockade dependant orphan elephants concentrating on their milk and supplements feeding before engaging in some brief hide and seek game. As the orphans were preparing to leave the stockade compound for the browsing grounds ex orphans Lempaute, Kivuko, Layoni and Dabassa arrived.
Layoni tried to prevent Bada from leaving, wanting him to remain with them as they waited for their share of the supplements. Bada joined Layoni for a bottom scratching session against a rock boulder. He remained with the ex orphans for a spell before Layoni escorted him to rejoin his group who were browsing on the northern side of Msinga hill.
Kenia and Ndii were stuck close to Araba, but Layoni had no interest in taking her from them. The group visited the baobab water hole for their afternoon milk bottle and some water but did now wallow as it was quite a cold day.
11 September 2017
Lempaute, Layoni, Dabassa and Kivuko arrived bright and early this morning and waited for the juniors to finish their milk bottle before they all congregated at the supplement feeding area after which they had a drink from the stockade water trough. The juniors then made their way to the browsing grounds leaving the ex orphans at the stockade. Ndoria wanted to spend some time with them and stayed behind for a few minutes leaving them when Dabassa tried to mount her.
In the afternoon the orphan herd went to quench their thirst at the new baobab tree water trough where they had a lot of fun playing mud bathing games before resuming with their browsing activities for the rest of the day.
12 September 2017
It was another wonderful morning Kenia’s herd exited their stockades and enjoying an early morning milk bottle before settling to feed on range cubes, copra cake and Lucerne grass pellets.
They then enjoyed some dust bathing and scratching games around the stockade compound before heading to the browsing grounds.
Soon after they left the stockade, Dabassa and Layoni arrived. Layoni saw the leaving orphans and ran to catch Panda and engage her in a wrestling match. Panda did not want to be left behind by her group and as such ignored Layoni’s advances.
On arrival on the western foot of Msinga hill, Tundani, Mbirikani and Bada steered the group to the peak of the hill which was cool and had palatable browse resulting in the orphans spending the whole day browsing there. They only descended in the evening in order to return to the safety of the stockades for the night.
13 September 2017
This morning the stockade dependant orphan elephants enjoyed their morning milk bottle and supplement feeds after which, amidst light rain sprinkles, they enjoyed playing games around the stockade compound. Tundani seemed to take a brief nap from which she was awoken when she heard her friends heading out to the fields.
The orphans settled on the northern foot of Msinga hill to browse with Kenia and Ndii leading them all to the baobab water hole at noon. The orphans all enjoyed a wonderful cooling wallow during which they vigorously kicked the water with their front legs while Mashariki, Embu and Bada scooped trunkfulls of mud, carefully spraying themselves with it until most of their bodies were covered. The orphans then took refuge from the scorching sun under big acacia and baobab trees before proceeding with the afternoons browsing activities.
14 September 2017
The stockade dependant orphan elephants emptied their morning milk bottle and feed on supplement foods this morning after exited their night quarters. Rorogoi then engaged Panda, who has grown bigger and stronger, in a strength testing game. Panda played it safe, putting only a little weight into her pushes so as not to scare Rorogoi away and keep her interested in the game. The two were left behind as the others headed out to the browsing grounds forcing them to run to catch up with their friends before they got too far away.
The orphans browsed half way up the eastern side of Msinga hill side which is one of the few places left with something that they can feed on as the lower sides of the hill are almost bare due to the ongoing drought.
15 September 2017
The stockade dependant orphan elephants came running out of their stockades straight for their milk bottles which they quickly downed before settling to enjoy the supplement foods that had been put out for them.
Layoni came to the stockades and joined the babies at the supplement feeding area. Once they were done feeding he went and engaged Panda in a strength testing pushing game before joining the juniors as they headed to the browsing grounds. He followed them for a while before heading to the western side of Msina Hill for a browsing session while the juniors made their way to the far northern side of the stockade under Kihari and Lentili’s leadership.
In the afternoon, at the waterhole, the orphans all had a lot of fun playing mud bathing games. Tundani chose not to enter the water and instead lay at the edge of the pool playing soil dusting games. Ndii led the group out of the water and to the browsing fields for the afternoon browsing session.
16 September 2017
The morning started with Lempaute, Kivuko, Dabassa and Layoni all coming well to the stockades in time to join the younger orphans for range cubes, Lucerne grass pellets, and copra cake.
Naipoki and Kenia then took the lead of their group towards the browsing grounds leaving the four Ex Orphans behind at the stockade. Tundani found himself at a cross roads as to whether to follow his group or remain with the four seniors. In the end he decided to follow the junior herd.
Later in the day, a collapsed female orphan elephant calf was seen by the Kenya Wildlife Service fence attendants and reported to the stockade and the veterinary unit. The calf, about three years old, was rescued and brought to the Voi stockade. It was severely dehydrated and it took many drips and hours before she was able to get to her feet with lots of assistance from the keepers and rope straps. She collapsed again at about 2am and the drips continued through the night.
17 September 2017
The morning began with Mashariki, Suswa and Rorogoi sniffing the air, noticing the presence of the sick orphan elephant that was rescued and brought into the stockade yesterday. They all gave a reassurance rumble to her before exiting their stockade to join the other orphan elephants for milk and supplement feeding.
Later in the afternoon a report of an orphan elephant calf was reported to the stockade by the Nairobi Trust management as well as the KWS Voi gate. This lonely orphan elephant calf, called Tahri, was seen walking alone in the Kanderi swamp grass lands by a tour driver on a game drive. The stockade rescue team was mobilized and a quick rescue was undertaken with the orphan calf being brought to the Voi stockade taming stables. Drips were administered and fresh green grewia branches were brought into the stockade for her to feed on.
18 September 2017
This morning Kivuko, Dabassa and Layoni arrived at the stockade compound missing the orphan elephants as they had left for the browsing grounds. The calf rescued on the 16th October is still very frail and unable to get to her feet, despite the drips, care and attention it had received.
While the keepers were attending the two recent arrivals another collapsed orphan elephant calf was seen by the Trust helicopter pilot while on a routine patrol. The calf was spotted on the northern side of the Kanderi area. The veterinary unit together with the stockade team rescued the calf which was extremely malnourished and weak. Sadly despite all the teams efforts the calf died that night.
19 September 2017
Sadly the day started on a sad note for the keepers at the Voi stockades as the calf that was rescued on the 16th died in the early hours of the morning. The keepers threw all their energy into keeping Tahri alive. Tahri is now comfortable taking her milk bottles from the keepers and enjoys feeding on the green grewia branches that get cut on every morning at the foot of Sagala hills, more than 30 miles away, and brought to stockades.
Lempaute, Dabassa, Kivuko and Layoni arrived at the stockade compound just as the juniors were leaving for the browsing grounds. Mudanda decided to remain with them, joining them as they fed on bales of Lucerne grass. Mudanda left them a short while later following the route taken by her friends and quickly caught up with them.
The orphans visited the baobab water hole in the afternoon and later browsed their way to the middle water hole before heading back to the stockade for the night.
20 September 2017
The morning began with the usual milk bottle and supplement feeding after which Mashariki and Lentili led the orphans towards the fields. Once there the lead was taken over by Mbirikani, Bada, Nelion and Suswa who led the group up the eastern side of Msinga hill. The orphans browsed their way around huge rock boulders grabbing as much browse as they could before descending and making their way to the new baobab water hole to obey their thirst and enjoy a bath.
At the mudbath Ishaq-B sat on Rorogoi’s head completely submerging her head into the water.
Tundani ran to rescue Rorogoi but his gentle nature stopped him from punishing Ishaq-B choosing instead to call the keepers to come and intervene and rescue Rorogoi. Ishaq-B ran out of water acting as if she had done nothing wrong. Rorogoi exited the water somewhat confused and unsure as to who it was that had sat on her head and caused her such distress.
The rest of the days browsing activities took place close to the water hole with Naipoki and Arruba enjoying a lead of the group back to the safety of the stockades in the evening.
21 September 2017
It was a perfect beginning to the day as the orphan elephants played happily around the stockade compound after their milk and supplement feeding. Tundani engaged Nelion head on in a pushing game. The two were still play fighting when Dabassa and Layoni arrived at the stockades and went to watch them. Nelion and Tundani saw them coming, quickly ended their game and joined the rest of the group who were all enjoying a dustbath.
A few minutes later Lempaute and Kivuko arrived at the stockade and headed straight to the water trough for a drink. The two then followed the stockade dependant orphans to the browsing fields. In the afternoon after sharing range cubes with the juniors they made their way to the Mzima spring-Mombasa water pipe line area.
22 September 2017
This morning Ndii, who had not met Tahri before sniffed the air and made her way to to Tahri’s stockade to greet her through the bars of the stockade. Tahri’s training stockade is closer to Arruba, Mashariki, Nelion, Suswa, Rorogoi, Bada and Mbirikani’s stockade than it is to Ndii and Kenia’s.
In the morning the orphans had a wonderful time browsing close to the middle water hole before slowly browsing their way to the new baobab water hole in the afternoon. Here they had a fun time mudbathing as they ran in and out of water while and kicked the water with their front feet.
The afternoon was spent browsing close to the water hole with Rorogoi and Pasaka enjoying the lead of the orphan group back to the stockades in the evening.
23 September 2017
It was a nice beginning to the day with Lempaute and Kivuko arriving at the stockade a few minutes after the stockade dependant orphan elephants had left. They enjoyed feeding of the Lucerne grass, relaxing around the stockade for about two hours before heading to the park.
Out in the field, Tundani, Mbirikani and Nelion went high up onto Msinga hill enjoying a private browsing session above the rest of the orphan elephant herd. The three came down to join the rest as they made their way to the water hole.
In the afternoon, a report of an orphan female elephant calf, called Neka, was seen by a tour driver who reported it to the stockade. The calf was about three and a half years old and was very dehydrated and thin. She was easily rescued, as she barely had strength to put up a fight, and was brought to the Voi stockade and placed in a training stockade next to Tahri who greeted her through the stockade bars giving her some much needed reassurance. Neka soon settled down and grabbed at the green grewia branches, feasting on them the whole night through.
24 September 2017
The morning was peaceful with Suswa, Lentili and Mudanda noticing the presence of the new orphan Neka, greeting her with deep rumbles as they exited their night quarters for their morning milk bottle.
Lempaute and Kivuko arrived at the stockade compound and joined the juniors as they made their way to the browsing grounds. Kenia, Ndii, Naipoki and Kihari were not thrilled about having the two ex orphans with them and made sure to stay close to Araba and Pasaka, denying the two older elephants access to them. Pasaka enjoyed being treated as a darling by the four older girls of the junior group, as this was something that had not happened before.
Lempaute and Kivuko left the juniors when it was time for them to head to the baobab water hole. Kenia lead her junior herd down and away from Lempaute and Kivuko who went off for their own browsing activities.
Neka who was browsing and didn’t sleep the night collapsed in the late afternoon. Several drips were administered and she got back to her feet again at 6pm. Sadly she collapsed again at midnight and despite the teams best efforts she died twenty minutes later becoming another victim of the ongoing drought hitting the Tsavo area.
25 September 2017
It was a wonderful beginning to the day as the stockade dependant orphan ran out of their night quarters and emptied a morning milk bottle. They then proceeded for their usual socializing games around the stockade compound before leaving for the browsing grounds.
There was a big contest between Ndii and Kenia who became engaged in a buttock scratching competition on a rock boulder in the in the stockade compound. The two were trying very hard to impress Araba in an effort to gain her love and be the one that would escort her for the day, something that they both wanted to do. Mashariki and Panda stood on some rocks as they enjoyed a buttock scratch before leaving for the browsing fields.
Later in the afternoon a tour driver report another orphan elephant calf (Sagala) about one and a half years old and reported the case to the Voi stockade keepers so that they could move in and rescue who was in danger of being attached by a nearby pride of lions. The orphan calf was in the Dika plains and once rescued was air lifted with the trust helicopter to the Nairobi nursery.
The Tsavo mobile veterinary team had come across the carcass of a big female wild elephant after collapsed and died in the same area as the calf. They had managed to recover the tusks from the carcass and noticed that she was a lactating female. As the dead elephant and the orphaned calf were found in the same area we believe that they were mother and child.
26 September 2017
The morning began with Lempaute and Kivuko arriving at the stockades early in the morning. They went to Lucerne grass feeding area and waited for the babies to finish their milk bottles and join them. The two enjoyed feeding on supplements together with the juniors. Mbirikani engaged Panda in a strength testing game this morning before the group began the journey to the browsing fields.
In the afternoon, following a lovely midday mudbath, the orphan elephants enjoyed browsing on the eastern side of Msinga hill. Mashariki, Lentili and Rorogoi took each other bumper to bumper in competing for the lead of the group back to the safety of the stockades. Rorogoi was able to quickly overtake the rest and secure the lead position.
27 September 2017
The morning started well with the stockade dependant orphan elephants playing games of hide and seek following the morning milk feed. They then joined Kivuko and Lempaute for some Lucerne grass supplement feeding.
The stockade dependant orphan elephants then began their daily journey to the browsing grounds leaving the two ex-orphans behind. The two left a few minutes later headed in a different direction to that taken by the juniors. The orphans browsed on the western foot of Msinga hill. The keepers returned to the stockade to pick up for bales of Lucerne to take to the baobab water hole for the orphans to feed on as there is hardly any vegetation left for the babies.
Suswa and Bada stood enjoyed a wonderful buttock scratching session against the large baobab tree before joining the rest of the group who were already enjoying the Lucerne grass that had been brought for them.
28 September 2017
This afternoon the Voi stockade keepers received a report from the trust pilot of an orphan baby elephant that he had spotted during a routine patrol. The calf had been seen near the Sala gate and the team wasted no time getting to the area. On arrival they noticed that the calf was about 6 years old and as such too big to rescue. As the area had received some rain there was vegetation for him to feed on and he was close to the Galana river all of which meant his chances of survival were very high.
On the way back to the stockade we received word, from tour drivers out on a game drive, of a collapsed wild elephant cow in the Kanderi area. The team went to the elephant’s assistance but found that she could not even stand even when aided to her feet. While helping her an approximately one and a half year old orphan calf (Chedi) came to drink from the Kanderi water trough. Chedi is a Taita/Taveta name meaning the lucky one as that orphan elephant was very lucky to have come to the water trough when the keepers were there. The team followed the calf for about four hundred meters. They saw it browsing close to an elephant calf that had collapsed and died a few days ago. The tusks had been recovered by one of the trust’s desnaring teams. The calf was subsequently rescued and brought into one of the taming stockades where it was warmly greeted by Tahri and given some much needed reassurance.
29 September 2017
The morning was wonderful with Lempaute, Kivuko, Dabassa and Layoni arriving at the stockade in the early hours of the morning. The four settled to enjoy Lucerne grass and range cubes with the juniors once they had finished their morning milk bottle. Ishaq-B and Bada kept a tight guard on Araba, helping Kenia in the task of denying Lempaute and Kivuko access to their adopted baby.
Later in the morning a tour driver reported that he had seen an orphan elephant walking and browsing alone about three kilometers from the Aruba air strip. The stockade keepers and the de-snaring team were mobilized to assist each other to rescue the calf which was about three years old. The orphan male was very dehydrated and was almost state of collapse. Once rescued he settled to browse on the lush green grewia branches that had been placed in the taming stockade for him. He was warmly greeted by Tahri and Chedi who did all they can to reassure him that he was in safe hands.
30 September 2017
The stockade dependant orphan elephants downed their morning milk bottle befoe settling for the Lucerne grass pellets and fresh Lucerne grass that had been availed to them by the keepers. After feeding for more than twenty minutes, Lempaute, Kivuko, Dabassa and Layoni all came to the stockades to join the juniors. On seeing them, Kenia, Ndii, Naipoki and Kihari consolidating their group as quickly as they could and moved them away from the four Ex Orphans as they headed out to the browsing fields.
Lempaute, Kivuko, Layoni and Dabassa did not seem upset about the juniors leaving and they spent the day feeding on the piles of Lucerne grass that had been put out for them. They occasionally stopped feeding to drink water from the stockade water trough.
Ngulia, Kore, and Tawi came running into the stockades this evening with Kore, the female eland, missing the door of her stockade and hitting the chain link fence injuring her mouth. A section of her lip was cut but she is feeding well and without any problems. The wound is being treated with antibiotic spray and is healing.