Keepers' Diaries, September 2021

Voi Reintegration Unit

Our Voi herd has a wonderful, steady dynamic. Everyone knows and respects each other’s roles without complaint. Of course, it took time to get to this point: When Tamiyoi and Tagwa graduated to Voi last year, Mbegu was initially very standoffish towards Tagwa. She must have known that Tagwa was a fellow mini matriarch at the Nursery and sensed some competition. However, Mbegu’s hostilities dissipated after a few months, once she realised that Tagwa had no such leadership aspirations.

01 September 2021

This bright morning, the dependent orphans were busy feeding on lucerne grass after their milk feed, at the far end corner of the stockade compound. After a few minutes, Rorogoi decided to go back towards the stockades, followed by Lasayen, Godoma and Arruba, to drink some water.

Tagwa, Tamiyoi and Sagala led the orphans out to browse and they settled deep in the bush beside Msinga Hill. Just before noon, the orphans walked down to the milk feeding area for their bottles, and when they were done, they walked down to the mud bath beside the baobab tree. Emoli rolled around in the dust, surrounded by Mbegu and Godoma, while Rorogoi stood by the baobab tree scratching her eye. Ndoria was minding her own business and doing her own thing, while Mashariki swam alone in the mud bath. A few minutes later, Embu walked in to join her. She splashed around for a little while but didn’t stay long, leaving Mashariki all alone in the mud wallow.

Panda stood by the water trough as Suswa cooled off, by splashing water from the trough on her sides, chest and under her ears. As the orphans left the mud bath to resume browsing, Arruba was left behind scratching her bottom against the water trough. She ran to catch up with her friends and the orphans had a peaceful rest of their afternoon.

02 September 2021

After the milk feed this morning, the orphans relaxed around the stockade compound for a while before Mashariki led them out for their daily browsing bush walk.

Out on the open grass fields adjacent to Msinga Hill, the Voi orphans settled down to calmly munch away on the drying grass. Lasayen flapped his ears to cool off as he browsed on the desert shepherd shrubs. Murit, meanwhile, stretched and scratched on the sides of an erosion gulley, just before he walked down with his friends for his noon milk bottles.

At the baobab mud bath, the orphans had a great time interacting and bonding with several wild elephant families who were visiting the water hole at the same time. Tamiyoi, Sagala and Pika Pika were moving all around, greeting the wild elephant calves. They had to keep their guard up, however, as they were very cautious of any possible rebukes from the older protective brothers and sisters. After interacting for a while, the wild elephants left the water hole and carried on with their own browsing journey, as the orphan elephants left the water hole in a different direction.

03 September 2021

The orphans came out of their night stockades and mingled, bonding and playing in the compound before leaving for browsing. While some were busy feeding on lucerne grass, Mbegu engaged Murit in an exciting wresting game. She then proceeded to sit on the ground and pose for the camera. Meanwhile Sagala posed against the stockade terraces, and slightly further away Tundani decided to copy Mbegu and sat down to pose for the keeper taking pictures as well, showing off and messing around. Ndoria decided to scratch against the orphans’ favourite rock in the compound.

Mashariki, Ishaq-B, Tundani, Araba and Panda spent the mid morning browsing along the open grasslands, as Ngilai engaged one of his favourite playmates, Emoli, in an exciting wrestling game. Ngilai then went to browse quietly with Murit, just before they walked for their noon milk feed. While browsing, Mashariki spent time with Ndotto and showed a lot of affection towards him, patting him with her trunk and showing a lot of interest in what he was eating as well, as they made their way to the milk feeding area too. Ishaq-B spent some quality time with Araba, browsing and patting her and generally being very nurturing towards her. 

The orphans walked down for the afternoon milk feed and later resumed browsing for the rest of the day. 

04 September 2021

The orphans left the stockade compound for their daily bush walk, maneuvering their way along the rocky Msinga Hill to the northern side. Araba posed on a tree stump while browsing at the foot of Msinga Hill, adjacent to the baobab tree waterhole. Naipoki and Ishaq-B browsed as the younger orphans waited patiently for the milk van to arrive. As the milk-dependent babies had their bottles, Ishaq-B decided to walk majestically down to the mud wallow, leaving Kenia behind browsing. 

After the milk feed, the orphans followed Ishaq-B down to the baobab water trough to drink. Kenia also made her way down to the baobab tree. Araba attempted to step inside the water trough while Kenia stood next to her drinking. Kenia didn’t want Araba to dirty the water, however, so she tried to discourage her. Tamiyoi lay down for a rest outside the mud hole, while Mbegu ran excitedly into the water and started to splash about. Ndotto splashed water with his trunk from the edge of the mud wallow, and Mashariki came over with her ears raised high. She decided to copy Ndotto and started splashing mud on herself too. Eventually, Araba got into the water trough. Tundani and Kenia just looked on as she splashed about inside, very pleased with herself!

05 September 2021

The Voi orphans started their morning looking very playful. They came out of their stockades to feed on lucerne and couldn’t wait to start their bonding and socializing games in the stockade compound. Ndotto invited Mbegu to a sparring game, but she seemed a little reluctant to play with him this morning. Meanwhile, Ngilai was having a very eventful morning with Emoli in an exciting sparring contest. Naipoki was at the far end corner of the stockade feeding on the lucerne with her older and more independent friends.

Later, just before the orphans’ noon milk feed, Sagala started climbing on Mbegu who was rolling on the ground. Mashariki was patting and kissing Embu affectionately with her trunk. Ndotto invited Tundani to a sparring match before being one of the first down to have his milk bottle.

When they were done, the orphans walked down to the mud wallow. Today, they all decided to have a swim as it was quite a hot day! But they had to take it in turns. When they were done swimming, they started to file out and browse along the grasslands while the Keepers had their lunch. They had a very peaceful rest to their afternoon as they concentrated on browsing. 

06 September 2021

Pika Pika yelled out in excitement at seeing the milk bottles being arranged in preparation for their morning milk feed. As the milk-dependent babies emerged from their stockades and excitedly assembled for their feed, Kenia and Ndii came running over to see why their little girl Pika Pika had been yelling, but they found that all was well with her. All the orphans gathered in the lucerne pellet feeding area before leaving the stockades to go out to browse for the day. 

After browsing for around four hours, Emoli and Ngilai took a break to enjoy a sparring match. Lasayen became jealous of their game, however, and decided to engage Godoma in a similar game! He deployed all sorts of tactics to get Godoma’s attention, including sitting down and pulling a variety of different funny poses that made Godoma want to play with him. His tactic worked and, because he wanted to keep Godoma’s attention for as long as possible, Lasayen continued with his antics which meant she played with him for quite a while. Later, Ngilai abandoned his game with Emoli and went to play with Tagwa for a bit, but their game came to an end when he tried climbing on her. Panda saw what he was doing and came running over to stop him. Ngilai left Tagwa alone but found his friend Emoli was now fully occupied playing with Sagala. Ngilai decided to hijack their game and take over by force by stepping in between them and effectively pushing Sagala away!

Soon, the milk van arrived and the milk-dependent orphans went running to have their afternoon bottles. When they were done, they walked down to the baobab water hole for a swim. 

07 September 2021

When the orphans finished their morning milk bottles and the lucerne feed, they decided to play some brief games in the stockade compound. Ndotto is trying to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that he is to be considered one of the dominant bulls among the dependent Voi herd. Tundani is trying to maintain his position as the most dominant, however, and he feels the best way to prove this is to engage Ndotto in tough morning wrestling matches. Being a couple of years older than the seven-year-old Ndotto, Tundani still has quite the advantage with his weight and size, but Ndotto is not to be taken lightly either!

Mbegu went to scratch on the big rocks outside the large stockade, while Godoma came over and took up position next to her to wait her turn. Mbegu climbed over the rock to bring a little variety to her game, but bravely anchored her front legs on the concrete slab to reduce the risk of falling over! Godoma got tired of waiting for Mbegu, so she walked off to play somewhere else. Mudanda also went for a scratch against one of the big rocks and Panda joined her to scratch her itchy neck.

The orphans then left the stockades and browsed in single file until the afternoon, when they went for the noon milk feed and down to the mud bath beside the baobab tree. Some clouds were building, and a cold wind was blowing as the orphans drank some fresh water from the water trough. Mbegu lay down to test the temperature of the water with her front feet. Murit came over to enquire from her what the water was like, but later left the water hole without taking a mud bath.

08 September 2021

This morning, Pika Pika, Emoli, Tamiyoi, and Sagala competed in a running match to see who could reach their delicious morning milk bottles first. Later, they joined up with the rest of their friends at the lucerne pellet feeding area. Kenia and Ndii are still monitoring Naipoki’s every move to make sure she stays away from their adopted baby Pika Pika.

The orphans then walked out of the compound to spend their day out in the park, where they spread out to find as much browse as possible. They browsed in a deliberate and slow manner, as it is getting very dry, before making their way to the noon milk feeding area. 

After having their bottles, the orphans walked down to the mud bath and water trough. It was quite windy, so only Ndotto plunged into the water to try a cold mud bath. Mbegu turned into a sort of celebrity among her friends as she lay just outside the water, messing around and attracting the attention of the others. Ndotto came over and interrupted her game, pulling at one of her legs and generally annoying her. Emoli came over too and started climbing on Mbegu’s stomach, impairing her movement and forcing her to get up and join her friends who were leaving the water hole.

09 September 2021

The orphans chose to play and socialize in the compound for a while after their milk feed this morning. It was Panda’s turn to test Ndotto’s strength in a sparring match, while Ngilai was busy pulling some very funny poses as he played along one of the stockade terraces. Ngilai was being such a showoff and so extravagant with his solo game that Ndotto started to notice the fun he was having, and he decided to abandon playing with Panda and walk over to start a wrestling match with Ngilai. Mashariki grew curious of the fun Ndotto and Ngilai were now having and came over to test Ndotto in a wrestling match too. Ndii approached Mashariki from behind and occasionally touched and smelled her. Ishaq-B wanted to know what Ndii was doing and stretched her trunk out towards her, which is characteristic of an ‘enquiring’ type gesture in elephants.

The orphans then left the compound and filed out behind Tamiyoi, Tagwa, and Sagala, who took the lead. They browsed slowly throughout the morning and arrived at the water hole for the noon milk feed. They decided to only have a drink from the water trough and continue browsing without swimming today. 

10 September 2021

After the morning milk, feed the Voi orphans lined up for the lucerne feed. Ngilai and Emoli took up their usual wrestling game in the stockade compound while Kenia, Pika Pika and Ndii drank from the stockade water trough.

Sagala, Tagwa and Tamiyoi set off towards the bush, leaving several orphans behind finishing up with the lucerne feeding. The orphans made their way slowly to the milk feeding area for noon, and then got excited as they saw the milk van arrive. When each group was done with their bottles, the Keepers told them to go down for a drink of water. 

Only Embu and Ndoria decided to wallow today, the rest, led by Mashariki, drank their fill from the trough and then resumed browsing. The orphans spent the afternoon browsing on the open grasslands close to the baobab water hole.

11 September 2021

It was Ngilai who led the orphans out to browse today. He stopped for a scratch against the rock next to the big stockade entrance and then proceeded on his way out. His favourite playmate, Emoli, followed him closely and even kissed him with his trunk as they walked along.

The rest of the orphans followed, and they all settled at the foot of Msinga Hill on the northern side, overlooking the baobab tree water trough. Arruba, Mbegu and Ishaq-B spent time together browsing on the acacia shrubs while Lasayen got stuck into a wrestling match with Murit. Arruba and Ishaq-B remained browsing while Mbegu left to catch up with Godoma and some of the others. Arruba left, too, leaving Ishaq-B browsing all alone. 

Lasayen and Murit continued playing sporadically for most of the day. At one point, Lasayen even sat down on his bottom and pulled funny poses, until Murit walked off and started challenging Sagala to a pushing game. Ndotto invited Tundani for his own sparring match, as he continues to try and demonstrate his strength. 

Later in the morning, Arruba expressed some affection towards Ndotto, patting him with her trunk, while Godoma was busy with Lasayen in a sparring match. After the noon milk feed, Diria the zebra joined the elephant orphans to drink water down at the baobab tree water trough.

12 September 2021

Tamiyoi and Araba posed against different terraces in the stockade compound after the morning milk feed. Just off to the side, Ndotto was trying to climb up one of the terraces, too! Rather unusually, he then chose to take on Araba in a sparring match before walking out to browse for the day. Araba is usually only interested in playing with her other friends and cuddling up close to Ndii, Kenia and Ishaq-B, but today she was happy to play with Ndotto.

Ndotto and Tundani don’t go a single day without testing their strength against one another, and this morning was no different. Mbegu decided to take on Rorogoi in the same sparring challenge, as the orphans waited for the milk van carrying their noon milk bottles to arrive. Rorogoi and Mbegu then cuddled up together and patted one another with their trunks, both eagerly anticipating the milk feed about to commence.

After having their milk, the orphans proceeded down to the water hole. Because the weather was dull and cold, only Lasayen, Ndotto, Ngilai, Godoma and Mbegu decided to splash a little water on their bodies before continuing with their afternoon of browsing.

13 September 2021

Ndii was walking along the terrace wall, as the milk-dependent orphans quietly downed their milk bottles before moving to the lucerne feeding area. Godoma broke the silence by lying and rolling around on the ground in a wonderful game. Emoli joined her and their game was so lovely to watch as they were obviously having so much fun together. Mbegu, Tagwa and Tamiyoi approached to watch their game, too, but Tagwa became jealous over her love for Emoli and decided to push him away from playing with Godoma.

The orphans took a break from browsing and were busy with their sparring games in the bush. Suddenly ,the peace was shattered as a lion attempted to attack Diria, the orphaned zebra who browses among the elephant orphans. The orphans and the Keepers flew into action and started charging and shouting at the lion, who released Diria and ran off. Diria was left with only some lion scratches on his hind quarters, but even those can invite infection. So, when our Tsavo Mobile Vet Unit was finished treating another wildlife case in Galana, he came to tend to Diria’s scratches.

In the afternoon, Ndotto lay down on the ground to invite Ivia the orphaned buffalo to play. Ivia came over and pressed his head softly against Ndotto in a friendly engagement.

14 September 2021

The morning was calm, so the orphaned elephants left the stockades soon after the milk feed to catch the first light of day out in the bush. After browsing for two hours, Godoma stood on a rock to take advantage of a more elevated position in a sparring match against Lasayen.

Tundani was busy taking on Ndotto in a similar wrestling match. This game seemed to go on and on, and eventually Ndotto became exhausted and went off to seek refuge by hiding behind a bush. Tundani still pursued him there however, and Ndotto bravely picked up a branch from the ground and held it firm with his trunk to keep Tundani away.

Later at the mud bath, Mashariki was very excited to get the opportunity to play with Pika Pika in the water. She lay down and allowed Pika Pika to climb on her back in a wonderful game. The other orphaned elephants chose not to swim and instead continued browsing across the grasslands after having enough water from the trough. 

15 September 2021

It was a bright morning and the Voi orphans were playing around the stockade compound after the milk feed. Tundani climbed up the terraces as the other orphans were busy feeding on the lucerne supplements. He later walked to the far end corner of the stockade compound, as he likes to browse carefully over the electric fence on the green branches found on the other side.

Ndoria chose to lead the way out to the bush today. Suswa remained behind, collecting up all the remaining pellets alongside Mbegu and Ndotto.

Out in the bush, Ishaq-B settled on the open grassland to browse, as Ndotto and Tundani engaged one another in their daily sparring challenge at the rocky foot of Msinga Hill. Kenia maneuvered her way over the rocks up the hill in search of greener vegetation. 

Later in the afternoon, the orphans walked down to the mud wallow. Embu didn’t waste any time and walked into the water right away for a swim. Mbegu only splashed herself a little bit to cool down, before going to roll on the pile of loose soil. Ngilai joined her and invited her to a pushing game, but Mbegu politely declined and Ngilai walked away.

16 September 2021

Tamiyoi enjoyed an early morning dust bath rolling on the edge of the stockade mud hole. Panda scratched against the orphans’ favourite scratching rock until Sagala led all the orphans out for their day in the bush.

Once there, Godoma decided to scratch her bottom against the wall of an erosion trench, while Tagwa lay down to rest in the shade of a tree under the watchful eye of her friends and Keepers. Mbegu and Godoma then chose to browse together, bonding and patting one another with their trunks. Later, Ndotto got down on the ground and rolled in the dust, and both Arruba and Araba decided to take the opportunity to challenge him in a sparring game. At the same time, Murit engaged Godoma in a sparring match, and a few minutes later Godoma moved over to Lasayen for yet another wrestling game. The orphans then continued browsing, apart from Tundani, who attempted to climb on Ndotto.

The milk-dependent babies then walked down to the feeding area in groups of four for their noon milk bottles. After, they proceeded down to drink water from the troughs beside the baobab tree water hole. They were reluctant to swim today, and instead Tamiyoi chose to start a pushing game with Tagwa. Murit attempted to sneak up on their game using Tagwa as a shield, with the intention of climbing on Tamiyoi. Tamiyoi managed to sneak away, however, and joined up with the others who were already leaving the water hole to continue browsing for the rest of the afternoon.

17 September 2021

The orphan elephants came out of their stockades to play after the milk and supplement feeding. Tamiyoi went over to a low-lying rock in the stockade compound to rub her tummy on it for a good scratch. Ndotto stood at the bottom of the terrace, trying to pursue Arruba for a wrestling match. Ndotto noticed that Arruba wasn’t very interested in playing with him, as she likes to maintain her dignity as one of the oldest members of the herd. This encouraged Ndotto to look for his new friend, Tagwa, for a sparring game. Sagala played with Emoli as Ngilai stood behind them, hoping to be invited to play.

The orphans then started to file out of the compound to begin their day of browsing. Ngilai caught up with his best friend, Emoli, for a wrestling game, as he had missed the opportunity earlier this morning. 

Tamiyoi, Tagwa, Emoli, Murit and Sagala were in the first group for the noon milk feed, followed closely behind by their friends. It was cloudy and cold today, so the orphans chose to only have a drink from the water trough and not swim in the waterhole today.

A wild elephant herd arrived to drink from the stockade water trough. They chose to relax there for quite some time before leaving to browse along Msinga Hill, which is a traditional browsing area for elephants in the dry season.

18 September 2021

Ndii came out of her stockade this morning at a pace to go and check on her beloved Pika Pika first thing. She found her already in the lucerne feeding area and quickly joined her.

Soon after the feeding was over, Ndotto and Arruba engaged one another in a friendly sparring match, coiling their trunks around each other’s in a lovely friendly encounter. Arruba had felt left out after Pika Pika was taken by Ndii and Kenia, so she sought comfort playing with Ndotto.

Tagwa, Sagala and Tamiyoi took up their uncontested role of leading their friends out to browse this morning. Rorogoi soon found herself in trouble with Ndii when she encouraged Pika Pika to remain at the back of the group with her to browse. Ndii came charging back, furious, and with her ears held high, chasing poor Rorogoi away from Pika Pika. The Keepers intervened however to protect Rorogoi and her tail, which Ndii had grabbed to possibly bite in anger!

After the afternoon milk feed, the orphans plunged into the water hole to take a quick swim. Tagwa, Mbegu and Ngilai were the first to come out. Suswa took advantage of her friends exiting the water hole to have the mud bath to herself, and lie down luxuriously taking up the whole space, rolling and swimming around in her own unique style. She was only forced to come out of the water much later as her friends were already quite far off across the grasslands browsing, and she ran to catch up with them.

19 September 2021

The orphans left the stockade compound as soon as they finished their milk feed, settling towards the top of Msinga Hill for their morning browsing session. 

Despite the need to concentrate on browsing, Ngilai and Emoli couldn’t skip their traditional sparring session, even on the summit of Msinga Hill.

In the afternoon, the orphans came down the hill and walked to the noon milk feeding area and later proceeded to the baobab tree water trough for mud bathing. Ngilai and Godoma got to the water trough first while Tundani, Kenia and Araba arrived last. Sagala chased after some Egyptian geese that were visiting the waterhole, and to her satisfaction, they took flight, honking their disapproval. 

The orphans were very excited during their mud wallow. Naipoki was swimming around with Lasayen, while Mashariki was walking around the outside and posing on the edge. Arruba was on the other side, also posing. Embu chose to roll in the soil outside, and Mashariki came over to scratch her ear on her.

Murit scratched his bottom on the banks of the mud wallow just as Naipoki became very overexcited and started splashing and swishing the water with her trunk. Ndoria was attracted by her game and started splashing on the edge of the mud wallow too, swiftly followed by Panda. Ndotto was relatively subdued this wallowing session and simply posed on the outside without really swimming. Ishaq-B started waving her trunk around in the water trough, splashing water all over the place, as the orphans slowly filed out to continue browsing.

20 September 2021

After the noon milk feed, the orphans walked down to the mud wallow beside the baobab tree. Murit and Mbegu went straight into the mud wallow as their friends remained behind to drink from the water trough. Ngilai engaged Murit in a sparring challenge inside the mud wallow, but after a few minutes Ngilai walked away and Murit continued the wrestling game with Sagala.

Mbegu and Embu were enjoying swimming around while Lasayen posed on the edge of the mud wallow, relaxing after splashing around for a while. Mashariki stood against the baobab tree, scratching with her ears held wide and open. Lasayen watched Mashariki and decided to come over and enjoy a scratch as well.

After having a good time in the mud bath, Embu came over to quench her thirst at the water trough. She later joined her friends who were already making their way out to browse. Some, like Kenia, Tagwa and Tamiyoi, were already quite far across the grasslands. The rest of the browsing day was very peaceful.

21 September 2021

After the morning milk feed, the Voi orphans gathered for their routine lucerne grass supplement food, before engaging in their usual games in the stockade compound. Ishaq-B rather aggressively pushed both Arruba and Rorogoi as they were busy feeding on pellets. This was only because they happened to be feeding close to Pika Pika, but Kenia quickly intervened and managed to maintain the peace for everyone. Tamiyoi then took the lead and marshaled her friends out of the stockade compound towards the bush. Ndoria, Mbegu and Godoma stayed behind, picking up all the remaining pellets. As the orphans were walking out, Pika Pika pushed Emoli from behind with her head. Today it was little Pika Pika’s turn to be jealous, as she watched her adopted mother Kenia walking along with Emoli next to her, which she felt was her rightful spot!

The weather was cold and windy. The milk-dependent orphans drank their milk at noon and then visited the waterhole to have some water. They skipped the mud bath today due to the cold weather.

At 10pm a fight broke in the stockade between Kenia and Panda for some reason, and when the Keepers intervened, they found that Panda had broken a bit off her left tusk. Perhaps Kenia isn’t happy with the older females being around, like Panda, and now Naipoki has returned too she might feel like her leadership role is slightly under threat.

22 September 2021

The morning was cool. Milk-dependent babies Pika Pika, Emoli, Sagala and Tamiyoi ran for their bottles in the first group and gulped them down in a matter of seconds. They then went over to have the lucerne pellets the Keepers laid out for them. Pika Pika saw Araba close to Kenia and Ndii and came over to force herself in between them to enjoy some warmth.

Tamiyoi placed herself strategically at the front of the herd and closest to the gates, so she could be in the lead again today. However, she was forced to wait a little longer for her friends, as they were still collecting and feasting on every last pellet that the Keepers provided.

The orphans explored more along the northern side of Msinga Hill this morning, where there is still quite a bit of browse to be found. They made their way down for their noon milk feed and then over to the mud bath beside the baobab tree. There wasn’t much action at the water hole, except for Ndotto and Lasayen, who lay down in the middle of the water and splashed around. Tamiyoi scratched her bottom against the water trough while Ishaq-B, Araba, Kenia, Mashariki and Mudanda temporarily stopped drinking to watch her enjoy her scratch so much. 

The orphans then left the water hole and walked all the way to the western side of Msinga Hill, where they spent the remaining half of the day browsing.

23 September 2021

The morning was good, with the dependent orphan elephants teaming up to play after the milk and lucerne feeding. Kenia went and stood guard over her adopted baby Pika Pika to nurture and protect her. Tundani approached Mudanda for a play fighting game, but Mudanda ignored his request and walked away from him. The orphans then left the stockades to browse for the first half of the day until their noon milk feed.

After browsing for more than four hours, Lasayen went in search of a friend to spar with. He found Araba and they enjoyed a friendly wrestling game for some time. Lasayen was so excited that Araba accepted his invitation to play, as she is usually quite reserved. He reclined in happy celebrations, rolling around on the ground in delight.

The orphans had a wonderful moment drinking water after their noon milk feed and then they left the water hole without mud bathing as it was a cold afternoon.  

24 September 2021

Emoli ran out of his stockade for the morning milk feed, followed closely by Tagwa, Tamiyoi and Pika Pika. After they were done, they rushed to the far corner of the compound for the lucerne feeding, just as Godoma led in the second group for the milk feed. Ngilai and Murit were busy with their usual pushing games, but Emoli jealously came over to separate them, forcing Murit to walk away.

Tamiyoi, Tagwa and Sagala led the herd into the bush for the day’s browsing. They settled on the foot of Msinga Hill, slowly feeding and making their way towards the baobab water hole.

Ndotto invited Tundani for a sparring challenge. The others were busy browsing except for Lasayen, who was teasing Godoma. Knowing feeding time was approaching, the orphans gathered under the usual tree to wait patiently waiting for the milk vehicle to arrive. When they were finished with their bottles, they made their way down to the baobab tree waterhole. The weather was chilly, so the orphans decided not to wallow. They went ahead to drink water from the trough and resumed browsing almost immediately.

25 September 2021

After the morning milk feed, Arruba came out to scratch against the rocks of the entrance to the big stockade. Mbegu and Rorogoi played some friendly pushing games, while the rest of the orphans enjoyed feeding on pellets. Ngilai enjoyed sparring with Emoli, as Sagala scratched against the twin tree in the stockade compound. It was Mashariki who took the lead out to the bush today for a change, but Tamiyoi followed close behind. 

The mini matriarch Mbegu took charge of the young orphans today, shepherding Tamiyoi, Emoli, Tagwa, Godoma, Sagala, Ndotto, Lasayen and Murit to browse. Mashariki led the older orphans to the peak of Msinga Hill for their morning browsing session.

All the orphans came down in the afternoon for the milk feed and later proceeded to the baobab tree. Suswa, Embu and Godoma decided to go for a brief swim in the mud wallow, as Tundani splashed about on the edge. The orphans then left to browse for the rest of the afternoon, going deep into the woods in search of good vegetation.

26 September 2021

Godoma started rolling around on the ground after the milk feeding this morning, trying to invite some of her friends to play. She was soon overruled by Tamiyoi and Tagwa, who started leading the herd out to browse instead!

After browsing for more than three hours, Arruba went to catch up with Ndotto and initiate a short pushing game with him. Ngilai settled down with his best friend Emoli for a sparring match.

There are lions in the Voi area at the moment, and their roaring caused the orphans to stick very close to their Keepers as they browsed. 

In the afternoon, the orphans didn’t feel like playing in the waterhole. They left soon after having their milk feed and some water to continue with their afternoon of browsing.

A wild elephant and her small calf came to drink from the stockade water trough. We saw this same pair at the baobab water hole about two months ago, when the calf was very young. He has since grown wonderfully big, and it was nice to see them both looking so healthy.

27 September 2021

The morning started well, with Emoli leading the milk-dependent orphans. Ndotto branded himself a celebrity, first playing a wrestling match with Tundani, then Mudanda, before finally taking on Arruba.

The elephants later walked out to browse, while the orphaned zebra Diria and buffaloes Cheza and Ivia remained behind with few Keepers to feed close to the stockades, as the lions are still in the area.

After a wonderful noon mud bath, Ndotto and Rorogoi enjoyed a dust bath. They positioned themselves at the top of a pile of loose soil and had a wonderful time rolling down the sides and throwing dust on themselves. Ishaq-B and Tundani put their front feet in the water trough, splashing themselves with their feet and trunks. 

Soon, a wild elephant herd arrived with four little calves among them. Most of the orphans were very eager to greet them. Sagala was the chief mastermind behind this, wooing the wild elephant calves to come and play with the orphans. Mashariki was lucky enough to interact closely with one of the small calves, but its mother prevented Panda, who is bigger, from playing with the calf — she was probably worried that Panda would wander off with her baby! Meanwhile, Ndii, Rorogoi and Arruba were busy petting and looking after Pika Pika who wasn’t interested in joining the wild elephants. 

28 September 2021

Mbegu browsed along the stockade fence while Ngilai and Tamiyoi enjoyed a pushing game next to the twin trees. Ngilai went down on his front knees to put himself on Tamiyoi’s level and add an extra dimension to their game. They held each other’s trunks and seemed to be having a marvelous time. Meanwhile, Lasayen was enjoying his own game on the ground, and he appeared to be posing for the camera while the Keeper took photos! Godoma followed Mbegu along the electric fence, browsing from the acacia trees that line the edge of the compound. 

Ndii was showing off and posing like Lasayen, while scratching against the terrace wall. Ndotto and Arruba were there too, playing a pushing game — that is, until Ndotto spotted Tundani and decided to engage the older bull in a test of strength. However, he soon circled back to invite Arruba to yet another sparring game. He seemed to have endless energy this morning!

Finally, after all the fun and games, the orphans left the compound for the day’s browsing activities.

29 September 2021

The milk bottles were ready and in place early this morning. As usual, the milk-dependent babies ran out of their stockades and gulped down their bottles in a matter of seconds. All the orphans left the stockade compound at the same time. Lasayen walked beside Ngilai, while Godoma, Mbegu, Tamiyoi and Tagwa filed behind Sagala. Ndoria was at the back of the herd, which everyone prefers, as they are never quite sure when she might strike up her old habit of tail-biting! 

The temperature started to creep up as the morning wore on, so the orphans browsed in single file, flapping their ears to cool themselves down. At 10am, Ngilai engaged his best friend Emoli in a sparring game. He pulled all sorts of funny poses while engrossed in this game, including sitting on his bottom.

In the afternoon, we received a report from one of the sanctuaries outside the park. They had sighted an orphaned male elephant, less than a year old. Sanctuary rangers had observed the calf for the last 48 hours, but he didn’t join any of the elephant herds in the area and was becoming weaker. Some Keepers from the Voi stockades helped with the rescue at 3.30pm, and he was later airlifted to the Nairobi Nursery. The fate of the calf’s family and mother was not established at the time, but it seems likely that he was a victim of the drought.

30 September 2021

This morning, Araba went over to a rock and scratched her itchy front leg. Ngilai stood on the lower side of the stockade terrace as he pursued Murit for a wrestling match. Ngilai realised Murit wasn’t very interesting in playing, so he went in search of Emoli instead, who was only too happy to play with him.

The orphan elephants then went out to browse, spreading across the grasslands. It was quite a chilly day, but they did opt for some games in and around the water. Panda decided to step into the water trough after drinking from it, stirring up the water with her feet. She remained there the entire time the orphans were at the waterhole. Emoli and Ngilai skipped the mud bath entirely, opting to instead play some extensive sparring games. Embu, Mashariki and Ishaq-B were the first to plunge into the waterhole and proceeded to enjoy a substantial mud bath.