The month began well, with the arrival of Ex Orphans Emily, Edie and their respective entourage and babies who brought a wild friend to the Stockades for a handout of supplements. Sadly, however, the anticipated rains have fallen far short of expectations throughout Tsavo this season, so we face another tough drought year ahead, with all the usual ramifications.
A lot has happened at the Voi Unit this month, not least the joyful arrival of Ex Orphan Mpenzi on the l9th after a long absence who came with her newborn female calf. Mpenzi’s older female calf, “Asante” was acting as a very diligent little Nannie to the new baby. The Keepers were happy to welcome the new addition to Mpenzi’s family, since she lost her firstborn to the lions just below Voi Safari Lodge. She and Asante were treated to a generous a hand-out of supplements which they both enjoyed.
Not such good news was on the 13th when Ex Orphan Ndara (now rising 13 years of age) was spotted amongst Emily’s Ex Orphan group(who were on their way back to the Stockades). Ndara had with 3 arrows embedded in her body one of which had penetrated deep into the joint of one front foot. Dr. Poghon, the Vet attached to the Trust’s Mobile Veterinary Unit, was summonsed to sedate her in order to remove the arrows and treat the wounds, but l0 days later(the 23rd ) Ndara returned to the Stockades limping heavily, her front foot hugely swollen. The Vet suggested that if possible she be monitored, but the Keepers could not find her the next day, nor for several days thereafter. However, she returned again on the 28th alone this time limping even more heavily and barely able to walk, the foot obviously very much worse. Following a phone discussion with Angela in Nairobi, the Keepers were asked to ensure that she remained close by so that a Vet could be flown to Voi the next day, since the one attached to the Mobile Unit had left on leave. Ndara was given greens and supplements, and monitored by the Keepers overnight.
The next day, (the 29th and a Sunday) an experienced International Vet who most opportunely just happened to be visiting the Trust, (accompanied by a Nairobi based KWS Vet), was flown to Voi in a Chartered aircraft, armed with all the specific medication needed to immobilize Ndara in order to inspect and treat what was obviously a serious joint wound. All this was accomplished, and once the injured joint had been thoroughly cleaned and packed with antibiotic ointment and green clay, and Ndara given injectible anti-inflammatory and long acting antibiotic, she was successfully revived. She was then ushered back into her erstwhile enclosure (which had housed Ex Orphan Solango who returned with a broken back leg), so that she could be closely monitored over the ensuing weeks. The injury was serious since the arrow had compromised the joint of the foot. Mercifully, however, Ndara’s foot improved visibly over the following days, so we are hopeful of a full recovery in the fullness of time. In the meantime she is enjoying careful nursing, good food and the company of the Juniors, who enjoy interacting with her before going out every morning and when they return in the evenings.
The 20th saw the Voi Keepers embroiled in the rescue of a new orphan who was spotted alone at Kanderi Swamp. He was held overnight at the Voi Stockades, where he received a joyous welcome from all the other Orphans, each female eager to “mother” and comfort him. The next morning all rushed to be close to him, Ndii eager to remain behind with the new baby rather than accompany the others out to browse. She was very upset when the newcomer was driven to the Airfield to be loaded onto the Rescue Plane and taken to the Nairobi Nursery. He was named “Balguda”.
On the 25th, Ex Orphan “Tsavo” who is part of Emily’s now “wild” group turned up at the Stockades on his own, and enjoyed a handout of supplements.
Unusually, on several occasions this month, the older members of the remaining Keeper Dependent Voi orphans have opted to forego their noon milk feed in order to spend longer browsing high up on the slopes of nearby Mazinga Hill, returning as late as 9 p.m. on the 16th, and at 7.30 p.m. on the l8th when Mzima and Shimba kept Layoni with them. The boys are obviously becoming more independent.
There has been rivalry for the attention of Wasessa between Emsaya and her previous chosen favourite, Tassia. Taveta remains a mischievous rascal, who enjoys using his trunk to spray water over the others whenever they are reluctant to enter the mudbath. Lesanju and Wasessa are very able Matriarchs of the Keeper dependent orphans, Lesanju moving forward to remove a tree that had fallen across their usual path on the 4th, and Wasessa helping Layoni out of the mudbath one day when he got stuck. Lempaute took advantage of Mzima who was able to pluck leaves from a greater height than herself, picking up the scraps that fell. All enjoyed chasing off some waterbuck who were drinking at their noon mudbath on the 15th, and were scared by a Monitor Lizard they happened upon on the 27th. In all, it has been an action packed month at all our Orphan facilities!