The same dry season heat of the last few months persisted throughout the beginning of this month,so the orphans continued prolonged siesta sessions under shady trees during the afternoons in order to escape the midday heat, often passing by Kone Dam in the late afternoon on their way back to their stockades for another refreshing dip, and taking advantage of smaller puddles whilst out browsing to splash water behind their ears and plaster a little mud on their bodies. Prolonged soil dusting also ensures a good protective coating on their skin and helps to cool down hot bodies. A few days into April clouds began to gather promising the potential of imminent rain, but even so by the 19th of the month the April rains continued to elude northern Tsavo. The first shower finally fell during the night of the 20th bringing much relief which was reflected in the orphans’ behaviour the next day. They tossed chunks of moist soil on their heads and some in the party, including Ex Orphans, Kilabasi and Mutara swam with Bongo and Lemoyian, even though it was not as hot as it had previously been. Over the next few days a few light drizzles fell but overall it seemed that Northern Tsavo still awaited its full quota of what is known as the ‘long rains’ upcountry, but which are invariably the ‘short’ rains over Tsavo.
Mutara’s recently independent trio, comprising of herself, Suguta and Kanjoro continued to seek out and meet up with the still stockade-dependant orphans, joining them for the lucerne hand-out in the mornings and to browse with them throughout the day. At night they remain outside in the stockade yard, but continue to seek the company of the dependent orphans and their Keepers during daylight hours. Later in the month Kanjoro returned with a broken tusk which probably happened whilst sparring with one of his age-mates. Makireti’s small Ex Orphan group consisting of herself Kasigau and Kilabasi, often join up with Mutara’s group to visit the stockades and take advantage of the tasty lucerne laid out for the dependant orphans every morning. Big Bull Tomboi, who has become quite a Lone Ranger, sometimes joins up with any of the other orphan groups whenever he sees fit. This month we have seen a lot of him as he has chosen to remain close to home, partaking of the lucerne feast, or accompanying the dependent group during browsing sessions or at the mud bath. Taita, another 13 year old Ex Orphan bull, has also made sporadic appearances, sometimes in the company of other Ex Orphans such as Orok, Nasalot, Loijuk, Sidai, Galana, Meibai, Ishanga, and Tomboi who were with 3 wild bulls on the 26th, but at other times on his own. We have only seen the wild elephant known as Half Trunk once this month when, on the 9th, he showed up at the mud bath in the company of two wild bull friends shortly after the juniors had left. Ex Orphan bulls Orok and Rapsu have also either made solitary or group appearances throughout the month; Orok enjoying a lengthy interaction with the juniors on the 11th, joining them out in the bush and at the mudbath. The interaction between the Ex Orphans and the dependant juniors is incredibly valuable for it is in this way that the younger babies learn the ways of the wild, which makes their own transition easier when the time comes.
Yatta and Mulika’s herd of Ex Orphans came to the mud bath on the 2nd just after the orphans had left, and returned the next day along with 6 wild friends to join the Juniors when out browsing. Yatta’s herd consists of Yatta, her baby,Yetu, Kinna, Nasalot, Sunyei, Lualeni, Chyulu, Lenana, Loijuk, Makena, Wendi and her baby Wiva, along with Nanny Sidai. Whilst amongst the Juniors, the Ex Orphans and their wild elephant friends somehow managed to hijack and make off with dependent orphaned bull Barsilinga. It took the keepers almost at hour to retrieve milk dependent Barsilinga who kept trying to follow the wild herd. This is not the first time that Barsilinga has tried to have grown- up time with the Ex orphans, so he is definitely showing signs of heightening independence. On the 7th the Ex Orphans and a wild bull friend joined the Juniors very early in the morning at the Stockade Compound and enjoyed browsing on tasty left over branches and the much favoured lucerne. The Juniors did not stay long to socialise with the Ex orphans before leaving for the bush, but Chyulu, who is still deeply attached to Lemoyian, escorted him out with the others to share browse for awhile before returning to join her Ex Orphan friends.
On the 10th some members from Yatta and Mulika’s herd, namely Lualeni, Loijuk and Lenana showed up at the stockade in the afternoon in the company of bulls Ololoo, Madiba, Buchuma and a wild bull. Lenana and Loijuk put their legs into the water trough and started wastefully splashing water around, so they were told off by the Keepers, and they immediately desisted. However, they were not best pleased because as they left trumpeting and bush-bashing as they disappeared out of sight. There was no sign of them for the rest of the month as they sulked over being reprimanded by their Human Family!
Within the dependent orphan herd, Bomani has been up to some naughty tricks this month – blocking the stockade gate in the mornings so that his fellow orphans cannot pass by. However Lemoyian, being fearless is bold enough to take on Bomani in a tussle to gain the right to exit the stockade! Lemoyian is never afraid to stand his ground and often stands up to Bomani to see if he really will follow through with his threats. Bongo's passion for water persists, even long after all the others have exited the mudbath to rest under shade. As much as he loves to wallow in the mud bath, Bongo also likes to play-fight with Vuria, and hardly a day passes without this activity! In fact, sometimes it seems to preoccupy most of their day taking preference over browsing!