August was, again, a very dry month but there were scattered sporadic showers elsewhere in the Park, which attracted many of the wild elephants away from the Voi river and the vicinity of the Headquarters. Consequently, the orphans had limited contact with their wild counterparts. Again the Big Boys, i.e. Dika, Ndume and Edo were regular fixtures, spending almost every afternoon and evening at the Stockades feeding on the Grewia sticks left over from the cut browse for the night feeds.
Malaika and Loisaba continued to spend time with the Nairobi babies led by Natumi. The usual routine is that all the orphans leave the Stockades together, but after the babies have had their l0 a.m. milk feed close by, Emily’s group separate and head off to favoured feeding grounds. Malaika spends more time with the babies, but not all the time, often choosing to leave them in order to feed further afield, but joining them later.
An exciting event was the removal of a wire snare from Lissa’s wild-born calf, Lara on the 15th August. Lissa and her calf were seen by Simon Trevor the evening before, the calf trailing a long wire cable from the noose around one leg but at the time Simon did not know the cow and calf were in fact Lissa and her baby. However, in the evening of the next day (the 15th) Lissa turned up at the Stockades with Mpenzi and her calf Lara, who was trailing the snare. The Keepers tried to catch the calf in order to remove the snare, but could not do so because Lissa and Mpenzi did not approve and showed signs of aggression. Isaac Maina went to phone Daphne in Nairobi, thinking that the job would have to be done by a Vet who could sedate the mother and her Nannie. Whilst he was away, the Keepers managed to entice and shut Lissa into Malaika’s segregated compartment of the Stockades, leaving the calf and Mpenzi outside. Again they tried to catch the calf, which shot underneath the electric wire partition and hide in amongst all three of our Big Boys, literally sandwiched between them. The Keepers managed to hook a steel wire through the head of the noose on the baby’s leg by reaching underneath the Big Elephants, who were perfectly calm and kept the calf closely pinioned, as though they understood what the Keepers were trying to do. Miraculously they managed to hook the snare loose and the calf was able to free its leg and rejoin Lissa and Mpenzi, protesting loudly!
This month Rolf Harris and the BBC1 team visited the orphans and filmed them for "Rolf’s Amazing World of Animals" featured regularly during prime time on BBC1. They were accompanied by Daphne who observed that every time one of the babies lay down to have a dust-bath, Aitong became agitated and immediately tried to lift it. This was endorsed by the Keepers, which leads Daphne to think that Aitong must have seen a calf dying before being orphaned and is fearful of it ever happening again. (Aitong comes from the very stressed population of Mara elephants who have suffered immense poaching and snaring pressure in the past).