August has been a dry month in the Southern Sector of Tsavo East National Park. It has also been a month for bush fires, with huge swathes of the Park burnt. While these areas look desolate right now, with the first rains they will transform into a garden of Eden, as these same areas will attract the plains game because of the lush new shoots pushing through, and thankfully the rains are looking imminent. At present ostriches are enjoying the easy insect pickings on the burnt patches and can be sighted there in abundance. Our Voi team of Keepers continue to patrol the area using the mobile veterinary unit vehicle, not only looking for signs of our orphans, but signs of animals in need, ready to treat possible snare wounds, spear wounds, or poison arrow wounds etc. While Lissa and her babies were seen this month, along with Mpenzi, Emily’s group and Natumi’s group were not sighted at all this month. This is not altogether unexpected, as Tsavo is a vast area, with huge sections of the park without roads, and it suggests they are moving further a field with the wild herds. This is not a bad thing, and could largely be due to the fact that around Mazinga Hill, close to where the stockades are situated, numerous predators have recently moved in, following the game that has been displaced from the Irima and Ndara plains due to the recent bush fires. This would be a deterrent to our younger orphans, as Tsavo Lions are not to be trusted. The presence of the lions has made or Zebra orphans, Serena and Rongai’s time pretty fraught, and the Keepers have made sure they stay close to home without going on their usual long daily walks. Lissa and Mpenzi seem confident enough to stay on Mazinga Hill and enjoy the plentiful vegetation there, with trips to the stockades waterhole from time to time. Sometimes they have come with their wild elephants friends in tow who through Lissa’s gentle coercion have learnt that it is quite safe to be close to the Keepers.
We received another tiny orphan at Voi this month, this time a baby Kudu called Mukuki, rescued from Mukuki ranch. His story is an endearing one, as he was found by a herdsman all alone, and was watched and monitored for a couple of days as the herdsman was mindful that sometimes Kudu mothers leave their calves lying up but do return to them. After the second day, and with an obviously hungry and desperate baby, he concluded that something must have happened to his mum and rescued him. He made an arrangement with the livestock owner to feed the baby with his cow’s milk, and he tied the Kudu baby to a small calf and together they would spend the day moving with the livestock as they grazed.
When the owner went to Voi to sell his milk he made mention of the Kudu orphan to the Kenya Wildlife Service authorities who in turn alerted the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust team at Voi and they immediately went to rescue the orphan who is now growing up in the Park, with Serena and Rongai, and hopefully when old enough will join Rukinga’s herd. Rukinga was another orphaned Kudu we raised in Voi who has successfully joined a wild herd but is still sighted by the keepers from time to time.