Losoito was struggling. A victim of the family of five gunned down in Southern Tsavo west the month before, this tiny lone survivor was found and rescued 48 hours later. However the stress and trauma, dehydration and intolerance for the milk formula all proved too much for her and we never managed to stabilize her stomach and one loses baby elephants fast when that is the case. Once the tummy goes this is the single biggest threat to young elephant calves. Scouring in this case was not due to any bacterial infection but stress, and harder to retrieve as a result. She died on the morning of the 2nd, joining her recently deceased family in the great somewhere. A tragic loss that Mbegu felt deeply, as we all did.
On a positive note Simotua, despite his terrible snare and spear wounds and emaciated state when he arrived, is doing very well; healing and gaining condition. He is close to Tusuju and Rapa who as stockade neighbours have formed an extremely close bond. Frail Tusuja is tolerant of feisty Rapa suckling his ear for long periods of time. Tusuja has been plagued with parasites which we have found challenging to overcome but thankfully towards the end of the month we have witnessed a marked improvement.
Our resident ostriches Pea and Pod are still in the fold and on one day joined Suswa and Mashariki in a dust bathing session, wings flapping, dust flying over a pile of ostriches and elephants was something to behold, but it was not too long before temptation overcame the two mischievous elephants and Mashariki began charging them, which had them sprinting off in one direction only to be confronted by Suswa charging from another. They are very long suffering but are extremely attached to their unusual, big-eared flock! Lasayen and Ndotto remain attached to one another and Boromoko, Kauro and Mwashoti are very close pals. Another unlikely couple is Elkarama and tiny Ngilai. One day they went missing and after a search Ngilai was found feeding in the bushes, and further away Elkerama feeding next to a wild black rhino. Obviously Ngilai had found this rather daunting and had opted to keep a safe distance. The presence of the keepers startled the rhino who burst into the undergrowth with Elkerama following in hot pursuit. Eventually Elkerama returned of his own free will. Because he was orphaned so much older than the rest he is very independent which is challenging for the Keepers to keep tabs on him. Especially now he has a partner in crime with his tiny friend Ngilai.
The disciplinarian in the group is Rorogoi who as one of the older females makes sure she keeps the boisterous bulls, Olsekki, Enkikwe, Sirimon, Sokotei and Kauro in line. Naughty Roi (Female) and Rapa have the potential of being handfuls too, which our older orphans keep an eye on. Roi is a greedy girl and has developed a sneaky technique. Having finished her feed she sneaks around while the Keepers are concentrating of feeding others and grabs an extra bottle from the wheel barrow, rushing off into the bushes with it clutched in her trunk and feeds herself, tossing the bottle when finished!
On the 12th Solio visited Maxwell, these day visits have become seldom in recent months but today she was in no hurry to leave and was happy to spend a good amount of time with an extremely excited Maxwell. Older orphans Arruba, Mwashoti and Suswa tried to frighten Solio off charging with their ears out, but she had seen it all before so simply didn’t respond and instead waited patiently while Maxwell galloped around his stockade compound in excitement. The encounter ended prematurely when in his excitement he urinated through his stockade fence in her face, which she did not appreciate and left. The next evening Solio returned and spent the night in her old stockade, which she has not visited for many moons, yet she recalled every detail and enjoyed her fill of Lucerne throughout the night. Maxwell has enjoyed the attentions of the orphans too this month with Kamok one day playing for a long time, folding and stoking his ears through the gate bars, a pastime Maxwell savoured and just stood there in a stupor loving the sensation. Then Mwashoti came with a more forceful pull of the horn and butting game which sent Maxwell into an excited state, charging and jumping around his boma.
On the 14th of August we received another orphaned baby in our midst, rescued from a waterhole in the The Taita Hills Wildlife Conservancy. She is a young female, approximately 6 months old, whom we have named Godoma after the valley where she was found; she is affectionately known as Godo for short! Her first day out with the others was fraught and she remained very stressed, but the older orphans led by Arruba eventually calmed her down. As the month has progressed Godoma has taken a good long time to settle, and her aggressive behaviour has been taxing on all the orphans whose patience has been tested. We have noticed consistently that this is one of the most troublesome ages to be rescued - between six months to one year. Rapa was similarly restless remembering his wild family vividly and pining for their loss. Eventually we were forced to change Godoma's stable and since then she has settled well, much happier and finally even accepting the Keepers too.
Balguda, who we returned to the Nursery after his health declined at our Umani relocation unit, is improving, albeit slowly. There is definitely improvement which is wonderful to see. There are so many stories about the various individuals throughout the Keepers daily diary entries so please be sure to view those too.