This month has seen some high drama for the Voi Unit. Three baby elephants were rescued by our Voi team of Keepers. The first calf was found trapped in the Mzima Springs pipeline and thankfully by the time our team got there the mother was still in the area so the calf, despite being quite big, was retrieved and reunited with Mum. This took much effort from the men because he was still full of fight.
Then a second calf towards the end of the month was saved, before potentially becoming a meal for a pride of lions. Trapped in a watering point with its helpless mother nearby, the calf struggled attracting the attention of a pride of lions who had just killed a Zebra, which they left to further inspect the stricken calf. Fortunately help came in time and the baby was retrieved and reunited with her very appreciative mother. Thankfully this rescue too had a happy ending.
Sadly there was a calf rescued on the 14th from a waterhole in the Taita Hills Wildlife Conservancy and released on the plains, hopeful the family would return. Unfortunately that did not happen and before she too became a meal for a hungry predator our teams were called to mount a rescue and she was flown to the Nairobi Nursery where she continues to improve today.
The orphans at Voi are totally at home. They love their mud baths followed by extensive dust bathing too. Fraternizing with the wild herds does not seem to daunt them, infact there are times they gravitate to the herds and Lesanju, Lempaute and Sinya have to work hard to retrieve them back. These much older girls are very protective of their orphan elephant herd which are ‘their family’ so very often whisk the babies in the opposite direction of possible wild elephant encounters. This is not always the case however, as this month the orphans have enjoyed some wonderful interactions both at the stockades and at their mud wallows during the midday heat. Our older females become fixated on wild babies and expend huge amounts of energy trying to spirit the babies away from their nannies to play with. Sisters and Aunties make this challenging though, keeping a close eye on their little charges ensuring our eager orphans do not overstep the mark.
The weather at the beginning of the month was cold which ruled out long mud bath sessions and more emphasis was placed on browsing. A new mud wallow was dug and filled and this became a focal point later in the month. One day a group of giraffe stood by and watched as the orphans quenched their thirst and mud wallowed, eager to drink themselves. One bolder than the rest stepped forward and spread her legs to drink. Ordinarily this would prove a tempting target for our baby elephants who like to trumpet and charge and disrupt things, but on this occasion they were beautifully behaved, and watched on with interest not making a noise or doing anything too distracting until the giraffe had taken her fill. The others giraffes however preferred to wait until the orphan group had finished with the mud and dust baths and had moved on. Another dramatic day was when a lion came bulleting out of the bushes just after the Keepers had filled the water troughs with fresh water, just missing two warthog that had just slipped in for a drink. It hurtled towards an impala frozen in the middle of the waterhole. She was successful with her kill and then struggled as she dragged the impala out of the water and ate under a nearby tree. The orphans arrived a little while later and were uneasy having smelt the scent of the lion and kill. They later were aware of her feeding close by so needless to say their mud bath was only brief on this day.
For all the details throughout the month about the individuals and their antics please access the Keepers Daily entries.