Cheza and Ivia, our two orphaned buffalos, are doing very well. Cheza is fond of her elephant friends, but she prefers a sedate life. One morning, she approached Lasayen in greeting, but quickly ran away when he tried to turn the moment into a sparring match. Ivia, on the other hand, is almost always up for a tussle with Ngilai. Sometimes, Mbegu even joins their games — and she isn’t above bending the rules of good sportsmanship! One day, she helped Ngilai by aiming little sidekicks at Ivia, which sent the buffalo scampering off in defeat.
Diria, our orphaned zebra, is growing up quickly. One afternoon, he spotted a group of wild zebras at the water hole and approached them without hesitation. This made Cheza and Ivia uneasy, so they decided to shadow him. After allowing Diria to interact with his new friends for about ten minutes, the buffalo pair escorted him back to the Voi herd.
On the 24th, after an absence of more than seven months, ex orphan Naipoki showed up at the Voi stockades. It soon became clear that she had returned seeking help: She had a puncture on her rump, and while it wasn’t a grave injury, it was clearly causing her discomfort. The SWT/KWS Tsavo Mobile Vet Unit was called in and treated her wound while the other orphans calmly observed proceedings. In the days that followed, Naipoki chose to remain at Voi, relishing time with her best friend, Panda, and seamlessly slotting into the old routines. Naipoki is part of Mweya and Edie’s ex orphan herd, who have taken up residence near Tsavo West, so she likely travelled upwards of 80 kilometers to return to the Voi stockades. We have seen ex orphans return for help time and again, as they know they can always circle back to us in their hour of need. You can read more about Naipoki's return and treatment here.
Kenia began the month with a sore eye, which was nothing serious, but enough to cause her discomfort. To make administering her morning eye drops a more palatable procedure, the Keepers would lure her over with a milk bottle. This special treatment did not sit well with Emoli, who yelled in protest when he saw her exiting her stockade. The Keepers go above and beyond to treat all the orphans fairly, but they still notice the smallest little detail!
While Kenia is the undisputed matriarch of the Voi herd, Tamiyoi has really been trying to establish herself as a leader recently. One morning, Embu decided to lead the herd out into the wilderness. Tamiyoi was unhappy to be relegated from the front of the line, so she sped up to overtake Embu. Once Tagwa saw what she was trying to do, she also picked up her pace, to support her friend.
As the youngest orphan in the Voi herd, Pika Pika is constantly spoiled by Kenia, Ndii, and the other older girls. Mashariki, who loves to play, made a big mistake when she invited Pika Pika to frolic with her in the mud bath. Ndii immediately plunged into the water, pinning Mashariki down and forcing her to use her trunk as a snorkel. Peace was only restored when Kenia came running over to break up the drama.
Always hoping to establish her own mini herd, Mbegu has decided to focus on looking after the second youngest orphan, Emoli. Mbegu’s sidekick, Godoma, is also very fond of Emoli. She expresses her affection in all sorts of sweet gestures, from resting her trunk protectively over the young bull while he finishes his milk bottles, to escorting him from activity to activity.
Wild elephants continue to filter through, which provides lots of wonderful opportunities for the orphans to mingle with local herds and learn their ways. Pika Pika, ever the social butterfly, relishes these interactions. During one mud bath, she became very excited when she saw a small group of wild elephants waiting nearby. She began charging around in the water, inviting them to play. Another evening, a herd with several calves came to drink just outside the stockade compound when the orphans were shut into their rooms for the night. Pika Pika lifted her trunk to smell them and rumbled at them in greeting, which sent Kenia and Ndii into a spiral. They thought their precious girl was on her way out to join the visitors, so began yelling in warning until the herd left.
Overall, it was a peaceful month for the Voi herd. Nurtured with milk and supplements, the orphans don’t feel the bite of the dry season as much as their wild friends. However, they are learning skills that will help them navigate the dry season when they have transitioned from our care.