We named the dik-dik Tiger — a very funny name for a little chap who is anything but fearsome! In fact, he is turning out to be a very demanding young charge. Tiger plants himself at his carer’s feet, refusing to budge until he is picked up. Then, he settles into his lap and will remain there for as long as he can, cuddling and affectionately licking him. Tiger is a reminder that every animal has a unique personality and enormous capacity to love.
Apollo the orphaned rhino:
After an uneventful July, Apollo was back to his old tricks this month. When the mood strikes him, he will take off. Nothing and no one can stop him — he runs for miles and miles, until he gets tired and wants to return home. On several occasions, we had to deploy the SWT helicopter to shepherd him back to Kaluku. True to contrary form, he would sometimes heed the helicopter’s instructions; other times, he would ignore it completely — it was as if he didn’t even notice the machine whirring above his head!
Given his rather memorable run-in with two adult elephants back in June, one might assume that Apollo would give wild herds a wide berth. Mystifyingly, he is as intrigued by them as ever. If he catches the scent of passing elephants, the rhino is off like a shot to follow them. Fortunately, this month didn’t feature any encounters with wild elephants.
However, this month did feature the commencement of Apollo’s translocation training. At last, the time has come for our boy to spread his proverbial wings and take the next step in his journey back to the wild.
The orphaned elephants:
Little Doldol had a quiet month. She continues to have a voracious appetite — hence her big tummy! While she had a few more group hangs with the larger orphan herd this month, it seems that she still prefers to be an ‘only child.’ Doldol always enjoys her afternoon naps on the banks of the Athi River, resting in the cool shade with her two favourite keepers, Mishack and Peter.
Over at the larger orphan compound, all is well with the ‘big herd.’ As is common among young elephants, friendships are ever shifting and evolving. Mwinzi has always been wise beyond his years. Thus, we aren’t too surprised that he largely eschews the company of little Natibu (who is in his age group), preferring instead to hang with the older elephants. Vaarti used to be his chosen friend, but lately he has gravitated back to Rokka. She unabashedly favours the young bull and loves to dote on the younger boy. Mwinzi is an elephant who relishes — and demands — attention, so this is a good friendship match. The two of them have a sweet ritual at the mid-morning mud bath, sharing a tandem drink at the water trough before joining the wider herd for mud games.
Natibu has his own older friend to keep him company. We are referring, of course, to Mayan. Mayan has grown substantially in size over the past few years, but remains such a gentle elephant. He has adopted Natibu as his little brother, and the pair are rarely apart. The rest of the group often starts moving ahead, but the two lag behind, with Natibu only moving on when Mayan does.
Vaarti is a bit of a connoisseur when it comes to water. While we ensure that the orphans always have plenty of water available to them, Vaarti prefers for his to be cold and crystal clear. Fred, one of his favourite Keepers, has picked up on this and ensures that an additional bottle of fresh, cold water is always prepared for the gentle bull. Vaarti will have to relax his standards a bit when he transitions to a life in the wild!
Most bulls get more bolshy as they grow older, but Manda seems to be moving in the opposite direction. Manda has matured very nicely and is no longer the domineering elephant he once was. We wonder if this is because Mayan and Vaarti have caught up to him in size, and he no longer feels that he has to be the big boy looking after his smaller friends.
Twiggy the orphaned giraffe:
Twiggy has eaten just about every tree within her tongue’s reach! Walking around our Kaluku Field Headquarters, it quite literally looks as if we have employed a very tall tree trimmer — all the trees have the same bare branches at the bottom, with a band of green at the top, where she can’t quite reach. Her voracious appetite for greens is balanced by regular bottle feedings of camel’s milk.
Twiggy loves to explore, usually with her merry band of small orphans in tow. When she is around our Field Manager’s house, she can usually be found in the company of an assortment of antelopes. She continues to visit the orphaned elephants out in the bush or at mud bath, where she quietly observes their fun and games. Come bedtime, the Keepers have a real challenge shepherding Twiggy back to her stockade for the night. However, this is still necessary for her safety: While Twiggy may look enormous, she still has a lot of growing left to do and could be vulnerable to predators.
Visit the video section of your online SWT account to watch a special - extended - video featuring Kaluku's orphans this month.