The month of December started well with good rains that promoted a green flush of new vegetation and filled natural waterholes, relieving the difficulty of a long and tough dry season. Many of the elephant herds had newborn calves with them as the Keepers intensified the search for Emily and Aitong, both of whom by now must also have been expecting their first-born babies.
They were rewarded during the evening of the 10th, when at dusk they spotted Sosian and Laikipia on the Southern side of Mazinga Hill, and Emily attended by some of the females of her group and 2 very big wild cows standing under a tree nearby. The Keepers returned the next morning and were delighted to find Emily with a newborn baby who must have been born during the night. This was a highlight for the Keepers, for Emily is the first ex Nursery-reared elephant to have a wild-born calf. The baby was the centre of attention for all the group in attendance who jostled to caress it with their trunks, and followed its every movement with immense interest, Edie in particular taking on the role as Chief “Nannie”. Emily herself seemed amazingly laid back and relaxed, confident that her baby was being well cared for by a host of junior Nannies. Eventually she crossed the road with the calf, but again the wild cows resisted closer inspection by the Keepers, who had to beat a hasty retreat.
After several more days, the wild cows departed, leaving Emily and her newborn with her orphaned family, the young bulls relegated to the sidelines as the females monopolized events, Edie Mvita, Loisaba and Sweet Sally constantly clustering around the baby and fondling it lovingly. Emily brought her baby to the Stockades on the 16th when the Keepers were able to determine that it was a little girl, subsequently named “Eve” by Daphne. Emily was totally relaxed in the company of the Keepers, who were able to get a very close look at the newborn as it played amongst a sea of legs and trunks around the Stockade trough, which the orphans had drained, (fortunately, as it turned out), for suddenly the calf inadvertently fell in. All the elephants reacted instantly, Edie making a huge fuss, while Emily knelt down to try and lift it out using her trunk, but clearly needed a helping hand. Two Keepers then jumped into the round concrete drinking trough and lifted the baby out, having resisted the temptation to handle it prior to this. However, little Eve was none the worse for this first accident, and Emily was delighted to have been assisted, as the baby immediately lovingly embraced by its mother and the entire entourage.
They then decided to leave, walking behind the Voi Headquarters at the base of Mazinga Hill, accompanied by their Keepers, as of old, all simply again just a mixed elephant and human family, trailed by the bull contingent who seemed a little confused by all the female fuss! Robert Carr-Hartley was with them, and able to film the baby suckling her mother, trying to take a nap but being constantly lifted up by one of the Nannies all of whom did not like to see it lying down, eager to make sure that all was still well! It was, indeed, a magic 2 hours that the Keepers were privileged to share with their erstwhile charges, and a joyous Christmas gift for us all. Since that day the group have been browsing around Mazina Hill (their old stamping ground), regularly seen by the Keepers, who have not yet caught up with Aitong and the rest of Natumi’s group which includes Burra, Seraa, Mukwaju, Thoma, and Lolokwe. It is interesting to find Sweet Sally with Emily now, because up until now she has always been Aitong’s shadow!
The Keeper patrol is undertaking intensive patrolling to try and locate Aitong, who may also now be a new mother. Should Aitong’s baby turn out to be a boy, he will be called “Adam”, fitting for two ex Nursery “firsts”!