It was Emily’s herd of Ex Orphans who heralded an excellent start to the month when they arrived at the stockades for the first time on the first day of the month since they migrated to Taita Conservancy for the duration of the dry season. They were a herd alongside a few hundred other elephants that managed to hone in on their traditional migratory routes to access these long-established dry season browsing grounds. This was a huge relief given the drought that gripped the southern area of Tsavo East. All the elephants that made it to these ranches managed well through the dry season compared to many of their counterparts who stayed in the south of Tsavo and other dry lands which suffered from a severe drought, and thus how many of our babies arrived at the Nairobi Nursery over the last few months, as their mothers expired from starvation conditions, or they were simply unable to keep up with their herd searching for browse and water.
Emily’s herd looked in fine health when they arrived and we were ecstatic to see them all safe and sound, but there were a few members missing, namely Thoma with her newborn calf Thor, Seraa together with Lolokwe and Irima who we presumed were escorting these missing members. Because of the relaxed state of Emily’s herd we presumed the others were just behind having adopted a slower pace for baby Thor. On the 3rd Lolokwe arrived and then on the 8th, to a chorus of happy trumpeting, nanny Seraa arrived with Thoma and baby Thor in tow. Seraa proved a very good nanny and was not very tolerant of any of the dependent orphans trying to approach the baby. Later in the day their escort Irima with another wild bull was seen at the foot of Msinga Hill, but he did not visit the stockade that day. The keepers were delighted to see Emily’s entire herd united and well, and to see more of Thor as well.
On the same day as Thoma and Seraa’s return it was an exciting moment for Nguvu, who has been in the stockades compound since we rescued him found stuck in the mud and emaciated and in a collapsed state, as he came out and joined the rest of the herd, his new family for the first time. It was a slow integration at first, nervous of some of the other orphans and their boisterousness as they were just eager to get to know him and some of the boys like Bada and Nelion wanted to play pushing games with him, but as the days passed he became more relaxed, really enjoying his browse and comfortable browsing in Mashariki and Panda’s company. There were only a couple moments when one day he decided to wonder of with a herd of wild elephants, and another with our own Ex Orphan herd, but both times the keepers went to retrieve him with a vehicle as he needs the protection of the keepers still, and his milk.
We saw Emily’s Ex Orphan herd occasionally throughout the rest of the month, sometimes even in the company of Lesanju’s Ex Orphan herd including Kivuko, Dabassa, and Sinya and later Lempaute, Layoni and Mzima as well, who had been missing from Lesanju’s herd for awhile. Together they made up an extremely large herd of elephants! Tassia and Taveta would sometimes be together with Lesanju’s and other times on their own when they visited the dependent orphans. Lesanju, who loves babies, was delighted to see a new orphan, Nguvu, amongst the group and upon first sight went over to investigate him. At the end of the month she even came on her own to the stockades to visit the dependent babies when they were still in their stockades, much to the delight of her favourite Mudanda.
Since Nguvu has left the stockades, Ajali, the orphan elephant who was knocked down by a vehicle along the Mombasa-Nairobi Highway and rendered immobile, is the only one left inside and recovering well; he is putting on weight and condition and certainly enjoys feeding on the grewia branches and supplements!
We saw Ex Orphan bull Morani once this month at the stockades, but bull Laikipia a number of times since he arrived back in the company of Emily’s herd; sometimes the dependent orphans found his size quite intimidating and they always made room to let him pass out of respect.
Mudanda took on quite a leadership role this month, which sometimes Ishaq-B vied for as well and Rorogoi also tried to practice from time to time. Mbirikani, Ndii, Bada and Ishaq-B all shined in the mud bathing games that accompanied their midday milk feed. There were quite a few rain showers this month, with some heavy rains over the New Year period which was most welcomed. It is wonderful to see Voi so green again, with literally hundreds of wild elephants adorning the open grassy plains for as far as the eye can see, all healthy and replete.