By the end of December the whole area surrounding Voi was lush and green following the more substantial rain that fell throughout the course of the month. This was superseded by the second homecoming of Emily’s Ex Orphan herd in the middle of the month, from groups ranches outside of the National Park and into Tsavo West were they migrate to during the dry season.
Although they had covered the 100km distance the previous month, they found that the vegetation had not recovered around the Voi area despite the rainfall at that time. They chose to make their way back into the group ranches and sanctuaries around the Taita Hills where conditions were much more favourable; only to return to the stockade area once more rain had fallen a few weeks later. What is remarkable about this is it meant the entire herd, including Ndara’s little baby Neptune, covered well over 300km within the space of one month!
The Voi green grassy plains attracted a multitude of wild elephants as well as our Ex Orphans with them. Ex Orphans Seraa and Mweya are heavily pregnant and are due any day; we assume they are biding their time close to home with this in mind, knowing the extra layer of protection they and their newborns will have within that secure and familiar environment.
With the prospect of new wild born babies on our mind, we can’t help but consider that the majority of dependent babies in the Voi stockades at the moment are also female, and we look towards a bright future with many more wild born babies expected in this area once they reach maturity.
Bada, Nelion, Nguvu, Ajali and Tundani are the only dependent males at the Voi stockades at the moment, and they remain content filling their days with endless pushing and wrestling matches to assert their dominance in the group. Youngsters like Araba and now particularly Tahri are showered with affection by the females in the stockades, who get to practice their mothering skills on the ‘babies’ of the group. To be the recipient of all this love has healed the little drought victim Tahri who was raised at Voi, and she could not be happier immersed within her new and loving family. Matriach Kenia, Kihari, Ndii often fight over the affection of the babies in the group, but all the females like Mashariki and Panda are attentive towards them and look for any opportunity to spend some time with them as well. All the orphans however remain wary of Ndoria and her tendency to tail-bite! If she approaches any of the orphans in the mud bath they will usually make a swift exit to avoid a painful incident.
Ex Orphans Layoni and Dabassa were inseparable this month, as were Lempaute and Lesanju who were delighted to be in each other’s company since being reunited. Lesanju went further afield with Emily throughout the dry months, and Lempaute opted to remain closer to home, so they were parted for many moon. They have formed a splinter herd with Wasessa, Ndara and her baby Neptune and frequent the stockades for lucerne together.
For a while Sweet Sally, baby Safi, Lolokwe, Thoma and baby Thor separated from Emily’s herd as well, but they join up most days, but with the food plentiful this is a joyous and easy time for the dependent orphans, and the Ex Orphans too, with plenty of time for play and visiting with old friends given that looking for food is no longer a priority.
Male eland Tawi was also spotted in a herd of zebras and looking happy with his new found life in the wild.