The October/November rains last year were very poor over most of the Park. The area between Mazinga Hill, (where the Stockades are situated), and Irima Hill near the Park boundary received more rain than elsewhere, attracting a lot of animals as the dry season takes hold, including many wild herds of elephants who drink at the Magungani waterhole.
Emily’s unit was monitored feeding on the Eastern side of Mazinga Hill up until the 16th, but they then moved off and we (the Voi Keepers) have not been able to find where they are since. None of our orphans have returned to the Stockades this month which lie empty until the next Nursery intake is ready to move in. Natumi’s unit left the area immediately Mweiga died on the 22nd December last year, and have not been sighted since, but we managed to find Lissa and her three calves who was at the Kanderi Swamp in the company of a large wild cow who had two offspring of her own. Lissa appeared to be acting as “Nannie” to the two wild babies. We suspect that Natumi’s group could be in this area which has a lot of lush swamp grass and water in a trench kept open by the activity of wild elephants.
At the Magungani waterhole, a pack of wild dogs and other predators have been seen waiting in ambush for herbivores who venture down to drink. However, many leaks and seepages along the main Mzima-Mombasa water pipeline, which runs through this area below the Voi Safari Lodge, provide alternative drinking places for wildlife such as buffalo, zebra and smaller gazelles, so they are able to avoid the predators while a lot of elephant herds habitually drink at Magungani. It was here that we watched a huge wild bull with one very large tusk come down to drink, dwarfing all the cows, who moved out to allow him right of way. We also came across a family of 3 very large tusk less wild cows who had three calves with them, only one of which had tusks.
Since the clashes that followed the disputed Presidential election last year, very few tourists have been visiting the Park, so the Wildlife Service has inroduced a bus shuttle so that Kenyans can enjoy the Park for an entrance fee of only K. she. 250/- to encourage domestic tourism.
A Monitor Lizard has taken up residence at Gate leading to the Stockades, often found lying on the Sign Post rocks basking in the sun. A highlight during our monitoring travels was finding the footprints and dung of a wild rhino along the Voi River, and also coming across some mating lions in the same area. Other than that, it has been an unusually quiet month for the Voi Keepers, who only have the orphaned zebra, little Serena, to look after until the Nursery babies are old enough to come and join us.