Emily, her baby “Eve” and all the attendant orphans of her unit were spotted by the Keepers on the 15th and 16th just behind Mazinga Hill, a few un-seasonal rain showers having brought up a flush of green vegetation. With Emily’s group was a wild teenaged bull the size of Uaso, who was obviously accepted as part of the family, for Emily and her entourage were perfectly at ease with him. This included the two largest male members of her unit, namely Laikipia (who did a “victory mount” on the cheeky wild female who was too attentive to baby “Eve” last month) and Salama, both now 10 years of age. As the Keepers approached the group, the wild bull became a little anxious, but took his cue from the calmness of the orphans, making no aggressive moves. Later Emily and her entourage went to drink at the Voi Safari Lodge waterhole, where they mingled in amongst many herds of wild elephants doing the same and later they were spotted in the Mombasa pipeline area, still with the same wild bull friend, plus another male newcomer of the same age, who was being tested by Laikipia and Salama in pushing bouts.
On the 20th February the Voi Keepers were alerted to the orphaned calf at Ziwani so a rescue was mounted. However, this particular calf died before the rescue team’s arrival, having been speared in the stomach by infamous Masai herdsmen who have been responsible for causing so much suffering of late. It is truly appalling that illegal Masai tribesmen and their cattle who have no right to be in a National Park in the first place should behave in this manner, deliberately killing elephants with impunity and seemingly getting away scott free. This is nothing short of poaching, and since armed Somali poachers are shot on sight in a National Park, surely the authorities should be taking stronger measures against brutal Masai elephant poachers by at least confiscating cattle belonging to the perpetrators!
The arrival of Wasessa, Shimba, Mzima and Siria on the 21st was a very happy occasion for the Voi keepers. After a long, hot drive, and a bottle of milk, Mzima jumped into the water drinking trough to take a cool bath, before extracting himself and proceeding to the specially prepared mudbath that awaited them. The four newcomers then undertook a recce along with their Keepers to the Southern side of Mazinga Hill, where they sought shelter under shade, obviously feeling the heat.
Having been accustomed to having a Keeper actually in with them at night, the four orphans were nervous when a lion roared close by the first night, so a Keeper had to move in with them to calm them. However, after a few days, all have settled into their new routine, and no doubt are enjoying new nutritious low country browse, despite feeling the heat.
By the end of the month, Emily and her entourage had not turned up at the Stockades to greet the new arrivals, but as they are in the vicinity, no doubt this will take place shortly. Also, so far the Keepers have not been able to catch up with Aitong, Natumi and the rest of the Voi Unit, who are obviously still further afield, no doubt fussing over Aitong’s new baby, which we are sure must now have been born.
A tragic event took place on the 23rd when an elephant mother was hit by a bus on the Nairobi – Mombasa highway, and died, falling on her 2 year old calf. Another elephant who was with her was also killed. The baby was rescued and taken to the Voi Stockades, but obviously suffered internal damage, and died two days later. Shockingly, as soon as dawn broke, hordes of people descended on the two dead elephants, hacking off chunks of meat and carrying it off to eat, despite the health risks and the fact that it is illegal to be in possession of wild game meat! It seems that nowadays anything goes! (Elephants have no night vision, and dazzled by headlamps as they cross roads at night, they are vulnerable to accidents of this nature, some also killed by the train on the Nairobi – Mombasa single line).
Others:- The two little kudu orphans at the Voi Stockades, Mkuki and Chia, were joined by a baby female kudu rescued on the 28th by a tour driver who came across it alone on the road from Aruba. The new baby has been named “Aruba”. At first Mkuki and Chia were somewhat fearful of the tiny newcomer, but are slowly becoming accustomed to her presence. So far, she is doing well, and will be a valuable addition to our little orphaned kudu unit. Whenever the milk is being prepared for the kudus, Chia tries to suckle on Mkuki, who is extremely tolerant of his little friend, until the arrival of the bottles of milk!