A very exciting and heartwarming event in the February Voi Unit’s Diary has been the reappearance of Burra who returned to the Voi Stockades with Emily and Edie’s combined entourage on the 13th, not having been back to the Stockades since Mweiga suddenly dropped dead on the 22nd December 2007. He was last seen with Natumi’s now wild Splinter Group over a year ago, who have been spending a lot of time beyond the boundaries of the Park on neighbouring ranchlands. Having been absent from Emily’s unit for such a long time, understandably it was evident that Burra was somewhat reticent about the very close attention he was receiving from his old friends, Seraa and Thoma whom he had not seen for so long, and had obviously grown up a lot in the interim. Burra will be l0 years old in May, having come into the Nursery as an 8 month old victim of horrendous snaring which almost severed one ear into two separate halves and nearly strangled him. Because of these now healed benchmarks, he will always be very recognizable. His reappearance amongst the ex orphans led by Emily and Edie proved sufficient distraction for Sweet Sally to gently nudge Emily’s baby “Eve” from her mother and shepherd her to the stockade trough for a drink, perhaps knowing that Burra would be curious about the little one’s identity.
Before this, Emily visited the Stockades on the lst and again on the 6th, when she had Edie’s entourage in tow as well. On that occasion whilst Nyiro and Morani were involved in a pushing strength testing exercise, Icholta went to greet the Stockade group, of whom she has always been very fond, and who were already ensconced for the night. She stood at the entrance to their Stockade and rumbled gently to them in greeting which was answered by Taveta and Lempaute.
Very evident again in the February Diary is the love Wasessa has of the Voi Unit’s smallest baby, Tassia and the affection he has for her as well. The two are inseparable. Wasessa watches over Tassia every moment of every day, protecting him from the exuberance of the other bathers in the large Red Waterhole where the Voi orphans often assemble to have their noon milk feed followed by bathing in a pool that is still holding a lot of water and allows them to immerse themselves entirely on hot days. On cooler days they usually take their noon milk feed and have a drink of water back at the Stockades having been browsing around nearby Mazinga Hill which has always been a favourite feeding area for the Voi orphans. True to form, different members of the latest stockade intake lead their peers out to browse in the mornings, usually after a romp around the Stockade compound, then to the milk and mudbath venue, and finally back to the Stockades in the evening, it being considered a privilege to be Leader. Shimba and Mzima remain very close friends but Wasessa, Siria and Taveta are the most outgoing when it comes to meeting wild elephants, having all been orphaned old enough to clearly recollect their time as wild elephants. A large wild herd was bathing at the Red Waterhole when the Youngsters arrived for their noon milk on the 8th, and Siria and Wasessa enjoyed playing with wild age-mates, whilst Lesanju and Shira trailed a smaller wild calf. However Lempaute, who is still uncertain about close contact with wild strangers, remained apart sheltering in the shade of a nearby tree, shunning interaction. On another occasion a large wild bull was at the Red Waterhole on the 11th when the orphans turned up, and the more outgoing members of the group went to sniff and greet him before taking their milk. By the time they had finished, the wild stranger had departed, but following a cooling dip, they spent a little time searching for him before resuming the afternoon feeding session prior to returning to the Stockades.
Unseasonally, Voi has been blessed this month with some unusual rainstorms for this part of the year which have kept the vegetation green and nutritious. Natumi, Illingwezi, Aitong Mukwaju and Tsavo are the orphans that have not yet put in an appearance at the Stockades this year, presumably still on their walkabout on Rukinga Ranch. But, it has been a great joy to welcome Burra, who previously played such an unselfish and philanthropic role in ensuring the protection and providing company for ailing Mweiga before she suddenly dropped dead.