Certainly the highlight of the month of February for this Unit was being reunited with ex orphan Big Boy Ndume. The Voi keepers were called to positively ID a very tame elephant who was sighted in a temporary filming camp along the Voi River. To discover Ndume again after a long absence was very special and Mishak who actually raised Ndume was there to enjoy this special moment.
Another incident that happened on the 7th of February was when a wild baby elephant fell into a deep watering hole with steep and slippery sides along the Mzima Springs pipeline and our Keepers were alerted by KWS to perform a rescue mission. The baby was extracted and reunited with it’s by now very aggressive and agitated herd. This fraught exercise was worth it seeing the joy for them all when the baby was finally extracted and able to head off into the now fading light with his Mum at his side, it was the perfect ending.
Newcomer to the Voi dependent orphans Ndoria has settled in well, and has the privileged position of being another cosseted baby of Wasessa's along with Panda and Mudanda. Wasessa seems to have enough love for them all, but given half a chance the others led by Lesanju and Lempaute mainly whisk one of them away singling them out for special attention, with Bada seemingly the favourite.
The daily routine, leaving the stockades with some playful games first before heading out for the day have been punctuated by some sensational mud bath wallowing. February is a very hot month in Tsavo so the orphans relish their mud bath sessions, sometimes meeting up with wild herds, and sometimes with Emily's herd of ex orphans and precious sweetheart the tiny baby Emma. Emma is a very spoilt bouncy baby, the picture of health who has an extremely protective set of Nannies who even ward off the keepers from getting too close to their precious calf. Emily on the other hand could not be more laid back, and has no qualms about the keeper’s proximity to her calf.
The ex orphans this month have spent time hanging out with the dependent orphans, but despite this only Mbirikani has been lucky enough to lay a trunk on baby Emma. The others have to resort to looking only, and normally from a safe distance so as not to incur the wrath of Mweya. Lesanju gets fed up with this arrangement as she so wants to spend time with the new baby. Lesanju, Lempaute and Sinya are quick to whisk their herd off and choose not to linger too long in the ex orphans company, this is because they are paranoid of loosing one of their brood to the ex orphan herd.
Big Bull ex orphan Laikipia has spent time in the orbit of the Nursery orphans which is always appreciated by the dependent bulls especially. He is a very handsome boy these days, huge and towers over the young dependent herd.
The Voi orphans have joined the company of wild elephants too spending time along the Voi River enjoying the foliage and the shade of giant fig trees. On one day a Matriarch with large tusks joined the orphans but her aggressive manner had them all scattering leaving the mud bath to her and her family while they looked on from a respectful distance.
Wild herds have sometimes met up with Emily's herd at the mud bath while the keepers have looked on and on one occasion a wild female seemed overly interested in Emma and Emily had to enlist her nannies to rescue the situation for fear of a kidnapping.
The big independent bulls in Emily's herd have been spending extended times away from the females in the group who are so fixated with baby duty with little Emma monopolizing everyone’s attention. Lolokwe, Laikipia and Morani have been seen alone or in the company of wild friends by the Voi keepers on a number of occasions this month.
On the 20th there was another wild baby found trapped in a waterhole with deep difficult sides. Our elephant Keepers again headed out to see what they could do and thankfully they were able to rescue the baby and reunite it with his mother and herd, although the calf locked onto the keepers and was reluctant to leave them making reuniting him with the herd challenging, but again it was a happy ending for this family. The Park's management have subsequently addressed the steep sides along the pipeline to try to mitigate these sorts of situations as water becomes more scarce as the dry season bites.