The Voi dynamics have been very interesting this past month, with Emily’s herd commandeering some of Lesanju’s partially independent group leaving Lesanju with her core Ex Nursery friends which include Lempaute, Sinya, Taveta and Kivuko. As a result of Lesanju loosing many of her charges to Emily’s older Ex Orphan herd, Lesanju has been spending protracted time with the dependent babies, to avoid Emily’s herd in an effort to retain the remaining orphans as her own. Wasessa, Rombo, Dabassa, Layoni and Mzima from Lesanju’s herd have all chosen to move with Emily’s herd now and hang out with the older Ex Orphans.
Emily’s herd still stay close to home, and this is convenient for the Keepers who can monitor the progress of the new wild born babies including little Inca and Safi who are enjoying the attention of their Nannies, as well as the slightly older wild born calves who are a year old now, namely Emma and Eden.
Mzima went missing from Lesanju’s herd early on in the month and was not sighted within Emily’s herd either. He had obviously temporarily joined some wild friends because a few days later he returned very much within Emily’s herd. On occasions he sometimes peels away from Emily’s group to join the dependent orphans at the mid day mud wallow, his presence always welcomed by his younger friends. The dependent Voi orphans comprise of Kenia, Ndii, Kihari, Naipoki, Ishaq B, Panda, Mbirikani, Mudanda, Bada, Ndoria, Araba, Mashariki, Arruba, Suswa, Embu, Lentili, Rorogoi, Nelion, Elkerama, and Tundani.
Laikipia is a beautiful bull, best friends with Icholta and Edie with whom he grew up with during his Nursery days. He is becoming more independent, sometimes arriving alone at the stockades to catch up with his human family, while at other times he is with Lesanju’s herd since he seems to have formed a special bond with Mzima. However, Laikipia is a living legend amidst our younger orphan bulls, who all have great respect for his size and presence combined with and his gentle nurturing nature.
Emily’s herd also have been enjoying the company of a number of wild bulls this month, and it may well be that their presence has caused Laikipia to be more independent this month. The Keepers enjoy monitoring the wild born babies as they grow, observing their interaction with the dependent orphan herd. Eve is very protective of her younger sister Emma, who is now over a year old, always keeping a close eye on proceedings. During a dawn patrol to check on our Ex Orphans, the Keepers came upon the most beautifully peaceful scene - wild born babies Emma, Eden and Safi sleeping huddled together with their mothers standing vigil over them. Some of the older Ex Orphans were also sleeping, too, with Layoni lying down and Rombo standing next to him keeping a look out. Meanwhile a wild bull was babysitting Icholta’s recently wild born baby, Inca, who later gravitated towards Nanny Mweya who allowed him to comfort suckle her. They presented a picture of contentment.
Lentili has enjoyed leading the dependent orphans this month, escorting them confidently to where she feels best but often with the guidance of Kenia and Ndii who are now the main Matriarchs of this group in the absence of Lesanju. Lesanju’s herd still maintains a close bond with the dependent babies, joining them not only while out in the bush but also regularly at their stockades.
One day this month Bada was almost kidnapped by a wild herd who met up with the orphans. He seemed extremely drawn to the Matriarch of the group and decided to latch onto them and follow them when they separated from the dependent orphans. The Keepers had to act swiftly to retrieve the young milk dependent Bada before he was whisked away.
On the 18th the Voi Keepers received a report from KWS rangers guarding the new Chinese railway line under construction about a stricken baby elephant who had fallen into one of the drainage channels. The rescue team found the calf totally limp from exhaustion lying on the concrete, unable to stand. He was instantly placed on IV support and slowly perked up while the Voi team awaited the arrival of the rescue aircraft to transport him to the Nairobi Nursery.
There was a scare this month when a mysterious puffing sound revealed a huge puff adder not far off the main path used by the elephants to access the Voi stockades. The Keepers had heard the puffing sound the previous day and assumed it was a bird. However when they heard it again the following day they investigated closer only to find the snake Clearly it posed a threat to the many orphans walking the path, as well as the Keepers. Fortunately, later on in the day when they returned, the snake had moved away.
Elkerama is definitely feeling the "call of the wild". There are many occasions when he wants to join Emily’s Ex Orphan herd, or even the wild elephant herds, but the Keepers have managed to prevent this happening, believing that he still needs the benefit from his milk feeds.
On the 28th a report of an elephant calf stuck in a waterhole along the Voi river circuit, with news too that they mother was still by its side. Our Voi Keepers immediately rushed to the scene and were able to extract the calf and make sure it was reunited with its mother.
We have a number of other orphans also currently being hand-reared by our doting keepers at the Voi stockades - namely Ngulia the Zebra, and two little eland calves, Kore and Tawi along with Jamhuri, the orphaned buffalo. Ngulia is incredibly protective of her mixed herd, displaying maternal instincts towards them all, and they are an extremely content little unit as a result. The Keeper’s Daily diaries are filled with stories of the many individuals in Voi and their daily interactions.