With the dry season in full swing, Emily’s Ex Orphan herd stayed very much around the stockade compound this month, taking advantage of the omnipresent water in the water troughs and mud baths in the area, ensuring there is always water present for the elephants and other wildlife. Supplements of dairy cubes and lucerne grass are also availed to the dependent orphans and Ex Orphans to see them through this harsh drought that we are experiencing at the moment.
As 16 year old Ex Orphan Mweya appears to be in season as a big wild bull has been sighted following Emily’s herd, which means the Ex Orphan bulls Laikipia, Lolokwe and Morani, who are often found in their company, are steering clear at the moment to avoid competition with this big boy! Instead Big Boy Lolokwe has relished being in the company of the dependent orphans and receiving a lot of attention from them; they stand in awe of him, surround him and pat him with their trunks whenever he mingles with their group.
Ex Orphan Lesanju’s herd seems to be mixing it up a bit as well, as Rombo and Wasessa, who at times are members of Lesanju’s herd, joined Emily’s herd for a bit, as well as Mzima, Kivuko and Tassia and Taveta sometimes too. In fact throughout the whole month the Ex Orphan herds were porous and fluctuating and members of Emily’s herd, like Sweet Sally with her baby Safi and Mweya, or Icholta and baby Inca, would arrive at the stockades without the other members of the herd. Perhaps as they are still breast feeding, the mothers need to drink more water and take on more supplements than the others in this dry season so visit the compound more frequently. As usual Kenia and Ndii are not best pleased with the interaction of ‘their’ junior babies with the female Ex Orphans, and usher their charges towards the browsing grounds at the first given opportunity.
Our rescued road-accident victim Ajali is doing so well with the dependent, junior orphans out in the bush now and he is making a full recovery. It seems he is making up for lost time whilst he was unwell, as he is such a heavy feeder now and this means he often lags behind the group browsing, but kind Arruba will often stop to wait for him. It is heart warming to witness how the dependent orphans have ensured he is very much one of their own, and despite being a wild elephant living a wild life for over six years, Ajali is content with his new family, both two legged and four, and returns willingly to the confines of the stockades each evening. Tundani isn’t very happy at the presence of another male in the group and sometimes tries to bully him, and separate him from the herd, but the Keepers always intervene and make sure peace prevails. After a while Tundani settled down once he realised he had another chap to play with! Ajali seems to like interacting with the Ex Orphans and will always walk to them when he sees them browsing close by; he is warmly welcomed by little Inca, Icholta’s wild born baby, who seems to have a soft spot for him. One day he tried to wonder off with a wild herd but the Keepers called him back and he responded.
A few light showers at the beginning of the month brought some mild relief from the desperately hot temperatures, and the orphans were not in a hurry to move on to the mud bath for their milk on those days, as they enjoyed munching on the wet grass. Aside from Kenia and Ndii, Rorogoi and Ishaq-B are still acting as the leaders of the dependent group and like to steer the herd in the direction they wish to go. Kenia still loves her adopted baby Araba and doesn’t like any of the older females like Ndii bonding with her too much. Suswa, Arruba and Embu are still so close and can sometimes be spotted in their own little herd browsing away from the others, occasionally Ndoria and Nguvu are invited to browse with them too. On the 24th February the orphans had a lot of fun when the mud hole was excavated to make more level room and the extra soil was dumped on its banks. Lentili took huge chunks of soil to dust herself with and Bada lay down in the soil to play. Mudanda fell in love with his games and was quick to join him. Naipoki slid from the top of the soil piles down into the water like a sack of sand; something which was seen as great fun by the rest of the group.
On the 22nd February the Voi Keepers helped to rescue a very young baby elephant calf that had fallen into a septic tank near Taita Salt Lick, which was then airlifted to the Nairobi Nursery to be raised and cared for there. The Ex Orphan kudu Mukuki, who we raised and who went back into the wild, was seen grazing at the foot of Msinga Hill in the evening one day. He has grown and his horns are wonderfully big. We also rescued two baby buffalos this month that were found stuck in mud. One unfortunately succumbed to its poor condition having been alone for so long and the other is doing well with its new friend at the stockades, Jamuhuri, our other baby buffalo.