The December 2007 Voi Unit Diary ended on the 24th, Christmas Eve, with no contact with our orphans for the rest of the month since the death of Mweiga on the 22nd, when Burra, who witnessed her passing, ran off to join Naptime’s group, obviously passing on the sad news. Whereas previously whilst Mweiga was in residence, they returned regularly, often on a daily basis, this surprised the Keepers, but illustrating once again the sophisticated communication of which elephants are capable.
However, the 28th December was a red letter day, for Big Boy Edo, who had been absent for the whole of 2007, turned up, took water, and hung around most of the night just to assure the Keepers that he was alive and well, and perhaps wondering why there were no inmates. Edo who was born in March 1989 in Ambos Eli National Park, and whose mother was poisoned having eaten rubbish from one of the Lodge refuse dumps, is now a magnificent l9 year old and a very gentle and friendly bull who so resembles his mother in looks, that Dr. Joyce Poole was astounded. Having left, he did not make contact with the orphans, all of whom were still with Emily and were being monitored by our Keepers from the top of nearby Making Hill.
The Voi Keepers, whose task now one of monitoring as best they can our now “wild” orphans have enjoyed the company of the Headquarter herd of impalas, known by us as “Bounty’s herd”, Bounty being a female impala hand-reared by Daphne from newborn during her Tsavo years, who chose to spend the days with Daphne on the lawn of her Tsavo home, but joined the impala herd at night. Bounty’s story will be covered in full in Daphne’s autobiography. She went on to have 9 sons and l daughter, giving birth to each just before noon out in the bush, having come to collect Daphne so that she could be in attendance to keep raptors and predators at bay whilst she was in labour. All her children kept in touch with her for her entire life, even the boys, (which was a surprise) illustrating the very close ties that bind antelope families for life as well as elephant and human families. It was from Bunty and other antelope orphans of other species that Daphne reared that important hitherto behavioral antelope idiosyncrasies were learnt, things that no other person has ever been privileged to monitor over such a long span of time in a wild situation. Bunty, along with Aisha, (Daphne’s first elephant baby whose story is on our website) are held close in her heart forever. Bunty died when David and Daphne left Tsavo, but she lived for 12 years and during that time enjoyed a unique quality of life and imprinted herself in Daphne’s heart forever.
Having been with Emily’s group for some days following Mweiga’s death, Natumi separated taking with her Edie, Mukwaju, Mweya, Seraa, Thoma, Lolokwe, Nyiro and Burra and joined a wild herd, leaving the vicinity of Mazinga Hill. Emily’s unit has returned to the Night Stockades just twice during the month of January, but only late at night, and not remaining long.
Uaso turned up to join Emily’s group on the 30th January who were feeding on the Southern side of Mazinga Hill. He was seen to mount Aitong, whom the Keepers believe is pregnant. They are also pretty sure that Emily is also pregnant, so we anticipate a dual celebration early in 2009.
On the 17th January a wild elephant bull, presumed to be one of the Shimba Hills Tsavo releases, broke into the electric fence to feed on the bush near the Staff Lines. He obviously knew how to deal with the hot wires, lifting his trunk and using his tusks to bring down the wires. He was driven out with difficulty, but returned the next night to do the same on a different section of the fence. He is aggressive when confronted by humans, but docile if left in peace. We believe he may become a fixture since he has no respect for an electric fence.