This month, despite short spells of rains, the natural waterholes remain empty, so we begin the New Year with dry conditions. Many of the natural water sources in the area have already dried up leaving only the borehole and windmill sources as a refuge for the wildlife. Three of the Trust’s wind powered pumps in the area are proving the most reliable water points for the wildlife and we have noticed that they are remaining closer to these vital water points. Wildlife from further a field in the park are traveling long distances so as to be near these water points. Many of the wild elephant herds migrated far during the rainy season, obviously in search of better browse where rainfall was heavier. With many of the elephant herds nurturing new born calves this has made life difficult for the little calves, as due to the poor rains they have to now travel long distances for water. Some have opted to remain close to more permanent water and feed along the water pipeline; unfortunately this poses a risk too for calves falling into deep holes that are worn away due to the water seepage along the pipeline. The poor rains adds additional pressure on the parks natural resources with human wildlife conflict on the increase.
The Voi Orphans remained further a field for the first part of the month of January. It was only in the latter part of the month that the Keepers spotted Emily’s group. They were delighted to see that Emily’s little calf Eve is in good health and quite the little charmer, spoilt rotten surrounded by doting attendants. The other females in the herd (Orphans) are showing a keen and sensitive interest in Emily’s little girl, and Emily welcomes the help and in true elephant female fashion they are all very protective of their new little family member and all play their part in raising her.
On one occasion Emily’s and Lissa’s group were spotted together, feeding peacefully in each others company. What first seemed like a casual relaxed interaction between the two herds led to a rather interesting and surprising drama. The drama was sparked off by one of the wild teenage females in Lissa’s group approaching Emily’s group and giving little Eve a gentle trunk stroke. To the Keepers amazement this action enraged Emily, who protectively charged the wild female and chased her off back into the midst Lissa’s group. This event then triggered a “stand off” between the two herds. The two groups started a strength test game with Icholta, Illingwezi, and Vita being the main culprits. They took in turns to wrestle with the wild teenager but the wild cow was quite persistent and was reluctant to back down, and for awhile it seemed that the orphans were loosing their challenge, but soon Laikipia came to their aid, swiftly sorting her out. He was extremely proud of himself and later took a victory mount on the wild female’s back!
After the drama Lissa wisely lead her group away towards the southern side of Mzinga Hill whilst Emily’s group remained where they were. Observing Emily she appears to be a very careful and thoughtful mother and has opted to remain close to the stockades and the Voi Safari Lodge waterhole so as not to have her calf walking long distances.
Lissa’s group was next seen on the 23rd of January at the Western side of Mzinga Hill. She was accompanied by Uaso and his wild teenage bull friend. Uaso has also been joined by Sosian from Emily’s group and it seems that Uaso’s wild friend enjoys Sosians Company enormously.
Aitong and her group have not been seen this month.
Meanwhile back at the Voi stockades the Keepers have been kept entertained by Mkuki & Chia our two baby kudus, who are growing and becoming very playful. They feed, play, and keep each other company throughout the day and are becoming quite an adventurous pair, sometimes exploring the bush on their own as their curiousity gets the better of them. At the milk feeding time, they both stand and watch expectantly as the Keepers prepare their bottles. Little Chia (the younger of the two) suckles on Mkuki in anticipation of the milk arriving. Mkuki is extremely tolerant and simply stands calmly while he watches the keepers prepare their bottles.
Towards the end of the month the Keepers of the Voi Unit received a call from the manager at Tarhi Camp with news of an orphaned buffalo calf which they duly rescued. A tour operator had found & rescued the calf, slowly leading the calf, who followed behind the car willingly, back to the camp. The calf was only a few days old, his umbilical cord still attached and damp.