The drought tightened its grip in the Southern Section of Tsavo East so extra supplements were sent down to reinforce the diet of the 12 Stockade Dependent Youngsters based at the Voi Rehabilitation Centre. These have come in useful for visiting Ex Orphans as well. There was just a slight drizzle of rain on the 8th, and again towards the end of the month, but not enough to bring on a flush of green browse. This month the Keeper Dependent Youngsters have had to be more sociable, fraternizing often with both visiting members of Emily’s group of Ex Orphans and also wild herds they encounter during their daily travels. A friendly wild family who have come to drink at the Stockade water trough in the past, returned again on the 11th, after a long absence.
On the 16th during an encounter with a wild herd Wasessa would have liked to spend more time with them, but the noon milk bottle awaiting her at the mudbath venue took priority when all the others began sprinting to get their ration first! The orphans joined a wild herd again out in the field on the l8th when Wasessa and Siria had eyes for a wild calf, but Kenia pipped them to the post, and enjoyed interacting briefly with the wild baby until the wild mother moved in to repossess her baby and sent our lot packing having seen Siria and Wasessa also taking an interest in it! Then on the 21st the wild Matriarch by the name “Catherine” (the friend of the original Matriarch Eleanor and the one whom Daphne mistook for Eleanor which resulted in her broken leg) brought her family to the Stockade water trough and her wild calves enjoyed playing with our orphans until Lesanju managed to round up her charges, and steer them away. (Lesanju, has never been keen on interacting either with the Ex Orphans, or wild units, obviously fearful of losing some of her charges to them, orphan Siria having been hijacked by a wild herd in 2009). Catherine has long been familiar with our orphans having taken over custody of Eleanor’s adopted family when Eleanor became pregnant for the first time, and left the fold to have her baby far from any humans who might be tempted to take it from her, in the same way that elephants often do!
Emily’s Group have been frequent visitors to the Stockades this month. They turned up first on the 2nd when the Keepers observed that Mweya’s breasts were enlarged, indicating probable pregnancy. Mweya is a Ugandan elephant, rescued in the Queen Elizabeth National Park at the beginning of 2001 and sent to us when just 1 month old, so she is now 10 years old and perhaps a bit too young for motherhood. Hopefully, her calf won’t arrive until she is at least 11 or 12.
Mweya turned up alone a few days later (14th) to escort the Keeper Dependent unit out to browse along the Southern side of Mazinga hill where she was joined by Lolokwe from Emily’s unit, who were feeding some distance away. Siria enjoyed the privilege of a Pushing Match with Big Boy Lolokwe who is now 12 years old, having come to the Nursery aged 1 month in August l999 and felt very proud when Lolokwe was gentle with him.
Joseph Sauni, the Head Keeper of the Voi Unit, met up with Emily and 11 other orphans in her group on their way back to the Stockades on the l9th, Emily with a nasty wound on her shoulder, probably caused by a “panga” or spear, and Irima limping heavily. The Keepers escorted the Ex Orphans back to the Voi Stockades where Emily’s wound was treated, but there was nothing that could be done about Irima’s bad leg, because he would not allow close inspection. However, the leg has since improved, so was probably just badly sprained. They, and most of the wild elephant herds of the Southern section of the Park habitually leave the Park boundary for the neighbouring ranches where there is more browse and it is obviously there that they encountered problems - probably stampeded during human/elephant conflict from the people of the area who are generally not known for tolerance towards wildlife. At the Stockades Emily and those with her were fed supplements to tempt them to remain in the vicinity so that Emily’s shoulder and Irima’s injured leg could be monitored and treated. They were at the Stockades again the next morning, when Lesanju was eager to take her brood off in the opposite direction!
During a routine patrol on the 28th the Keepers came across Ex Orphan “Solango”, who was hobbling painfully on his way back to the Stockades for help, able only to use three of his four legs, dragging the right back leg. He was accompanied by Burra. The Keepers accompanied Solango and Burra slowly back to the Stockades, where they were joined by Emily’s goup. Solango was then put into Emily’s old enclosure so that his injury, which was obviously serious, could be assessed. Solango had obviously come from afar, and after taking water, and some food, was so exhausted that he lay down and slept for the next 24 hours!
Meanwhile, we had been alerted back in Nairobi, and had consulted several Vets as well as our Homeopathic Doctor, Lesley Suter, assuming that the leg might be either broken or at best fractured. The consensus was that the best course of action was to do nothing except keep Solango as comfortable and as quiet as possible, hoping that Nature would work its healing wonders. Pain management was not an option, since this would tempt him to use the damaged leg more than he should. Homeopathic healing and Rescue remedies were hurriedly dispatched, and we now wait and pray that time will heal. That Solango knew where to come for help, simply reinforces the fact that our Orphaned Elephants now living wild lives know where to come for help when needed. For us this is, indeed, a comfort.
There was a treat in store for Dida, Taveta and Ndii on the 23rd when baby Eve’s Nannies, Sweet Sally and Mweya allowed the three to play with Emily’s wild-born calf, “Eve” when the Ex Orphans again came to the Stockades. All went well until Siria barged in, prompting the two Nannies to withdraw their charge. The Youngsters trailed Eve, hoping she would comply again, but she turned round and charged them instead, obviously feeling overwhelmed! Another treat awaited the orphans on the 25th when Big Boys Lolokwe, Burra and Laikipia joined them as they browsed out in the bush and Siria joined them to shelter under shade when the weather turned very hot. Meanwhile, Lesanju and the little girls were careful to keep their distance for fear of being mounted, Leaanju relieved when the Big Boys didn’t follow when she took her group back to the Stockades for their noon milk and a mudbath. Instead the three Big Boys obviously rejoined Emily’s main group, because Emily’s entire her was back at the Stockades fopr a hand-out that evening.
A few days later (the 26th) Siria enjoyed wrestling with 10 year old Mpala when Emily’s group came again to the Stockades. On this occasion Siria decided to go off with them rather than with Lesanju’s group, the Keepers doing their best to recall him to no avail. However, the pull of the noon milk feed proved stronger and he was back again by noon! A day later Laikipia arrived alone to escort the Juniors off to feed above the KWS Headquarters. He remained with them for three hours, before peeling off to rejoin Emily’s main group. However, the very next day (28th) he was back again, this time accompanied by Burra. The two Ex Orphans spent all morning with the Youngsters when Mzima, Shimba and Siria combined forces to challenge Laikipia to a wrestling match. Leaving Burra, Laikipia then escorted the Youngsters back to the Stockades for their milk and mudbathg, only rejoining Burra later.
The 31st brought a light shower of rain to relieve the heat, but not substantial enough to do much else other than lift the spirits of the Keepers and their charges!
By month end Solango’s injured limb was showing signs of slight improvement, in that he could put it to the ground and move laboriously around his Stockade, enjoying scratching himself against the large rock in the middle, and feasting on the food provided for him. He clearly enjoys the Juniors, who join him for a while to give him company before moving off to feed each day, so we are hopeful that time will, in fact, make him whole again.
Others:- Aruba, the young Ex orphaned kudu female, who was hand-reared from early infancy by the Voi Keepers, returned to greet her erstwhile human family on the 12th, but without her usual companion, the young Ex orphaned bull named Mkuki. However, Mkuki is still around, often seen in the company of the resident wild unit, wild females older than Aruba probably proving an attraction.