For the Voi orphans January was a joyful month, with some changes in the herd dynamics and Lesanju’s older group becoming more independent, spending protracted times away from the stockades and the Keepers. Emily’s herd provides the base for this group, always embracing them, and introducing them to the ways of the wild, imparting knowledge they have gained over the years not only from their own experience, but from what they have been taught by wild herds with whom they have interacted. The composition of Emily’s herd changes, but present in January besides Emily and her two wild born babies Eve and Emma, there was Edie and her two wild born babies, Ella and Eden; Sweet Sally with her wild born baby, Safi; Icholta, Mweya, Thoma, Ndara, Irima, Seraa, Laikipia, Moran, Lolokwe, Siria and a wild bull that has remained with them throughout the month.
Lesanju, Lempaute and their loyal group of orphan friends both male and female, namely females Sinya, Kivuko and Wasessa, and bulls Mzima, Rombo, Layoni, and Dabassa have entrusted their precious younger charges to the watchful eyes of older dependent female orphans Kenia, Ndii and Naipoki with Panda in charge of the youngest herd. Sweet Sally’s baby named Safi, and babies Eden and Emma are an ongoing source of attraction for dependent orphan females such as Ndii, Ndoria, Naipoki and Ishaq-B. Now that their babies are older, the Ex Orphans have become more accepting of interaction from the dependent younger orphans. Lentili has emerged as the leader of the herd, guiding them most days to their browsing fields. The dependent group of orphans now consists of 21 – namely Kenia, Ndii, Naipoki, Ishaq B, Kihari, Panda, Mbirikani, Bada, Mudanda, Ndoria, Araba, Mashariki, Lentili, Tundani, Nelion, and the Ex Nursery newcomers Rorogoi, Mashariki, Elkarama, Arruba, Suswa and Embu. These latest arrivals have settled in well and are extremely happy in their new home.
This month an old wild friend, a big bull with a trunk obviously severed by a snare years ago, who has been seen by the Keepers over the years spending time with the orphans, returned to the stockades in the company of the Ex Orphans. Throughout the month the Ex Orphans and the half-trunk bull have been returning to the stockades regularly, often accompanied by Lesanju’s herd and more often than not with other wild handsome bulls in tow.
At mid- month there was more joy for Emily’s Ex Orphan herd when Icholta gave birth to her own precious wild born baby boy whom we have named “Inca”. She was at the stockades the previous evening and the Keepers noticed that she looked tired and predicted that her birth date was fast approaching. Head Voi Keeper Joseph Sauni was on his daily patrol when he spotted the Ex Orphans clustered together and suspecting that something untoward was happening, he approached and found the tiny new arrival in their midst. Later on the herd came to the stockades to share their joy with all the Keepers as well as the dependent orphans and since then they, and Inca, have been regular visitors to the stockades, Inca enjoying the attention of his many Nannies, amongst whom are Emily’s and Edie’s wild born babies, Eve and Ella, who are particularly attentive. They have their work cut out with so many young ones now in the fold. Tiny babies Safi and Inca require constant supervision and now that Eden and Emma are a year old, they are amongst the attendant Nannies.
Towards the end of the month a single female with a newly born baby came to the stockades just after Emily’s group had left and spent the next two days either with, or close to, the compound. The Keepers feel sure that the mother, who has a broken tusk, is an Ex Orphan - possibly Natumi or Illingwesi, but that she is alone is a mystery. (Many of our Orphans hand-reared from early infancy have broken tusks in later life undoubtedly due to defective calcium absorption.)
All these stories and much more can be found throughout the Keepers daily entries.