The junior dependent orphans of Voi welcomed the New Year along side Emily’s herd of Ex Orphans, who were with 3 wild bulls, all of whom converged at the Voi stockades in the early morning, as though aware that this was an auspicious day. Ex Orphan bull Laikipia was missing from this group, but was spotted later during the day ambling along to join a group of wild friends. As the month wore on, his presence with the Ex Orphans was intermittent and he took to making a nuisance of himself around the compound, breaking fences to access fresh grass. We realised that this was probably due to the presence of the older wild bulls trailing Emily’s herd, and that Mweya was attracting their interest. Fellow 17 year old, Lolokwe also was spotted amongst Emily’s herd, appearing amongst them sporadically throughout this month and probably due to the same reason. The Ex Orphans weathered the last dry season by making their way to better pasture on neighbouring ranches, it being extremely arid in the greater Tsavo area. They have probably decided to remain around the Stockades for the time being in order to benefit from the supplement feeds of Lucerne hay as well as lucerne pellets, plus, of course, the presence of water. One day Emily, Icholta and Edie, along with their respective babies, Emma, Inca and Eden turned up at the Stockades ahead of any of the other Ex Orphan herd, gulping down water from the stockade water trough. Icholta, who had previously been looking a bit tired and thin due to the drought and breast feeding now one year old baby Inca, appeared plumper now thanks to these extra supplements, which have obviously also helped ensure that Inca had adequate milk as well.
One Ex Orphan bull who seems to be distancing himself from Emily’s herd as he comes of age, is 10 year old Siria, having once been a fully-fledged member of her herd. He came to drink at the Stockade Compound often alone this month, turning up after the main herd had left, and by the end of the month he had teamed up with some wild bull friends, some of whom were amongst those that had previously been following Emily’s herd to woo Mweya. It is a significant milestone in the life of a young bull when he feels sufficiently confident to break away from the maternal herd and wander alone, or join a bachelor group, so we are happy to see Siria taking the next step to becoming mature.
Lesanju appears to be separating from Emily’s Ex Orphan herd again, alongside Lempaute, Sinya, Kivuko and sometimes Dabassa and Mzima as well, whilst Wasessa, Rombo and Layoni are usually still within Emily’s herd. Meanwhile, Kenia is still determined to keep ‘her’ junior herd intact, and does not take kindly to any of the older Ex Orphan females coming too close in case they steal her babies, Araba being very much a favourite in this respect. Within the dependent herd, Ndii often competes with Kenia for the attention of the youngest ones as well. One day Ex Orphan Mweya showed up at the Stockade Compound alone, prompting Kenia and Ndii to hurriedly down their milk and abruptly leave the Stockades without delay, making it impossible for Mweya to interact with Araba or any of the others either for that matter! Kenia always seems to instinctively know when the Ex Orphans are heading to the compound in the morning, avoiding the usual Compound games on such days, with the Ex Orphans turning up some 20 minutes or so later.
Nguvu, who joined the dependent orphans out in the bush for the first time last month, still remains quite shy in the midst of more boisterous juniors. One day when he, Araba, Rorogoi, Mudanda and Embu had their morning milk first, he abandoned his ration when he saw the approach of some more greedy members! Our mature elephant charge, “Ajali” who is weaned off milk, but who came into our care at the Voi stockades having been hit by a vehicle on the Mombasa Highway, also left the Taming Stockade this month for the first time. On the 22nd he was allowed out of his Stockade to browse with the dependent orphans out in the bush. Rorogoi normally leads the group throughout the day, but took a dislike to the newest member and tried to eject him. Ishaq-B also attempted tried to block him from the water trough, but both were prevented from doing so and reprimanded by the Keepers. Meanwhile, bulls Nelion and Tundani stayed back, unsure of Ajali’s strength since he is both taller and bigger than them! The two boys then engaged each other in a wrestling game in an attempt to show Ajali that they needed their position to be respected. However, Ajali has taken an instant shine to Mudanda and always seeks her company when browsing out in the bush.