At the beginning of the month Kenia, Kihari, Ishaq-B liked to spend their nights outside of the stockades, to link up with the dependent orphans half way through the morning, normally as they made their way to the big baobab waterhole for their milk bottles and where they can all choose to wallow on a hot day. At twelve years old now it was high time for Kenia to seek out her independence, and we think the fact that some of her friends linked up with some ex-orphans recently, and ultimately chose to stay with them, helped nudge her towards finding her independence.
On the 17th, the last day we saw Edie and Mweya’s ex-orphan herd this month, Kihari chose to join their herd as well, and join the other seven orphans Panda, Naipoki, Nguvu, Bada, Nelion, Mbirikani and Lentili who had already chosen to join Mweya and Edie’s ex-orphan herd a few months ago to help them look after their newborns Mwitu and Eco; it seems they have chosen to remain with them more indefinitely as they have not returned to the stockades since. It is always a proud and yet a bitter sweet moment when our orphans finally find their feet and embark on this new semi independent life; having raised them from infancy it is very emotional to see them take the next step and yet it is the sole mission of the Orphans Project so it is a time to celebrate as well.
Once the ex-orphans left the area with Kihari too and wandered off further into the Park, Ndii, Tundani, Nelion and Ndoria decided to join Kenia’s partially independent group as well, and towards the very end of the month, Araba too. We are not surprised, as Araba has always had a soft spot for Kenia. This group still likes to be with the Voi dependent orphans during the day, and have not left the area entirely, so we consider them partially-dependent orphans still. Araba sometimes misses her milk bottle as a result of being with Kenia’s older herd and she is always happy when they make it in time for the 11am feed so she can have a bottle as well. Mashariki has still not made up her mind, and sometimes spends time with Kenia and her herd, and sometimes chooses to return at night and be with the dependent orphans too. This leaves Mudanda, Suswa and Arruba, at seven years old, as the oldest girls in the herd for the time being, and even they have shown some temptation at joining Kenia’s partially dependent group. On the 29th they linked up with Kenia’s herd as they made their way back to the stockades for the night and chose to stay with them for a while, returning to the stockades some twenty minutes after the rest of their friends. Mudanda can be a naughty girl sometimes! She is quite bullish and is happy to push the other younger orphans like Tahri around to get what she wants.
With the departure of the majority of the older females, Mbegu is relishing her leadership role as usual. Murit is really developing a soft spot for little Pika Pika and they can often be spotted together browsing or playing together, sometimes which makes Mbegu jealous and she comes over to interrupt their fun and take Pika Pika off to play with herself. At the end of the month Mbegu appeared to have a funny stomach and seemed in a bit of pain, but this was picked up immediately by the keepers who alerted Angela and with some swift treatment she soon recovered.
Tahri, Emoli, Godoma and Ngilai are still our greedy feeders and always like to be the first to any milk feed. One day Godoma arrived to the milk feed early, just behind another group of three and obviously feeling impatient that day. Not wanting to wait for one of the Keepers to finish feeding her friends, she managed to sneak behind the Keepers and steal a milk bottle for herself! Ndotto is his usual playful self and loves playing with Murit and his long term friend Lasayen, who he has been friends with since they were infants in the Nursery.
We saw ex-orphan bull Laikipia a couple of times this month as well. On one day he was with Edie and Mweya’s herd, his old friends. Having rescued Laikipia at only a year old, he is now in his twenties, and magnificent looking despite losing a tusk in some skirmish along the way. It is always a pleasure to see him and touching he should return as the bulls do tend to become more independent of their human family.