the month of July has been largely uneventful for the Voi Orphans, who have had fun playing with each other “in friendship groups”. Obvious friendships are very close between Sosian and Solango, Solango and Mpala; Mukwaju and Nyiro; Icholta and Edie and Laikipia and Natumi. However, Laikipia has fallen out of favour with his peers on several occasions, once at the mudbath when Tsavo, Lolokwe and Salama joined forces to expel him from the pond (obviously settling a score) and also when he refused to share the pile of Copra with the others, and Edie, Salama and Loisaba made a joint assault on him to force him into being less selfish.
There has been just one encounter with wild elephants recorded this month for the Voi Group – on the 29th when they joined a wild herd of seven, and Laikipia and Salama played with a young wild bull, but incurred the wrath of the Matriarch when they pushed their opponent down.
Aitong spent an afternoon away from the others, taking with her Sally, Irima and Ndara but joining up with the others on their way back to the Night Stockades. Emily did the same on the 18th when she took Ndara off for a quiet morning away from the others, rejoining the main group again later at the mudbath. Aitong has always held a special affection for Sally, as has Emily for Ndara. Maybe, these two young females are being groomed to be the Nannies for their respective future offspring, assuming that Emily and Aitong are pregnant by either Dika or the wild boyfriend? Once again, we read about Aitong acting as “peace-maker”, intervening to stop a squabble between Natumi and Mvita as did Emily when Salama pushed down one of her special favourites, namely Tsavo.
On the 22nd Solango took it upon himself to give little Morani some“gentle” instruction in combat techniques, which was interrupted when Mpala intervened to put an end to it. Solango and Mpala are firm friends. Icholta discovered that Mvita was not a good sparring partner because of her having one tusk longer than the other.
Mweya is the most mischievous of all the orphans, who delights in playing a trick on all the others. On this occasion she surreptitiously hid behind a thick bush, and exploded out when the others came close, sending them scuttling off in all directions, something Mweya enjoyed enormously. Loisaba played a trick by taking up a trunk full of cold water to spray over unsuspecting Ilingwezi on a cool evening back at the Stockades, something that was not appreciated!
Encounters with other species this month include chasing off 2 bushbucks that sent Morani scampering to Emily for protection, Mpala, Seraa, Solango and Mweya joining forces to chase off two dikdiks; Solango bothered by a persistent ox-pecker, and Thoma and Mweya seeing off a hare.
No sign of any of our Big Boys this month, and obviously most of the wild herds have been elsewhere, but it has been a quiet and happy month for the Voi Unit, all of whom are looking plump and happy. It was very heart-warming for Daphne to notice an improvement in Mweiga, who appears much more active than usual, and has not only gained strength, but also put on condition. When Daphne visited the orphans with some friends, it was amusing to see mischievous Mweya sizing up one of the guests whilst all the other elephants were enjoying the mudbath. Quite obviously Mweya was thinking “Shall I? Shan’t I?” and was sorely tempted to play her usual pushing trick, and when thwarted by a Keeper, shake her head in frustration for having to abandon the plan!