This month, the orphans enjoyed a delicious treat of lucerne pellets during their mud bath, which caused even the quietest babies like Tamiyoi to change into greedy, impolite little girls when these tasty and much relished grass pellets are around. One day we watched as Enkesha and Jotto jostled over the same pile; every time Jotto came close, Enkesha would lie down across the whole pile, denying Jotto access to even a little. In the mornings Mbegu, Murit and Tamiyoi run between all the stockades of their friends gathering up as many left over pellets as they can in a great game to dodge the keepers trying to herd them out to the forest.
It’s been great to watch Murit initiate pushing games against fellow bulls Rapa, Lasayen, Ngilai and even Kauro as we see his health improve in leaps and bounds. Murit has always been smaller than his age mates, due to illness, but he is so much better now and a healthy young bull, giving us all reason to smile when he plays his games. Rapa, who is a well-known naughty boy, is now Murit’s favourite playmate and Murit uses his full strength when he challenges him. Kauro, who returned to the Nursery from Ithumba at the end of May to receive treatment for a suspected blood parasite, is now as playful as ever and feeling much better. He will be moved back down to Tsavo in the fullness of time, once we are quite sure he is fully recovered and not at risk of illness again. Pare’s little tusks have started to protrude this month and consequently, this previously quiet boy thinks of himself as a big bull now, using them to push some of the other bulls around in the Nursery; needless to say, the older females keep an eye out and keep him in line! In contrast Ngilai, who normally likes to push others around, albeit not maliciously, was very caring of the young babies Musiara and Sattao this month which was very nice to see.
Enkesha is a sweet and patient girl who likes to look after the babies; even when they are in a pushing mood she will never retaliate or push back as she knows they are young. We are amazed at how well her trunk is healing considering she very nearly lost it in a wire snare just six months ago. Tagwa loves the babies too but has realised that the other girls including Esampu, Godoma, Malkia, Malima and Sana Sana will argue over who gets to mother little Musiara, leaving her solely to dote on Sattao and receive all his love and attention. Godoma is also showing very strong maternal instincts, always there to support the younger babies if they need anything, and we are sure she will make a good matriarch one day.
As it has been very cold moving into July and August the babies have been going out with extra blankets on to keep warm with the herd. Sana Sana has occasionally been browsing separately with Ndiwa and Mundusi away from the group and though it is rare to find her charging at or bullying anyone, one day decided to discipline Mteto when she found her shouting for no reason after having her milk; she does not tolerate this kind of nonsense and will always put a stop to it.
Lately, little girl Ndiwa and bull Mundusi have been behaving cheekily during the morning mud bath and are always up to new tactics to outwit their keepers. One day, when they witnessed the first group of orphans being led to the public visiting hour, they stayed close to each other and pretended to browse in the opposite direction, when in fact they were trying to move away from the keepers so that they could make a break for it and run down early for their bottles! They are two very greedy little elephants who just cannot wait in the bush patiently for their milk.
Ex Orphan rhino Solio visited twice again this month to say hello to Maxwell and her old keepers, as well as indulge in the lucerne which is laid out for her by her old friends. Maxwell is always happy to see her and they played through the bars of his stockade. One day, however, their game went a little too far and Solio sprayed urine in Maxwell’s face which sent him off in a charging frenzy around his stockade and Solio ran back into the forest. The elephant orphans also initiate games with Maxwell, especially in the morning when they come out of their stockades and try to steal some of his leftover lucerne sticking out of his gate. They run up and down outside his pen whilst he does the same on the inside, right up until when the orphans go out to the forest and Max turns his attention to the warthogs that are usually in his pen trying to steal some of his lucerne as well!
Naughty Kiko enjoyed teasing the elephants this month by bolting out of his stable some mornings and running at them as they browsed in the forest. The older girls like Sana Sana, Godoma and Mbegu do not stand for it however, and charge back at him with their ears raised and trumpeting too; they are very protective of the little babies! Kiko always turns tail and runs back to the safety of the stockade compound, rather than feel the wrath of these defensive girls.
Towards the end of the month on the 21st, we rescued a baby from Tsavo West who was very stressed but settled down as soon as he met his neighbor, Enkesha, who pulled her mattress to the wall separating their two stockades to reassure and sleep beside him for the rest of the night. He eventually settled down well into the nursery and we called him Maktao after the area of Maktau where he was found.