The orphans’ activities were dictated by the weather this month as the colder climate, typical of this time of year, drew in and impacted the elephants’ decision to mud bath, play and when to browse as well. When the Keepers spotted Ex Orphans Lempaute and Kivuko looking very grey, it was indicative they too had not mud bathed for some days due to the cooler weather. On warmer days, however, the orphans resumed their fun in the mud bath and the Keepers enjoyed watching their antics, like when Tundani became jealous of Ndii’s games in the water and sat on her stomach to bring an end to her fun. Another day, a wild cow and her calf joined the orphans at the mud bath and they greeted them warmly, extending their trunks and welcoming the two into the water where the orphans watched the cow in amazement, picking up new tricks and games to play in the mud.
This month, Matriarchs Kenia and Kihari remained predominately occupied with pouring affection over their adopted baby Araba. One day he was almost lured away by a wild cow and her tiny calf but the Keepers called him back as he is still milk dependent and needs the extra nutrients, especially in the ongoing dry season.
Ex Orphans Layoni, Lempaute, Dabassa and Kivuko remained close to the stockade area, joining the dependent orphans in the morning for Lucerne grass or meeting up with them at the mud bath and sometimes even rushing to join them to browse. As usual Kenia, Kihari and sometimes even Ndii never seem happy to see them and try to gather their herd to walk away or quicken their pace to leave their Ex Orphan friends behind, afraid that they might distract or lead ‘their’ babies away. Panda is loving to all elephant friends though and always tries to browse with the Ex Orphans when she can get away with it, or enjoy a wrestling game. Dabassa decided to test his strength with her one day when he thought her tusks might have grown longer than his and he wanted to ascertain who was where in the social hierarchy. Their game prompted others to do the same and soon Nelion was tackling Ishaq-B and Bada played with Tundani. Ndoria remains a high-spirited member of the group and although she refrained from biting any of her compatriots’ tails this month, she seemed to be in an especially greedy mood and would often surge ahead of the group to receive her bottle first. One day she heard the truck carrying their noon milk approaching in the distance and sneaked away from the rest of the group to get her milk bottle ahead of everyone else. The Keepers just have to laugh at her funny ways!
We were delighted when, on the 29th, the Taita Hills management team reported a possible sighting of some Ex Orphans who had been seen drinking from the sanctuary water hole. Once the dependent orphans had finished their noon milk bottles the Keepers went to see the herd and were able to identify some Ex Orphans in the group; Ndara, with her calf Neptune, Lesanju, Sinya and Tassia were among them. When the Keepers approached Lesanju, who is Neptune’s nanny, she charged wanting to protect her precious charge, but when she caught the scent of the Keepers, so familiar to her,she rumbled in greeting and approached her human family for some attention. They were all looking healthy and in good condition which obviously the Keepers were delighted to see.