Nursery Elephants:- Mercifully it has been a quiet and healing month for all 6 Nursery babies. Mweya has settled into her role as Mini Matriarch, lording it over all the others with supreme confidence, and thrilling the crowds that come to view the babies between 11 a.m. and 12 noon every day with her antics. Although she is much better behaved now, every now and then a wicked gleam creeps into her dark lash fringed eyes, and she can't resist giving an unsuspecting visitor a shove off guard! Sweet Sally has become less "clinging", but still has the suckling of either a finger or a bottle paramount in her mind and is extremely attached to the Keepers. It is difficult to remember now how difficult she was to become accustomed to her bottle when she first came in! Sweet Sally and Mweya will be the next to make the journey to Tsavo, there to be welcomed enthusiastically by both Mulika and Nasalot, who will remember them clearly. Thoma looks upon herself as "Nannie" and 2 i/c to Mweya and is almost as "bossy", whilst little Burra's cheeks have filled out and become plump, losing their former skeletal aspect. His wounds have all healed, but for a miniscule amount of pus still oozing from the neck wound caused by the snare, where there is obviously still some dead tissue. We are flushing the wound every day with saline fluid and magical mother tincture of Calendular, which was so successful in healing the gaping wound on Ndara's back. Burra and Solango are best "buddies", romping around together and charging any warthogs they encounter who oblige them by running away. Burra is not too keen on the mudbath, preferring to shower dust over himself instead. Little Seraa, although still looking a little fragile, has remained healthy and happy, gaining weight steadily and joining in the fun and games. She is much quieter than the others, a gentle little elephant with a beautiful face, but with a very strong determination and a mind of her own. In character she reminds us of Kinna.
Currently, we await the arrival of a little Sudanese elephant orphan, named "Filfil Sudani" by those caring for him in Khartoum. The bureaucracy involved in arranging for a "foreign" elephant to cross an International boundary is daunting indeed, so it is a race against time for this baby, who, apparently, is losing condition and not thriving. We hope that the authorities in both Sudan and Kenya can get their act together in time to save his life and everything possible is being done at both ends to try and bring this about.
Tsavo Orphans:- Whilst encounters with wild elephants this month have been few, simply because most of the wild herds are still elsewhere, the country still green and the inland waterholes still holding water, our Tsavo orphans have had an exciting month with many adventures. Aside from the usual encounters with buffalo, one of which sent the Keepers up a tree, the orphans panicked when a lion roared from a nearby bush, were sent scattering when hyaenas emerged from a burrow, a tortoise mistaken for a ball and the persistent tickbird that frightened little Ndara by repeatedly landing on her back, not to mention poor Nyiro's encounter with the Monitor lizard! The close Nursery friendship of Mulika and Nasalot is still very evident and Maungu and Ndara seem to be becoming best friends too. Of the Big Boys, now independent of the Keepers, Ndume and Edo feature prominently. It is interesting that Imenti wants nothing to do with Ndume ever again and is also reluctant to fraternise with Edo, which is something new. Instead he is enjoying the company of Salama, kneeling down to accommodate the smaller bull, and also overseeing Ndara and Maungu standing in a relaxed position near the Keepers, giving the "peace" signal with his trunk. Contrary to what many think, I am confident that Imenti's relocation to the Ngulia Valley and his subsequent misery culminating in his long walk back home to his friends, has cured him of ever leaving that boundary of the Park again!
Natumi and Edie are emerging as budding little "Nannies", very caring of the smaller set and Loisaba backs up Emily and Aitong also in the role of a "Nannie" rather than just a member of the unit. It is good to see little Mvita, who is a relative newcomer, now obviously settled, displaying confidence by fraternising with a wild group, yet returning to the Keepers when called. She is a courageous little elephant, ganging up with Kinna, Mukwaju and Yatta who always lead the chase when despatching intruders. Nyiro and Tsavo are good pals. Amongst the smaller orphans, Kinna and Mvita seem to have the most confidence, taking the initiative always, with Mukwaju and Nyiro always game to join in. Yatta is a rather retiring character, although she enjoys charging small intruders such as dikdik and guineafowl.
There is a good deal of to-ing and fro-ing between all three groups, with Emily and Aitong keeping in touch with both Natumi's group of middle sized youngsters, as well as the smaller set known as Yatta's group. Edie is a forceful character within Natumi's group who frequently mixes with Emily's group, and is also very caring of the babies, often seeking out the little ones to be near them whilst out in the bush feeding. Lolokwe and Salama continue their rivalry as young competitive bulls, with Nyiro and Mukwaju playing a prominent role in this respect. Their exuberance is not always welcomed by the girls, especially Mulika and Nasalot who find them somewhat of a pain! We see signs of jealousy from Tsavo who resents Emily's obvious affection towards Ndara.
This year is a CITES year, when the International Convention for Trade in Endangered Species meets later this year in South America to discuss the trading of endangered species, amidst the usual mounting pressure from the Southern African States to lift the Ivory Ban and allow their sizeable stockpiles of ivory onto the market. Whenever CITES looms up, there is always an upsurge in poaching, since illegal ivory can be laundered more easily into the legal system. This year has been no exception, with the slaughter of 10 elephants recently in the Northern Area of Tsavo East, something that is of deep concern, not just to us but to all the orphan foster-parents as well. Of course, as long as there is a market for ivory, no elephant anywhere is safe in Africa, but I would like to reassure our supporters that the incident took place some 60 miles from the Voi Stockades and our orphans, so they were not involved. Also, the Field Force Rangers have done an excellent job in bringing the perpetrators to book. The Somali gang-leader has paid with his life, and the others are on the run and likely to be apprehended. A great deal of ammunition and arms have been recovered, including a rocket launcher and AK 47's, as has most of the ivory. Even though this incident took place a long way from our elephants, it is, nevertheless, a terrible tragedy and those countries who still insist on buying ivory, have blood on their hands, as do those so intent on opening up the Ivory Trade again. The worrying thing is that if an incident of this nature can take place within a highly protected National Park, what must be going on elsewhere where there is no protection at all!