The 29th March brought a new occupant to the Voi Stockades, a baby duiker, found by a goat herdsman near Malindi (who reported it as a Suni) when his goats sought shelter under the shade of a tree abutting the forest, and the fawn tried desperately to suckle one of the goats. It seemed so starved of milk that the herdsman held a lactating goat to allow the fawn to feed, and then returned it to its hiding place, but the next day it was still there, and desperately hungry. He then took it home, and kept it for the next three months, feeding it on goat’s milk. Eventually, he reported its presence to the KWS Warden Malindi, who sent it to our Keepers at the Voi Stockades. Thinking that the fawn was, in fact, a Suni, we ordered that it be sent up to the Nairobi Nursery since Sunis do not naturally occur in Tsavo, but are plentiful in Nairobi National Park. However, upon arrival on the 4th March, we realized that it was not, in fact, a Suni, but a young male duiker.
The Orma rescuer named the baby “Shungi” the Orma word for “Long Hair” because of the tuft of hair on top of its forehead. It remained in the care of the Voi Keepers whilst a small run was being prepared at the Nairobi Nursery, and arrived at the Nursery on the 4th March, very tame and aged 3 months.
Meanwhile, the orphaned zebra mare at the Voi Stockades named Serena has befriended the resident herd of impalas (known as Bunty’s herd, Bunty being the wonderful impala ewe that formed part of Daphne’s wild family during her Tsavo days who spent the nights with the wild impalas, and the hours of daylight in the Sheldrick garden.) Serena travels in amongst the impala herd, and is accepted by them, often returning to the Stockades in the early hours of the morning.
The orphaned kudu bull named Rukinga who was reared at the Stockades has also been spotted in amongst his adopted kudu family, and was tempted to come and greet the Keepers, but was deterred at the last minute when his companions fled. It was good to know that he is safe and well and happily rehabilitated back where he belongs, a very lucky little kudu indeed, who escaped making a meal for a bushmeat poacher.
Meanwhile, after an absence of almost three months, Natumi’s group of Voi orphaned elephants returned to the Stockades, all present and correct and looking in fine fettle. Nowadays Edie sometimes coaxes a splinter group away from Natumi, comprised of Lolokwe, Burra, Solango and Mukwaju, all young bulls, and enjoys being the Matriarch, on several occasions returning to the Stockades independent of Natumi’s group. However, on other occasions the two groups join up to form one large grouping under the joint Leadership of Natumi, Edie, with help from Icholta, who is also close in age to Natumi. Meanwhile Sosian has left Natumi’s group to go with that of Emily and Aitong, who have been feeding near Irima Hill where the vegetation is more lush. Emily’s group and Natumi’s group have been traveling separately since they parted following the death of Mweiga.
Voi has experienced relatively good rains during March, so all the natural waterholes have filled and a feast of green vegetation is at hand for all our elephants. It is, indeed, a great joy to see them now grown and free, enjoying a quality of life independent of the human family, although they greet their Keepers with extreme affection when they do return.
Before the rains released animals from sources of permanent water provided by leaks along the Mzima/Mombasa pipeline, a small pack of wild dogs and resident prides of lions ambushed the limited watering places, taking a heavy toll of prey species, the lions often hiding in the stack of huge empty spare water pipes on the plains below the Voi Safari Lodge.