The 4 ex Nursery babies, who were hurriedly moved last month to free up space for the growing number of new Nursery arrivals, have settled in very well at the Voi Stockades, and are clearly enjoying the new phase of growing up. Daily routines involve stockade games in the compound as the Keepers prepare themselves for the day out in the bush, a drink at the Stockade trough, and enjoying the long green grass that has grown in the fertile soil of the older ex orphans’ larger enclosure beyond the Staff Canteen. Accompanied by their Keepers they are then escorted to the chosen feeding area of the day, make their way to a nearby waterhole for their milk and a noon mudbath, followed by a dust-bath and rest under shade until temperatures fall.
Wasessa, the only girl of the group, and the oldest, is clearly the self-styled Matriarch, visibly irritated when one of the others takes the lead without her prior approval, illustrated when Mzima was first at the Stockade trough one morning. However, Shimba is allowed to lead the way back to the Stockades most evenings, and is also usually the time-keeper for the noon milk and mudbath. There is always fun in the mudbath, although Shimba, who has never been overly fond of plunging into a cold bath, sometimes is merely a spectator from the sidelines, or opts for a warm dustbath and nap instead!
The fact that Wasessa remembers her wild elephant life clearly is clearly illustrated when a wild cow accompanied by 2 teenagers and a small calf turned up to drink at the Stockades and she rushed up to greet them warmly, followed by her closest friend, Siria, who was not quite so forward and stopped short of such familiarity. Possibly Wasessa knows and remembers this group, because the greeting was instantaneous and very sincere and she was rescued not far from Mazinga Hill which overlooks the Stockades. Siria and Wasessa are emotionally very close, having shared a Stockade in the Nursery, and the same applies to Shimba and Mzima, the baby of the group, who likewise were Stockade partners in the Nursery.
Shimba was not very heroic when Mzima bellowed loudly having been pushed against a hot wire during a friendly pushing bout! Whereas Wasessa immediately rushed to his rescue, Shimba took to his heels, probably fearing retribution from Wasessa! However, he made it up later by sticking very close to Mzima and both remaining close to the Keepers, while Wasessa and Siria were much more independent and fed some distance away. Even so, they too rushed to the Keepers for protection when frightened by the sound of fighting baboons! At 2 years of age
The four orphans are equal to a human baby of two, and reliant on older “family” members when threatened.
There has been no sign of Emily’s family this month, nor have the Keepers managed to catch up with Aitong. I suspect both groups are reunited somewhere further afield where the pasture is better. It will be an exciting event when they all make a return visit to the Stockades again, which is sure to happen in the fullness of time, because “elephants never forget”! They will also be interested in making the acquaintance of the newcomers at their old Tsavo home base.
Another 2 wild Elephants and a 3 year old calf have also enjoyed a drink at the Stockade trough this month, obviously well habituated to the Keepers, for they paid no attention to the Stockade activities close by. On the 26th the orphans detected a wild herd on the opposite plain on their way to the mudbath, but were too preoccupied by the thought of their noon milk feed to pay undue attention. That afternoon a wild Cow and her calf came to drink at the Stockade trough, before the return of the orphans, but other than that, like Emily and her family, the wild elephants have been conspicuous by their absence in the area frequented by the Keeper dependent orphans.
Others:- The three baby orphaned kudus currently being reared by the Voi Keepers continue to thrive. Mkuki and Njia, the two older fawns, are more independent than the little female named Aruba, who remains close to the Keeper on antelope duty and who was picked up by a tour driver when found alone on the Aruba road.