Emily’s group of ex-orphans continue to visit the orphans at the stockades or the mud bath, which always causes much excitement. Both Wasessa and Lesanju are not entirely happy with the older elephant’s visits as they repeatedly try to kidnap some of the smaller orphans. Wasessa on one occasion even resorted to hiding in a stockade with Mudanda, who she is very protective of! The others however, love the ex-orphan group visits and enjoy pushing and strength testing games with the older elephants. Laikipia joined them on the 1st and Mudanda, Naipoki, Kihari and Rombo relished having him around and kept touching him with their trunks in greeting.
Poor little Mudanda is still the focus of attention from all the older females. Seraa joined the orphans at the mudbath on the 3rd much to Lesanju and Wasessa’s protests. The pair kept Mudanda between them as Seraa often competes for Mudanda’s affections. Mzima, though managed to keep her entertained with pushing games. However, on the 20th Seraa successfully took little Mudanda from Wasessa, who was all set to fight Seraa. Wasessa thought twice about it as Seraa is much bigger than her and in the end she had to wait patiently for Mudanda to come back to her.
Icholta has also joined the orphans at their mudbath and she too loves to play with Mudanda. On this occasion, due to the nice weather, she was content lying in the mud and encouraging the youngsters to climb on her. On the 18th Emily and her herd showed up to join in the bathing games. Lesanju concentrated all her energy into taking her group away and eventually succeeded. However, Mzima was having too much fun and stayed behind until it was nearly time to return to the stockades. Mzima seems to have a particular fondness for the ex-orphan group and quickly engages them when they come to visit. Even on the 21st he elected to stay behind at the stockade for a while with Emily’s herd instead of following the others out to browse.
Wasessa definitely has her work cut out being the self-appointed adoptive mother of Mudanda as it’s not just the older orphans that she has to worry about. On the 2nd Sinya tried to commandeer little Mudanda and on the 19th succeeded, causing Wasessa to charge through several other orphans to get her back. On the 31st Lempaute snatched Mudanda and took her to a different browsing area from where Wasessa eventually retrieved her.
Each month is not without drama and this month it was Mbirikani that caused a fuss. On the night of the 12th she went missing with some of the ex orphans and wild herds. All efforts were made to find her before night fall but to no avail. The next morning she still hadn't returned to the stockade and by 11am everyone was frantic with worry. The Trust's plane and pilot, Nick Trent, were called in for an aerial search. Julius the head keeper accompanied him as he was certain he could identify Mbirikani from the air. After hours of searching with no sightings time was slowly running out and storms were brewing all around. Finally, they spotted her amongst a small herd with young calves. Unfortunately, so had a pair of hungry lions that were skulking in the bushes close to the younger elephants. The ground team were quickly mobilised and directed to Mbirikani's location. Thankfully they got to her in time and encouraged her back to the stockade!! This was a great relief to everyone involved.
It has been very warm recently in Tsavo which has led to a lot of fun and games at wallowing time. Rombo and Taveta are particularly fond of the mud bath and often try to entice Ndii and Kenia to join them. On the 7th it was Wasessa and Mudanda taking center stage in the mudbath whilst Lesanju and Rombo had a good roll in the water. On the 14th Kihari and Ishaq-B were the ones diving into the water, rolling around and submerging themselves, which also attracted Ndii and Kenia. Ndii has since introduced a new game of scratching on the banks of the water hole.
On the 22nd Panda, Ishaq-B and Mudanda were the masters of the wallowing games which were watched closely by Lesanju, Mzima and Kenia. Occasionally, an individual becomes a little too rough, which was the case on the 23rd when Rombo was enjoying a sliding and rolling game with Lempaute and Ndii. However, he got over excited and climbed onto Lempaute who screamed for help. Luckily, Sinya was quick to come to her aid and calm was restored to the group.
The young orphans have been in a mischievous mood this month with lots of pushing games and various antics. On the 8th they were particularly jovial and were trumpeting loudly to get the keepers attention. The keepers found Ndii and Sinya spraying Kenia with soil whilst Lesanju tried to rally them together for a browsing session. In the evening Layoni and Rombo fought over a tree and Lesanju, Lempaute and Sinya had to separate the two. Taveta then tried to display his strength by pushing over a tree but failed to do so. Tough Taveta then tried to mount Kihari on the 16th, which forced the keepers to intervene and drive Taveta away. Throughout the day he continued misbehaving and was reprimanded repeatedly by Wasessa.
It was Mzima and Tassia, on the 17th that were testing each other to determine position and hierarchy whilst Taveta acted as referee. On the 25th Mzima was showing off his strength by pushing and breaking a dry tree in front of a group of females. The next day Tassia tried the same thing and managed to pull a dry branch from a tree which fell and hit him on the head. The others were quick to respond to his cries and came running to see what had happened and offer comfort. Tassia and Taveta then had a small fight on the 28th which was ended by Kenia.
Other than the occasional squabbles the orphans spent the month enjoying each other’s company as they browsed in the fields and on Masinga Hill. Lesanju taught new comers Naipoki, Kihari and Ishaq-B some new techniques of rolling whilst twisting their trunks. All the orphans have enjoying playing hide and seek, sharing scratching rocks and engaging in wrestling matches. There were a few rain showers in March and all of the orphans, other than Taveta, decided it was too chilly to bath on these days, electing to spend most of the day browsing or dust bathing instead.
Lualeni the orphan zebra still occasionally enjoys accompanying the orphans and he gave Panda, Mudanda and Ishaq-B quite a fright when he ran past them suddenly and stepped on Mzima’s foot causing him and the others to jump.