The best news arrived early at our stockades this month in the form of Ex Orphan Ndara’s first-born baby, a little boy we named “Neptune”. Together with Kinna’s baby at Ithumba, this makes a total of 25 wild born babies to our Ex Orphans and we couldn’t be more delighted with the success of the Orphans Project in this respect. It was on the 4th of the month the Keepers noticed an unusual gathering of Eve, little Emma, Safi, Eden, Thor and a few more of the female Ex Orphans in Emily’s herd. Upon approaching them, they were greeted with the news that Ndara had delivered a baby boy and Emma, Emily’s second born calf, was obviously basking in the attention the little one was paying her, touching her with his little trunk. Mweya was also a self-appointed Nannie of the little one.
The other members of Emily’s herd were spotted very early in the month but then around the 5th moved off towards Ngutuni ranch, enjoying the browse closer to the Voi River and frequenting the waterhole outside the Voi Wildlife Lodge, which is closer for water, for the rest of the month. Icholta decided to stay behind with her baby Inca, perhaps unwilling to walk far, despite Ndara taking newborn Neptune along. Icholta sometimes joins up with Lesanju’s herd, or Taveta, to browse or come for water at the stockade compound. Wasessa, who seems to have a soft spot for little Neptune, went with Emily’s herd accompanied by bull Rombo as well, although they returned to the Stockade area towards the end of the month without Emily’s herd. We only saw Ex Orphan bull Laikipia once at the beginning of the month when one day he passed by and rumbled a greeting to his young friends before continuing on his way towards where Emily’s herd were browsing.
Lesanju’s herd, usually consisting of Sinya, Lempaute, Dabassa, Tassia, Kivuko, Mzima and Layoni, stayed closer to home for the whole month and often came for water to the stockade area. Sometimes they came together with a wild elephant bull friend who was slightly older than them but who obviously enjoyed their company. Layoni sometimes came separately this month to mingle with the dependent orphans in Kenia’s herd with Suswa and Mudanda especially enjoying his company. He would accompany them all the way back to the Stockades on some evenings, wandering off back into the Park at nightfall. Kenia was always very worried that he might steal her adopted babies, such as Araba, and would often scream loudly whenever Layoni came near them and drive him away. However, Layoni could see that Kenia was uncomfortable and would keep his distance so as not to upset her further. Kenia still remains hugely protective of her Araba and does not allow anyone else to be near her or browse with her, despite elephants like Suswa, Arruba, Ishaq-B and Kihari very much wanting to do so! One day Nguvu went to play with little Araba in the water but Kenia came in at high speed, chasing him out of the water to keep Araba by her side.
Ajali and Nguvu, who joined the orphans at the Voi stockades at an older age, are doing remarkably well, interacting with the others and enjoying mud bathing games, although Ajali is still wary of the other bulls who often try to initiate pushing games with him. This does not include Bada though, who is smaller, but thought he could take him on as well! He retreated rapidly when Ajali was ready to engage in the game! Later on in the month he showed a lot more respect for these two older boys, who are deserving of their seniority, and rather enjoyed just browsing in their company.
Sadly the Keepers at the stockades were involved in a great many orphan rescues this month, all bound for the Nairobi Nursery where they could receive the necessary treatment and nurturing they require having been orphaned so young and still milk dependent. One day two orphans were rescued at once, but one sadly succumbed to the injuries sustained from a lion attack before she could reach the Nursery. The wounds were so severe however, that the Nursery Keepers present were relieved when the calf’s suffering ended. The dry season always results in a great deal more orphans becoming separated from their mothers and we were thankful when towards the end of the month, some rain fell in the area. The orphans were especially delighted, enjoying munching on the now wet grass and emerging green leaves. One day Arruba, Suswa, Mbirikani and Lentili had a wonderful sliding game into the water from the top of the damp soil piles on the banks of the mud bath, a game that drew many of their friends to come as spectators!