The Southern section of Tsavo remained largely dry throughout the month with only light drizzle and showers on the 8th and 25th, so the Keeper Dependent Orphans routine has not varied much throughout the month, punctuated by Pushing Games between the young bulls, especially Siria and Mzima who on occasions have been so preoccupied that they have found themselves way behind the others as they head out to browse each morning. There have been the usual altercations when one tried to nick another’s milk and fun at the noon mudbath during hot days. The orphans have spent a lot of time browsing within the KWS Electric fence where food is more plentiful during the dry season, since wild elephants do not access it. At such times the noon milk feed and mudbath usually takes place at the Stockades, which, this month, have been renovated and received a much needed face-lift funded by the Trust’s US Friends organization. The Voi Stockades have been in use since the early fifties and were beginning to show it!
Tassia, who is the favourite of Wasessa, obviously takes advantage of his special status, and tends to throw his weight around Ndii and Taveta. At such times both Kenia and Lesanju go to great pains to console and comfort Ndii, stopping short of taking Tassia to task for fear of incurring the wrath of Wasessa, who is a force to be reckoned with! Siria and Mzima are Pushing Partners, with Shimba sometimes joining in. The baboons who hang around the Voi Stockades are an endless source of fun for the Keeper Dependent orphans, who enjoy chasing them as long as they oblige by running away. Surprisingly the orphaned ostrich chicks currently being reared at the Voi Stockades by the Keepers also do the same!
On the 16th Emily and all the Ex Orphans within her group were spotted on the Southern side of Mazinga Hill. They came to try and drink from the new Stockade water trough, but sadly found that they were prevented from doing so by the protective fence around the trough to enable fresh concrete to dry and harden. Instead, they had to head off to the Pipeline spill below the Voi Safari Lodge to quench their thirst. However, the Keepers were able to report that all the Ex Orphans including Emily and her calf. “Eve”, looked in fine fettle, despite the dearth of rain in the area. They have obviously accessed better feeding grounds beyond the boundary of the Park along with many wild herds. Then on the 30th Edie’s group was spotted on the Pipeline road, this time without Emily and some of the Ex Orphans that normally accompany her. Edie’s baby, “Ella”, was apparently in good shape, and gave the Keepers quite a run-around when they left their vehicle to try and get a closer look at the Ex Orphaned group.
Two of the ex orphaned Kudus, (Mkuki and Aruba), hand-reared from early infancy by the Voi Elephant Keepers, and now leading normal wild lives, returned to greet their human family on the 26th, Mkuki now sporting beautiful spiral horns.
All the Keeper Dependent Orphans have coped admirably with the very dry harsh conditions of Southern Tsavo. Under the leadership of Lesanju, ably assisted by Wasessa, Kenia, Sinya and Lempaute who protect best friends Ndii and Dida from pushy Junior Boys, the Voi Keeper Dependent orphans form a cohesive and happy little herd who are self-sufficient unto themselves. Shimba often leads the group out and back to the noon milk and mudbath venue, while Siria is the dominant boy of the group. He and Wasessa are the most outgoing when it comes to meeting wild herds, but these have not been in evidence around Mazinga Hill during November.