A very heavy rainstorm on the l0th greened the vegetation and filled the waterholes frequented by the Voi Keeper Dependent Junior orphans who have weathered another very tough drought season when food in the area was in short supply, necessitating supplementation at the Stockades. The friendship of Shimba and Taveta has blossomed further this month. They have become inseparable, with seldom a day passing without them playing wrestling games with one another. Whereas Shimba always used to be laid back and quiet, he is now very active stimulated by the strong bond with playful Taveta. Occasionally the two join forces to challenge Siria who is stronger and bigger. Meanwhile the long antipathy between Taveta and Tassia also endures, Tassia now having to play second fiddle to newcomer Emsaya whom Wasessa has chosen as her new favourite, putting Tassia’s nose badly out of joint. He is extremely resentful of Emsaya, even foregoing his second bottle of milk one day to target her before Wasessa was out of the Night Stockade to protect her. Lempaute also vyes with Wasessa to monopolize Emsaya, who, being the smallest, is a hot favourite with all the Junior females. Another is weakling Dida on whom all lavish a great deal of extra care and attention, especially Kenia and Sinya.
The other Voi new addition “Kivuto”, is rapidly gaining strength, and is now able to join the others actually in the mudbath. This calf arrived in an extremely emaciated state with a flopped ear due to cartilage weakness caused by malnutrition. The Keepers were astonishing when the usual flopped ear suddenly sprang erect as she was taking her milk one day – a sure sign of recovery!
The Juniors met up with Emily’s and Edie’s Ex Orphaned group en route to the mudbath on the 13th, when there was a highly charged greeting, Mweya and Sweet Sally keeping a close watch on little “Eve” and “Ella” the wild born offspring of Emily and Edie respectively. All partook of the mudbath that day, Thoma remaining behind with the Juniors when the other Ex Orphans moved off, enjoying a wrestling match with Siria, and spending two hours browsing with the Juniors after the mudbath before rejoining her Ex Orphan peers. The following day the Juniors encountered Emily’s and Edie’s Ex orphaned groups on the Eastern side of Mazinga hill, but since they happened to be heading in different directions, interaction was brief, although Thoma and Seraa paused to spend a short time with the Juniors before running to catch up with the others eager not to miss out on any handout back at the Stockades where they were headed. Emily’s group called at the Stockades again on the 22nd but missed meeting up with the Juniors who were out browsing at the time. Sweet Sally was again keeping a close eye on little Eve, so much so that Eve was paying much more attention to Sally than her own mother, Emily. In elephant society it is the Nannies who seem to relieve the mother of that chore!
On the l8th the Juniors joined a very large, and very friendly, wild herd of elephants on the Northern side of Mazinga Hill, with whom they fraternized freely, Wasessa and Lesanju unusually even allowed access by the mother to a small wild baby whom they thoroughly enjoyed. The orphans spent the entire afternoon with this wild herd, separating only when it was time to return in the evening.
It was interesting to find Lissa's three wild born calves visiting the stockades without her on the 20th and then on the 21st to find her with her 4th newborn calf when she and her family visited the junior orphans mudbath. We therefore assume that little Lazima, as he has been named, was born on the 20th.
On the 28th however, when all the Ex Orphans turned up at the Stockades early just as the Juniors were being let out, the Juniors were denied access to babies Eve and Ella by three Nannies this time – Sweet Sally, Ndara and Mweya. Edie enjoyed a wrestling with Siria on this occasion which he thoroughly enjoyed.
Tail biting is a tactic often adopted by young elephants to punish one another. Wasessa bit Mzima’s tail after he had nearly drowned Tassia in the mudbath by sitting on his head! Later on in the month Mzima was again the unfortunate recipient of this tactic when Siria grabbed his tail and kept it between his teeth even as Mzima fled, bellowing loudly! The Keepers had to come to Mzima’s rescue on this occasion and reprimand Siria for bullying.
Siria is the oldest and strongest bull of the Junior Group, and also the most outgoing, mingling happily with wild herds the orphans encounter without a second thought. He joined a wild herd towards the end of the month, and went off with them, refusing to heed the Keepers who tried to call him back. The Keepers trailed the herd and eventually managed to persuade him to return to the Stockades, but he was having a marvelous time with the wild herd, paying particular attention to a small wild calf.
Taveta had a close shave when he almost stepped on a puff adder lying in the path as the orphans headed towards their noon milk and mudbath venue. Very fortunately the Keepers spotted it just in time, and moved in to prevent what could have been a disaster had Taveta been bitten by this very venomous snake.
The Keepers were delighted when their Ex Orphan kudu bull “Mkuki” paid them a visit on the 26th, and equally as delighted with their Ex Orphan kudu female, “Aruba”, came the next day to greet them and feed near the Stockades along with four wild female kudu friends. Even orphaned kudus never forget!