The rains continue in this part of Tsavo which means a few things for our herds of orphans here. The dependent orphans prefer to mud bath in the shallower natural puddles that form in the bush and along the dirt tracks, as opposed to the main mud wallow, which is now brimming with water. They still visit this area every day for their noon milk bottle but do not necessarily choose to swim in the main mud bath. The warm damp earth after a drizzle of rain is a delight for the orphans to roll around in, and Lemoyian and Shukuru especially enjoying doing so during the month. It also means the Ex Orphans frequent the stockades and mud bath area less often, as there is ample water to be found elsewhere, as well as more vegetation so they are less reliant on the supplements we have provided for all our orphans at the stockades these past few months. It will take a while for the vegetation to recover in the area, and the orphans still spent the majority of their day in search of food to fill their tummies, browsing high in the trees to reach fresh new leaves. We found Dupotto kneeling on the ground one morning collecting up lucerne cubes with her mouth as fast as she could, and both Mutara and Narok’s (Narok, Orwa and Bomani) Ex Orphan herds continued to visit in the morning for lucerne, so these extras still remain a necessary requirement and we will continue to provide them for our dependent orphans and any other visiting elephants.
We did see more of the senior Ex Orphans at the beginning of the month however, including Sunyei and little Siku, Nasalot with Nusu, Kinna and her baby Kama, Galana and Gawa, Wendi and Wiva and all the others, Lualeni, Madiba, Loijuk, Sidai, Ololoo, Kasigau, Challa, Meibai, Naisula, Murka and Kitirua. All the wild born babies looked in excellent health, including new borns Siku and Nusu. The babies stuck close to their mothers and Sunyei was proving to be an especially attentive mother, choosing to bathe her little one outside of the mud bath using her trunk, and so not risk a swim where there was potential for danger, including getting stuck in the thick mud surrounding the pool. Even Ukame one morning chose to try and get out on the wrong, the steep side, and was unsuccessful for some time until she swam to the other side.
Laragai was certainly sending us a message this month as often we would find she had opened the gate for her and her friends Kithaka, Barsilinga, Lemoyian and Garzi, during the night and they would be waiting outside in the compound in the morning. Laragai, Kithaka, Barsilinga and Garzi have been off their milk for some time and are showing signs of wanting to become more independent. We are sure this is why Mutara and Narok’s herds also frequently visit as they want to check up on the orphans and see if any are ready to join them in the bush. Karisa is still too young but because he has tasted life in the wild he thinks he is ready too, and sometimes is very restless, dashing here and there, so the Keepers are kept on their toes keeping an eye on him and making sure he stays with the herd. Shukuru has been with the dependent herd a long time and even she is showing signs of wanting to join up with Narok, sometimes going to look for her herd during the day and leaving the other orphans behind. Olsekki and Enkikwe are their usual bullish selves and play pushing games all day to their hearts content. They are delighted when the Ex Orphans come around and those like Murka accept in teaching them some light wrestling tactics. Olsekki and Boromoko were wrestling one day but this soon turned into a real fight and the Keepers had to intervene so they did not hurt each other. This is all part of the growing up process for our orphans, but our Keepers still have to play ‘Mum’ sometimes and step in when things get out of hand!
On the 14th we found a wild bull limping near the stockades and alerted the DSWT/KWS Tsavo Veterinary Unit to come and attend to him. After the treatment he got up and walked away and we will continue to monitor his progress should he choose to recuperate in the area.