The Voi Keepers had two Orphan Elephant rescues to deal with this month – the first on the 4th from Taita Ranch where the poaching of Elephants has been particularly serious. The rescued calf was a 2 year old female who was named “Kivuko” and who occupied one of the two new Taming Stockades. The second rescue came on the 8th, another 2 year old orphaned female from the Galana Ranch beyond the Park’s Eastern boundary who was given the name “Emsaya” and who occupied the second adjoining Taming Stockade to that housing Kivuko. Since the Nursery was coping with an overload of 2 year old orphans, these two newcomers remained at the Voi Stockades where they were given their prophylactic Nuroclav course to guard against pneumonia, and where they calmed down rapidly with the input of the established group. Lesanju and Wasessa were especially competitive each wanting ownership of the new babies, and rushing to comfort them with trunk touching and rumbled reassurance at every possible opportunity. All the established orphans at the Voi Stockades were more than eager to welcome the new babies into the fold, so the two were soon taking their milk from a hand-held bottle and comfortable with a Keeper actually in with them standing on the ground. Kivuko arrived in a more advanced state of emaciation and was weaker than Emsaya, with one flopped ear, but both new calves have settled well and were soon out and about with the others, initially remaining close to the Stockades but eventually venturing further afield to browse. By month end both newcomers were even beginning to play - always a good indicator of recovery.
Rain showers began on the 8th, and continued intermittently throughout the month, filling the natural depressions and relieving the oppressive heat of the dry season. The orphans have come through a very harsh dry season remarkably well, all still in good shape, except Dida, who has not grown as she should and may have a fundamental medical condition, such as a defective heart. Although given extra nutritional sustenance, she remains a midget but Ndii and Kenia are very supportive of her, and are never far from her side. Dida is a happy member of the herd, content and not in obvious pain – just a bit more lethargic and much smaller than the others, although she is the same age. Wasessa, who is the biggest of the older females, shares the Matriarchal role with Lesanju, who is always supported by Lempaute. However, it is Wasessa who keeps the boys in line, ensuring that they don’t try to bully/mount the smaller members of their herd that now numbers 14 Keeper Dependent Youngsters. Young Elephant Boys thoroughly enjoy rough and tumble, testing their strength against one another. Mzima and Siria are regular Pushing Partners while Taveta often challenges both as well as Tassia, who can always count on Wasessa to protect him when the going gets tough! Before heading out to browse each morning, all enjoy Stockade games, chasing each other around, rolling in the sand pile and greeting each new day with unbridled joy, irrespective of the drought!
The Ex Orphans have made several appearances at the Stockade compound this month – on the 12th when Ex Orphan Mpala tried to mount Tassia who took refuge amongst the other older Ex orphan Splinter Group which were not named in the Voi Diary. On the 15th Mpala again visited the Stockades, this time with Mpenzi and her wild-born calf “Asante”, all then enjoying a handout of supplements. At the end of the month the orphans mingled with a wild herd they encountered on the slopes of Mazinga Hill, who spent about an hour feeding amongst them until the Keepers called the orphans back, fearing that Kivuko and Emsaya might be tempted to abscond with the wild herd. The established orphans all responded to the Keepers’ summons instantly, but Wasessa had to then return to round up the two newcomers who were, indeed, quite happy to remain where they were! Both still need milk, and a lot of it, so they came with willingly with Wasessa since the milk time was fast approaching!
Intermittent rain showers have brought a green tinge to the landscape around Voi, but much more rain is needed to avert another drought tragedy next year. At least for the time being our orphans can actually submerge themselves in the natural waterholes and fill their bellies with natural browse! But, the outlook for Climate Change, sadly, does not bode well for the elephants of Africa generally and nor does the rise in poaching for their ivory tusks.