As this dry season continues, and we desperately wait for the onset of revitalizing rain, every morning the dependent orphans can be met by any number of Ex Orphans and wild elephants. One morning over 120 elephants were counted as they waited for a refreshing drink from the stockade water troughs. On that morning we calculated that they consumed over 30,000 litres of water from the water troughs - a record amount of water drunk in just one morning!
One day when the orphans emerged from their Night Stockades to enjoy their morning supplement of lucerne, they were joined by a completely wild young bull who came from the east, and who mingled amongst them just as if he were one of them! Our older Ex Orphan bulls, Madiba, Zurura, Buchuma, Tomboi and Taita have been joining the dependent orphans in the mornings as well; all partial to the delicious lucerne supplement.. Such competition from Senior Elephants sometimes means that the younger orphans such as Laragai and Kithaka grab their share of lucerne in their trunks and retreat back to the stockades in order to be at a safe in order to enjoy their lucerne in peace.
This month our orphans have had the company of numerous wild elephants who have learnt that the Northern area of Tsavo, with its reliable water source and plentiful browse, is a great dry season range for them unlike the difficult conditions experienced in the southern section of the Park. Some of these visiting wild elephants have come with young calves at foot, with whom the orphans have enjoyed playing. One day the orphans were startled when a group of thirsty Ex Orphans arrived blocking their exit. The dependent orphans tried to climb out over the steep sides but couldn’t manage, and a shrill trumpet from a wild elephant scared them even further! Eventually, they all managed to scramble out, running in fright off into the bush where they began browsing in instead. Most of the time the older bulls are calm and willing to share space and water with the younger orphans, but on one occasion this month the orphans were met by a very grumpy bull who didn’t want to share water at the mud bath venue with anyone, so the orphans simply had to wait their turn! On another day a more friendly wild bull broke an acacia branch especially for the orphans to feed on, which they greatly enjoyed. Garzi is perhaps the most interested in learning all he can from his Seniors as well as the wild elephants. He can often be found gazing in awe at the older wild bulls and we can’t help but think that he is wondering when he too will be that size. Often he engages his older friend Kenze, who is always willing to oblige and demonstrate pushing and wrestling tactics, which is always the favourite sport of the young bulls.
One day Sirimon was very funny at the mud bath, when he snatched a milk bottle when the Keepers were distracted! Only when the second sitting of orphans arrive did the Keepers realise that they were a bottle short, and turned only to find Sirimon happily enjoying his stolen treat whilst walking towards the mud bath! By the time the Keepers chased after him, he had already drained the bottle of milk, and dropped it empty as he hurriedly retreated, feeling very pleased with himself! The girls in the herd have little tolerance of nonsense from the bulls. Narok and Laragai in particular are always stepping in to break up tussles between Barsilinga, Lemoyian and Kithaka!
Early on in the month Murka, Naisula and Kitirua seem to have separated from Olare’s group, although we have learnt that such separations are often only temporary, often disappearing for days at a time, and even up to a week. However, when they return they are always eager for water and lucerne, pushing the juniors aside until they have had their fill.
New mother, Galana, and her baby Gawa, are still with Yatta’s group, along with Gawa’s Nannies which include Ex Orphans Naserian, Loijuk, Ololoo, Orok, Makena, Ithumbah, Kenze and Lualeni. The junior dependent orphans, and especially Narok, Bomani and Laragai adore playing with babies Wiva and Gawa. Bongo and Kithaka are amidst those who remain indifferent and tend to push the babies away when they come near them! We end the month praying for the rains to break and transform the aid landscape into a Garden of Eden again.