As we approach what should be the end of the dry season and pray for the short seasonal rains due in November, we can take stock of what has been a very busy month for us, with 6 rescues to the Nursery alone, and a further two who were orphans too young to be alone in the wild, but old enough to go straight to the Voi rehabilitation Centre. Towards the end of the month, dry hot sunny days started to cloud over and the first few small showers began to break, which we hope will develop into more substantial downpours during the month ahead, since much of the country is in desperate need. We often see this pattern of heightened rescues during a harsh dry season when desperate elephants come for water in places where their calves can become trapped, or their calves become too weakened by drought conditions and are unable to continue and keep up with the herd so are abandoned so that the rest of the herd is not compromised, or when elephants invade human croplands which results in conflict and injury as the humans defend their livelihood.
For those who arrive into our care too far gone to save, at least we can offer them a peaceful end surrounded by love and compassion. We are always uplifted by the progress of survivors and the improvement of others who have been here for some time but who have had much to overcome. Murit is one little bull that continues to excel and teach others younger than him the ways of growing into a decent and sociable male elephant, being a very caring individual. Luggard, who despite a broken leg due to two bullet wounds, is one of the most playfully entertaining babies in our midst and is growing stronger every day. Precious little Tamiyoi, who has overcome so much since we first rescued her exactly a year ago, steals all hearts having battled her way through ill health that has stunted her growth and sapped her energy for so long. However, she has finally emerged on the other side and plays and browses alongside her older and bigger peers now, so – we are overjoyed to be able to add her to the fostering program this month.
When we did receive a slight rain shower overnight at the beginning of the month, the orphans enthusiastically rolled around in damp soil the following morning, excited and happy. Naseku, Maramoja and Mbegu were some of the most vigorous and excited rollers! Meanwhile, on dry, hot days, the orphans relish their mud baths, Godoma loving mud baths almost as much as she hates coconut oiling days! She is usually one of the first into the mud, rolling around and running up and down, splashing mud everywhere in the process. Sana Sana has been getting on with Pare and Lasayen really well and some days we watch these three walking off and doing their own thing together, browsing and playing as a little trio.
Ndotto and Rapa are becoming good friends, but Rapa still tends to bully the younger ones from time to time. Mbegu has little time for Rapa and is jealous of his friendship with Ndotto. A rather unlikely friendship that has been unfolding for some time now is between young elephant orphan Jotto and our female orphaned ostrich Pea, who adores all the young babies and patiently allows Jotto to suckle on her wing feathers and her thighs and sometimes even sleep on her soft back. These two are best friends, and Jotto will even leave the company of the Keepers to be with Pea, much to the delight of Tamiyoi who can then have the undivided attention of the Keepers.
Esampu is still very greedy and has been the cause for chaos on more than one occasion this month, interrupting the milk feeding of the other babies. Because of this, the Keepers have taken to making her the last one to come down for feeding when the others have already finished their milk so she can’t cause such disruption! In fact all of the babies often make the Keepers laugh out loud due to their funny little antics and strong personalities. One day Esampu and Ambo were fighting over the right to drink from a water trough which was large enough to accommodate both, with a lot of pushing and tail- biting involved! At times the Keepers have to intervene to restore order when things become too rough, but they do so only by tone of voice and the waggling of an accusing finger, because an Elephant never forgets! Tagwa is another who is prone to picking a fight whereas in the beginning it was she who used to be pushed around by the others. She has evidently decided to now stand up for herself!
There have been quite a few close encounters with the Nairobi Park wild lions this month, who have been hunting warthogs around the Elephant Stockades, in the process posing quite a threat to our young giraffe, Kiko. Fortunately, since there are no elephants in the Nairobi National Park other than our own, the lions are not used to them and stick to what they know, which unfortunately includes Kiko’s kind! However, he has learned to steer clear of them, and when they are around, he quickly returns to the Stockade compound, often refusing to return to the forest even the next day, making a nuisance of himself in the compound instead! One day a lioness caught a warthog right next to Tamiyoi and Malkia in the forest giving them a huge fright!
Our blind rhino, Maxwell is always eager to play with the elephant orphans and one day helped them chase a group of warthogs that were eating and playing near his gate! Kamok and Kauro love to spur him on when he is in these moods and trumpet to encourage his games. We love watching Max in these playful, jovial moods, running around and tearing at the ground with his horn, indicating happiness and contentment despite his disability!