Panda’s extreme greed seems to have amplified this month, probably due to the extremely dry conditions across the wider Tsavo region making the sourcing of browse more challenging. Having downed her share, she immediately homes in on that of the others, targeting those younger than herself such as Araba, creating a disturbance so that the Keepers have to be on “Panda duty” at feeding times. Another day she jumped the queue; whereas ordinarily the orphans come for their milk in manageable groups, and are obedient to this normal routine, Panda rushed in before the others in order to be first. Due to the drought conditions, lucerne cubes as well as bales are available to supplement their intake during challenging conditions, which are greatly enjoyed by all. The competition at milk feeding times sometimes result in collisions, such as the day that Rorogoi and Bada ran into each other!
Suswa is still very attached to her Nursery playmate, Arruba, and we are sure that this friendship will endure for years to come. In the mornings they team up to charge the baboons who try to snatch some of their supplements and daily they can be seen browsing together away from the others, content in each other’s company. Nelion is growing into a strapping young bull and enjoys displaying his long tusks by punching and digging huge chunks of soil out from the walls of the mud wallow. He often tries to engage Tundani, who is equal to himself in size, to wrestling games, but Tundani is a very mellow character and is usually more interested in browsing than participating.
Due to the dry weather, a trio of Ex Orphans, Lesanju, Taveta and Tassia remained close to the Stockades throughout the beginning of the month, much to the bitter disappointment of Kenia who tries to keep her adopted herd together, including babies Araba and Bada. Every morning she attempts to entice her herd away from the compound to avoid interacting with the older orphans, which is not always successful since Panda and Bada are anxious to meet up with the older orphans, or Lesanju’s trio simply trails them out into the bush to browse. On the 17th of the month, the rest of Lasanju’s Ex orphan herd, namely Lempaute, Mzima, Sinya, Kivuko, Dabassa and Layoni were spotted at Ngutuni Ranch, an area that is now fenced into the Park with a fence funded by DSWT which extends down as far as the Elephant Crossings under the recently built Standard Gauge railway. As it was very dry in this area with limited access to water, the orphans were walked back to the Stockades by the Keepers, where supplementary lucerne and water is always available. The whole group faithfully followed their erstwhile Keepers all the way home, and on arrival trumpeted with excitement! At midnight that day Lesanju, Taveta and Tassia came to the stockades to join them, the first time that the group has been all together in the past three months. For the rest of the month all nine members of Lesanju’s herd visited the stockades and mud bath for water and to enjoy the lucerne laid out for them, and with the supplementary food, all have remained in good condition.
The hot, dry weather has also meant that the orphans have gone into the mud bath almost every single day, submerging themselves like hippos and enjoying rolling around in the cool mud, which provides a protective layer against the sun for their skin for the rest of the day. Ndoria is still up to her tail biting antics, so if she enters the water first, Mashariki, Bada, Embu, and Rorogoi choose to wait for Kenia or the older ones to arrive, so that they can reprimand Ndoria when she misbehaves.
Due to the severe drought throughout Tsavo, sadly there have been a number of rescues this month. Most were found already in a state of complete collapse; some sadly too late for us to be able to save, but at least some have survived after much effort. Such victims have been airlifted straight to the Nairobi Nursery as they have all required intensive care, however one remained at the Voi stockades being too big to fit into a plane, but sadly he unfortunately succumbed to his poor condition a few days later. On the 13th we received reports of elephant herds in the Taita Sisal Estate Conservation area, surrounded by the Taita Hills, where more browse as well as water was readily available. One elephant cow was reported with a recent arrow wound which our Mobile Veterinary Unit headed off to immediately treat. Upon arrival, however, it was ascertained that the elephant in question was none other than Ex Orphan Emily. She was immediately operated on, and thankfully the extracted arrow was devoid of poison, making the process fairly straight forward. Mercifully Emily was back on her feet in no time. The DSWT team were relieved to know the whereabouts of Emily’s Ex Orphan herd, and that all looked in good condition despite the drought. The Keepers were happy to see that Icholta’s baby, named Inca, was growing and looking very healthy as well, happy and content with best friend Safi, Sweet Sally’s little wild- born calf. The Ex Orphans were spending time amongst large wild herds, estimated to be around 200 in number within the area.
The anxiety over Emily’s treatment was soon eclipsed by the delight at the end of the month on the 24th when Ex Orphan Thoma gave birth to her first wild- born, a baby bull whom we named Thor, who was just hours old when she appeared with him. The entire herd of Ex Orphans rejoiced with trumpets and rumbles celebrating the arrival of this new member to their unit and that day Rombo and Wasessa, who are sometimes part of Lesanju’s herd, arrived to join Emily’s herd. Thoma’s baby boy is extremely healthy and playful and both mother and baby are doing well, with Nannies Mweya, Seraa and Ndara taking their duties very seriously. By month’s end Emily too had made a full recovery.