September has been a month of hardship as the current drought tightened its stranglehold on the country, apparently the worst experienced for the past 50 years. Our older orphans have been regular visitors to the Stockades to benefit from a hand-out of extra rations in the form of Coconut Copra cakes, and the left-overs of the greens cut for the younger elephants and placed in the Stockades at night. Lissa and her wild born calf, Lara, have joined Dika, Edo and Ndume up at the Stockades on several occasions and it is interesting to learn that Malaika allowed Lissa’s calf to suckle her as the date of parturition came ever closer. It is interesting that all our orphans are within a loose "family" which although not as closely bonded as a natural blood related family, nevertheless are loosely affiliated with a special "orphan" bond. As Malaika’s pregnancy advanced, the animosity between her and Emily evaporated and Loisaba came to look upon her as a "mother" and was inseparable from her. Lewa continued to spend time with the Big Boys, as did Uaso. Most gratifying is the fact that Natumi and the eight ex Nursery babies, although moving as a group independent of the others, because they still need milk at regular intervals being in their weaning year, have become closely attached to the older orphans, and also comfortable meeting up with wild herds. Natumi and Edie are good pals, as are Laikipia and Salama, and little Nyiro is the special favourite of Aitong, who has loved and wanted him as her special baby from the start.
The tragedy of Malaika is recounted in detail at the end of this, the September Keepers’ Diary, although it ended on the 4th October. This has been a terrible heartbreak for us all, both elephant and human, and Malaika will be sorely missed. But life must go on -- the page turned and put behind us, looked upon as yet another lesson that had to be learnt the hard way. Life is for the living and the dead also live on as loved ones stored forever in our memories and minds