Again the Voi orphans have found no reason to return to their erstwhile Stockades this month, which is surprising, since it is the height of a very challenging dry season, when both food and water always become scarce commodities. However, Emily’s and Natumi’s group were seen all together in amongst herds of wild elephants at neighbouring Ngutuni ranch where there is more fodder on two occasions this month. Uaso, Mpenzi and Lissa with her two babies were with them, and all were in good shape, overjoyed to meet and mingle again briefly with their Keepers before returning to rejoin their wild friends. This event was actually captured on film by a German television unit.
Back at the Stockades the two orphaned zebras, Serena and Rongai continue to thrive, Serena often choosing to sleep outside of Rongai’s stable, but invariably waiting for him to be let out in the morning when they spend the day romping and playing together and are inseparable. The baby kudu named “Mkuki” was delighted to be joined by another little orphaned kudu, who followed a Ranger as he was walking along a path to the Headquarters. It was desperate for milk, probably having lost its mother to a predator. He has been named “Chia” which means “foot-path” in Swahili. The two are great friends and enjoy one another’s company, careful to avoid the flailing hooves of the two playful zebras, who also enjoy being near them and their Keeper.
This month, there has only been one depression at the Kanderi Swamp on the Voi river that is still holding water. The only other water South of the Galana river is at the Sheldrick Trust’s three Windmills on the Ndara plains, and at Aruba and Dida Harea. Lions habitually ambush these few permanent water sources during the dry season and this month they have had a field day feasting on the smaller herbivores desperate for a drink who are forced to wait until the lions retreat under shade as temperatures rise. At such times all animals listen to the alarm calls of others to warn them about the presence of the predators, baboons being reliable and vigilant watch dogs who bark a warning to others from the tree-tops. Were it not for our Windmills, the entire Southern Section of Tsavo East National Park would be devoid of water, resulting in either a mass die-off of plains animals, or else forcing them to retreat to the Galana river some 40 – 70 miles away where the vegetation is even more sparse at such times.