As another very challenging dry season tightens its grip, the Voi orphans have had to concentrate on feeding to fill their bellies each day. However, all have coped admirably to date, although little Kimana is still weak and looking thinner than he should, not having fully recovered from being unwell some months ago. However, he has been taking his milk as usual, and being weak, has been careful to keep out of the way of the others whenever they are indulging in boisterous games at the mudbath and during the morning Stockade romp. Wasessa and Kenia keep a carful watch over him to protect him from being knocked down accidentally.
It was exciting for the Keepers to catch up with Ex orphans Lolokwe and Nyiro again, now Big Boys from Emily’s group, who are probably beginning to become more independent, as boys so. They turned up at the Stockades and enjoyed partaking of the Copra Cake handout on the 12th, again on the 13th and also on the l9th, when they stood behind the Youngsters who were taking their milk feed in the morning, after which they joined in the Copra hand-out ritual.
Siria is especially a somewhat unruly character, inclined to throw his weight around the others, especially Mzima who is his special friend, on one occasion pushing Mzima’s head under water at the mudbath so that the Keepers had to come to the rescue! Shimba is also very popular with Mzima, something that sometimes generates the jealousy of Siria while Lempaute seems to have been the “mounting” target for the boys this month. Tassia and Taveta are very competitive, but all the boys enjoy the usual Shoving Matches which are tests of strength and dominant, although Shimba is a very laid back little elephant who prefers a quiet life.
Mudbath time is always a fun time for the orphans. This month Lempaute has been instructing the others in the art of “snorkeling”, demonstrating how to put their heads under the surface of the mudbath water with just their trunks up like periscopes!
Lesanju, as the main Matriarch of the Voi orphans, is very possessive of her little herd, always anxious to try and shepherd them in the opposite direction whenever the Ex Orphans, or wild elephants, are around. As the Matriarch, she is ably assisted in this role by both Wasessa and Sinya as well as Ndii, but that said the females don’t seem over anxious to discipline Siria who is quite a force to be reckoned with! He is obviously viewed with respect! But for Kimana’s lack of form, it has been a generally very happy month for the Voi Keeper Dependent orphans, and wonderful for the Keepers to be able to catch up with Emily again, who turned up at the Stockades towards the end of the month with some, but not all, of her group. She turned up during the evening of the 29th with Sweet Sally, Ndara, Mvita, Loisaba, Morani, Laikipia, Icholta and a wild recruit who has become a permanent fixture of the group, having been amongst them now for several months. Absent were Lolokwe and Nyiro, as well as Edie and her baby Eve, along with Seraa, Burra, Thoma, Mweya, Mpala, Solango and Irima. That said Edie often leads a Splinter Group that travels separately to that of Emily, so hopefully all are still alive and well. On that day Emily’s baby, little “Eve” went to engage one of the calves of the friendly wild female, and Ndara came to keep a close watch, probably to ensure that there was no “snatching” of Emily’s infant, who is a very precious addition to the Group.
The Keeper Dependent Voi orphans have had several opportunities to mingle with wild elephants this month – on the 7th when they encountered a wild herd at their noon mudbath and again on the l8th when again there were l0 wild elephants with 3 young calves at the orphans’ bush mudbath, and when Siria went to fraternize with them briefly. Only Siria and Wasessa are outgoing when it comes to mingling with wild elephants, both having been orphaned old enough to remember being wild themselves! The others were orphaned in early infancy, and are hesitant about becoming too familiar with strangers. A wild mother and her 3 calves who habitually visits the orphans’ Stockade water trough has again been a visitor this month, meeting up with Emily’s group on the 29th.
Other wild encounters for the Dependent Voi orphans have been noisy mating waterbucks, who scared them witless by making an unusual sound during the process, a warthog who aspired to sharing their mudbath and was sent packing, and a huge herd of buffalo (estimated by the Keepers to be about l,000 strong) who polished off all the water bowzered in for the orphans’ mudbath, necessitating a second trip to replenish it again!
Aside from anxiousness over Kimana’s condition, it has been a happy month for the Voi Unit’s elephant orphans.