On Wednesday 28th May 2014 a newborn baby antelope was brought into the Nairobi Nursery for care having been discovered scared and alone following people desperately along a nearby tarmac road. Somehow this little baby was separated from its mother, its umbilical cord still wet, but she was lucky enough to be brought straight to the DSWT Nursery by a member of the staff for care before she came to any harm. This tiny antelope is called a suni (from ‘esuuni’ meaning a small antelope in Maa). Sometimes mistaken for a dik-dik, these similarly small antelopes grow to be around 12-17 inches high at the shoulder and weigh only around 4 kgs. They develop a reddish brown coat as they get older, which is darker on their back than their sides and legs whilst having a paler white belly and throat.
These antelopes feed on leaves, flowers and soft greens, being most active at night, whilst similarly to dik-diks they also scent-mark their boundaries with secretions from their preorbital glands and have small dung piles on the periphery of the territory. A single calf is born to any female suni, which is born weighing about two pounds, after a gestation of 183 days. Easy prey for numerous predators suni antelopes live a reclusive life inhabiting forest areas, such as the Nairobi National Park, whilst luckily being well camouflaged with the ability to keep very still to avoid detection. It is extremely rare to ever see a Suni baby in the wild.
Joining the extended orphan family at the Nairobi Nursery, this female baby suni has been named Piwi and she has already settled in wonderfully, enjoying her milk and loving to play. It is known that suni calves are weaned after a mere 60 days and 4 months after that they are ready to breed, whilst it is unknown how long they can live in the wild, but they can live to 10 years in captivity. Piwi will be rehabilitated into the Nairobi National Park, choosing when she is ready to step back into the wild again, although such like many of the orphans raised by the Trust, she will no doubt keep in close touch with her human family and be a buck of two worlds.