On Tuesday, 24th August, the Voi Keepers awoke to find Naipoki waiting outside the stockades. This was a welcome surprise, as we haven’t seen her for many months now. She transitioned from our care in 2019, joining Edie and Mweya’s ex orphan herd. They last visited Voi just before Christmas 2020, as seems to be their holiday tradition, remaining in the area for several weeks before taking their leave in January.
It was unusual that Naipoki had turned up alone, as this particular ex orphan herd usually travels together. Upon closer inspection, however, the reason for her return became abundantly clear: She had a wound on her rump, and while it was nothing serious, it was sufficiently infected to cause discomfort.
We immediately called our SWT/KWS Tsavo Mobile Vet Unit to the scene. Unlike their field treatments, which take place in remote locations, often under quite harrowing conditions, this was a rather sedate affair. Dr Poghon walked right up to Naipoki and darted her before commencing treatment in front of the stockades. It is impossible to know what caused the injury, because there was no foreign object inside, but it could have been caused by a stick or possibly an arrow. After thoroughly cleaning the wound, the team administered antibiotics and revived Naipoki.
Naipoki is expected to make a full and speedy recovery — and if the rest of the day was any indication, she is already well on her way! She was delighted to be reunited with her Voi friends, especially Panda, and seemed very happy to explore her favourite haunts. In the evening, she remained with the dependent orphans and put herself to bed in the stockades, bunking up with Panda as if this was something she did every night. Naipoki is clearly relishing her sojourn at home.
Edie and Mweya’s herd have taken up residence near Tsavo West, so Naipoki likely travelled upwards of 80 kilometres to return to Voi. This is something we have seen time and again: Even long after they have transitioned from our care, our orphans know that they can always circle back to us in their hour of need. Family ties last forever for elephants, and it must be such a comfort for them to have a homebase where they can find care and support.