Keepers' Diaries, April 2006

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

The Ithumba elephants have enjoyed good rains, and an abundance of food, the only downside being the warts, which are elephant sized, and always prevalent during the rainy season. However, the application of the homeopathic tincture, Thuya, plus the pillules usually takes care of these. Currently Ndomot has one on his trunk, Nasalot on the upper side of her trunk, Sunyei on her side belly and Kinna on the trunk, whilst those on Olmalo, Tomboi and Galana have now disappeared.

01 April 2006

The orphans left the Stockades early this morning and headed eastwards to feed. Shortly before l0 a.m. Sunyei again played her usual trick on the others, emerging from the thicket charging and trumpeting as though being chased by an intruder. All the orphans ignored her, since they are familiar with this game, after which Suneyi, obviously thinking if you can’t beat them, join them, did just that!

02 April 2006

Having left the Stockade the orphans split into two groups, one led by Yatta who began to browse near the Stockades and the other by Kinna who went to scratch themselves against rocks. Just prior to the mudbath Napasha and Kinna had an altercation when Napasha tried to mount onto Kinna, which she didn’t appreciate, and sent him fleeing. After mudbath Ndomot and Buchuma enjoyed a pushing game, which was interrupted by Wendi, who separated them.

03 April 2006

Sunyei and Madiba browsed very close to the Keepers all morning until Sunyei started the journey to the mudbath. Rapsu didn’t like to see Madiba ahead of the column and pushed him aside, prompting Ndomot to also give way. However, Sunyei stood her ground so Rapsu had to move to the side to overtake her. After taking their noon milk feed, Yatta and Mulika escorted the babies to the mudbath, all happily swinging their trunks as they went.

04 April 2006

Napasha spotted two lesser kudus resting under a tree, and initiated a joint charge, the rest of the orphans following his lead. At the mudbath two warthogs were drinking, who didn’t take any notice of the elephants. This angered Napasha, who strode determinedly towards them. At the last moment the warthogs took the hint and fled.

05 April 2006

It was a cool and cloudy day, so the orphans browsed close to their Night Stockade, moving slowly towards Ithumba Hill. Napasha was taught a sharp lesson by Kinna and Nasalot when he tried to mount onto Naserian. He was driven away and had to feed on his own for a long time before being allowed back.

06 April 2006

There was a heavy downpour during the night, so the orphans enjoyed playing in the puddles, and slipping and sliding in the mud during the morning. They then found a patch of red soil, where they lay down to roll, but Wendi inadvertently stepped on Taita’s head. This made him bellow, which brought Yatta along to comfort him, touching his mouth and back with her trunk.

07 April 2006

Buchuma, Rapsu and Naserian enjoyed dusting themselves whilst the others concentrated on feeding. At the noon milk feed, Galana and Tomboi held their own bottles of milk, walking around as they downed the contents, before returning the empty bottles to the Keepers. Since there were mudbaths everywhere following the rain, none of the orphans felt the need to take a mudbath at the usual time today.

08 April 2006

The Keepers armed themselves with raincoats and umbrellas this morning, as it threatened rain. At 9 a.m. it began to drizzle until water was running in all the small depressions. This the elephants greatly enjoyed, taking a brief break only for the noon milk feed, before returning to play.

09 April 2006

Buchuma and Nasalot found a rainwater pool in a depression on a rock, and began drinking the fresh rainwater, soon to be joined by all the others. Yatta then led her herd towards Ithumba hill, where the elephants browsed until 11 a.m. when Rapsu and Sunyei rumbled and began heading towards the mudbath and the milk.

10 April 2006

More rain fell during the night. Mulika and Yatta led the group out in the morning, all enjoying fun slipping and sliding in the wet mud, a game dominated by Napasha, who always enjoys such sport.

11 April 2006

Yatta led her group out this morning. Once browsing, suddenly Buchuma, Naserian and Rapsu ran back to the Keepers, which drew the attention of the entire group. The Keepers crept ahead cautiously to see what was amiss, and found a porcupine entering its burrow. They called the orphans and changed direction. In the evening Taita and Tomboi had fun chasing off a mother warthog and her piglets.

12 April 2006

It was a warm day today. Ndomot Sunyei, Madiba and Buchuma split from the rest of the group to feed apart. At 11 a.m. the Keepers called Nasalot to bring her group back to join the rest, and within five minutes she complied and the journey to the mudbath began. During the mudbath Tomboi enjoyed rubbing himself against Nasalot when she was lying down.

13 April 2006

Having taken a drink of water at the trough this morning, Nasalot, Yatta, Mulika and Kinna went to scratch themselves against a rock while Naserian and Sunyei enjoyed a pushing game. All the orphans browsed peacefully throughout the day, interrupted only by the noon milk feed.

14 April 2006

Tomboi and Taita enjoyed a pushing match once out feeding today. Since it was cool, all the orphans declined the mudbath. In the evening Rapsu and Ndomot engaged each other in a pushing match, which Rapsu won.

15 April 2006

Shortly before 7 a.m. the orphans’ feeding was interrupted when they bumped into two sprinting lesser kudus, which scared them. Yatta rumbled and then commenced feeding, so the others followed suit.

16 April 2006

It was drizzling with rain when the orphans left the Stockade in the morning. They enjoyed feeding in the cool, wet environment but soon decided to play instead. Galana and Wendi visited a rock to scratch themselves, but other than that, the entire day was spent feeding peacefully, all declining the normal mudbath since they could bathe anywhere out in the bush.

17 April 2006

It promised to be a hot day, but this did not deter the normal activities. Ndomot and Buchuma competed for a shady spot beneath a tree, but Tomboi arrived and pushed them both out, occupying the spot for himself! All enjoyed the mudbath today, because it was so hot.

18 April 2006

Shortly before mudbath, Taita took to chasing Buchuma around the bushes, laying his trunk along Buchuma’s back wanting to mount onto him. This was spotted by Nasalot, who came and chased Taita away.

19 April 2006

Kinna, Mulika and Selengai led the group out today. Taita and Napasha engaged each other, but Kinna intervened to separate them. All the orphans had a good wallow today, because it was hot.

20 April 2006

Just after 7 a.m. a rowdy troupe of baboons excited the orphans, who charged around trumpeting. Later the Keepers called them to calm down, and the normal daily activities resumed.

21 April 2006

It was another hot day, so the orphans took a lengthy mudbath, especially Buchuma, Naserian, Rapsu, Sunyei, Selengai and Madiba who were reluctant to get out even when Yatta led the others off to feed. In the evening Mulika and Taita enjoyed a pushing match, Mulika tutoring Taita in defensive tactics.

22 April 2006

Light showers fell this morning to start the day, which always pleases the elephants who enjoy slipping and sliding in the mud. By the time they arrived in the usual feeding grounds, all resembled anthills, covered in bright red earth! It was cool throughout the day, so the babies just took their milk, and all resumed browsing.

23 April 2006

Once out in the field, Taita spent time playing with Buchuma, with Nasalot keeping a close eye on Taita to ensure that he did not hurt Buchuma. When she approached in a slow measured stride, Taita broke contact, knowing that he could get into trouble. Nasalot is very fond of Buchuma.

24 April 2006

Out in the field, as the orphans were about their usual business of browsing, Yatta began to rumble. Knowing that Yatta does not rumble for nothing, the Keepers went to see what was amiss, and noticed that Yatta was following the spoor of a lone wild elephant. Soon all the others joined in ending up at the mudwallow with no contact being made with the lone traveller.

25 April 2006

As the others left the Stockade in the morning, Madiba remained behind kicking a fallen nest. On the way out, Kinna tried to greet Buchuma by inserting her trunk into his mouth, but Buchuma was not in the mood, irritated because Rapsu had given him a shove during the early morning milk session.

26 April 2006

It was a cool, cloudy day. On the way to the mudbath, the orphans split into two groups, one led by Yatta and the other by Sunyei. Yatta’s group gave the Keepers the slip and went off on their own, whilst the Keepers were waiting for them at the mudbath, but Yatta, Kinna, Nasalot, Mulika, Selengai, Olmalo and Buchuma never appeared. The Keepers then embarked on a search for their missing charges, but light showers had erased all their footprints. The Keepers were unaware of which direction they could have taken, when Sunyei came to their aid. She came to the Keepers, then deliberately turned to go, and, understanding that Sunyei had something to show them, they all followed her lead. Sunyei kept pausing to test the air with her trunk, and after having walked for a full hour or more, Sunyei delivered them to where Yatta and the others were. What a happy reunion followed. Buchuma, who is spending more time close to Nasalot, missed his noon milk feed on that day.

27 April 2006

Yatta and the Keepers led the orphans eastwards today and at 11 a.m. the orphans enjoyed taking a mudbath in a natural puddle. The youngsters enjoyed their noon milk feed at the usual wallow, but none of them wanted to go in.

28 April 2006

In the evening, Naserian, Madiba, Rapsu and Tomboi spotted two ground squirrels. Tomboi initiated the chase, and when the squirrels went down a hole, all the elephants searched endlessly for them, not having noticed where they went!

29 April 2006

Yatta and the Keepers led the orphans eastwards to a long rocky area not far from the Stockade. At l0 a.m. Ndomot, Madiba, Rapsu, Tomboi and Galana enjoyed an amusing game rushing in and out and round about the thickets, trumpeting as they downed small shrubs, a sure sign that they all had full bellies.

30 April 2006

There was a beautiful sunrise this morning, and the orphans were as playful as usual. Rapsu watched keenly when Tomboi and Taita engaged in a pushing match, but Napasha intervened to spoil everything. At the mudbath, it was too cool to wallow, so the babies just took their milk, and then resumed the day’s activities. All the orphans are in fine condition, though several have warts which we are still treating with Thuya Occidentalis. Ndomot has one on his trunk, Nasalot and Kinna on the side of their trunks, and Sunyei on the side of her belly. The warts that were on Olmalo, Tomboi and Galana have now healed.