Very evident in this months Diary is the very close friendship that has developed between Lualeni and Kora, and the fact that Kora remains averse to water and bathing, which is strange since he comes from a very arid and hot part of the country – Kora National Reserve. He is never anxious to get into the mud wallow, and eager to persuade them to vacate it by pretending that he has seen something alarming, rushing out as though in fear, hoping that the others will follow suit. However, they are getting wise to this tactic, just as they wised up to Sunyei’s mischievous pranks. This month Kora has been dominant in taking the lead to and from the Stockades, or to the milk venue, the Keepers remarking on the fact that he is very “time conscious”.
The dreaded wild dogs, who drink regularly at the Stockade water trough, again proved a disruption when they turned up on the l9th, before the orphans had left for the feeding area. As usual this caused panic, Kinna having spotted them first and instinctively fled, but then plucked up courage to try and see them off, whilst Kora and Lualeni rushed back into the safety of the Stockade, and the others milled around searching for their Keepers. Kinna managed to deter two of the dogs, but then needed reinforcement from Yatta, Mulika and Nasalot to dispatch the remaining two, who were reluctant to leave.
Again the Ithumba orphans have shown great interest in the tracks and dung of wild elephants, but again have not managed to meet up with them. However, the wild herds are gradually utilizing feeding grounds closer to the vicinity of the orphans, and have been seen from the Ithumba Camp, so it is just a question of time before the orphans intermingle with the wild community, something Yatta, Mulika, Nasalot and Kinna are desperate to do.
Yet aain, the caring and responsible nature of the older orphans is endorsed in many instances – one being when little Orok forgot about his milk and instead accompanied Nasalot to the waterhole, something she noticed immediately, escorting him back to the Keepers for his ration of milk. Kinna then stood guard over him to ensure that the other youngsters did not interrupt his feeding, after which, a bellow from him brought Nasalot back at the double to fetch him again! Yatta is always very conscious of any stragglers, some of which find themselves lost in the thickets, when she will either go in search of them, or respond to their calls for help. There is always great rejoicing when stragglers catch up with the main group, or those who have taken a wrong turning are rounded up again. Napasha has again tested his strength against Yatta, and had to accept that even as the biggest boy, he is no match for the Matriarch, although he downed poor Wendi, and got punished by the Big Girls for being so ruthless. Very touching is how the Ithumba orphans respect the lunch hour of the Keepers, who sit under a tree to take their lunch, the orphans wandering off to browse on their own until the lunch hour has passed, when they return to collect the Keepers! Visitors to the Ithumba Camp have witnessed this on many occasions.
Ithumba has been blessed with light showers of rain during the month, so green browse is still plentiful, and the waterholes and mudwallow filled with rainwater. All the elephants are in prime condition, a very contented and happy little herd, who are as closely bonded as any natal elephant family. Incorporated into their elephant family are their Keepers, who are recognized as an integral part of the elephant family, any new Keeper carefully scrutinized to ensure that he “passes the test”! This illustrates the fact that the elephants recognize individuals.