Keepers' Diaries, April 2010

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

Intermittent heavy rain fell throughout the month, providing a great deal of entertaining diversion for all the Ithumba elephants, eight of whom remain Keeper and Night Stockade dependent,, escorted out each morning by their Keepers. These are Loijuk (now the main Matriarch of this group), Makena, Chyulu, Zurura, Loijuk, Kenze, Sian, Lenana and little Meibai. That said Kenze and Lenana were taken by Yatta after the Juniors’ noon mudbath towards the end of the month on a trial run at being “wild” but were returned to the Stockades by Yatta in the evening, obviously having had second thoughts about it all! Meanwhile, it would appear that Lualeni has obviously been detailed by Yatta to spend time chaperoning the Youngsters for much of the month since Wendi has been largely conspicuous by her absence this month and has only put in one appearance this month to collect Lualeni from the Stockade in the evening, and return her to Yatta’s unit, because she arrived the next day in amongst Yatta’s satellites!.

01 April 2010

There was a heavy downpour during the night, so the orphans left their Stockades in a happy mood, slipping and sliding playfully in the mud. They came to the mudbath venue as usual at noon, but having enjoyed a daylong mudbath in the bush, they merely took their milk, and returned to browse during the afternoon. Still no sign of the ex orphans showing up.

02 April 2010

On a bright morning the orphans began feeding close to the Stockades, drinking from puddles left by last night’s rainstorm. At mudbath Loijuk escorted her favourite, little Meibai, to take his milk, and then all browsed along the slopes of Ithumba hill for the remainder of the afternoon.

03 April 2010

The orphans stopped to drink from the Stockade water trough before making their way out today. Just before mudbath Lenana and Chyulu enjoyed a soil bath, which ended when Makena made her way to the mudbath. Later Zurura and Meibai found a large puddle of stagnant water and began rolling in it, joined by Sian, who normally does not like romping with the others due to her weak condition. Later, all wandered back to their Stockades for the night. There has still been no sign of the ex orphans showing up.

04 April 2010

Incoming mist obscured Ithumba hill as the orphans left in the morning, browsing their way to the slopes of the hill where Makena challenged Chyulu to a pushing match. However, this was interrupted by Kenze, who was not far away and came to separate the girls.

05 April 2010

Napasha, Naserian, Lualeni and Kora, all now qualifying as ex orphans, came to join the Juniors at the mudbath. Later Kora, Lualeni and Naserian headed off, leaving Napasha with the Youngsters who remained with them throughout the afternoon, and escorted them back to the Night Stockades in the evening. He then left.

06 April 2010

The orphans left the Stockade early as usual, Loijuk and Makena scratching their bodies against trees as they went. Later Meibai enjoyed a dust-bath with Loijuk, of whom he is very fond. They picked up soil and sprayed it over their bodies. Two hours later Yatta passed by the Stockades accompanied by Mulika, Kinna, Selengai, Taita, Rapsu, Orok, Challa and Buchuma, just to show the Keepers that they were O.K. after a week’s absence without being seen. Wendi’s group still remains at large! The Keeper Dependent group attended their mudbath as usual, and later Yatta and her entourage showed up for a cooling mudbath, after which Orok and Buchuma moved to the nearby trees to scratch themselves. At 3 p.m. Yatta joined the Keeper Dependent orphans as they were browsing. There was a joyful reunion with joyful trumpeting, and rumbles as soon as the two groups met up, the ex orphans moving directly to inspect little Meibai to find out if he was still fine. Loijuk was anxious, fearing that they might try and take Meibai off with them when they left, but instead they all fed peacefully together, and Meibai enjoyed maximum security wedged in amongst them on the way back home, happy to return to his Stockade with Loijuk.

07 April 2010

Having left the Stockades on a clear morning, Makena found a log of wood to scratch against. All then browsed calmly until it was time to head for the mudbath, after which they returned to browse along the slopes of Ithumba hill. There they were joined by Yatta’s group, but only briefly before separating again, but leaving Lualeni and Napasha to escort the Youngsters back to the Stockades in the evening. Having seen the Youngsters safely home, the two left.

08 April 2010

Lualeni obviously spent the night nearby, for as soon as the Youngsters had emerged in the morning, she appeared. Chyulu then led the group to the Kone area, where they settled down to browse until it was time to attend the noon mudbath. Afterwards they browsed at the Kanziku area until late evening, when Lualeni led the Youngsters back home. At 6 p.m. Wendi and her group turned up to collect Lualeni, and all left together having ;rumbled a “hello” to the Youngsters who were already in their Stockades for the night.

09 April 2010

On a drizzly morning the orphans enjoyed browsing in a wet environment, but soon turned to mud wallowing out in the field. None of them were interested in the mudbath today, having had plenty of mud bathing out in the bush. In the evening Yatta’s group, accompanied by Yatta’s wild recruit, Mgeni, turned up. Within Yatta’s group was Lualeni, who had left with Wendi the previous evening.

10 April 2010

First thing in the morning Lualeni was waiting outside the Stockades to greet the Youngsters and all then headed eastwards towards the Kalovoto area to browse, led by Chyulu. Makena led the way to the noon mudbath, after which they all browsed in the Kanziku area until Lualeni led the group back to the Stockades in the evening. Lualeni spent the night in the Stockades with the Youngsters, since the ex orphans did not turn up to collect her.

11 April 2010

Early in the morning, Yatta and her group, accompanied by Mgeni and 2 wild elephants turned up at the Stockades and fraternized with the Juniors briefly before splitting up and heading westwards, leaving the Youngsters and Lualeni to browse eastwards. After the mudbath Loijuk enjoyed chasing after an Egyptian goose who flew off, leaving her frustrated! In the evening Yatta and her wild friends turned up at the Stockades and then left with Lualeni in tow.

12 April 2010

Yatta and her group plus their wild friends were again at the Stockades first thing in the morning. The Youngsters eagerly joined them, and all headed out to browse as a herd, where they remained together for 2 hours before Yatta and her friends left, but Lualeni stayed behind with the Youngsters for the remainder of the day.

13 April 2010

Yatta’s group, minus their wild friends, joined the orphans at 8 a.m. in the morning, keeping close to little Meibai as they browsed as a herd. All then headed to the mudbath and wallowed together. At 3 p.m. Yatta left with her group to continue their daily activities, and the Youngsters accompanied their Keepers, making their way slowly back home in the evening.

14 April 2010

Yatta’s group passed by the Stockades soon after the Youngsters had left for the Kone area to browse. In the afternoon heavy clouds gathered, and what began as a drizzle, soon filled valleys and gullies with running water. The orphans had a marvelous time playing in the water and mud until they were all brick red in colour. The rain eased in the afternoon, when the orphans resumed feeding.

15 April 2010

On a cold, but clear, morning, the orphans headed out. Loijuk and Meibai came across a rock holding fresh rainwater and both took a long drink, after which Lualeni led the group to the slopes of Ithumba hill to browse until mudbath time. Makena rumbled, informing them that it was time to head to the mudbath venue. No ex orphans were spotted today, apart from Lualeni, who had remained with the Youngsters a few days earlier.

16 April 2010

The orphans browsed along the slopes of Ithumba hill during the morning and headed for the mudbath at 11 a.m. There they were joined by 4 ex orphans, namely Mulika, Selengai, Taita and Kinna and all enjoyed a length wallow. Eventually the Youngsters had had enough, and headed off to feed, leaving the four older elephants still enjoying themselves in the wallow.

17 April 2010

On a clear day the Youngsters headed to the Kanziku area to browse, where they were joined by Yatta and her group at 7 a.m. who remained with them just for one hour before separating and heading off. Lenana and Kenze went with them. Since the weather was cool, the Youngsters decided against wallowing, but were joined by Yatta’s group for an afternoon’s browsing session. When Yatta departed, Lualeni and Kenze again went off with her, leaving Makena to lead the Youngsters back to the Stockades in the evening. At 6.30 p.m. Yatta’s group escorted Kenze and Lenana back to the Stockades, and then left without them.

18 April 2010

It was a cool, drizzly morning, which the orphans enjoyed immensely, browsing to their heart’s content on the fresh browse, and scratching themselves on trees. No one was interested in the mudbath today, having had plenty of opportunities to wallow out in the bush.

19 April 2010

Light showers heralded the morning and the Youngsters enjoyed skidding around on the wet soil on their way out to the feeding grounds. All resembled anthills in amongst the dense bush as they browsed. At the mudbath venue, the milk dependent babies took their milk, but found it too cold to wallow, so returned to browsing for the rest of the afternoon.

20 April 2010

The orphans chose the Kanziku area in which to feed today, concentrating on filling their bellies before it turned too hot. By noon it was hot, so they enjoyed a cooling mudbath and later took her group to the slopes of Ithumba hill.

21 April 2010

The sun rose in a golden ball on a clear morning as the orphans left for the browsing area. There Zurura and Kenze enjoyed a pushing match, closely watched by Meibai until Zurura surrendered to Kenze. At the mudbath, it was too cold for the orphans to be tempted into the mud.

22 April 2010

The orphans concentrated on browsing, searching out soft vegetation on which to feed. At the mudbath they rested under shade, waiting for the Keepers to finish their lunch, before heading out again, led by Loijuk. In the evening something “spooked” them, prompting them to run to their Keepers and browse close to the human family for the remainder of the day.

23 April 2010

Having passed by the water trough, the orphans headed out to browse until mudbath time, when Kenze and Zurura engaged one another in another pushing match. At mudbath time, Meibai thoroughly enjoyed himself, venturing into the deepest part of the pool and at 3 p.m., it began to rain again so the orphans enjoyed their usual wet weather games which lasted for almost an hour. In the evening, Makena, who is always conscious of the time, signaled that it was time to embark on the journey home, another happy day having ended.

24 April 2010

Led by Loijuk, and having taken water and scratched their bodies against trees, the orphans headed out as usual. All enjoyed the noon mudbath until Makena decided it was time to return to feeding. She made a loud noise, and all her colleagues left the wallow and accompanied her.

25 April 2010

The day began like any other and continued so until the evening, when the Youngsters were joined by Naserian, Kora, Lualeni and a junior wild bull who was very scared of the Keepers and kept on spreading out his ears as if contemplating a charge whilst hiding behind Kora. This small group browsed alongside the Youngsters until 5 p.m. in the evening when Naserian and her group led the Juniors back to the Stockades and then disappeared into the bush.

26 April 2010

Chyulu led the orphans out, the way she walked indicating that it would be a day of walking far afield. The orphans walked until l0 a.m. when the weather turned very hot. All enjoyed the mudbath today, Meibai reveling in the water, even venturing into the deepest part of the pool. The afternoon remained hot, so the orphans fed under shade for the rest of the day until it was time to return to the Stockades in the evening.

27 April 2010

Having left the Stockades, and after a long march yesterday, the orphans decided to feed close to the Stockades until the mudbath and the milk feed for those still milk dependent. Heavy clouds lowered temperatures, prompting the orphans to move further afield in the afternoon. They settled to feed along the slopes of Ithumba hill until the evening.

28 April 2010

Light showers made the early morning cool, prompting the orphans to enjoy soil dusting. At the mudbath only Loijuk, Meibai, Lenana and Chyulu went for a wallow, while the rest continued browsing. At 7.30 p.m. Yatta, Naserian and the rest of their group passed by the Stockade, rumbling a “hello” to the Youngsters.

29 April 2010

Sian led the Youngsters to the Kanziku area to browse. At around 8 a.m. Yatta came running past the Stockades and disappeared into the bush, pursued by a boyfriend. The sun was hot so the Youngsters fed under shade and thoroughly enjoyed their mudbath, wallowing fully.

30 April 2010

On a fine morning, the orphans browsed peacefully, and again enjoyed a lengthy mudbath on a very hot day. In the afternoon, they browsed their way back to their Night Stockades. The search to try and locate orphan Shira continued during the month, but without success. A lot of the wild elephants have moved further afield now, Shira is obviously amongst them, who has always been eager to resume life as a wild elephant. The boys in Emily’s group have been spotted on many occasions this month during our motorized sorties searching for Shira, sometimes seen feeding apart from the female group. We believe that perhaps Emily feels that the time has come for the teenage bulls in her group to become more independent, according to the rules of elephant society, and that is the reason that Solango joined our Stockade dependent orphans this month.