Keepers' Diaries, April 2012

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

A light shower of rain on the l7th was the first for Ithumba, so at the beginning of the month the Ex Orphans were coming to drink almost daily at the Stockade water trough, sometimes all together, and at other times in Splinter Groups led by Junior Matriarchs. Sunyei came on the 2nd at 8 a.m. with a Splinter Group of Ex Orphans, and that same afternoon Mulika and Yatta arrived with their babies, Mwende and little Yetu. The next day all the Ex Orphans arrived at the Stockade water trough this time accompanied by Yatta’s wild teenage bull recruits, “Mgeni, “Kimethena” and “Kijana” and the following day (4th) all the Ex Orphans came twice to drink, since it was a very hot day.

01 April 2012

Having emerged from their Night Stockades, and quenched their thirst at the Stockade water trough, the orphans enjoyed a dustbath out in the bush which lasted until Chemi Chemi inadvertently stepped on Sabachi’s trunk. Tumaren, Suguta and Melia instantly surrounded Sabachi, touching his mouth with their trunks to comfort him. Later all resumed browsing.

02 April 2012

At around 8 a.m. in the morning, after the Juniors had left for the bush, a group of Ex Orphans led by Sunyei turned up at the Stockades to drink, and in the afternoon Mulika and Yatta came to the Stockade water trough with their babies, Mwende and Yetu. In the morning Kandecha had a lesson in Pushing tactics from Sabachi, which was interrupted by Tumaren who moved in to separate the two combatants. At mudbath time it was hot, so all the Juniors enjoyed the mudbath.

03 April 2012

At 7 a.m. all the Ex Orphans, accompanied by wild recruits Mgeni, Kimathena and Kijana visited the Stockade water trough. It was a coolish day, so the Juniors enjoyed a dustbath instead of the mud.

04 April 2012

It was another cool day, so the Juniors emerged in high spirits, Murka orchestrating a charging and trumpeting run-around game in the compound. All then enjoyed a dustbath during which Murka and Chaimu enjoyed a gentle Pushing Game and Kandecha challenged Kilaguni to a strength testing match. Today the Ex Orphans reported twice at the Stockade, in the morning and again in the evening.

05 April 2012

An hour after the Juniors had left the Compound in the morning, four Wild Dogs came to drink briefly at the waterhole before heading off. Shortly before noon a wild herd with two small babies the size of Yetu and Mwende also came to drink at the Stockades, but did not remain long, being nervous.

06 April 2012

Clear skies indicated a hot day. After a dustbath, the orphans, led by Kandecha, settled to browse at the Kanziku area. At l0 a.m. the Juniors were joined by the Ex Orphans who were on their way to drink at the Stockades. Makena and Melia intertwined trunks in a friendship greeting, before the Ex Orphans proceeded on their way, and the Juniors headed instead to the mudbath venue, led as usual by Kandecha.

07 April 2012

It was another cool morning as the Juniors headed out to the slopes of Ithumba hill to browse. After noon Napasha showed up alone at the Stockades without the rest of the Ex Orphan herd. Meanwhile, Kilaguni and Sabachi embarked on their usual sport of Pushing. The day remained hot, so the Juniors enjoyed a second mudwallow on the way back home in the evening.

08 April 2012

On another misty morning, the Juniors enjoyed a Soil Bath before heading out to browse, during which Kandecha picked a fight with Suguta, in which he was the loser. At a Stockade mudbath the Juniors were joined by the Ex Orphans who had come to drink. The Ex Orphans relaxed under trees near the Stockades after the Juniors returned to the bush to feed.

09 April 2012

Once out in the field, the Junior boys – Sabachi, Kilaguni, Kandecha and Kibo split from the rest of the group to browse on their own in the opposite direction. At 11 a.m. the Keepers called Kilaguni to bring his group back to join the rest, and he responded within five minutes. At the mudbath Kandecha enjoyed scratching his body against that of Kilaguni, who was lying on the ground.

10 April 2012

The Juniors enjoyed their usual Stockade activity this morning, Murka, Naisula, Tumaren, Kandecha and Olare scratching against rocks wile Kilaguni and Sabachi engaged one another as usual.

11 April 2012

At 6 a.m., early in the morning, before the Juniors emerged, Yatta and the Ex Orphans came to the Stockade compound and intermingled with the Juniors as soon as they were let out. Once out in the field Chaimu attracted Kitirua, Melia, Tumaren, Kilaguni, Sabachi and Kandecha by lying down. Suguta, who was a short distance away came to enjoy lying on Melia, who was also lying down. Later Kilaguni signaled an end to the game by running off, followed by the others. At the mudbath the Juniors were again joined by the Ex Orphans.

12 April 2012

Whilst the girls opted for a soil bath, Kilaguni did the rounds testing his strength against whoever was available. Having engaged Kandecha, he then homed in on Melia, against whom he had no chance, so he left her for Sabachi instead. This went on until it was time to head out.

13 April 2012

Still no rain, although the sky looks promising. The Juniors had a soil bath this morning while Kitirua and Kilaguni had a score to settle. They then headed out to browse.

14 April 2012

It was an uneventful day for the Juniors, Kilaguni and Sabachi engaging one another as usual, and after the mudbath, Kilaguni took on Kibo. Sensing that Kilaguni was winning, Kibo decided to about turn and quit.

15 April 2012

It promised to be a hot day. Chemi Chemi and Naisula both wanted a shady patch but Tumaren moved in and pushed both of them out, taking over the shady patch for herself! All enjoyed the mudbath.

16 April 2012

Kalama, Murka and Olare led the Juniors out to browse today at the Kanziku area until it was time for the mudbath. All enjoyed a lengthy mudbath since temperatures were still high.

17 April 2012

Led by Murka, the orphans headed out to browse having taken water at the compound. It was a very hot day so they took to shade. At the mudbath the Juniors were joined by Wendi, Buchuma, Challa and two wild elephant friends. Challa joined the Juniors in the dustbath while Wendi kept on circling the mudwallow as though looking for something. Later the Juniors left, but Wendi and her group remained at the mudwallow. In the evening there was a light shower of rain which lasted only 30 minutes.

18 April 2012

The Juniors welcomed the rain, and strolled happily to the browsing area, playing in puddles on the way. The Ex Orphans turned up to join the Juniors at the mudbath, but only Kilaguni decided to go in, while all the others opted for a dustbath instead. The Juniors spent 20 minutes intermingling with the Senior Ex Orphans.

19 April 2012

There was heavy rain overnight, so the Juniors enjoyed a splendid morning, thoroughly enjoying themselves out in the browsing field, drinking from rainfilled puddles and rocky hollows and indulging in umpteen mudbaths. Understandably none were interested in the usual mudbath!

20 April 2012

As soon as the Stockades were opened up in the morning, Kilaguni and Kandecha engaged one another in a Pushing Game while the rest went for water at the trough. Melia then led the way out to the slopes of Ithumba hill to browse. After the mudbath and milk, the Juniors enjoyed a dustbath.

21 April 2012

The morning brought light showers, which the Juniors enjoyed, slipping, sliding and rolling in the mud until they all looked like walking anthills!

22 April 2012

Kilaguni lagged behind the other Juniors today, busy kicking a fallen Weaverbird nest around the compound. He ran to catch up with them later. Meanwhile Sabachi tried to kiss Naisula by inserting his trunk into her mouth, but she would have none of it, and ran off. Today the Juniors browsed the Kone area.

23 April 2012

Today the Keepers led the Juniors Eastwards from the Stockades, where they encountered a wonderful natural mudbath which all enjoyed. None of the Juniors were interested in the usual mudbath today.

24 April 2012

At about l0 a.m. Kilaguni and Kandecha were at war, so Tumaren emerged from nowhere to separate the two boys. Shortly before the mudbath, the Juniors were joined by the Ex Orphans. Melia extended her trunk in greeting to Buchuma and Murka did the same to Ithumbah who has yet again decided to upgrade herself from the Junior herd to the Seniors. All enjoyed a joint mudbath, parting ways in the afternoon.

25 April 2012

The orphans entered the Browsing Area in a joyful mood, swinging trunks and bumping each other as they went. It was a cool day so none of them went into the mudbath. Kalama led the way back to browse after all had taken their milk.

26 April 2012

Chemi Chemi and Ololoo remained behind in the Compound taking water after the other Juniors had headed out. Later the two small boys began to follow, but having taken a wrong turn, became confused and began to bellow. They were immediately answered by Chaimu, Melia, Olare and Murka all of whom rumbled instructions. After a short while the two small boys rejoined the main group, warmly welcomed back by Melia and Chaimu who treated them to elephant kisses, inserting their trunks into the two boys’ mouth.

27 April 2012

The Juniors browsed calmly throughout the morning but for Kilaguni and Kandecha who indulged in their usual competitive Pushing Game which lasted for some time until Tumaren and Melia intervened to separate them. It promised rain in the afternoon, but sadly the wind dispersed the clouds. Time conscious Kandecha signaled that it was time to begin the journey back at about 5 p.m.

28 April 2012

Having left the Stockades, the Juniors chose to browse close by until Kibo and Kalama led the herd to the slopes of Ithumba hill, where they settled to feed for the remaining part of the day.

29 April 2012

An hour after the Juniors had left the Compound, the Ex Orphans, who had been absent for almost five days, turned up at the Stockades. Mulika and her baby Mwende, Kora, Mgeni, Taita, Wendi, Nasalot, Ithumbah, Lualeni and Loijuk were first to show up, followed 30 minutes later by Yatta and her baby accompanied by a small group of others. Later still the last group led by Galana came in and having taken water, headed on out following the route taken by all the others.

30 April 2012

Soon after the Juniors had left the Compound, a group of Ex Orphans came in – Napasha, Loijuk, Challa, Chyulu, a wild bull, Kamboyo and Zurura. Having taken water, they left in the direction in which they had come. At mudbath time the Juniors were joined by Ex Orphans Mulika, Yatta, their babies, Wendi and Galana. Galana joined Kilaguni in the wallow while Kandecha tested his strength against Meibai. Meibai won, and then attempted to mount onto Kandecha, but Orok, who was a few meters away, came to Kandecha’s rescue, pushing Meibai away. All then went as one large herd to the slopes of Mazinga hill where they browsed until the evening, until it was time for the Juniors to return to the Stockades. The Ex Orphans began to head southwards.