Keepers' Diaries, April 2013

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

Upon arrival at Ithumba on the 3rd Ex Nursery orphans, Turkwel, Kainuk and Sities were greeted even more enthusiastically than usual by all the Keeper Dependent group, recognition immediate among those who had shared Nursery time together. Hence their transition for the three new graduates has been extremely easy, reunited with others they previously loved dearly and whom they thought they had lost. They instantly took the cue from Mutara, Shukuru, Kilabasi, Murka, Olare, and other older females and, as usual, that evening all the Ex Orphans led by Yatta turned up at the Ithumba Stockades to welcome them although the Juniors were already in the Stockades for the night. But, the Ex Orphans were back early the next morning to check them out and spent time acquainting themselves with the three new additions to the Junior herd, now numbering 24.

01 April 2013

The Orphans enjoyed their Lucerne hand-out before heading off to browse the Kone area today. At 11 a.m. they went to their usual mudbath venue, after which they resumed browsing until it was time to return in the evening.

02 April 2013

It was a hot day as the Junior Keeper Dependent group browsed the Kanziku area and had to seek shade when the temperature climbed. All enjoyed a lengthy mudbath. During the afternoon Kilaguni and Kibo enjoyed their usual Strength Testing exercise.

03 April 2013

Today, was scheduled for the arrival of 3 more Ex Nursery babies. Turkwel, Kainuk and Sities left the Nursery in the early hours of the morning for the journey to Ithumba in the Trust’s Elephant Moving Truck. Kilabasi, Kanjoro, Kalama, Mutara, Murka and Kasigau having spent some time in the compound, were taken by the Keepers to browse nearby awaiting the new arrivals. The Elephant Mover drew up at the Unloading Bat at 11 a.m., by which time Mutara had led the Juniors back to greet the new arrivals. As Turkwel, Sities and Kainuk walked out of the truck, recognition was instant, since Mutara, Shukuru, Kilabasi, Ishanga, Murka and some of the others had shared Nursery time with them. There followed a noisy and ecstatic reunion amidst excited trumpeting, rumbling, urinating and bellowing as the three newcomers were embraced and surrounded by their Nursery friends. Thereafter the three newcomers trailed Mutara and the others wherever they went, settling in instantly having found themselves amongst long-time friends again. All went out to browse happily and in the evening Chaimu led the group back to the Stockades. That evening all the Ex Orphans turned up at the Stockade compound, very interested in the three newcomers who at the time were back in the Stockades for the night.

04 April 2013

It was the first full day for Turkwel, Kainuk and Sities at Ithumba. The three Ex Nursery elephants have settled into the Ithumba Juniors amazingly quickly, following the established members closely at all times. The Ex Orphans returned to check them out, spending a lot of time becoming acquainted with the new arrivals before heading off again. Shukuru led the Juniors to the milk and mudbath venue at noon where they were again joined by the Ex Orphans who had 3 wild elephant friends with them. After enjoying the mudbath together, the Ex Orphans and their wild friends left while the Juniors browsed their way gradually back to the Stockades for the night. It had been an exciting introduction to Ithumba for Turkwel, Kainuk and Sities.

05 April 2013

Light showers that fell during the night left a wet morning. Out in the field the Juniors were joined by Lualeni and Sunyei who came with Ex Orphan bulls Buchuma, Taita, and Kora. All had a wonderful time rolling in the fresh mud while Kibo and Ololoo enjoyed a wrestling match and Buchuma mounted onto Taita. Kora did the same to his best friend, Lualeni. Since it was a cooler than usual day, the Juniors took only their milk and a drink, Sities standing in the mudbath water trough to cool down her legs! Taita and Sunyei remained with the Juniors for the rest of the day.

06 April 2013

This morning Naserian, Buchuma, Lualeni, Sunyei, Rapsu and 2 wild elephant friends came to join the Juniors in the morning and escorted them out to the browsing area before departing. Kasigau engaged Sabachi in a Pushing Game. At the mudbath, all the Ex Orphans and 3 wild elephant friends came to join the Juniors. Missing from the group was Big Boy Napasha. The Ex Orphans were first in the wallow, joined later by the Juniors who only wallowed briefly before Shukuru led them back out to browse, leaving the Ex Orphans at the wallow. Lualeni then met up with the Juniors in the afternoon, and escorted them back to the Stockades in the evening.

07 April 2013

Ex Orphans Galana, Meibai and Buchuma joined the Juniors at the Stockade compound this morning, and later they were joined out in the bush by Lualeni who has been joining the Juniors on an almost daily basis. She is extremely fond of Ololoo whom she seeks out on every occasion for special loving. All browsed calmly until the mudbath hour, when they wallowed before returning to browse again.

08 April 2013

Lualeni again joined the Juniors in the morning and spent the entire day with them. After the mudbath there was a call from the Trust Pilot, Nick Trent, that a lone calf had been spotted near Tundani on the Tiva River. The Keepers, accompanied by the Trust’s De-Snaring Team and Rangers went to the scene and discovered a one year old male calf, whom the Keepers captured and tried to walk back to the Landrover, but the orphan refused. There followed a 1 hour wait for the vehicle to cut 2 kms through thick bush in order to access the calf. As the orphan was being loaded, it began to pour with rain so on the return journey the Landrover kept on getting bogged in mud before reaching a road. It was 4.30 p.m. before reaching the Ithumba airstrip where the Rescue Plane was waiting to fly the calf to the Nursery. Right from the start this calf was unusually trusting and friendly towards the human Keepers, which was something very unusual for one of his age.

09 April 2013

The Big Wild Bull who was the first wild friend of the Ithumba orphans, named “Rafiki” (the friend) came early to the Stockades and having taken water, left. The orphans settled to browse the Kone Area where they were joined again by Lualeni, who went to feed close to her favourite, Ololoo. The Juniors were joined by all the Ex Orphans and 3 wild friends at the mudbath, but missing from the Ex Orphan group were Napasha, Challa and Buchuma.

10 April 2013

Having left the Stockades, Kasigau and Sabachi engaged one another in a Pushing Match which didn’t last long because Lualeni again turned up to join the Juniors and led them to the Kone area to feed. It was a hot day so all participated fully in the noon mudbath, after which the Juniors browsed the slopes of Ithumba Hill until it was time to return in the evening.

11 April 2013

There was a heavy rainstorm overnight, so it was a wet morning. Lualeni came to join the Juniors at 6.30 a.m. and immediately sought out Ololoo who was happy to see her. She kept watch over Ololoo as he rolled in the wet mud. Lualeni led the Juniors to the mudbath and enjoyed it with them until Mutara decided it was time to quit. The other orphans then followed her lead, but Lualeni and Ololoo were the last to leave.

12 April 2013

Having taken their Lucerne supplement the orphans headed out again to browse the Kone area, Ololoo and Kilaguni pausing en route for a brief Pushing Match while the others played in the damp banks of earth alongside the road. All had a prolonged mudbath, Ololoo trying to mount onto Kalama during the process. After the mudbath Lualeni and Sunyei turned up to join the Juniors and remained with them for the rest of the day, escorting them back to their Stockades in the evening.

13 April 2013

The Ex Orphans who had 3 wild elephant friends with them joined the Juniors at the Stockades in the early morning. When the others left Lualeni remained with the Youngsters, taking them to browse the Kanziku area. They enjoyed a noon mudbath and returned to browse for the rest of the day.

14 April 2013

After plentiful rain, browse and water is readily available everywhere so the Juniors have no need to walk far afield, but can browse near the Stockades, enjoyed a mudbath at noon, and browsed for the remainder of the day.

15 April 2013

It was a hot day, which did not worry the orphans since there are rain-filled pools out in the bush everywhere in which to cool their bodies down. By l0 a.m. the heat became so oppressive that the orphans headed to the large dam to have a swim before returning to browse.

16 April 2013

While browsing out in the bush, the orphans were joined by Lualeni who took Ololoo and Kandecha with her to feed apart from the rest of the group. At the mudbath the Juniors were daunted by a huge wild elephant Bull drinking at the water trough. Only Kanjoro and Ishanga dared approach him to check him out, followed later by Ololoo and Kandecha overseen by Lualeni. Later Lualeni escorted Ololoo to get his milk ration, before joining the others who had already left for the field again.

17 April 2013

The Juniors headed out to the Kone area to browse, Ishanga pausing to scratch her bottom against a tree on the way. At l0 a.m. Lualeni came to join them and took them to a large murram pit where they enjoyed a cooling mudbath. Lualeni led the Juniors to the mudbath later. All the Ex Orphans, minus Napasha and Challa turned up at the Stockades in the evening.

18 April 2013

A Splinter Group of Ex Orphans came to join the Juniors at the mudbath and spent some time with them. Kamboyo tried to mount onto Ishanga, and was cautioned by the Keepers. The Juniors then left the Ex Orphans at the mudbath and headed to browse the slopes of Ithumba Hill before returning to the Stockades in the evening.

19 April 2013

It was a quiet day for the Juniors who browsed the Kone area without a visit from any of the Ex Orphans. At noon the Juniors took their milk and returned to browse, since they had enjoyed wallowing in wet mud out in the bush.

20 April 2013

The orphans browsed around the Stockades this morning, Ololoo attempting to mount Mutara, but was prevented from doing so by Kilaguni. This angered Ololoo who then challenged Kilaguni to a test of strength which ended in a draw. After the Juniors had moved further into the bush, the Ex Orphans came by the Stockades. Missing from the group was Yatta and her baby, Yetu, Napasha, Challa, Ithumbah, Lenana, Sidai, Madiba and Tomboi. Meanwhile the Juniors enjoyed their usual noon mudbath.

21 April 2013

Having reached the browsing grounds, the Juniors were joined by Lualeni and Sunyei who spent an hour with the Youngsters before separating. At the noon mudbath Lualeni turned up with Loijuk, Tomboi, Madiba, Naserian, Sidai, Lenana, Kamboyo, Buchuma, Taita and Kora to join the Juniors. After sharing the mudbath with the Youngsters, the Ex Orphans peeled off, while the Juniors headed to the slopes of Ithumba Hill to browse before returning in the evening.

22 April 2013

Challa, who had been absent amongst the other Ex Orphans for a few days, turned up at the Stockade water trough with a wild Bull friend. Challa mingled briefly with the Juniors before leaving with his friend, while the Juniors headed for the Kalovoto area to browse where they browsed until it was mudbath time. Later they browsed the slopes of Ithumba Hill before returning for the night.

23 April 2013

Shukuru led the Juniors out to browse today. An hour later Ex Orphans Wendi, Kinna, Sidai, Kenze, Yatta and her baby, Orok, Taita, Naserian, Zurura, Meibai, Ithumbah, Rapsu, Challa and Tomboi turned up at the Stockades with the Big Wild Bull Rafiki in tow as well as Yatta’s wild recruit named Mgeni. Having taken water Rafiki then led the group to the mudbath where he and the Ex Orphans with him joined the Juniors. After wallowing, the entire herd moved together to the slopes of Ithumba Hill to browse together for about an hour. Kibo led the first group of Juniors back to the Stockades in the evening, while Chaimu and Tumaren led the second group and Ishanga the third group. Sities led the last group who have earned the nick name of “the Olympic Team” since they always break into a run as they approach the Stockade, eager for their milk!

24 April 2013

It was a morning filled with activity as the Ex Orphans plus some others came to join the Juniors. The Ex Orphans comprised of Yatta and her baby, Ithumbah, Loijuk, Wendi, Lualeni, Makena, Chyulu, Orok, Naserian, Zurura, Sidai, Meibai, Challa, Kenze, Rapsu, Tomboi, Kora and were accompanied by the wild recruit named Kijana plus two other wild elephants. Kandecha took the opportunity to test his strength against Ex Orphans Makena and Ithumbah, as well as Suguta, Miebai, and Sabachi from his Junior Group. He tried his luck with Ex Orphan Naserian but she proved too strong for him. Others who enjoyed Pushing Games included Naisula who played with Kilaguni and later took on Ithumbah while Kilabasi chose Meibai but was no match for him. Shortly afterwards the entire group left for the field, Sidai and Chyulu acting as the Nannies for baby Yetu, and once out in the bush Wendi lay down providing a scratching post for Sidai. The Ex Orphan group parted before the mudbath where the Juniors took their milk and water before returning to browse until time to return to the Stockades. In the late evening Mulika and her baby, Mwende, visited the Stockades along with Ex Orphans Madiba, Kamboyo, Nasalot, Lenana, Galana, Sunyei and 3 wild elephant friends.

25 April 2013

Once out in the browsing field Suguta spent time playing by rolling on the ground before getting down to browse, Melia deciding to feed some way from the others today. At l0 a.m. Lualeni and her friend Kora turned up to spend the day browsing with the Juniors separating when the Youngsters began to return to the Stockades in the late evening. But Lualeni and Kora passed by the Stockades later with Mulika and her baby plus Madiba, Tomboi, Nasalot, Taita, Buchuma, Rapsu, Zurura, Meibai, Sunyei, Lenana, Galana along with 2 wild elephant friends.

26 April 2013

Before leaving for the field today Kanjoro challenged Olare to a Test of Strength while Kilaguni engaged Kandecha. At the mudbath the Juniors were joined by Lualeni who was with Ex Orphans Madiba, Nasalot, Tomboi, Taita, Buchuma, Rapsu, Zurura, Meibai, Sunyei, Lenana, Kora, Galana, Mulika and her baby, along with the wild recruit known as Mgeni and 3 other wild elephant friends. After the Juniors had left, Kanjoro returned to spend more time with the Ex Orphan group while the Keepers took their lunch. Later they called him out of the group, and escorted him back to his Junior peers. Later Lualeni came with Madiba to join the Juniors who were browsing the slopes of Ithumba Hill, but when the Keepers began taking the Juniors back in the evening, they realized that Lualeni had snatched Ololoo and left with him. At 6 p.m. that evening Lualeni was accompanied by Wendi when she brought Ololoo back to the stockades.

27 April 2013

Before dawn today there was Elephant Commotion nearby, suggesting that either the elephants had sighted an enemy, or there was a female in season being chased by a Bull. At dawn Lualeni, Madiba and Rapsu were standing outside the Stockades waiting for the Juniors to be let out. The three Ex Orphans escorted the Juniors out to browse. Later that morning Ex Orphan Wendi was spotted passing the Stockades pursued by two Bulls, so the Keepers concluded that the morning commotion had been Wendi being mated. Meanwhile, out in the browsing area Tumaren charged a dikdik. When the Juniors arrived at the mudbath venue, they found Rafiki already there waiting to join them, but only Lualeni, Ololoo and Kasigau went into the mud. The rest, led by Sities returned to the browsing area having taken water.

28 April 2013

Shukuru led the Juniors out this morning. They enjoyed a quiet morning concentrating on browsing. In the evening Ex Orphan Sidai came first to the Stockades with Yatta’s baby Yetu who she escorted to the Stockade water trough for a drink, diligently taking care of the calf. Yatta came later for a drink along with Mulika and her baby Mwende, plus Buchuma, Taita, Kinna, Nasalot, Galana, Rapsu and Orok all of whom took water while Challa, Kora, Kamboyo, Kenze, Ithumbah, Lenana, Sunyei, Chyulu, Makena, Wendi, Zurura, Lualeni, Madiba, Tomboi, Loijuk. Meibai and Naserian decided instead to browse close by. Missing from the entire group was Napasha, who has now not been seen for 3 weeks.

29 April 2013

It was a warm sunny day as the Juniors went about their business as usual. Out in the browsing field as usual Kainuk browsed close to b following Turkwel’s every move. Kainuk is like Turkwel’s shadow, and cannot be separated. If she happens to find herself not beside Turkwel she seeks her out, bellowing loudly until she finds her! To avoid any disturbance the Keepers have to ensure that these two Elephants are always together!

30 April 2013

As the Juniors were pottering around the Compound in the morning, Kasigau scratching against a tree and Kalama against a nearby rock, the Ex Orphans passed close by, among them 5 wild bulls trying their luck to win over Wendi. The Juniors left the compound as usual, attended the mudbath at 11 a.m. and thereafter browsed until it was time to return in the evening.