Keepers' Diaries, April 2014

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Ithumba Reintegration Unit

The month at Ithumba started with a visit from ex orphans Yatta and her group at the stockades in the evening. The following morning ex orphans Kinna, Mulika, Mwende, Tomboi, Lualeni and Ololoo showed up whilst the dependent babies were eating Lucerne. They soon parted ways but Olare and Murka decided to join the orphans at mud bath time along with a wild bull. Afterwards the juniors headed to the slopes of Ithumba Hill whilst the ex orphans headed towards Kanziku area in the opposite direction.

The month at Ithumba started with a visit from ex orphans Yatta and her group at the stockades in the evening. The following morning ex orphans Kinna, Mulika, Mwende, Tomboi, Lualeni and Ololoo showed up whilst the dependent babies were eating Lucerne. They soon parted ways but Olare and Murka decided to join the orphans at mud bath time along with a wild bull. Afterwards the juniors headed to the slopes of Ithumba Hill whilst the ex orphans headed towards Kanziku area in the opposite direction.

Suguta’s group has recently chosen not to return to the stockades at night. However, they have visited the stockades after the other orphans have left on the 4th with Lualeni, Ololoo and Kenze, on the 5th with Buchuma and on the 19th with Mulika’s group. It’s amazing that they are finally making the last transition into being a completely wild and independent herd of their own.

Even though the weather was fairly hot at the beginning of the month, only Bongo, occasionally accompanied by Shukuru, Mutara and Sities enjoyed a good wallow. The weather started to turn chilly by the 7th April and only Bongo dared the cold waters of the mud bath. The rain showers continued for a few days, which the orphans found extremely exciting and loved frolicking, rolling around and smearing themselves with red soil. However, only Bongo participated in any wallowing in the mud bath with the rest only drinking some water before returning to the browsing fields.

The rains stopped briefly in the middle of the month and there was some relief from the cold weather. Finally on the 14th orphans other than Bongo enjoyed wallowing at Kone dam. They also came across some standing water by the roadside and thoroughly engaged themselves in a wallowing and splashing session. By the time they arrived at the real mud bath venue, the orphans had enjoyed so much mud and bathing they declined to do anything apart from drinking their milk and water! It started to turn chilly and wet again by the 16th April and only Mutara, Kanjoro, Sities and of course Bongo, participated in any wallowing. The next day was so cold even Bongo couldn’t be tempted into the muddy cold water. The rain showers then continued up to the end of the month and rarely did any orphans venture into the mud bath, except Bongo!

Bongo has proved to be rather troublesome this month. He has had to be moved into Mutara, Kanjoro and Makireti’s night stockade as he was being unnecessarily rough with Laragai and Narok. Then on the 22nd whilst returning to the stockades in the evening, Bongo dodged the keepers and could not be traced. The keepers eventually had to call off the search as it became too dark and Bongo spent the night out! Luckily, a safe Bongo reported at the stockade early at dawn. He waited for his friends just outside the compound until six o’clock in the morning when the others were let out. There was rumbling and trumpeting as the group greeted the ever independent Bongo. Having spent the night out there was much excitement and many stories to be told!

This month has been busy with visits from some of the ex-orphans almost every day. All the orphans have been accounted for except Napasha who went missing with Buchuma a few months ago. Buchuma showed up last month and also this month with Suguta’s group. We hope that one day Napasha will also return to the stockade so we can be reassured of his safety.

Lualeni and Ololoo, have decided to spend the nights of the 3rd, 5th, 6th, 14th and 17th just outside the stockade or nearby, accompanied by groups of mixed individuals consisting of Kalama, Murka, Olare, Kitirua, Kibo, Kamboyo, Tomboi, Lenana, Kenze Madiba, Makena, Buchuma, Zurura and even a wild elephant. Lualeni’s main mission in life is to smuggle the babies away from the keepers! But this time round the keepers are not sure which baby she is targeting! By sleeping nearby the ex-orphans are able to arrive at the stockade before the juniors are out of their night stables and they can join them in their morning feed of Lucerne.

On the 4th, 5th, 6th, 9th, 11th and 29th, Yatta’s group and/or Mulika’s group, in the company of one or two wild elephants checked in with the young orphans, either to browse or share their early morning lucerne. On the 11th the orphans, led by Kanjoro, decided to leave since they did not want to compete with the ex-orphans for food. Only Bongo remained behind for a little time before the keepers came back for him as he is too young to go off with a wild herd just yet.

The 6th April was in particular a very special day as Lualeni, Ololoo and Kamboyo joined the juniors soon after they came out from the stockade. Shortly later, all the other ex-orphans began pouring in. It was certainly a busy, social lucerne session! The orphans then settled to browse at Kanziku area where they were joined later by Mulika and Yatta’s groups. It was a fun affair at mud bath time for Bongo as he enjoyed wallowing with the ex-orphans. Soon after mud bath, the entire herd jointly headed for browsing but parted ways an hour later. To say goodnight after a fun filled day, Mulika and her group passed by the stockade, quenched their thirst and then headed towards Kalovoto.

Naisula, Tumaren, Melia, Kibo, Kalama and Murka decided to visit the orphans early in the morning on the 7th, but the groups parted ways soon after they arrived at the browsing field as the juniors settled to browse at Kanziku area whilst the others headed to Kalovoto. The next day it was Kora and Loijuk’s turn to join the milk dependent group and they browsed together the entire morning. They attended the mud bath session together and later headed to Kanziku area where they parted ways with the juniors. However, in the evening, Kora and Loijjuk returned with Kinna, Lualeni, Taita, Galana, Meibai, Ololoo, Challa and two wild bulls.

On the 13th it was Wendi who emerged from the nearby bushes and joined the milk dependent group. Laragai sniffed at Wendi and enjoyed spending some quality time with her. Shortly later Kamboyo also came to enjoy the mud bath. As the juniors were leaving a lone wild bull came to drink water. He was joined briefly by both Wendi and Kamboyo. Later Kamboyo left with the wild bull while Wendi chose to follow the juniors. A few days later Wendi returned, but this time with Mulika, Mwende, Chyulu and Nasalot. They shared lucerne for almost one hour before the ex-orphans disappeared into the bush however, they rejoined them later for mud bath hour. A day or so later this group returned with Naserian, Kora and Taita. Poor Nasalot had a small wound on her trunk but it wasn’t clear what caused it.

By the end of the month the weather started to turn hot again, but surprisingly none of the orphans fancied a wallow. However, on the 29th Mutara came across some standing water that she couldn’t resist and so opted for an impromptu afternoon mud bath before she resumed browsing. The month ended with Shukuru leading the first group to the mud bath. It was extremely hot at this time and therefore all the orphans participated in wallowing. They really had a wonderful time rolling and splashing around. The rest of the day was spent on the slopes of the Ithumba hill where the orphans browsed until the evening when Laragai led the way back to the stockade.

April 2014 day to day

01 Apr

As usual, the orphans left the stockade early and settled down for some lucerne. Once they had fed enough, the group was led away by Mutara. They enjoyed feeding at Kone area. At mud bath time, the weather was chilly so none of the orphans participated in wallowing. It was lovely to see Yatta and her group as they showed up at the stockade in the evening.

Mutara leading the way

Yatta showing up

Ex orphans at the stockade

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