Keepers' Diaries, April 2015

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

This month has seen a couple of storms roll through, but not nearly enough rain has fallen this month at Ithumba. We are hopeful they are just late and that in May the rains will come. The temperatures have been incredibly hot, and our orphans resort to mud bathing and soil dusting sometimes twice a day. With the little rain that has fallen they have enjoyed the standing fresh water puddles and the new vegetation that the rejuvenated landscape brings.

01 April 2015

Rapsu and a wild elephant were at the stockade compound when the orphans were let out early in the morning. Immediately the lucerne was distributed to the orphans, Rapsu joined the juniors in feeding. The wild elephant was nervous and kept its distance but kept on rumbling as he tried get Rapsu’s attention and divert him. At long last Rapsu heeded the call and left to join the wild elephant. At the browsing field, the orphans kept themselves busy as they browsed calmly without any major observation. At mud bath time, the sky was obscured by heavy rain clouds and it looked as if it would rain in the next few minutes. Heavy wind followed and carried the clouds away. Narok and Teleki scratched their bellies on fallen logs as they tried to get rid of ticks. Sities tried to block Bongo from drinking water in the water trough, but he waited patiently and eventually had his fill. After drinking enough, Bongo splashed some water behind his ears and thereafter followed his colleagues. In the evening a wild herd reported for water at the stockade water trough and disappeared soon after taking enough water and communicating with the dependent orphans for a while.

02 April 2015

Three wild bulls were relaxing at the stockade water trough when the orphans left the stockade in the morning. The most junior wild elephant in the group, who knows the orphans well from his frequent visits, left his two friends and came to join the juniors. He fed on the lucerne with them as the other wilder friends looked on in disbelief. Later, the junior wild bull joined his colleagues when he heard them rumbling. Garzi went to scratch his belly to a nearby rock as Kanjoro started rumbling alerting the others that it was time to leave for browsing. At the browsing field, Kanjoro browsed close to Bongo while Vuria browsed with his friend Garzi. When the sun started getting hot, Orwa, Teleki and Turkwel sought cover under a tree and left only when they saw their friends heading for the mudbath. At mud bath, the orphans were joined by ex orphans Lualeni, Kenze, Ololoo and Tomboi. It appears again, Lualeni has all kinds of surprises ranging from being seen alone, having her own group that never exceeds six members to dissolving her group and becoming part of Yatta group. The four ex orphans went straight for wallowing which encouraged the juniors to join in. Shukuru, Turkwel, Narok, Teleki and Bongo went to scratch against the nearby acacia trees after their wallowing session and rested up during the hot part of the day. Shortly after, the juniors in the company of the Lualeni’s group headed back to the browsing field and browsed together for an hour before parting ways. She headed off in the direction of Ithumba Hill. With pregnant skies the afternoon grew very hot and humid. Eventually Mutara took the group for an evening mud bath. After the mud bath, it was nearly five o'clock and Shukuru led the way back to the stockade.

03 April 2015

Ex orphans Kalama, Chemi chemi, Murka, Naisula, Kandecha, Olare, Suguta, Kibo, Tumaren, Melia and Kituria arrived at the stockade compound early before dawn and decided to take a nap all lying down, this is an indication just how comfortable they are at a place they consider home. The group woke up when they heard the stockade gate being opened. Narok was the first one to leave the stockade, with Garzi following her closely behind. Garzi with his trunk raised walked towards Kitirua. Kitirua threatened Garzi with her ears raised. Garzi retreated to avoid being pounced on by Kitirua. Later Garzi went to play with Bomani but their pushing game was cut short by Sities when Sities came in between them and even pushed Bomani away. Bomani went up to scratch his belly on rocks but later Orwa wanted to use the same rock to scratch and so he pushed Bomani away. The partially independent group parted with the juniors two hours later. At eleven o'clock in the morning, the sun was really hot and Orwa, who rarely bathes, was the third one to get into the mud after Teleki and Vuria. Bomani, Laragai, Bongo and Shukuru joined them later. After mud bathing, Shukuru and Orwa shared the same tree in scratching while Vuria and Bomani shared another tree in the same exercise. In the afternoon, clouds gathered and covered the sun. The cloud cover brought down the temperatures to a favourable level. Mutara teamed up with Bongo on browsing while Garzi browsed close Sities. Towards evening, the clouds cleared and this gave way to sun shine. Bongo the water boy decided to lead his colleagues to the mud bath for a second wallowing of the day. Orwa, Bomani, Kanjoro, Vuria and Mutara were not ready for a second mud bath and so they headed to the mudbath of their own accord with the Keepers trailing behind. When they were leaving, a lone wild bull came to drink water at the water trough. Today ex orphans Chaimu and Kilaguni checked in at the stockade water trough and left soon after taking enough water. At dusk, half trunk who we have not seen for many moons reported at the stockade with twelve wild friends. Soon after taking enough water, the herd returned back to the bush. It is always lovely to reunite with our wild friends, and these bulls have long absences but return to visit their orphans friends.

04 April 2015

Makireti, Kasigau and Kilabasi were at the stockade compound when the orphans were let out. Before then, there was a drama in the stockade when Sities finished her milk and decided to forcefully take the one that belonged to Bongo. The feeding was abruptly halted to wait for hot headed Sities to temper down. Sities continued to push Bongo and this forced the Keepers to get into the stockade to remove Sities who is very naughty these days. Sities ran out when she saw the keepers approaching knowing full well her behaviour was not acceptable. The remaining balance of milk was then given to Bongo. Bomani developed an itchy ear and broke a piece of stick that he used to scratch the itching ear. Makireti’s group of partially independent orphans parted ways with the juniors an hour later. Bongo engaged Vuria in a strength testing exercise and later mounted on Vuria. This is a favourite pass time of the little bull elephants, mounting games and strength testing as they are constantly physical. Shukuru and Mutara had a light pushing game that lasted for some few minutes. At mud bath time, the orphans were joined by ex orphan big boys Tomboi, Kamboyo and Rapsu, and female ex orphans Ishanga who is bouncing around the ex orphan groups and is clearly extremely independent. Shortly later, two wild bulls joined the juniors in drinking water. Kanjoro and Garzi kept on stretching their trunks to sniff at the two bulls. One of the bulls became uncomfortable with the two juniors sniffings and threatened to push them away. Kanjoro and Garzi left quietly to avoid the bull from making the threats real. Teleki scratched against the nearby acacia tree and shortly before the orphans returned to the browsing field, Yatta’s group arrived consisting of Yatta, her wild born baby Yetu, Meibai, Galana, Kinna, Ithumbah, Chyulu, Sidai and Wendi reported at mud bath. Ishanga teamed up with the juniors for the day leaving behind the big bulls and headed for browsing. The afternoon was quiet as the orphans browsed calmly with the weather predicting rain, but the day ended without rain. Ishanga escorted the juniors back to the stockade and thereafter she reunited with Tomboi, Rapsu and eleven wild bulls who were taking water at the stockade water trough and had obviously planned the rendezvous to gather up Ishanga.

05 April 2015

Ex orphan Challa was at the stockade compound early in the morning. He joined the juniors for lucerne soon when they were let out. Bongo shared lucerne with Kanjoro while Orwa shared it with Mutara. Vuria received a back kick from Challa when he passed behind him. After the fill Challa led the juniors to the Kone area further afield than usual where they settled to browse. Bongo and Bomani used the same tree in scratching, Shukuru had a game of rolling on the ground with Garzi following her lead. The boys hovered around big boy Challa who is growing into a fine specimen. Sities intervened in Vuria and Teleki's strength testing game by pushing them both hard. Shukuru stood up and went to sniff at Challa and thereafter she resumed to browse. Towards eleven o'clock in the morning, the temperatures became unbearable and so the orphans took shelter under a tree. At mud bath time today only Bongo participated fully in wallowing. Mutara, Kanjoro, Bomani, Sities, Turkwel and Shukuru splashed water several times then left for scratching against the acacia trees. Kainuk, Vuria and Laragai did soil dusting before returning back to the browsing field. In the afternoon, the weather changed to cloudy and this brought the temperatures down to a favourable level with cool wind blowing towards Ithumba. In the evening on the way back to the stockade, Turkwel tried to block Sities when Sities tried to overtake her. At six o'clock in the evening a distance away east of the stockade, heavy rain was pounding down with the wind blowing towards Ithumba. Hopefully if the wind doesn't change direction then we might get rain.

06 April 2015

Contrary to our expectation, the morning was dry. Before dark, it had indicated that it would rain, but the rain has remained elusive despite all the surrounding areas enjoying some huge storms. Orwa left the stockade with a branch in his mouth and dropped it immediately when he was out of the stockade. Yatta and Suguta groups were at the stockade compound after arriving shortly before dawn. Lenana tried to entice the juniors by lying down but the young ones were not interested in Lenana's game. Kalama picked the branch that Orwa had dropped and tried to feed whatever had been left in it. Kitirua played with Bomani and later engaged Orwa in a strength testing exercise. The exercise ended when Orwa surrendered. Shukuru, Narok and Garzi spent a good long time scratching on the rocks at the stockade compound before heading for browsing At mud bath time, Bongo, Shukuru, Laragai and Vuria participated in wallowing but it was Shukuru that wallowed for longest. Laragai and Vuria teamed up to chase four warthogs that they saw approaching. The warthogs ran away as Vuria trumpeted as he ran towards them. He finally returned satisfied that the four warthogs had disappeared. Mutara led the way back to browsing field. The afternoon was quiet and the elephants enjoyed feeding and being together and by evening all storm clouds had gone leaving clear blue with little chance of rain.

07 April 2015

Ex orphan Lualeni arrived today with some new ex orphans in tow, Zurura, Kenze, Sidai, Loijuk, Makena, Taita, Kilaguni, Chaimu and Tomboi arrived early in the morning at the stockade compound. They joined the juniors in feeding on some lucerne. Ololoo, who has been Lualeni's favourite for many years, was missing in action. Only Ololoo can tell us whether it is Lualeni that has abandoned him or if its Ololoo that has abandoned Lualeni and what the cause for their separation could be. Ololoo is around, so nothing sinister has happened, but it is remarkable how we are seeing this parting of ways. Is it permanent or temporary; for us it is only time that will tell. Later on Kilaguni and Chaimu went their own way leaving the rest at the stockade compound. Garzi and Bomani, who of late have become firm play mates, engaged each other in a pushing game that went on for quite some time until it ended in a draw. Kainuk had her own game of rolling on the ground. Tomboi escorted the juniors to the browsing field. the orphans settled to browse at the eastern side of the Ithumba hill, a bushy area with a slightly better pastures. At eleven o'clock in the morning, Mutara and Kanjoro were reluctant to go to the mud bath for some reason. The others hurriedly raced for their midday milk, but these two lagged behind, only reporting at mud twenty minutes later. Laragai was the first one to get into the mud followed by Bongo before the rest followed later. Today only Mutara and Orwa didn't step into the mud bath water. Noise from a passing lorry scared Laragai who was soil dusting near the road. Teleki and Turkwel opted to scratch against the nearby trees before Shukuru led the group back to the browsing field. The afternoon was cloudy as the orphans browsed as they headed towards Kanziku area. The area is dry and the orphans concentrated on breaking and feeding the top soft parts of the shrubs. The evening was sunny and the orphans passed at mud bath where they found three wild bulls having a wallow. As soon as the wild elephants saw the orphans and got wind of the Keepers, they fled away so these bulls were obviously new to the area, unfamiliar with the Keepers and their charges. This evening Shukuru led the way back to the stockade. Lualeni, Tomboi, Meibai, Makena, Ithumbah, Sidai, Rapsu, Zurura and Loijuk showed up at the the stockade shortly before five o'clock in the evening. Big boys Zurura and Tomboi spent some time pushing one another and later left to an undisclosed location.

08 April 2015

When the orphans left the stockade this morning to eat their lucerne, five wild bulls were at the stockade water trough busy drinking water. One of the wild bulls had two arrow wounds, one on the right fore leg and the other one below the face. After taking water, the injured elephant walked away with great pain as he dragged the fore leg. Shortly later his colleagues followed him. Angela, Robert and Daphne were at Ithumba so we reported this immediately and quick veterinary intervention was arranged. The bull was treated for his injuries and we will be monitoring him closely should he return, but the DSWT aerial surveillance team with their aircraft will keep a close eye on him and hopefully he will make a full recovery. The orphans had an easy morning without competition from anyone in feeding of lucerne. Mutara led her group to Kone area where they settled to browse. At eight o'clock in the morning, it was a big relief for us when Napasha, Buchuma and Tomboi were sighted. Napasha and Buchuma have been absent for almost three months. They headed to the stockades to great everyone and announce their arrival home after a very long walkabout. The mud bath started early today when the ex orphans and two wild bulls showing up at the mud bath as early as at ten o'clock in the morning. Buchuma engaged Challa in a pushing game for quite a long time. Buchuma was showing Challa that during the three months he had been away he had training hard to be a dominant male in the future. Buchuma fought Challa even while standing in water until Challa finally surrendered, but after showing Buchuma that he can also defend himself. At one time ex orphan Yatta pushed Napasha from behind. Napasha initially moved away but changed his mind and then turned to face whoever pushed him. When Yatta saw Napasha turn, she retreated and walked away because Napasha as our biggest boy at Ithumba cuts an impressive figure these days. He is a lovely a gentle elephant and means no harm. At eleven o'clock in the morning, the juniors reported at mud bath and soon after taking milk, Laragai headed straight to join two wild bulls and Sunyei who were taking water at the mud bath water trough. Ex orphans Zurura, Loijuk and Lualeni joined the other juniors in mud bathing. Three more wild bulls came for water at the mud bath water trough as the ex orphans withdrew and relaxed under the acacia’s happy to be in the company of their orphan friends and totally tolerant of the Keepers. Kanjoro and Orwa walked up to the water trough with their trunks up on air. When the two juniors came face to face with the wild bulls, they got rather intimidated and chose to leave. Bongo who always seems to feel comfortable in the company of the big bulls walked straight up to them and joined them taking water. He later joined his orphan friends It was a very busy day with the veterinary treatment but we are hopeful we were able to provide the help. The wild elephants definitely know where to come for help and over the years we have repeatedly seen injured elephants coming to the stockades to seek help.

09 April 2015

The sky was cloudy when the orphans left the stockade and settled for their lucerne. Kilaguni and Chaimu had arrived earlier on, and joined the juniors briefly before heading to an undisclosed location. Bomani and Shukuru opted for a scratching on the rocks at the stockade compound before heading to drink water. On the way to the browsing field, Kainuk stopped and with her ears spread out, performed a soil dusting exercise using her trunk before following her colleagues. Bomani and Orwa who were behind Kainuk waited patiently then stepped forward and used the same spot for dusting themselves. At the field, Bongo and Vuria as usual engaged each other in their strength testing exercise. At nine o'clock in the morning, it finally started to rain. The rain activated the orphans moods as they started rolling in the running rain water and smearing themselves with red mud. They spent time on the road lolling around, slipping and sliding. By the end of their session, they all looked like ant hills they were so caked in mud. By mud bath time, it was still raining so the orphans headed back to the browsing fields as soon as the orphans had their milk. Shortly later, the rain stopped recording a total of 20mm. In the afternoon, Napasha, Buchuma, Challa and a wild elephant showed up at the stockade. It was lovely to see how well they all looked and to marvel at how our bulls, raised from infancy have become so impressive. The orphans settled to browse at the western slopes of Ithumba hill. The clouds cleared giving way to sun shine. The orphans browsed seriously so as to compensate for the time lost during play time when it was raining. In the evening, Shukuru led the first group back to the stockade, with all the orphans showing a buoyant and excited mood.

10 April 2015

The sky was clear in the morning as the orphans settled for lucerne. Shukuru took a pile of lucerne with her and went to lean on a rock as she enjoyed feeding it. She later joined Sities for more lucerne. Narok played with a rock that was close to where she was feeding on lucerne. She did this by trying to move it with her feet. The orphans settled to browse north east of the stockade where they traversed in search of better pastures. Green shoots are already appearing from the rain. Following rain of the previous day, water had collected in valleys and dams. At ten o'clock in the morning, the orphans came across one of the small dams filled up with water. Shukuru started by first drinking the rain water then splashing water behind her ears. Laragai, Narok and Garzi joined in and eventually plunged in and performed a spectacular wallowing. Teleki and Sities opted for a wet soil bathing as oppose to the full blown wallowing. At eleven o'clock in the morning, the weather was cloudy and soon after the orphans took their milk, only Bongo the water boy participated in wallowing. The rest took water then headed back to the browsing field. On the way, the orphans came across stagnated water along the road. Teleki, Sities, Garzi, Narok and Kainuk went down on their knees and started having fun by rolling in the water until they turned it into mud. Bongo came by and instead of joining the others in rolling in mud, started scratching his buttocks on rival Sities, who tolerated this. Later, Bongo tried to enroll Vuria into some playful games but Vuria wasn't interested and so Bongo left for browsing. The orphans settled to browse in the area between the mud bath and Ithumba hill. In the evening on the way back to the stockade, it started to rain again and before the orphans and the Keepers could get back in the stockade, they had all been soaked in the rain. At the end, 15mm of rain was recorded.

11 April 2015

Mutara and Kanjoro were the first ones to leave the stockade. Instead of going straight, the duo went in to where Orwa, Narok, Teleki and Bomani spend their nights. There wasn't much left but Mutara decided not to leave empty handed and she picked a stripped branch that she left holding in her trunk. Sities left with her second bottle outside the stockade making the Keepers follow her as they begged for the bottle back. Sities then dropped the bottle and headed off. Turkwel relaxed her trunk on Garzi as they waited for lucerne to be placed out. A green fresh tinge welcomed us, as this place transforms literally overnight. Lucerne was distributed and Garzi picked his share then headed to a nearby rock and started scratching his buttocks. Laragai came and chased Garzi away from the rock and instead took over doing exactly the same. After getting their midday milk after a morning of enjoying the delicious browse and shoots, the orphans headed straight to drink water. Along the road, just a few metres from the mud bath, Bomani, Vuria, Teleki, Bongo and Sities occupied themselves by rolling in a drying water. Kainuk was in a charging mood and she tried to block Bomani from getting in the bush after Bomani had finished playing in mud. Sities stood up from the mud in a charging mood. She knocked down small bushes as she ran towards the bush. In the afternoon, the sun was hot but the orphans browsed calmly without minding about the sun. Shukuru took a break from feeding to dust herself with red soil. Kanjoro and Mutara isolated themselves from their colleagues and browsed a few metres away. They rejoined their colleagues moments before returning back to the stockade.

12 April 2015

The sky was as clear as crystal when the orphans left the stockade in the morning. This was an indication of a hot day ahead. This was no problem for the orphans, they would wallow in water collected in dams following two days of rain, however it would be challenging for the Keepers. Garzi, Bomani and Vuria kept themselves busy by scratching on the nearby rocks as they awaited for their breakfast in the form of their much loved lucerne. After feeding on lucerne, Mutara rumbled, indicating that it was time to leave. She led her team to the water trough and thereafter headed east of the stockade where they settled to browse. Vuria and Bongo came face to face while they were feeding. Amazingly enough the two boys threatened each other with their ears raised but none dared to start the battle. Shukuru and Narok browsed close to a big baobab tree while Garzi opted to feed on a rocky terrain as the rest scattered in search of the best pastures. At mud bath time, the orphans refused to take a bath and headed to drink water. Later, the orphans walked to their favourite area along the road where there was little warm stagnated water. They all lay down to play, except Orwa, who had been left behind interacting with Taru and Roan, Daphne’s grandchildren who he loves dearly. The playing with the mud was so thrilling that Vuria didn't want to quit. He later quit after everyone had disappeared into the bush. In the afternoon all was quiet as the orphans concentrated on browsing until in the evening when Orwa and Bongo came across stagnated water that they played and rolled. Shortly later, the orphans were joined by Mulika’s group of ex orphans consisting of Mulika, her wild born baby Mwende, Sidai, Loijuk, Lenana, Nasalot, Kinna, Ithumbah, Rapsu and Naserian and Galana. Sidai was surrounded by all the orphans as they tried to sniff at her. Laragai walked over to where Nasalot was standing and exchanged greetings by putting her trunk in Nasalot's mouth. Later, and having spent the afternoon together with the juniors the ex orphans escorted the babies back to their night and after putting them to bed the ex orphans headed out into the Park in a easterly direction for the night.

13 April 2015

Melodies of singing weaver birds welcomed yet another beautiful day as they busied themselves making nests in the acacia at the stockade compound. The weaver birds were waiting patiently for the grass to start shooting so as to get materials for their construction work. Laragai, Narok, Mutara and Vuria stood close to the compound fence facing the store waiting patiently for lucerne. The orphans settled to browse within the Kone area today. The grass is now shooting and the area is becoming green and beautiful thanks to the rain that has fallen. Today Vuria performed a lone game of nose diving on the ground. His game attracted Bongo who was feeding a few metres away. Bongo attempted to mount on Vuria while he was in this ungainly position, but Vuria was not having any of it and strongly rebuffed him. At half past ten o'clock in the morning, the orphans came across a dam with water and opted for an early mud bath. When they were through with wallowing, Bomani, Narok and Vuria split from the rest of the herd and started browsing towards the usual mud wallow. On the way to the mud wallow, Shukuru developed an itchy right hind foot and used a fallen dry tree to help herself scratch, which proved extremely effective. At milk feeding time, the orphans only took milk, then water and thereafter returned back to the browsing field. They skipped the wallowing exercise since much had been done while at the browsing field. In the afternoon the sun was hot and Sities decided to relax under a tree while Kanjoro continuously flapped his ears as he browsed close to Vuria in an effort to keep cool. In the evening, as the orphans were on their way back to the stockade, they were joined by ex orphan girls Nasalot, Galana and Sunyei. The three ex orphans left shortly after the orphans got into their stockades, happy in having put them in bed and touched base. The orphans browsed happily in their stockades and then fell asleep in a row for the night, resting their heads in the soft earth freshly dug by the Keepers each day to make them comfortable.

14 April 2015

Soon after leaving the stockade, Vuria opted to scratch on rocks at the stockade compound which is common place. The orphans do this to dislodge any unwelcome ticks. Laragai who was the last one to leave the stockade, engaged with Vuria and Garzi with some rough and tumble games. With the trees and shrubs now green and Sities concentrated on reaching the green leaves by stretching her trunk high. Later, Vuria scratched his ear against a tree and thereafter tested how strong he was by trying to push the tree down. When he was unable to even shake it, he returned to browsing. Towards ten o'clock in the morning, the orphans passed at a small dam located at the bottom of large granite rock. Sities and Turkwel both got into the water and played a game of lying on top of each other. As the orphans were playing with the water, ex orphans Orok and Taita emerged from the bushes and joined them. The two ex orphans browsed with the juniors and at eleven o'clock in the morning, they escorted them to the mud bath. At mud bath time, only Bongo that participated in wallowing. Vuria, Teleki and Garzi were proud to associate themselves with Taita as they kept on walking side by side, enjoying the attention of these big boys. At the water trough, Kanjoro, Turkwel and Narok kept on raising their trunks to sniff at Taita. Soon after getting back into the browsing field, Bongo performed a soil dusting exercise before getting down to browse. Before long, Vuria interrupted Bongo's feeding by coming over and engaging bongo in a pushing game. In the evening, the sun was hot and Orwa opted for a soil dusting exercise before Mutara led her team for an evening mud wallow before they headed home for the night satisfied by a lovely day.

15 April 2015

Today was a quiet day as the orphans left their stockades, had their water and lucernce and slowly ambled into the bush to feed off the wonderful vegetation that suddenly was bountiful. As the dependent herd passed by the many granite rocks that surround the stockades they would rub themselves and when they came across fallen logs they would dislodge the ticks with more creative ways by straddling the logs. Shukuru later enjoyed a red earth dusting session, relaxed in the soft soil, and later was joined by Mutara, both coming to us at the Nursery as tiny infants. It is nice for us Keepers to enjoy them as they are growing so fast and learning the ways of the wild. The little junior boys were barging and pushing, as they do, avoiding grumpy Sities at all costs. Back at the stockades in the evening the orphans were joined by Wendi, Mulika and baby Mwende and another large group of ex orphans.

16 April 2015

Today on their way to the mud bath Shukuru and Bomani were scooping and tossing soil chunks in the air. Due to a chilly wind the orphans did not bathe today but were later joined by Madiba and Orok, who are big ex-orphan bulls. They remained with our dependent babies for a while and then headed further afield. At the stockades only Makireti, Kilabasi and Kasikau visited, as the recent rain have meant the other ex-orphans have obviously traveled greater distances due to the abundant food and ground water. Our wild friends are being sighted less often too for the same reason. Days are concentrated on feeding now there is such an abundant variety.

17 April 2015

Sities, the naughty girl, didn’t like Laragai’s behavior of pushing other young eles and she knocked her down to discipline her. Bomani started scooping and throwing red soil particles on his back while Bongo spent a good long time browsing next to Kanjoro and Teleki. It was very cold and quiet again today after 5mm of drizzle overnight. Later, Bomani, Vuria, Garzi, Teleki & Narok isolated themselves as young ones & started browsing on their own separate from others. They later lined up single file as they headed to the mud bath but today saw little action as they just stood around relaxing with the water not tempting them whatsoever. In the afternoon they went up onto the slopes of Ithumba hill browsing on green stuffs. While Nick Trent was flying doing his patrols checking on the injured bull who is doing well so far, the little orphans got frightened by the low flying plane. The Keepers calmed them and they continued to feed as they slowly made their way back in the direction of the stockades for the night.

18 April 2015

After their morning breakfast, the orphans headed into the bush to enjoy some enthusiastic browsing, and later came across a pool and began to wallow. Included in the wallowing was Mutara, Bongo, Vuria, Garzi, Laragai, Bomani, Orwa, Narok & Shukuru. They all played vigorously with Orwa mounting on Vuria. They then headed off and started having their dust bath to complement things. In the bush, they were all busy browsing with Mutara browsing next to Kainuk & trying to take some food from her mouth and Teleki with Garzi having some communication and later they set off on their journey back to the stockade in the evening. No other ex orphans or wild friends visited today, testament of the recent rains, as abundant food and water means the elephants are spread further afield. Back at the stockades they enjoyed their cut browse that is carefully placed in their stockades, some copra cake and of course their much loved milk bottle. They later settled in for the night with many sleeping lying down on the soft earth under the shelter of a roof. Others slept on their feet.

19 April 2015

This was a bright morning. With the abundant vegetation around we have stopped the supplemental lucerne feeds as it is preferable for the orphans to have the natural browse. However, some of the orphans still hover around, hopeful that some will be placed out in its usual place. After their fill of water, the ladies Sities, Turkwel & Kainuk began by browsing together and were clearly communicating with each other. Bongo and Vuria started a fighting game of pushing with their ears widely opened, while the rest were busy browsing. They later came across a small waterhole in the bush & started playing in the mud with Shukuru, Vuria, Garzi, Bomani, Laragai and Bongo spending a good long time slipping and sliding and enjoying the red mud. They later headed to the main mudbath but did not engage. They took their midday bottle of milk and headed back to browse ignoring the water and the red earth pile having had enough of that earlier in the morning. In the afternoon the juniors browsed in different groups. When they headed back to the stockade in the evening everyone was present and correct with the exception Teleki and friend Laragai who were missing and nowhere to be seen. The Keepers retraced their steps in search of the missing scoundrels and later found them browsing separately and totally unperturbed about being left behind. They joined the group and headed on their way. Today we did get a visit from our two very big ex orphan bulls, Tomboi and Napasha. Our little junior bulls enjoy looking on with awe and respect at these handsome chaps and their interaction with them is a vital part of their development.

20 April 2015

The sky was clear in the morning when the orphans left the stockade. They relaxed at the stockade compound for a good long time, seemingly in no hurry to head out. Here they hung around enjoying the morning sun, scratching against the many granite rocks surrounding the Ithumba stockades. Shukuru, Vuria, Garzi, Narok and Sities scratched their buttocks on the rocks while Teleki and Orwa decided to feed on newly shooting grass close by. Mutara led the way to the browsing field as the rest streamed behind her. Kanjoro, Laragai and Sities followed Mutara happily swinging their trunks sideways as Teleki rested his trunk on his head. Clearly they were all feeling very good about the day. The orphans settled to browse at the eastern side from the stockade. Mutara and Sities shared browse from the same shrub while Orwa concentrated on feeding on grass. Garzi stood close to Orwa while he was scratching and as soon as he quit the exercise, Garzi stepped forward and used the same tree to scratch his neck. Towards mud bath time, the temperatures were skyrocketing and lucky enough the orphans came across a rain water puddle and opted for a cool off by getting into the water, lying down and enjoying the soothing and cooling sensation. Soon after getting their eleven o'clock milk, Shukuru and Teleki had their trunks in their mouths sucking them as is so often the case, particularly with Shukuru. They headed to the water trough and had some water. Today only Kanjoro and Bongo went in for wallowing, but it appeared that the water was too cold because they didn't stay in for long but came out quickly. The rest were standing at the edge of the mud bath just watching the two boys. In the afternoon, the juniors settled to browse at the upper Kalovoto river an area with soft and nice vegetation. The orphans enjoyed feeding on the green leaves from the trees that fringe the lugga.

21 April 2015

Soon after leaving the stockade early in the morning, Mutara, Kanjoro and Turkwel headed straight to the water trough ready to start the day by drinking enough water to see them through until mid day, despite it being another hot day. Bongo and his playmate Vuria joined their colleagues at the water trough and spent a long time playing with the water slapping their trunks in the water and splashing. The two boys then developed some disagreement and the score was settled with heated pushing exchanges. At one time Bongo stood with three legs showing dissatisfaction of Vuria not following rules of the game. Vuria was pushing Bongo from all sides instead of head-on. Kainuk that was standing just nearby, opted to referee the boys pushing game and was forced to intervene when things go out of control with Vuria getting exceptionally rough. Vuria was angered by Kainuk's intervention and he decided to run ahead of the rest to wait in ambush of Bongo. The orphans settled to browse at lower Kalovoto area today. Later on Mutara and Sities, who were feeding together, decided to take a break to have fun at soil bathing. Orwa, who was feeding a few metres away, was attracted by the soil bathing game and so he joined the two girls in soil bathing. Towards ten thirty in the morning, the orphans passed Kone dam on their way to the mud bath. Teleki, Bomani and Laragai decided to have a mud bath so as to cool off. At mud bath time, the sun was hot and the juniors led by Bongo participated fully in the wallowing exercise. After the orphans had enough of wallowing, Laragai led the way for a red soil bathing. Orwa decided to do the soil bath in a different way from the others by rolling on the soil. His colleagues did it by throwing soil over their bodies by the use of their versatile trunks. In the afternoon, the sun was still hot and Sities decided to take a nap under a tree while lying down while Kainuk dug up cool soil under a tree and started throwing it behind her ears to bring her temperatures down. That evening, rain clouds gathered, giving us hope of an imminent rain but an hour later, the clouds cleared.

22 April 2015

The sky was clear and the weaver birds were waiting for longer grass so as to construct their nests. The shortage has been brought about due to lack of enough rain. The orphans left the stockade in a jovial mood that was expressed by the swinging of their trunks. Kanjoro was the first one to get to the water trough for water, followed by Turkwel and Mutara. Vuria arrived minutes later and mistook Kanjoro for his playmate Bongo. Vuria and Bongo eventually found each other and the games continued. Eventually all the orphans headed off to browse; the junior group did so without event and there was serious browsing till mud bath time. Only Bongo and Narok participated in wallowing soon after taking their milk. The afternoon was hot and Orwa was forced to take a break from feeding and relaxed under a tree. Later in the day while the orphans were browsing, five wild dogs passed a few metres away. While wild dog are not a usual sight they are in Ithumba. Mutara, Sities and Turkwel raised their trunks up trying to sniff the air and very aware of their presence, but they remained unperturbed. The wild dogs disappeared the same way they had appeared.

23 April 2015

The sky was as clear as crystal when the orphans left the stockade in the morning. A clear indication of a hot day ahead. The weaver birds perched at the only acacia tree at the stockade compound producing their sweet melodies still giving us hope of a rain somewhere to come. The orphans having predicted how the weather would be, left the stockade in a hurry to get the pastures while still soft and cool. Sities, while in a hurry to catch up with the rest, slipped and went down on her front knees, however she quickly composed herself to follow her colleagues. At the field Kanjoro, who was in a hurry to get some nice leaves ahead of Bomani, pushed Bomani out of his way as he tried to overtake him. Bomani wasn't happy about the manner in which Kanjoro went about the issue but he had no option other than accepting the way it was done since he couldn't do anything about it really. Later in the day Teleki and Narok came across a drying mud and rolled in it for quite some time as Bongo and Vuria engaged each other in a pushing game. It was interesting for us to watch Shukuru deftly remove a thorn from her foot effectively and quickly, not requiring us to help. She pulled it out perfectly with the tip of her trunk. At eleven o'clock milk time, the sun was really hot making all the orphans head straight for wallowing soon after taking their milk. Orwa did it very briefly then headed for red soil dusting where he rolled over and over again until he turned completely red. Narok and Laragai were the last to leave their much savoured mud wallow session, and slowly walked to the water trough to drink water. Bongo today got right into the water trough and started splashing water behind his ears but as soon as he saw the keepers approaching he clambered out and walked away, trying to appear innocent, as he understood very well that he was not doing the right thing. Water is precious in these parts and is bowsered in to the elephants water trough at mudbath time so any wasting is not tolerated. In the afternoon, the orphans settled to browse along the dry Kalovoto river. No water has yet flowed down the river meaning that no meaningful rain has fallen in the correct area in order to allow this river to flow once more. Some seasons it does, but this year not yet. Everyday we live in hope of getting rain but only time will tell if our hopes will yield anything. Yatta and Mulika groups with twenty ex orphans came by the stockades this evening to report in, have their fill of water and say hi to us and the dependent juniors. It was not long before they headed out as the sky darkened and night fell.

24 April 2015

It was a bright morning and the orphans left the stockade in a jovial mood. Garzi headed straight to the water trough and instead of drinking water, he used the water trough wall to scratch his belly. Kanjoro arrived seconds later and pushed Garzi away. Bongo and Vuria's morning greetings were exchanged in the form of a pushing contest. Sities disrupted the two boy's contest by pushing Bongo away. Bongo left the venue and went to invite Orwa into a pushing game but he declined by turning away abruptly. Laragai kept herself busy with a funny game of walking with her folded front knees then standing up and charging. She completed her game by knocking down small bushes while trumpeting. By eight o'clock in the morning, the sun had started getting hot and Narok and Teleki saw it wise to feed under trees with shades. Laragai came across loose soil that she used to dust herself before resuming to browse. At eleven o'clock in the morning, the juniors were joined by Yatta and her ex orphan group in drinking water. The ex orphans appeared to be in a hurry and soon, once they had drunk enough water, the group left to an undisclosed location. The orphans after this interlude, lead by Mutara, headed to Kalovoto area where they settled to browse. The afternoon was hot and Orwa decided to relax under a tree waiting for the temperatures to go down. The rest of the orphans weren't bothered by the heat of the day but continued to browse calmly throughout until late in the evening when Shukuru lead the group home for the evening.

25 April 2015

When the first gate was opened in the morning, Vuria left in a hurry with a plan in mind. Vuria heading straight to the stockade compound, turned left and went to stand close to the second gate that houses Bongo his playmate. When Bongo left the stockade, he found Vuria ready and waiting for him and without wasting time the two boys locked their trunks and the games started. Kanjoro headed straight to the water trough where he was joined by Orwa moments later. Soon after taking water, Orwa and Kanjoro briefly engaged each other in a strength testing exercise. Today we headed to the Kanziku area and browsed there. At eleven o'clock in the morning, Vuria led the first group to the mud bath while Laragai led the second one. It was a hot quiet afternoon with not much action to report, and no visitors from any of the ex orphans.

26 April 2015

Napasha, Kinna, Galana, Tomboi, Sunyei, Meibai, Nasalot, Makena, Naserian, Chyulu, Lenana, Yatta, Ithumbah, Sidai, Mulika, Mwende and Yetu reported at the stockade in the morning. It was lovely to meet up with this group of ex orphans. Nasalot stood at the main entrance and welcomed the juniors one by one as they left the stockade. Narok was the first one to respond to the warm greetings. Mutara left with a branch in her mouth and avoided Nasalot knowing that if she passed she might well loose her branch to Nasalot’s persuasive way. The orphans shared water with the ex orphans and shortly after left for browsing. Sities browsed back to back with Teleki while Kainuk teamed up with Garzi in browsing. At one time Garzi rumbled when Kainuk pushed him out of the way and in no time Sities came running in response of the rumble. She inserted her trunk in Garzi's mouth telling him not to worry about the pushing and gave Kainuk stern body language. At eleven o'clock in the morning, the temperatures were high despite having heavy rain clouds obscuring the sky. The orphans headed straight for wallowing soon after taking their milk. Only Orwa today refrained from the water, but instead joined three wild bulls at the water trough and fraternized with them for some time. It was not long before the others joined Orwa in sharing water with the bulls. Shukuru started the afternoon by soil dusting while Teleki just stood nearby watching. Narok who was feeding close to Kanjoro tried to snatch grass from Kanjoro's mouth but he resisted. The day ended with some rain clouds obscuring the sky but sadly no rain fell.

27 April 2015

Today at mudbath time the juniors were joined by four wild bulls and soon after sharing water, the wild bulls left to an undisclosed location. The orphans soil bathed and thereafter returned back to the browsing field for intensive feeding. In the afternoon clouds started gathering and within a short time, it started drizzling bringing the temperatures down. The orphans enjoyed the cool temperatures with Teleki, Sities, Orwa, Shukuru, Garzi and Laragai resorting to playing with the cool soil. After playing with the soil, they all looked red and shortly after they resumed to browse. Laragai led the way back to the stockade and on the way, the juniors were joined by ex orphans and big boys Rapsu and Tomboi who escorted them all back to the stockade for the night.

28 April 2015

It was a cloudy day but the rain remained elusive at Ithumba as the surrounding areas continued to receive a considerable amount. Tiny droplets were received in the morning. At the browsing field, Garzi was pierced a by thorn which kept on troubling him and at last he decided to scratch his feet on a tree stump, and this dislodged the thorn and all was well. Given the cool temperatures of the day, the orphans enjoyed every moment as they concentrated on browsing. Towards mud bath time, Teleki and Bongo came across a drying water hole and spent some time playing with the thick mud. It was still cold at mud bath time and the orphans opted for a soil dusting exercise before returning back to the browsing field. In the afternoon, the orphans settled to browse at Imenti area and the orphans browsed calmly without any major observation. As the orphans returned back to the stockade in the evening, it was still cloudy with surrounding areas as far as Yatta plateau continuing to receive dramatic rains with thunder and lightening.

29 April 2015

At last, the morning was cool and wet following a 10mm of rain received over the night. The birds were singing their sweet melodies and the orphans were happy as it meant they would have endless games of playing in mud. The orphans walked slowly and carefully to avoid slipping and falling. Teleki, Vuria and Bomani converged under the acacia tree to plan which direction to take. After settling on the direction, Teleki led the way heading towards Kone and the rest of the group streamed behind him. Kanjoro was not lucky as he slipped and fell on the way while trying to hurry up to catch up with the rest. At the browsing field, the orphans were joined by Napasha, Lualeni and Buchuma. Sities and Bomani stretched their trunks to sniff at Lualeni as Bongo concentrated on wet soil bathing. At eleven o'clock in the morning, the three ex orphans escorted the juniors to the mud bath. The juniors headed to the water trough soon after taking their milk. Shortly after, the ex orphans parted ways with the juniors. Mutara took the juniors to Kanziku area, while the ex orphans headed towards Imenti area. In the afternoon, Orwa browsed close to Narok as Shukuru spend some time in wet soil bathing. The rest of the day was quiet as the orphans concentrated on browsing.

30 April 2015

Mutara was the first one to leave the stockade and stood at the main exit gate from the stockade and this created an elephant jam since the rest could not exit. The Keepers had to intervene to clear Mutara from the exit gate enabling the orphans to pass. Teleki headed west of the stockade as the rest of the group headed east. Shortly later, Teleki realized that no one was following him and so he turned since he could not go on his own. At the browsing field, Bongo and Vuria started the day with a strength testing exercise. At around ten o'clock in the morning, the juniors were joined by ex orphans Lualeni, Ololoo, Napasha and Buchuma. It was interesting to see Lualeni again with Ololoo who was absent for awhile this month. The ex orphans escorted the juniors to the mud bath. At mud bath, only Lualeni participated in wallowing. Ololoo engaged Orwa in a strength testing exercise while Teleki played with Bomani. The rest of the herd participated in a soil bathing game. Later, the ex orphans headed to Kanziku while the juniors, led by Mutara, settled to browse at upper Kalovoto area. The afternoon was hot but towards three o'clock in the afternoon, there was a cloud build-up that predicted rain. The orphans enjoyed browsing in a cool weather and looked forward for the rain but unfortunately the day ended without any.