Keepers' Diaries, April 2017

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Ithumba Reintegration Unit

The beginning of the month started off excruciatingly hot as were the previous months, but around the 7th of April the weather turned, temperatures dropped and we knew that rain was on the way, having received news that rain had fallen in surrounding areas. Bongo surprised all his friends by continuing to mud bathe despite the change in weather – he has always loved being in water irrespective of the weather! Once the cooler weather came the orphans relished browsing and no longer having to seek shade from the harsh sun in the afternoon. Over the rest of the month there were further showers of rain and the orphans spent less time wallowing in the main waterhole, preferring instead the shallow rain puddles to cool themselves by splashing water behind their ears.

The beginning of the month started off excruciatingly hot as were the previous months, but around the 7th of April the weather turned, temperatures dropped and we knew that rain was on the way, having received news that rain had fallen in surrounding areas. Bongo surprised all his friends by continuing to mud bathe despite the change in weather – he has always loved being in water irrespective of the weather! Once the cooler weather came the orphans relished browsing and no longer having to seek shade from the harsh sun in the afternoon. Over the rest of the month there were further showers of rain and the orphans spent less time wallowing in the main waterhole, preferring instead the shallow rain puddles to cool themselves by splashing water behind their ears.

Lemoyian lost his one and only tusk this month, as did Bongo a few months ago, and so joins our tuskless brigade at Ithumba, namely Sities, Makireti and Bomani (whose tusks are growing but rather through the lip causing him some discomfort.)

This month some of our older dependent orphans, namely Narok, Orwa, Teleki, Bomani, Bongo, Vuria, under the leadership of Narok under took the transition of leaving the stockades and their human family for a more independent life staying out at night no longer returning to the stockades. This began slowly, with the likes of Teleki, Vuria and Orwa noticing the Ex Orphans as they passed by one day and joining them for the day before the youngsters returned to the stockades that evening. A few days later Narok, Orwa, Bongo, Teleki and Bomani opted to join the Ex Orphans and remained with them until 9pm before returning to the stockades of their own accord. Soon they began remaining out all night and only returning in the morning to join the stockade orphans for lucerne. Although they used the Ex Orphans presence as the motivational call to the wild, they remained independent of them and did not cross paths for the rest of the month, preferring to be their own independent unit and picking up a wild bull and another junior elephant who was without a herd of its own, so for this herd now has two permanent wild elephants now part of their group. Laragai also joined them out in the Park on their independent wanderings, but remained much more attached to the stockade-dependent group and stayed with them for longer. This now leaves Barsilinga, Boromoko, Enkikwe, Garzi, Kamok, Kauro, Kithaka, Lemoyian, Naseku, Olsekki, Oltaiyoni, Roi, Shukuru, Siangiki, Sirimon, Sokotei, Tusuja and Vuria as remaining dependent orphans, however it is not going to be long before more older orphans join them from the Nairobi Nursery.

The Ex Orphan herd too has become more fragmented since Kinna had her calf, Kama. The groups usually visited the stockades separately but on occasions all came together. Galana and her baby Gawa were normally in the company of some of the Ex Orphans, namely Ithumbah, Ishanga, Sunyei, Kenze, Lualeni and Ololoo, or Tomboi as well as Challa, Meibai, Naserian and Sidai, whilst Kinna and baby Kama were with some of the other Ex Orphans or with Yatta’s main herd. They remained around the stockade compound for a couple of weeks and then disappeared into the Park once the rains broke when vegetation and water was everywhere. During the weeks they were around the stockade area it was amusing to witness Wiva, (Wendi’s wild born baby), and her boisterous, overzealous character. She will happily approach a group of wild bulls drinking and invite herself to do the same, or challenge any of the junior Ex Orphans to a wrestling game. Gawa is much more cosseted by her mother Galana, who whisks her away at any sign of potential danger to the little girl. It takes a number of eyes to watch Wiva and all that she gets up to, so all of the Ex Orphans and their older wild young like Yetu are aware of her antics and keep a watchful eye on her.

Mutara’s Ex Orphan herd, consisting of Sities, Turkwel, Kainuk, Kanjoro, Suguta, Makireti, Kilabasi, Chaimu and Kilaguni were only spotted once at the beginning of the month, and the trio comprised of Makireti, Kilabasi and Kasigau visited the stockade later in the month as well, seemingly enjoying each other’s company separated from the other larger, Ex Orphan herds. Rapsu, Sunyei and Taita were also seen in the company of two teenage wild bulls this month whilst Ex Orphan bulls Madiba and Buchuma were also seen in the company of four other wild bulls. Ex Orphan bull Tomboi visited the Orphans a few times. It is always a pleasure to see him and others who have not been seen for a while, when they return with wild friends, and behave as if they have never been away.

April 2017 day to day

01 Apr

The orphans were joined by a one-tusked junior bull early in the morning. The bull shared lucerne with the juniors before walking away. Sirimon, Kamok, Bomani, Kithaka, Kauro and Olsekki spent some time scratching on the nearby rocks. At the browsing field the orphans were joined by Makireti, Kasigau and Kilabasi. Orwa engaged Kasigau in a pushing game that ended soon when Orwa surrendered. Orwa then went to have a light strength testing exercise with Makireti. A wild mum with her two kids joined the juniors briefly. Bongo and Orwa decided to join the wild herd and lagged behind at the time of going to the mud bath. Orwa engaged the youngest calf into a strength testing exercise. At mud bath time, the juniors were joined by twenty wild elephants Galana, her baby Gawa, Ithumbah, Ishanga, Sunyei, Kenze, Lualeni and Ololoo. Half Trunk and a bull that was treated last month were also among them. In the afternoon, the orphans settled to browse at Kanziku area. In the evening, Kinna, Kama and other some other Ex Orphans reported for water at the Stockade.

One-tusk bull joining the orphans

Kasigau playing with Orwa

Makireti playin with Orwa

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