The dry season has set in, the trees loosing their leaves, and browsing now the main preoccupation for the Ithumba orphans, all of whom are thriving and happy. The wild elephants, including cows with calves, are now again beginning to come to the Stockade water trough regularly to drink now that all the natural rain-waterholes have dried up.
Kilaguni, Chaimu and Sabachi have settled in well, Kilaguni a hot favourite of all the Ex Orphans in both Yatta’s and Wendi’s Sub Groups, but particularly adored by Nasalot, who homes in on him whenever the Seniors join the Junior Group and cuddles him by placing her trunk lovingly across his back. In order to spend as much time as possible with Kilaguni, Nasalot appears to have mainly switched from Yatta’s Group to that of Wendi, and also sometimes turns up alone, or with just one or two members of the now wild herd to spend extended periods of time with Kilaguni. All three of the Ithumba recent arrivals, Kilaguni, Chaimu and Sabachi are likewise adored and pampered by their Junior Matriarch, Loijuk,, who is in charge of them whenever the Seniors or Nasalot are not present.
Meibai, who used to enjoy the adoration of all the older elephants, has had to take a back seat now that Kilaguni, Chaimu and Sabachi are smaller and have eclipsed him in this respect! At first he was a little resentful and jealous, but is warming to them now.
On almost every day this month, bar just a few, the Ex Orphans have joined the Juniors, usually waiting for them to be let out of their Night Stockade first thing in the morning, or meeting with them out in the bush, joining them at the mudbath, often spending an entire day with the Youngsters and usually accompanying them back to the Stockades in the evening, invariably with some wild friends in tow. Yatta has been playing an important role for the Juniors, shaking the Acacia tortilis trees so that the pods fall. These seed pods are extremely nutritious, eaten by all wild animals in the dry seasons of Tsavo.
Mgeni, Yatta’s wild recruit, has been switching between Yatta’s main group and the Splinter Group of Wendi. He has been joined by another wild friend, who has been spending time as part of the Ex Orphaned herd. It was interesting that a wild Elephant came to escort the Juniors out from the Stockade compound on the 8th, and took them into the bush to meet up with the Ex Orphan Group and on the 11th only Kora and Lualeni came with a wild friend to take water at the Stockade trough.
Naserian, another ex Nursery Mini Matriarch, who became a Junior Matriarch of the Keeper Dependent orphans at Ithumba in her time, now leads a sub Splinter Group from Wendi’s usual now wild followers. \on the 14th Zurura decided to upgrade himself from the Junior Set to become a “wild” Senior, independent of the Keepers, attaching himself to h Naserian’s Splinter Group comprised of Kora, Lualeni and sometimes Challa and Rapsu as well. He refused to go into the Stockade as usual and instead went off with Naserian’s Splinter Group where he has been ever since except for the l9th when he turned up with Napasha and Nasalot instead!
The Wild Elephant Bull who has earned the named “Rafiki” (the friend) being the first adult wild elephant bull to befriend the orphans and their Keepers, met up with Naserian and Nasalot at the Stockade Compound on the 4th. Rafiki is a great favourite with all the Keepers, and brings many wild friends to the Stockade water trough during the dry seasons, spending time with both the Juniors and the Ex Orphans. That said the orphans have enjoyed a lot of wild visitors to their compound this month – on the 8th when a herd came to drink, again on, the 6th when wild cows and calvesturned up, on the 12th when l0 wild elephants were there to join the orphans and on the l7th when 6 wild elephants did the same.
A visit to the Ithumba elephants is always a great joy for us. This month, we managed just one night, because the Ithumba Camp was fully booked! But on that day, they all came back, so we were able to catch up with them all.