Keepers' Diaries, August 2010

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

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.

01 August 2010

Having taken water at the Stockade trough, the orphans left for the browsing area, where they were met by the Ex Orphans. Nasalot instantly took control of Chaimu and Kilaguni. All fed together throughout the day, enjoyed the noon mudbath together, and the Seniors escorted the Juniors back in the evening, before departing for the night. At 3 p.m. a wild herd visited the Stockade trough and quenched their thirst.

02 August 2010

The Juniors were joined by the Ex Orphans at the Kanziku area. Missing from the Ex orphan Group were Yatta, Mulika, Selengai, Orok, Rapsu and Buchuma who seem to be forming a Group of their own, leaving Nasalot with Wendi’s Group who fraternize more frequently with the Juniors. Yatta’s wild recruit, “Mgeni” keeps switching between Yatta’s Group and that of Wendi. Nasalot fed close to her favourites, Chaimu and Kilaguni while Sabachi remained close to Loijuk. Meibai enjoys sticking to the Ex Orphans whenever they are around, and he may soon become Keeper independent as did Orok. In the evening the entire group returned to the Stockades where the orphans were joined by a visiting wild herd.

03 August 2010

The Ex Orphans were waiting to join the Junior, rumbling to them the moment they were let out of their Night Stockades. Nasalot then led the Youngsters to the Stockade water trough and later out to browse. The orphans were in an excited mood, knocking down small shrubs until they settled into serious browsing. It was a hot day, so they thoroughly enjoyed the mudbath. Chaimu, Meibai, Loijuk and Challa being the most active in the wallow.

04 August 2010

Again Nasalot was with Wendi’s group at the Stockade Gates ready to escort the Youngsters out in the morning. Out in the field, at l0 a.m., Wendi took her group away leaving Nasalot and Nasrian with the Youngsters. At noon Nasalot took the Youngsters to the milk and mudbath venue, Kilaguni taking little Kilaguni to enjoy his milk and then the wallow. The Youngsters browsed during the afternoon with Nasalot and Naserian, who escorted them back to the Stockades in the evening. At the Stockade water trough Naserial and Nasalot were joined by “Rafiki” and a wild herd who also came to take water.

05 August 2010

All the Ex Orphans were at the Stockades first thing in the morning, waiting to escort the Youngsters out. Once in the browsing area, Yatta shook an Acacia tree so that the pods fell to the ground for the orphans to feast on. Kilaguni tried to inhibit Meibai accessing the pods, so Meibai retaliated by knocking Kilaguni to the ground. Immediately Nasalot came to the rescue of her favourite and solved the dispute!

06 August 2010

Today, a few minutes after 6 a.m., the Keepers led the orphans Eastwards to a dry watercourse that has plenty of browse, Lenana bringing up the rear to ensure that there were no stragglers The Youngsters thoroughly enjoyed sliding down the river banks until it was time to head to the mudbath. En route they were joined by the Ex Orphans who accompanied them to the wallow, but separated from them in the afternoon. In the evening at around 5.30 p.m. a wild group comprised of cows and young calves came to the Stockade water trough. They remained at the compound for about half an hour before leaving.

09 August 2010

It was a day without much fun, the Youngsters concentrating on browsing now that the dry season has set in. In the field Loijuk took Chaimu and Kilaguni from the main group to feed separately joining the others when it was time for the mudbath.

10 August 2010

The Junior Group left the Stockades early and having passed by the water trough were joined by a wild elephant, who led them to the browsing field and spent the entire morning with them. At 11 a.m. Loijuk led her group to the mudbath, the wild elephant following behind and the Keepers trailing. After the mudbath, the wild friend left the Juniors, who were led to the western slopes of Ithumba hill by their Keepers.

11 August 2010

Loijuk led the Youngsters out in the morning. At around 9.30 a.m. Lualeni and Kora came to drink at the Stockade trough, accompanied by a wild friend. Having taken a drink, the trio headed out again. Meanwhile the Youngsters settled into serious browsing, enjoyed their mudbath, and returned to feed. At 4 p.m. Nasalot suddenly appeared heading straight to Kilaguni and cuddling him by placing her trunk lovingly across his back. Having escorted the Youngsters back to the Stockades in the evening, Nasalot headed in an easterly direction.

12 August 2010

After the noon milk feed, the Youngsters rushed to the mudbath for a wallow because the day was hot. There they were joined by the Ex Orphans. As soon as Chaimu and Meibai stepped out, the entire group did the same, followed by a dustbath and scratching against trees. Late in the evening the Ex Orphans escorted the Juniors back to the Stockades as usual where the Ex Orphans were joined by 10 wild elephants who had also come to drink, and who remained with them until nightfall.

13 August 2010

The Juniors left the Stockades happily, bumping into each other and swinging their trunks from side to side in a show of happiness. At 9 a.m. the Ex Orphans came to join them, amongst whom was Mgeni and another wild Elephant. At the mudwallow, Chaimu put her head deep into the water while Lualeni and Kinna put on an impressive display. Later Zurura and Ndomot had a Shoving Match, which was won by Ndomot who pushed Zurura away!

14 August 2010

Having quenched their thirst in the morning, led by Loijuk, the orphans headed to the Kone area to browse before attending the mudbath at noon, after which they returned to Kone for the afternoon feeding. At 4 p.m. Naserian, Kora and Lualeni turned up to join the Juniors. On the way back to the Stockades in the evening the group passed by a wallow where they had an evening mud and dusbath. Upon arrival at the Stockades, and having taken water at the trough, Zurura refused to go into his Stockade, instead remaining with the three Ex Orphans. Later he went off with them for a trial night out. The Keepers hoped he would return during the night, but he did not.

15 August 2010

Kinna turned up to join the Juniors soon after they had left the Stockades in the morning. Having taken water together, she led them out to browse where they were joined by the rest of Yatta’s group, with the exception of Kora, Lualeni, Naserian and Zurura. As usual Nasalot homed in on Kilaguni, and the two spent the entire day close together. Naserian, Kora, Lualeni and Zurura joined the Juniors and the rest at the mudbath, Zurura having obviously made up his mind that it was time he promoted himself to the Senior set. All returned to the Stockades in the evening, and spent time at the water trough before the Juniors filed into their Night Stockade, except Zurura, who didn’t even look at the Stockade Gates! He left with the Seniors.

16 August 2010

Rumbling and swinging their trunks from side to side, the orphans left the Stockades in a happy mood, led by Loijuk. They fed calmly throughout the morning, enjoyed a noon mudbath, where Chaimu, Meibai and Loijuk were particularly active. All then returned to the Stockades in the evening, with no visit from any of the Ex Orphans today.

17 August 2010

The Juniors went to browse at the Kanziku area today where they were joined By Nasalot and Wendi’s group. It was a hot day so the whole group participated fully in the mudbath. During the afternoon browsing session Kilaguni remained glued to Nasalot while Sabachi stuck to Loijuk. In the evening 6 wild elephants came to drink at the Stockade trough.

18 August 2010

Loijuk led the Juniors out into the field, with Sabachi walking beside her. The trees have all shed their leaves now that the dry season is upon us again, so the orphans had a busy time peeling bark from branches, and searching for soft vegetation to eat. Shortly before 11 a.m. the entire Group of Ex Orphans joined the Juniors. Yatta led all the herd to the mudbath, and because temperatures were high, all had a wonderful wallow.

19 August 2010

Napasha, Nasalot and Zurura joined the Juniors early in the morning at the Stockade Compound, and having taken water, Nasalot led the group out to browse. The Juniors were with the 3 Ex Orphans at the mudbath, and thereafter returned to browse until it was time to return to the Stockades in the evening when Nasalot led them home. At the Stockade they were joined by a wild bull who was taking water at the Stockade trough, and once all the Juniors were safely ensconced for the night, the 3 Ex Orphans left with the wild visitor.

20 August 2010

As usual the Juniors left the Stockades early. At the mudbath only Meibai, Kilaguni, Chaimu and Makena participated in wallowing, while the rest took water and waited for their colleagues to emerge from the wallow. They then all went back to feed in the Kone area until 5 p.m. when Kilaguni led the group back to the Stockades for the night.

21 August 2010

Out in the browsing area, Kilaguni and Chaimu took time out from feeding to play a rolling game on the ground and then take a dust-bath. Seeing that they were joined by Meibai so the three spent some time occupied thus. It was a very hot day, so the Juniors thoroughly enjoyed the mudbath while the squirrels, hyraxes and monkeys took to the trees to try and cool themselves down.

22 August 2010

An hour after the Junior Group had left the Stockade compound, the ex orphaned herd accompanied by two wild elephants checked in. After taking water they all headed out following the direction taken by the Juniors meeting up with them at about 10 a.m. Again Nasalot immediately sought out Kilaguni, while all the others mingled happily, browsing together. All attended the mudbath, later scratching themselves against trees, Kilaguni and Nasalot sharing one tree! Later the Ex Orphans separated from the Juniors, and headed towards the West.

23 August 2010

The Juniors left the Stockades on a day that promised to be very hot, so they browsed as much as possible under shade. Daphne Sheldrick and her daughter Angela were at the mudbath to see the orphans and were delighted when Yatta’s group turned up to join the Juniors, but Wendi’s group was absent. In the evening, back at the Stockades, Wendi’s group turned up, but absent was the sub group led by Naserian. Wendi spent a long time interacting with Robert, Angela and Daphne and just as they were leaving, Naserian arrived. Daphne was delighted to be able to see all the Ex Orphans, plus Mgeni and another large wild bull who came with Wendi’s group.

24 August 2010

The entire Ex Orphan Herd amongst whom was Mgeni and another wild elephant, joined the Juniors in the morning and the morning was spent browsing all together. Kilaguni led the way to the mudbath, where most of the herd enjoyed a mudbath while others took to Soil Dusting. In the afternoon the Ex Orphans separated from the Juniors, but turned up again to take water at the Stockade in the late evening before leaving to an undisclosed location.

25 August 2010

It promised to be another very hot day as Loijuk led the Keeper Dependent group out to browse with Kilaguni, Chaimu and Sabachi walking alongside her. At the mudbath venue the Ex Orphans joined the Juniors for a wallow and spent the afternoon browsing with them, escorting the Youngsters back in the evening.

26 August 2010

The morning was cool as the orphans took water and indulged in the usual Stockade games before heading out to feed. Kilaguni lay down and rolled around watched by Loijuk and Sabachi while Chyulu scratched against some nearby rocks and then led the Group out. After the mudbath the Juniors settled down to browse along the slopes of Ithumba hill before returning to the Stockades in the evening.

27 August 2010

For the second day the Juniors were not joined by the Ex Orphans. They browsed calmly throughout the day overseen by Loijuk, the Matriarch of the Keeper Dependent Group.

28 August 2010

It was another hot day as the orphans left the Stockades in the morning. Sabachi and Meibai enjoyed a Pushing Match at about 20 a.m. As temperatures soared, the orphans sought the shade of trees until clouds gathered, obscuring the sun, and temperatures dropped. At the mudbath the orphans took a Soil Bath rather than a wallow.

29 August 2010

Shortly after the mudbath, a Splinter Group from Wendi’s Sub Group comprised of Naserian, Rapsu, Kora, Challa and Zurura joined the Juniors and browsed with them during the afternoon, escorting them back to the Stockades in the evening.

30 August 2010

The Juniors left the Stockades as usual in the morning on a day that was windy, but the day turned very hot later, forcing the orphans under shade. All enjoyed the mudbath and then browsed again during the afternoon, returning to the Stockades in the evening.

31 August 2010

For several days now both Yatta’s Group and that of Wendi have not come to join the Juniors, obviously having moved further afield, leaving Naserian’ Splinter Group to stand in during their absence. No doubt they will be back to keep in touch soon.