Keepers' Diaries, August 2012

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

It has been an action packed month at Ithumba with increasing numbers of wild elephants coming to drink at the Stockade water trough daily. All the Ex Orphans, usually accompanied by wild friends, have also been turning up on a daily basis to join the Keeper Dependent group and partake of supplementary Lucerne during this extremely dry period. (Just one rain storm fell over Tsavo during the April/May rains). On many occasions there have been over 65 elephants milling around the compound and dozens queuing up to await the arrival of the Water Bowser in the early mornings when the Stockade water trough has been emptied overnight.

01 August 2012

Having taken their morning supplements, the orphans browsed calmly until mudbath time, when they were joined by Lualeni who spent the rest of the day with the Juniors.

02 August 2012

The Juniors were joined by all the Ex Orphans in the morning who shared the Lucerne supplement and then left with them. Lualeni remained close to her favourite, Ololoo throughout the morning. All enjoyed the mudbath. In the evening 3 wild dogs came to try and drink, but were seen off by Wendi, assisted by Kora.

03 August 2012

After taking Lucerne, the Juniors joined a wild bull at the water trough before being led out to browse by Suguta. The Ex Orphans joined the Juniors at the noon mudbath, after which they headed Westwards while the Juniors took a northerly direction.

04 August 2012

While 8 wild bulls occupied the Stockade water trough, the Juniors partook of their Lucerne handout, when they were joined by the Ex Orphans. Later Kibo led the Juniors out whilst the Ex Orphans joined the wild group.

05 August 2012

Murka led the Juniors out today once they had finished their Lucerne. The Ex Orphans joined them at the noon mudbath, but separated afterwards.

06 August 2012

Mshale (the huge bull who had a poisoned arrow removed by our Mobile Veterinary Unit) checked in at the water trough along with 3 wild friends. Meanwhile Kibo and Kilaguni engaged one another in their usual Pushing Bout until Kalama led the way out to browse. As it was a warm day all the Juniors enjoyed their noon mudbath.

07 August 2012

The Ex Orphans and some wild elephants came to the Stockade compound early in the morning, the Ex Orphans joining the Juniors at the Lucerne dump. Lualeni followed the Juniors when they headed out, spending the entire day overseeing her favourite “Ololoo”. The rest of the Ex Orphaned herd met up with the Juniors and Lualeni at the mudbath when baby “Yetu” was very playful, even trying to push Suguta and later Olare before running back to her mother. The two groups separated after the mudbath, the Juniors enjoying a second mudbath on their way back in the evening.

08 August 2012

As usual, the Juniors were joined by the Ex Orphans in the morning, so all could partake of the supplements. Kandecha and Kilaguni engaged one another in a strength testing exercise until Tumaren led the Juniors out to browse.

09 August 2012

As usual Kandecha and Kilaguni opened up the morning activity with a Pushing Match as more than 20 wild elephants were drinking at the Stockade water trough. At the noon mudbath the Ex Orphans joined the Juniors as usual, separating afterwards. Again the Juniors had a second mudbath in the evening on the way back home.

10 August 2012

It was a cool morning as the Juniors enjoyed their morning lucerne before Chaimu led the group out to browse. At the mudbath Ololoo attempted to take on Kilaguni, but soon thought better of it! All enjoyed a soil bath, since it was too cool for the mud.

11 August 2012

The Juniors were joined, as usual, by the Ex Orphans for the Lucerne feed. Missing from the Ex Orphan group were Kamboyo, Kenze, Orok and Meibai but they turned up at 1 p.m. along with the Big Bull named “Mshale” who had 4 other big bulls in tow. At the mudbath the Juniors were joined by all the Ex Orphans as well as 11 wild elephants. Ololoo was the star of the day, enjoying himself in the mud so much that the Keepers had to call him out when it was time to leave.

12 August 2012

Following the usual early morning routine, the orphans settled down to browse in the Kanziku area until it was time for the noon mudbath, when they were joined, as usual by the Ex Orphans. However, since it was too cool for a wallow, all enjoyed a dustbath instead before parting ways.

13 August 2012

The Ex Orphans joined the Juniors for the Lucerne ritual, as 16 wild elephants, who had come with them, occupied the Stockade water trough. Melia led the Juniors out to browse the Kone area today. They were joined by the Ex Orphans at the noon mudbath, parting company afterwards.

14 August 2012

The Ex Orphans were at the Stockades early for the Lucerne ritual, and today went out to browse along with the Juniors. Ithumbah lost a Pushing Game to Sabachi before heading to the mudbath, where all enjoyed a good wallow, since it was a hot day. The Ex Orphans separated afterwards as has been customary this month.

15 August 2012

As the Juniors were taking their Lucerne handout, Sabachi and Kandecha engaged one another. Melia led the Juniors out to browse the Kone area today. The Ex Orphans joined the Juniors at the mudbath when Ololoo learnt some pushing tactics from Meibai. Later the Ex Orphans headed towards the Stockades while the Juniors took a southerly course for the remainder of the day.

16 August 2012

As the Juniors were taking water at the trough following their Lucerne, several wild bulls approached from the eastern side, prompting the orphans to give way to the wild bulls. Soon afterwards the Ex Orphans turned up and because the trough was crowded, the Juniors left for the browsing field. The Ex Orphans accompanied by wild friends joined them at the mudbath.

17 August 2012

The Ex Orphans turned up early today, at 6 a.m. and mingled with the Juniors at the Lucerne pile. When the Juniors headed out to browse, the Ex Orphans moved off in at a leisurely pace towards the mudbath to meet up with the Juniors, which has been their routine this month on most days. However, amazingly, the Ex Orphans, somehow anticipating the imminent arrival at Ithumba of 3 new Ex Nursery orphans, turned back and hung around at the Stockade compound until the Elephant Moving Truck drew in at l0.15 a.m. by which time the Keepers had also returned the Juniors to welcome the new arrivals. It was somewhat overwhelming for the 3 new arrivals to emerge from the truck and find themselves surrounded by hordes of bigger elephants, Wendi, Kinna and Lualeni especially enthusiastic in their welcome. Makireti found this daunting and ran around bellowing loudly, but Kasigau and Ishanga were not quite so scared. Having taken milk, all three newcomers were escorted to the water trough, closely surrounded by all the Ex Orphans, with more wild elephants trickling in to witness this exciting event including “Mshale” and 6 bull friends. Soon it was time to escort the newcomers and the Juniors back to the bush. Lualeni and Kinna opted to come along too and spent the rest of the day with them, escorting them and all the Juniors back to the Stockades in the late evening.

18 August 2012

It was the first morning at Ithumba for Makireti, Ishanga and Kasigau, who followed the others out to the Lucerne pile. Several of the established Juniors pushed the newcomers and had to be cautioned by the Keepers. Later all were taken to the trough for water. Out in the field the newcomers felt the heat, and had to draw on stomach water to cool themselves down before heading to the mudbath, joined on the way by the Ex Orphans. Having taken their milk, the 3 newcomers headed for the mudbath and during the process, unbeknownst to the Keepers, were hijacked and were nowhere to be seen when the rest of the Juniors emerged! Accompanied by some of the Ex Orphans the Keepers had a 4 hour search for the missing trio who were located some 2 kms. west of the mudbath being guarded by Lualeni! The Keepers called them and returned them to where the rest of the herd were waiting!

19 August 2012

The Juniors headed out to browse in a very jovial mood, swinging their trunks from side to side. Kandecha and Kilaguni enjoyed their usual Pushing Game, emulated briefly by Suguta and Olare. At the mudbath Makireti held her own bottle of milk, and ran with it towards the mudbath water trough, dropping it midway. Four wild elephants were drinking at the trough. The three new babies joined them without fear and later tried to follow them, as more wild elephants began to check in at the mudbath. The Keepers had a difficult time to round the three up. Soon there were 22 wild elephants and 29 Ex Orphans at the mudbath as the Keepers took the Juniors to the Soil pile for a dustbath before heading back out to browse.

20 August 2012

It was a quiet morning as the Juniors fed on Lucerne and as no wild elephants or the Ex Orphans showed up, the Juniors had the run of the compound and the water trough before heading out to browse. At the mudbath the Juniors were joined by Mshale and 6 of his male friends.

21 August 2012

The Ex Orphans came to join the Juniors at the Lucerne pile early today, and to avoid having to share their particular pile, Ishanga and Ithumbah grabbed a bunch and went off to feed away from the others behind the rocks where they could not be seen! Later the Juniors headed to the Kanziku area. During the mudbath Ololoo challenged Kilaguni to a strength test and had to surrender and move away for a dustbath instead. Just as the Juniors were leaving 14 wild elephants showed up at the mudbath. By evening the temperatures were still high, so the Juniors took another cooling mudbath before heading back home.

22 August 2012

Ololoo decided to take on Kandecha today, determined to prove his strength against the other boys, but again had to withdraw since Kandecha easily overpowered him. At the mudbath the Juniors were joined by the Ex Orphans and 11 wild elephants.

23 August 2012

A quiet morning for the Juniors in the absence at the Stockades of both the Ex Orphans or wild elephants. Having taken their Lucerne it spent the morning browsing it was Makireti who led the rest to the mudbath venue where all enjoyed an extensive wallow since it was a hot day. Afterwards they browsed the slopes of Ithumba hill before returning for the night.

24 August 2012

The Keepers awoke in the morning to find a host of wild elephants queuing up for water, the trough having been emptied during the night. Once the bowser had refilled the trough, the elephants drank their fill, the last one leaving at l0 a.m. Meanwhile the Juniors had settled down to browse the Kone area, where they were joined by the Ex Orphans, who parted from the Juniors when it was time to head to the milk and mudbath venue. The Ex Orphans went in the direction of the Stockades.

25 August 2012

As the Juniors were occupied at the Lucerne, the Ex Orphans turned up. Kandecha engaged Kilaguni in the usual Pushing Game which Suguta threatened to interrupt until Kibo moved in to block her. The rest of the day passed without incident.

26 August 2012

As soon as emerging in the morning, the Juniors took a drink before the Lucerne before wild elephants monopolized the trough. The day had turned extremely hot by l0 a.m. which forced the newcomers, Ishanga, Makireti and Kasigau to fall back on stomach water to cool themselves down. They were first in the mudbath today because it is taking them time to adjust to the change in temperature having become used to the cool climate of high altitude in Nairobi.

27 August 2012

Soon after taking their Lucerne, the Juniors were joined by the Ex Orphans. Wendi, who is becoming more mischievous, threatened the Keeper who was trying to control her, putting out her ears and had to be shouted at by the other Keepers. She is becoming more like Imenti – difficult to control.

28 August 2012

It was a normal morning as the Juniors left the Stockades, the sky partly overcast. At the browsing field the weather kept changing from overcast to sunny by mudbath time so the orphans enjoyed a wallow. Before quitting the mudbath 6 wild elephants turned up to drink. The orphans left the wild herd there.

29 August 2012

Having browsed the Kanziku area during the morning, the Juniors found the Ex Orphans and their wild friends relaxing under trees near the mudbath, awaiting their arrival. All bathed together, after which the Ex Orphans and wild friends, which included the big wild bull “Mshale”, joined the Juniors browsing but when the Keepers called the Juniors, hell broke out! The wild elephants all fled followed by Ishanga, Makireti and Kasigau! The Keepers tried to follow them, calling the three newcomers, but to no avail, and as darkness began to set in, the Keepers had to give up the search and return to the Stockades. It is interesting that the 3 Ex Nursery newcomers seem to prefer the company of the wild elephants above their Junior peers.

30 August 2012

At 5.30 a.m. the search for Makireti, Ishanga and Kasigau began. They were located in amongst a small group of wild elephants amongst whom was Lualeni and Rapsu and a few other Ex Orphans. Ever since the three newcomers arrived, Lualeni has taken a special interest in them, spending time with them during their first outing, then snatching them at the mudbath. It seems to be “Lualeni versus the Keepers” as to who should take care of the newcomers. At the noon mudbath three wild elephants checked in and Ishanga, Makireti and Kasigau hurriedly joined them. Later the Keepers called them and this time they were obedient and came instantly, having missed two milk feeds by being away the previous night and early morning!

31 August 2012

It was a quiet morning today with only 3 wild elephants coming to the Stockade water trough as the Juniors took their Lucerne. Once the wild group had left the Juniors passed by the water trough before heading out. During the noon mudbath the Juniors were joined by 7 wild elephants.