Keepers' Diaries, August 2015
Ithumba Reintegration Unit
The month of August has been full of action with our orphans remaining close to home and around 300 wild elephants relying on the same watering points, the mud bath and stockades, and this is a trend we have seen over the years in the peak of the dry season. Each year more congregate as the word spreads that reliable water makes this area viable. The presence of so many elephants is wonderful for the dependent babies as they are able to enjoy valuable interaction from the older elephants. At times this can be daunting for them, because Ithumba is a sought after location for many magnificent bulls, and it is not unusual to find herds numbering 30 which is extremely imposing. This is an intimidating spectacle for the babies, but that said the orphan boys watch their every move, awe inspired by these spectacular creatures. Their wisdom will be vital for our orphans for their future.
01 August 2015
The partially independent group spent the night just outside the stockade and joined the juniors soon after they had settled for Lucerne. Orwa tests his strength with whoever he comes across and today challenged Murka who passed near him. Murka didn't take it lightly as she saw it as lack of respect for a small boy to challenge a big girl like her. Murka pushed Orwa out of the way and continued to feed on Lucerne. When the ex-orphans arrived they disrupted the existing calmness as they took over the venue and started taking the Lucerne away from the juniors. Lualeni played with Kenze and at the end of the game Kenze got a free ride from Lualeni. The juniors heeded the saying of giving way to the strong so as to avoid trouble and they started leaving one by one whilst the ex-orphans remained at the stockade compound.
At around 10am, the juniors were joined by the ex-orphans and wild elephants as they slowly started advancing towards mud bath. The presence of the ex-orphans at the mud bath, encourages the juniors as when they all went into the mud, the juniors joined them and imitated what their seniors were doing. After mud bath, Sities took her friend Garzi and went to roll on the dry soil. Bongo was the last one to leave the mud bath after spending too much time wallowing with the bulls.
In the evening, 20 wild bulls flooded the stockade compound accessing from water to Lucerne left overs while relaxing including water which is a precious commodity. Shortly later, the ex-orphans checked in and added the number up to sixty. Shortly before dark, the elephants started leaving one by one after getting enough water.
02 August 2015
In the morning, the far stockade that houses Mutara, Suguta, Sities, Turkwel, Bongo, Kainuk, Laragai and Kanjoro was empty. Mutara who from time to time tries to open the gate from inside had managed to open the gate letting everyone out. How she did it with the fence power on is beyond explanation. Amazingly enough, when the keepers started giving the young ones milk, Mutara and her group stood at the entrance rumbling to report their presence.
The ex-orphans and 15 wild elephants surrounded the two water troughs, the juniors were uncomfortable especially when the seniors started taking the Lucerne directly from their mouths! The juniors soon left for the browsing field and on the way, Orwa challenged Mutara to show her that despite her knowing how to open the gate, it didn't matter to him. In the browsing field, Bomani shared his food with Bongo and later walked towards Garzi where they had a lovely time of entwining their trunks.
At mud bath time it was all quiet and hot. Only Half Trunk a wild friend who has been a part of the Ithumba family for many years joined the juniors in drinking water and then headed towards the mud bath which encouraged the orphans to follow him into the mud. The temperatures were higher than usual and the keepers were surprised to see Kithaka and Lemoyian, who rarely mud bathe, join their friends for wallowing. After mudbath, Kainuk took Lemoyian for soil dusting and later they were joined by the rest of their friends. As the juniors were leaving back to the browsing field, Tomboi one of our independent big boys checked in alone and teamed up with Half Trunk.
Later in the day Teleki and Kithaka had a misunderstanding that was settled through pushing. Teleki won the battle given the experience he has compared to Kithaka who has only been in Ithumba for less than three months.
03 August 2015
In the morning, the partially independent group with a bull reported early at the stockade. As soon as the babies were out, the partially independent group joined them and headed to feed on Lucerne. Shortly later the ex-orphans arrived and Kilaguni welcomed Ithumbah by sniffing at her. This meant that there were in excess of 60 elephants around the stockades. The juniors were overwhelmed with so many ex-orphans around and so one by one, the juniors started leaving. Bomani met with Lenana and entwined their trunks in greetings. After the greetings, Bomani could not afford to stay longer since his friends were already far away. Only Orwa had stopped for a strength testing exercise with Chyulu but once he was pushed hard by Chyulu, Orwa decided to discontinue the exercise. Bomani caught up with him and they both hurried to join the junior herd.
Shortly later, there was a drama at the stockade compound when four wild dogs showed up for water but were blocked by Zurura. Zurura chased the wild dogs several times until the wild dogs could not tolerate it anymore. The wild dogs regrouped and hatched a strategy. They formed a semicircle and moved towards him and when Zurura tried to charge the wild dogs remained unmoved as they closed in and tried to attack. Zurura couldn't wait but ran as fast as his legs could carry him. The wild dogs didn't bother to follow Zurura as the way was clear for them now. However, when they got near the water hole, they found a wall of elephants already in place and that was their dead end asadvancing would have meant risking their lives as they couldn't fight that many elephants. They had no choice but to give up and leave, prepared to return once the area was clear.
In the browsing field, Shukuru took a break from feeding and lay down to play. Her game attracted Orwa and Garzi that joined her in rolling on the ground. The mud bath was brief without much fun andthe orphans returned back to the browsing field soon after taking water. On the way back to the stockade, there was a dry tree blocking the orphan’s path. Orwa, assisted by Teleki and Bomani, cleared the path making it passable for their friends.
04 August 2015
Yatta and Mulika groups reported at the stockade a few minutes after the juniors had settled for Lucerne. The juniors on seeing their seniors scrambled for the remaining flakes of Lucerne and carried it in their mouth as they fled away. It was obvious that if the juniors waited longer, then the ex-orphans would have taken the Lucerne away from them.
In the browsing field, the orphans were joined briefly by Makireti, Kasigau and Kilibasi. Kasigau had a brief moment of playing with Orwa before Makireti rumbled, alerting her group that it was time to continue with their journey. The weather was cloudy and the orphans took the advantage of the appetizing weather to concentrate on browsing. At 11am the orphans took milk and water before Mutara led the way back to the browsing field. The orphans settled to browse at upper Kalovoto area where due to the vegetation conditions, the orphans scattered into different directions so as to get enough before evening.
Bomani and Garzi ended the day by engaging in a fierce battle that was stopped by Sities. Sities happens to be Garzi's friend and always tries as much as possible to make sure that Garzi doesn't get bullied by the bigger bulls. Sities then took Garzi with her and settled a few metres away where they browsed without disturbance.
05 August 2015
The partially independent group and the ex-orphans were all lying down outside the stockade early in the morning. This was an extraordinary site, with over 40 elephants sleeping. 25 wild elephants were keeping watch over them as well as waiting for water as over 10,000 litres had been flattened by elephants throughout the night. At 5:30am in the morning, the water was turned on and the sound of the water flowing into the water trough woke up the ex-orphans. Soon the orphans joined them and a total of 83 elephants were mingling at the stockade compound. Due to presence of a large number of elephants at the stockade compound, it was not possible for the juniors to have their Lucerne and so they just took water. Kilaguni had a strength testing exercise with Orwa as Orok tried to pull Lualeni's tail. Orok’s intention was to mount her but Lualeni resisted and ran away.
It was a chilly day so the orphans had a quiet day. In the evening ten wild bulls in the company of a junior boy aged around ten years reported at the stockade for water. It was amazing to see the boy interacting peacefully with the much larger bulls. One of our big bulls Rapsu, the lone ranger,also checked in at the stockade and joined the bulls at the water trough.After drinking water, Rapsu took the wild boy aside and started playing a pushing game with him as he inquired how the wild boy came to be part of the big bulls herd.
06 August 2015
It was a peaceful morning for the juniors as they settled for Lucerne after leaving the stockade. There was no disturbance whatsoever from anyone and the orphans enjoyed feeding on every last bit of Lucerne. As the orphans were preparing to leave, Half Trunk, the wild boy and two other friends, reported for water at the stockade water trough. The wild boy tried to sneak and join the juniors but once he saw the keepers, he retreated and returned to drink water. Kanjoro and Laragai, passed under the only acacia tree at the stockade compound and spent some time picking the fallen acacia pods. Mutara and Narok entwined their trunks in greetings as they walked towards the browsing field. As Half Trunk and his small group were sneaking their way out of the stockade water trough, Rapsu the lone ranger emerged from the eastern side of the stockade compound. Rapsu met with the junior's and waved to them by raising his trunk without bothering to stop. Kanjoro and Vuria responded by also raising their trunks and directing them towards Rapsu. After drinking water, Rapsu followed Half Trunk and his group into the bush.
In the browsing field, Lemoyian and Bomani had a misunderstanding over a branch that Lemoyian had broken. Bomani wanted to share the branch but Lemoyian was resisting. It resulted in a tug of war as each tried to pull the branch to himself. At long last, Lemoyian won and inserted the branch into his mouth before Bomani could try and grab it again. Vuria and Teleki took some time off from feeding and engaged each other in a strength testing exercise as Barsilinga played with Laragai.
At mud bath time the weather was warm and soon after the milk, the orphans headed for water. However, eight wild bulls, one with a big swelling on the hip of his left hind leg,were at the mud bath and took control of the water trough. The juniors had no option other than to surrender and head to the mud bath or for soil dusting. Kanjoro and Mutara tried to squeeze into the water trough to drink but retreated for fear of being pushed. In the afternoon, the orphans settled to browse at Kanziku area and in the evening, having contacted Angela and arranged the DSWT funded Sky Vet Unit to be flown to Ithumba from Voi the bull with the swelling was darted at the stockade and treated. The swelling was as a result of an arrow head that had been stuck in the hip and his injury was incredibly septic but was drained, and he was given huge doses of antibiotic injections and his wound packed with green clay.
07 August 2015
Lualeni, Makireti, Kasigau, Chaimu, Kilaguni and two wild bulls were at the stockade compound. The two bulls were keeping watch over the small group that was a sleep. It was surprising to see Lualeni without Ololoo. As soon as the water was turned on, the bulls walked down for a drink. Lualeni and her small group followed soon after waking up. The juniors were let out after they had drunk their morning milk and as usual, settled for lucerne. Lualeni and her group didn't hesitate but joined the juniors to get their share of the lucerne ration. Kanjoro and Orwa used the nearby rocks for scratching as their friends continued to feed on Lucerne. Lualeni at one time laid down in front of the juniors for a brief nap and what was going on in her mind, no one can tell. At a guess she might have been thinking of Ololoo who was the only firm and loyal member of her group that never exceeds four members. If Ololoo has decided to quit, then things are bound to change though it is still early to predict until we get to know the whereabouts of Ololoo. Lualeni and her small new group escorted the juniors to the browsing field and later to the mud bath.
At mud bath time, the juniors were joined by three wild elephants and after sharing water, the wild bulls walked down for wallowing, where they were joined by Bongo and Kanjoro. The rest of the juniors participated in red soil bathing. The afternoon was quiet with moderate temperatures and the orphans browsed quietly. In the evening, Lualeni, Wendi, Chaimu, Kilaguni, Kilibasi, Buchuma, Makena, Makireti, Kasigau and Lenana reported for water at the stockade. Shortly later, a wild herd consisting of four elephants joined Lualeni and her small group. The herd stayed at the stockade until dark.
08 August 2015
Makena, Wendi and Lenana spent their night just outside the stockade. As soon as the orphans left the stockade Wendi and her small group teamed up with them to eat Lucerne. A little later Lualeni and her new found group consisting of Kilaguni, Kilibasi, Chaimu, Makireti, Kasigau and Orok joined the juniors. Kithaka, Garzi and Sities settled under the acacia trees to collect a many pods as possible. Orwa played with Kilibasi as Kasigau invited Turkwel for a strength testing game. Lualeni appeared tired, probably from keeping vigil at night over her new herd and she lay down to take a nap and also think about her Ololoo. She woke up when she heard the orphans walking away.
In the browsing field, Kasigau and Teleki had a disagreement that was settled by pushing one another. Due to his experience and age, Kasigau won the game. An hour later, Lualeni and her small group parted ways with the juniors. At 11am the weather was chilly and the juniors didn't dare to step into the mud bath; they decided to only drink water soon after their milk. Wendi and Tomboi joined the juniors briefly at the mud bath water trough and left twenty minutes later. Narok and Orwa kissed each other by entwining their trunks and shortly later, Mutara rumbled informing her herd that it was time to move on. The orphans settled to browse at Kanziku area. Vuria spent some time testing his strength against a tree as he tried pushing it down. Garzi browsed close to his friend Sities while Kanjoro browsed close to Bongo. In the evening six bulls reported at the stockade compound for water. The bulls settled at the upper water trough where Kanjoro raised his trunk to sniff them. At one time one bull sucked water into his trunk and blew it out close to the fence which gave Kanjoro a fright. Later, the ex-orphans with twenty five wild elephants reported for water. Ololoo, who has abandoned Lualeni, was among the ex-orphans. Also noticeable was that Ishanga has joined Chaimu and Kilaguni. Perhaps she has started a habit of changing herds like one would change clothes. Only time will tell where she goes next and what herd she might join, or if she is in Chaimu’s to stay!
09 August 2015
The morning was chilly. Soon after the orphans were given Lucerne in the morning the ex-orphans emerged from the eastern side of the stockade. They bypassed the water troughs and joined the juniors who were feeding on Lucerne. This disrupted the existing peace among the juniors who, one by one, hurriedly collected as much as they could before leaving the scene. Bongo and Bomani were not as lucky as whatever they tried to get was forcefully taken away from them by Wendi. Bongo followed Vuria and begged for the Lucerne he had and Vuria allowed him to share a bit of what he had.
In the browsing field the weather was favourable for browsing and the orphans took advantage of this, fully concentrating on feeding before the weather changed. Back at the stockade, the former orphans were joined by ten wild bulls and as they drank, all over sudden, all the trunks of the former orphans went up at the same time and pointed towards the east. Within a short while, Yetu's father emerged from this direction. He briefly joined the bulls, sipped water, then turned and left. This was special as he had not been seen for over a year. At mud bath time, the weather was still chilly and only Bongo that dared to play in the mud. Three wild bulls were the guests at the mud bath. One of the wild bulls was quite hostile to the juniors and at one time sucked up water then spat it out near Kithaka. This was the same bull that spat water scaring Kanjoro the day before! The keepers shouted at him and this made him leave. The other two wild elephants shared water peacefully with the juniors.
On the way to the browsing field Shukuru, Bongo and Vuria made a pit stop to dust themselves in soil before following the others. Bomani, who was feeding close to Teleki, turned into a baby and started sucking Teleki's ear which he allowed. The evening was quiet with no wild elephants visiting the stockade.
10 August 2015
The orphans had a peaceful morning. Led by Narok the orphans settled for Lucerne in the usual place. In the absence of the orphans and wild elephants, the juniors roamed freely in between the water trough and where they were feeding on Lucerne. Shukuru, Bomani and Turkwel spent some time scratching on their favourite rock. Soon after the orphans left, the female cow with only one tusk brought her one week old baby to the stockade and after drinking water, they too left. In the browsing area, Bomani and Narok participated in soil dusting as Barsilinga enjoyed scratching on a nearby rock. The day was hot and Lemoyian kept on feeding under the trees and when it came to mud bath time Lemoyian, Kithaka and Barsilinga join their friends in wallowing. They must have been feeling really hot as Kithaka, Lemoyian and Barsilinga hardly mud bath! It is only when the temperature is this high that the three boys remember the importance of wallowing. After, Lemoyian, Kithaka and Barsilinga went to dust themselves just like the rest. Yetu and Mwende's dad in the company of his two friends joined the juniors in drinking water and later in wallowing. Bongo, Vuria and Narok neatly broke a record by having a marathon wallowing session for half an hour. Whilst soil dusting, Shukuru took advantage of Orwa who was rolling on the ground to scratch her belly against him. It appears that Shukuru wasn’t satisfied from scratching on Orwa as she then moved to scratch against a nearby tree.
11 August 2015
Lemoyian was the first one to leave the stockade soon after getting his milk. Kanjoro started knocking on his gate when he saw Lemoyian leaving. Half Trunk, in the company of the ten other bulls, was busy taking water from the stockade water trough after arriving sometime in the night. It was another peaceful morning for the orphans as they settled for Lucerne. A short while later there was a moment of uncertainty when a lone hyena passed through the stockade water hole and decided to jump into the water to wallow. The wild elephants turned to face the hyena but the hyena remained unmoved. After wallowing, the hyena ran past the wild elephants heading west. The orphans got wind of the hyena and abruptly stopped feeding as they raised their trunks up on air trying to know exactly who was passing. Rapsu, the lone ranger, emerged from the east and came to join the juniors for Lucerne. He then later left with the wild elephants as the juniors headed for the browsing field.
At mud bath time, the juniors were joined by eight wild bulls. The weather was chilly and none of the orphans dared to step into the water. Due to the presence of wild elephants at the mud bath, the juniors didn't want to cross their seniors and so opted to back off soon after drinking water. Teleki and Turkwel had a good moment of entwining their trunks while Shukuru stood at the edge of mud bath watching two bulls that had decided to have a mud bath. At the browsing field Barsilinga spent some time scratching his buttocks against a tree while Kanjoro played with Narok. In the evening, the partially independent group consisting of Olare, Melia, Tumaren, Kandecha, Kibo, Chemichemi, Kitirua, Murka, Naisula and Kalama in the company of two wild bulls checked in at the stockade. Later Half Trunk, Mwende's dad and thirty five wild elephants flooded the stockade compound. Mwende's dad had an arrow wound at his left hip. This was immediately reported and a plan made to treat him the following day with support from the DSWT mobile vet and aircraft and helicopter.
12 August 2015
Chaimu, Kilaguni, Ishanga, Makireti, Kasigau and Kilabasi were relaxing outside the stockade early in the morning. As soon as the juniors were out the partially independent group joined them. They shared the lucerne peacefully apart from Sities who was unfriendly towards Bongo as she kept pushing him.
The partially independent group escorted the juniors to the browsing field where Kasigau took some time to give Orwa and Teleki lessons in play fighting. An hour or so later the partially independent group left. Orwa and Teleki were left practicing what they had learned on trees and any of their other friends who were interested. No one was interested in their games however as all were busy concentrating on browsing. At eleven o’clock in the morning the juniors were joined by three wild bulls in drinking water. The sun was hot and this prompted all the orphans to participate in wallowing. This included Kithaka, Lemoyian, Barsilinga and Orwa who hardly take part in mud bathing.
After their bath the orphans skipped soil dusting and led by Mutara, the juniors returned back to the browsing field. The afternoon was hot and the juniors converged under a tree waiting for the temperatures to drop. In the evening only Rapsu in the company of four wild elephants came for water at the stockade water trough.
13 August 2015
It was a peaceful morning for the juniors as they left the stockade and settled for lucerne. Half an hour later the prevailing calmness came to an abrupt halt when the ex-orphans with six wild bulls came barging in full of energy. The juniors had no other option than to leave with whatever they were holding in their trunks and let their seniors take over.
On their way to the browsing field Kithaka, Shukuru and Narok located some nice rocks that they used to scratch their bellies. In the browsing field Teleki and Bongo had a misunderstanding that they opted to settle through pushing one another which Bongo won. Sities browsed close to her friend Garzi while Orwa and Kanjoro parted slightly with their friends and went to feed some metres away.
At mud bath time Rapsu joined another twenty five other wild bulls in drinking water. The sun was hot and Kithaka, Lemoyian and Barsilinga were the first ones to get into the mud to cool off. The rest followed later and only Orwa skipped the mud bath entirely.Barsilinga walked up to the water trough where the twenty five bulls were drinking and stood some metres away with his trunk up, sniffing at them. A warthog that tried to force itself into the mud bath was surprised when Kainuk and Suguta charged and chased him away. He ran for his dear life! In the afternoon the orphans settled to browse at the upper Kalovoto area. The juniors scattered into different areas since it’s so dry at the moment and they knew that converging into one place to feed would mean getting less food.
14 August 2015
Olare’s group consisting of Melia, Tumaren, Kibo, Kandecha, Naisula, Murka, Chemi chemi, Kalama and Ishanga were at the stockade early before the juniors were let out. The partially independent group joined the juniors for lucerne soon after leaving the stockade. Kithaka, for fear of being pushed by his seniors, took a few branches of lucerne and walked to the acacia tree where he enjoyed feeding without being disturbed. Chemi chemi and Naisula walked down to the new water trough where they joined a wild bull in drinking water as Kalama tried to get lucerne from Orwa's mouth. Orwa resisted and walked away. Later, Narok and Orwa had strength testing exercise that ended into a draw. After drinking Chemi chemi walked up for more lucerne where he met with Orwa who tackled him in a play fight and moments later, Orwa surrendered when Chemi Chemi mounted him on his head. Kibo tackled Narok and Narok tried as much as possible to win but surrendered when she felt that Kibo was too strong for her.
As the juniors were leaving six wild elephants came for water and one of them had an arrow injury on his left leg and plans were made to try and treat it later once the vet was mobilized. The partially independent group left an hour later and managed to snatch Vuria, Barsilinga, Kithaka and Suguta. Later Olare’s group brought them into the stockade. The keepers were alerted by the guard and came for them. Suguta opted to stay with the partially independent group as Vuria, Kithaka and Barsilinga followed their keepers. At mud bath time the temperatures were high and all the orphans participated in wallowing, after which Sities took her Garzi for soil dusting. Later they were joined by Kainuk, Teleki and Bongo. Shukuru, Laragai, Narok and Bomani visited the nearby trees for scratching. In the afternoon, the juniors settled to browse at the lower Kalovoto area. In the evening Suguta returned to the stockade and waited for the juniors to go into the stockade together.
15 August 2015
In the morning, the juniors were joined by Tomboi, Makireti, Kilabasi, Kasigau, Chaimu and Kilaguni. They shared the lucerne peacefully. Kithaka and Bongo were wise and took bits of lucerne and went to feed on them a little distance away. The two boys knew very well that with the partially independent group around, they wouldn't eat as much as they would like! Their seniors always start pushing them around when there are few branches of lucerne left on the ground. Kilabasi tried to get lucerne from Vuria's mouth, but Vuria would not allow it and ran away from Kilabasi.
In the browsing field Suguta stretched her trunk up to get some nice leaves from a baobab. When it became harder to reach them she decided that they didn’t taste that good after all and left in search of better ones. Mutara came across a branch that appeared to have been broken by wild elephants at night and hadn't been properly eaten. She picked it and started working on the remaining part. Barsilinga was standing close by and appeared to be salivating over the branch too only he didn't know how to go about getting it. Since he couldn't take it away from Mutara, Barsilinga just consoled himself by considering it unfit for elephant consumption. On the way to the mud bath Teleki developed an itch under his lower jaw and since there wasn't a scratching rock nearby, he picked up a piece of stick that he used to scratch. Later the tip of his trunk appeared to be itching too and he stepped on it lightly several times. The clever ways elephants can scratch those hard to reach places! At mud bath time, the injured bull in the company of his four friends was present. The vet darted the injured elephant and it was treated. Shortly after the wild bull was treated and left, the ex-orphans reported for wallowing. Mutara led her group back to the browsing field.
Mwende's dad and a friend visited the stockade at around noon. In the afternoon, the juniors settled to browse in the area of Kone. It was a quiet afternoon as the orphans concentrated on browsing for the remaining part of the day.
16 August 2015
The sky was clear in the morning when the orphans left the stockade. They settled for lucerne for almost half an hour before Mutara rumbled signaling her friends that it was time go. Led by Suguta, the orphans settled to browse at lower Kalovoto area. Garzi, Shukuru and Vuria walked up to a small rocky hill that had nice green plants that they feasted on for some time. Kanjoro and Orwa teamed up together and browsed a short distance away from the rest.
At eleven o’clock in the morning, Kithaka led the first group to mud bath. Due to the prevailing high temperature, Shukuru was the first one to jump into the water to wallow. She was later followed by Kithaka and Lemoyian. The rest of the group joined later with the exception of Kainuk who boycotted the exercise. She just stood at the edge of mud bath waiting for Lemoyian and as soon as Lemoyian was through with bathing, Kainuk escorted him to his favourite tree that he loves to scratch against. Vuria, Laragai, Narok, Teleki, Orwa and Turkwel emerged as the stars of the day by wallowing for a very long time. It was interesting to watch Orwa wallow for so long since he is known for boycotting the mud bathing exercise altogether along with Kithaka, Barsilinga and Lemoyian. Turkwel left the wallowing in a charging mood. She trumpeted with her ears out as she headed north. This appears to have put her friends in the same mood as they joined her running until they disappeared into the bush.
In the afternoon, the orphans settled at Kanziku area where Suguta spend some time in soil dusting. Kainuk took Lemoyian under a tree that had a good shade and relaxed for some time until the temperatures were favourable for them to resume browsing. Barsilinga and Kithaka were not bothered by the hot sun and continued to browse as they continuously flapped their ears. In the evening Yatta and Mulika’s group of ex orphans in the company of five wild elephants reported for water at the stockade water troughs. They left shortly after dark.
17 August 2015
The ex-orphans were relaxing outside the stockade early in the morning and soon after the gates opened Lualeni, Chyulu and Naserian went into the stockade to check whether there was anything left for them to feed on. Garzi and Bomani left with leftover branches in their mouth that they continued to feed on as they waited for lucerne. Zurura and Sidai engaged each other in a strength testing exercise. When the lucerne was thrown into the field it was every elephant for himself as the seniors ran with bigger piles of lucerne in their mouths. Orwa played with Kilabasi as Lemoyian got an opportunity to spend time with Chyulu. Mutara had a light pushing game with Makireti before leading her group to the browsing field.
In the field Lemoyian browsed close to Orwa as Sities spent time browsing with her friend Garzi. Kanjoro fed far away from his friends and only rejoined them at the time of going to the mud bath. At the mud bath only Narok, Laragai, Vuria, Kainuk, Mutara and Teleki participated in wallowing. The rest walked over to the red soil where they dusted themselves. Later Teleki, Shukuru and Sities scratched against the nearby trees before returning back to the browsing field. In the afternoon, the orphans settled to browse at Kanziku area. Suguta walked to a small hole she loves and started digging soil for dusting. Kainuk was browsing with Vuria and they were scared by two dikdiks that passed close by at lightning speed. This created tension and the other orphans raised their trunks to try and find out what was happening. The keepers called out their names to assure them that all was okay. The juniors calmed down and resumed browsing. In the evening Half Trunk in the company of eight wild bulls, including the bull that was treated on Saturday, showed up at the stockade for water where they stayed until dark.
18 August 2015
The partially independent group was at the stockade compound in the morning and they joined the juniors for lucerne soon after they were let out. It wasn't as chaotic as when the ex-orphans are around too. The partially independent group tolerated the juniors with the exception of Melia who didn't want to have any junior passing behind her. Shukuru, Turkwel and Bongo were not lucky that day as few back kicks landed on them when they walked behind. Kithaka, who saw what happened to his three friends, decided to pass some metres away from Melia. Soon after finishing lucerne the juniors passed by the water trough to drink enough water to carry them through the entire morning.
Lemoyian browsed close to Narok as Barsilinga spend some time browsing whilst leaning against a tree. Sities took some time off to scratch on a rock that was close to where she was browsing. At mud bath time the sun was really hot and Teleki was the first one to jump into the water. Barsilinga and Lemoyian just stepped into it and then walked backto relax under a tree that had good shade. Later Teleki and Vuria had a play fight whilst still in the water. Sities left the mud wallow and stood at the edge waiting for her friend Garzi to have enough of mud bathing. As soon as Garzi was through with wallowing Sities took him for soil dusting. As the juniors wound up their activities in the mud bath twenty five wild bulls checked in for a bath and drink of water. Noticeable were Mwende's dad that was treated few days ago and Half Trunk. In the afternoon Bomani, Vuria, Laragai and Kanjoro spent some time in soil dusting. Garzi that was browsing close to his friend Sities kept on picking grass from Sities mouth. Sities allowed Garzi to do that because he was her friend; if it was another small boy stealing grass from her mouth the case would certainly be different!
In the evening the stockade compound was flooded with ex-orphans and twenty one wild elephants. This created a jam as the juniors were returning back from the browsing field too. Walking through the ex-orphans and the wild elephants was so difficult for the juniors as some of the ex-orphans tried to block them while others like Makena, Lenana and Chyulu tried to sneak in with them.
19 August 2015
It was a hectic morning this morning. The ex orphans and wild elephants flooded the stockade compound making it impossible for the orphans to get to the lucerne. Kithaka and Bomani played it safe by carrying lucerne and walking far away where they put it down and shared it in peace. Orwa had a great time of testing his strength against Ithumbah. Though Orwa lost to the experienced Ithumbah, he was glad that at least he had learnt some lessons. Later Garzi and Barsilinga had a small fight and Garzi tried to show Barsilinga that although he was small, he can fight for himself and should not be judged on his size!
On the way to the mud bath Vuria came across loose soil that he used to dust bath himself. At mud bath time the weather was chilly and the orphans headed straight to drink water where they were joined by the lone ranger Rapsu. Rapsu shared water with the juniors and later walked down to mud wallow. This encouraged Bongo and Kanjoro who also joined Rapsu in wallowing. After mud bathing Rapsu headed south east of the mud bath while the junior's headed to Kanziku. In the browsing field Vuria rode on Bomani, something that angered Kainuk and he punished Vuria by pushing him from the top of Bomani. Turkwel spend some time playing with Orwa. In fact Orwa was happy to apply what he had learnt from Ithumbah in the morning on Turkwel. Sities looked bored as she opted to play her own game of picking up a stick and throwing it in the air. In the evening Shukuru came across white soil that she used to dust herself. Shortly before dark eighteen wild elephants also came for water at the stockade.
20 August 2015
The weather was chilly in the morning and it started to drizzle. Lemoyian was the first one to leave the stockade followed by Narok. The orphans enjoyed a peaceful morning of feeding on lucerne following the absence of the former orphans and wild elephants. After having enough lucerne the juniors were led away by Turkwel.
On arriving at the browsing field Kanjoro, Laragai and Lemoyian teamed up in playing with the soil. Kithaka, who was feeding a little distance away, got an opportunity to come and bully Lemoyian as he was left dusting on his own. Kithaka pushed Lemoyian and he didn't react but stopped playing with the soil leaving Kithaka to do what he wanted.
An hour later the juniors were joined by Kitirua, Naisula and Murka. Orwa, who loves to test his strength with newcomers, picked on Naisula for a strength testing game. Orwa lost but not after getting some new fighting techniques from Naisula as well. At mud bath time, the weather was still chilly and none of the orphans dared to step into the water. The orphans settled to drink when they were joined by four wild bulls. One of the bulls was unfriendly to the orphans and tried to charge them. The juniors stood their ground as they counted on their keepers that were standing close to them. The bull saw the keepers and so behaved and shared the water with the juniors. On the way to the browsing field Orwa engaged Narok in a pushing game. Narok surrendered and headed to tackle Bongo where she lost again to Bongo. In the browsing field Bomani was pierced by a thorn in his knee but carefully used his trunk to remove it. Lemoyian, Sities and Garzi teamed up together for browsing before Kainuk walked up to them and took Lemoyian away. In the evening Mutara, Sities, Bongo, Suguta, Kainuk, Turkwel, Kanjoro and Narok didn't go straight in to the stockade but visited the lucerne area where fresh lucerne had been thrown for them to feed. A short while later Lualeni's herd, that never exceeds four members, arrived and joined the juniors for lucerne. Ololoo, who had abandoned Lualeni for some time, was back and the two ex-orphans were in the company of two wild junior boys.
21 August 2015
Shortly before six o’clock in the morning, Mutara couldn't resist the smell of the fresh lucerne brought the previous day. She tried as much as possible to unlock the gate and finally she succeed in letting her group out. As Mutara and Kanjoro headed straight to feed on leftovers of the previous evening, Laragai, Bongo, Kainuk, Turkwel and Sities could not go without their morning milk and therefore lined up along the spring gate of the main entrance facing Shukuru and her groups stockade. When the keepers started feeding the first group, Laragai and her group rumbled loudly announcing to the keepers that it was Mutara who is off milk that opened the gate and they should not be forgotten or scolded for an offence they didn't commit.
It was a peaceful morning with no disturbance from outsiders as the orphans enjoyed feeding on lucerne. Soon after arriving at the browsing field the boys Orwa, Vuria, Bongo, Garzi and Teleki started their day by engaging in a soil dusting game. After dusting, Orwa teamed up with Teleki in browsing while the rest of the herd scattered across the field. Though the sun was hot, the juniors browsed calmly throughout until mud bath time when Kithaka led the first group to the mud bath. The ex-orphans and six wild elephants had arrived earlier at mud bath. When the juniors arrived they were welcomed by Lenana and Nasalot. Rapsu came to stand near where the juniors were taking their milk. He closed his eyes and wished he could go back to the old days when he used to have the milk too. But days cannot be reversed and so he walked away with trunk in his mouth as if just to remind himself of the good old days.
Garzi and Barsilinga were at it again. Barsilinga retaliating for the defeat he faced the previous day from Garzi. At last Garzi walked away and Barsilinga took this as a victory but only time will tell if Garzi surrendered or just quit because he was tired of playing. Only Bongo, the water boy, joined the seniors in wallowing. Kainuk blocked a quarter-tailed warthog that was coming for a mud bath by chasing it away. Half an hour later, the juniors returned to Kanziku area where they settled to browse while their seniors headed to the slopes of the Ithumba area. The temperature was still high in the afternoon and Sities, Garzi and Narok took refuge under a tree that had good shade. The rest of the group flapped their ears continuously as they moved from one point to the next in search of nice vegetation. In the evening it was all quiet, only five lesser kudus came to drink water at the stockade.
22 August 2015
Kilaguni, Chaimu, Makireti, Kasigau and Kilabasi joined the juniors in the morning for lucerne as six wild bulls settled for water. After finishing lucerne Laragai led the way to the browsing field as the rest followed behind her. Teleki lagged behind with Chaimu and Makireti’s group and Chaimu spent some time playing a pushing game with Teleki. The pushing game lasted for a while which Kilabasi was not happy about. Although Chaimu is a girl she is older than Teleki and Kilabasi expected Chaimu to easily win over Teleki. Since this was not happening Kilabasi assisted Chaimu in tackling Teleki. Teleki couldn't withstand the strength of the two girls and so he surrendered and started to slowly follow his group.
At the browsing field Sities tried to challenge Orwa in a pushing game but Orwa appeared uninterested and walked past Sities to settle in a soil dusting exercise. At eleven o’clock in the morning the weather was cloudy but the orphans continued in wallowing with the exception of Barsilinga, Kithaka, Lemoyian, Garzi and Orwa. Barsilinga and Lemoyian walked to the bush and continued to browse as they waited for their friends. Orwa kept himself busy by rolling on the ground. Garzi scratched against a nearby acacia tree. Shortly later, Lualeni's small herd checked in at mud bath. It was Lualeni, the loyal Ololoo and two wild junior boys. Lualeni’s herd arrived in a very funny way though. Immediately after seeing the orphans at mud bath the four members in Lualeni's group started charging as they approached the juniors. The wallowing came to a standstill and the juniors stopped wallowing and started running to meet with Lualeni and her group. Lualeni was using a different style in recruiting the juniors to her group. She wanted to bring confusion and excitement to the babies so that they would run away with her, but the juniors were clever. The juniors ran a few metres then stopped. Ololoo tried to threaten Orwa by charging at him but Orwa remained unmoved. When Lualeni saw that her plan had failed she, together with her team, decided to leave. The juniors settled to browse in the upper Kalovoto area where Shukuru, Sities and Kanjoro spent some time relaxing under trees with good shade. They resumed browsing when the temperature dropped to a more favourable level.
23 August 2015
Kandecha, Kalama, Chemi chemi, Olare and Melia were at the stockade compound early before six o’clock in the morning. Soon when the juniors were let out, Olare’s group joined them in feeding on lucerne. Barsilinga happened to pass behind Olare and Olare threw a back kick that failed to hit him. Barsilinga was aware that when the seniors are with them, they are not happy when a junior passes behind them and they always throw back kicks. With this in mind, Barsilinga was careful not to pass by too close.
An hour later, Olare’s group parted ways with the juniors. In the browsing field Shukuru spent some time playing whilst rolling on the ground. The day was hot and the orphans flapped their ears as they moved from one shade to another whilst trying to browsing. At mud bath time only Narok, Laragai, Bongo, Teleki and Vuria participated in wallowing. The rest took water then returned back to browsing. The temperature was very hot and Barsilinga, Turkwel, Orwa, Mutara, Bomani and Kanjoro took refuge under different trees that had nice shade. In the afternoon the temperature dropped to a more favourable level and the orphans got themselves busy in browsing. Teleki, who was feeding close to Turkwel, was taking food from Turkwel's mouth. Turkwel didn't deny Teleki and allowed him to take whatever he thought was suitable to him.
24 August 2015
Makireti, Kasigau, Kilabasi, Chaimu and Kilaguni were at the stockade in the morning. It appears that the two groups, Makireti and Chaimu, merged to form a single group probably for the day. The group joined the juniors for lucerne and shortly later, Tomboi showed up and welcomed himself to feeding on the lucerne as well. Later, the partially independent group with Tomboi left to undisclosed location while Mutara led her group to Kone area.
Vuria took a break from feeding to exercise by rolling on the soil then trying to sit upright. Garzi stuck close to Sities where he was being shown the best plants to feed on during the dry period while when the temperatures skyrocketed. Lemoyian, Kithaka and Barsilinga opted to relax under a tree that had a good shade. Despite being a hot day Barsilinga, after taking his milk, went to relax under a tree as the rest headed for a cooling mud bath. To start the mud bathing exercise was Narok. She was later joined by Kithaka and Laragai, although Laragai was opposed to Kithaka joining them because he was a small boy and Laragai considered herself and Narok as grownups. Kithaka read the signs when he was pushed by Laragai and so gave them room by going on the opposite side where he joined his other friends in wallowing. After mud bathing Kainuk took her Lemoyian for soil dusting and stood by his side until he was done. Two wild bulls reported for water as the juniors were preparing to leave. Bongo decided to go up to the water trough to find out who the two bulls were and to share water with them. On their way to the browsing field the juniors met with Tomboi and exchanged greetings as they raised their trunks. The juniors settled to browse at Kanziku area. Vuria and Kithaka spent most of their time feeding together. In the evening Lualeni with her group, that appears to have grown from four to six members, arrived at the stockade. Her group consisted of Ololoo, Tomboi, Madiba, Wild Boy, Junior Wild Boy and herself. This was just for the day though as Tomboi and Madiba just join in whatever group they come across. Madiba and Tomboi enjoyed a strength testing exercise for quite some time.
25 August 2015
In the morning the stockade was flooded with wild elephants and ex-orphans. It was difficult for the juniors to get some lucerne but at the same time they were happy to mingle with their seniors. A one year old wild baby was happy to engage Narok in a pushing game. Narok pushed the baby quite hard though, causing his sister to intervene and separate them. Barsilinga spent some time scratching on a rock as he waited for someone to lead the way to the browsing field. An hour later Mutara rumbled, signaling her group that it was time to leave.
The orphans settled to browse in the Kanziku area. At mud bath time the juniors were joined by five wild bulls that shared water with them. Two of the wild bulls joined the juniors in mud bathing. Later, the juniors headed for soil dusting where Bomani and Barsilinga had a disagreement that resulted in a fight. At one point Bomani picked a long stick that he probably wanted to hit Barsilinga with, but Barsilinga was quick to pull the stick away from Bomani. Later the two boys got tired and followed their friends who had already left for browsing.
In the afternoon the temperature was high. Mutara and Sities relaxed under a tree to cool off while Narok paired with Suguta in sharing shade under a tree. Turkwel relaxed under a separate tree from the others and enjoyed scratching against it as she waited for it to get cooler. The rest of the herd converged under one tree and resumed browsing in the evening. After enjoying an evening mud bath, the junior’s soil dusted themselves before heading back to the stockade.
26 August 2015
All members of the partially independent group were in the stockade compound in the morning. The group arrived in the middle of the night and found the two water troughs empty so they had opted to wait until in the morning. Before everyone went to bed, the two water troughs had been filled with 9000 litres of water. A lot of wild elephants, forty or so, had visited the stockade water troughs in the night and drank all the water, leaving the water troughs empty. In the morning the water was turned on and the group ran down to quench their thirst. After drinking the group joined the juniors in feeding on lucerne. Kilaguni shared lucerne with Lemoyian as Chaimu pushed Bongo out of her way as she moved past him. Sities pushed Teleki who had stepped on the lucerne she was feeding on. An hour or so later, Olare left with her group as Mutara took the juniors to the lower Kalovoto area where they settled to browse.
The ex-orphans passed by the stockade around nine o’clock in the morning. They took water then headed towards the mud bath. During mud bath time it was all quiet as the orphans had fun by themselves. Getting in to the mud bath Shukuru stepped on what appeared to be a dry surface not knowing that underneath was still wet. She got stuck on her third step and tried to pull herself out but it proved difficult and she started bellowing for help. The keepers ran to help her out and assisted her by pushing and at the same time pulling her hind legs. Finally she was out and went up to drink water. She didn't think of going back again even when the rest of her friends were having a good time wallowing. She headed for soil dusting instead where she was joined by her friends after mud bathing. In the afternoon, the orphans settled to browse at upper Kalovoto area. Orwa spend some time relaxing under a tree whilst Mutara, Bomani and Sities teamed up to browse together throughout the entire afternoon. The evening was quiet without any ex-orphans or wild elephant reporting for water.
27 August 2015
It was a quiet morning as the orphans strolled nonchalantly from their stockades and settled down to eat lucerne. Barsilinga and Garzi, who have never finalized who is truly dominant between them, clashed over a bit of lucerne on the floor. There was a standoff as they charged at each other. Bomani, who was standing close by, stepped forward and made off with the branch, leaving the two boys staring each other not knowing what to do next as their cause for fighting had been taken away!
The orphans passed by the water trough and drank enough water to take them through the entire morning. At mud bath time Shukuru, who got stuck the previous day, was hesitant to get into the mud. She stood at the edge of the mud wallow, torn between getting in the water for a cool-off or leaving for soil dusting. Eventually she opted for the former after seeing how all her friends were really enjoying the wallowing. Kithaka chose to dust himself close to his keepers while the rest headed for red soil dusting in the opposite direction. Barsilinga and Garzi had a standoff and a brief pushing game before Sities intervened and left with Garzi. After returning to the browsing field Garzi, Sities, Mutara and Vuria continued dusting themselves. When they got tired they relaxed under some trees and resumed browsing when the temperature became cooler. The evening was quiet and shortly after six o’clock Wendi, Galana, Sunyei, Meibai and Lenana reported for water and later left after dark.
28 August 2015
The ex-orphans in the company of five wild elephants reported to the stockade early before six o’clock in the morning. Soon after leaving the stockade the juniors were welcomed outside by Lenana, Chyulu and Loijuk. Chyulu took Lemoyian for lucerne and they fed together for some time. Orwa took the opportunity to test his strength against Kibo, which went on for quite some until Orwa got tired. Vuria picked on Chemi chemi for a play fight, thinking that due to his small size he would easily defeat him. Chemi chemi knew this and did his best to appear big and strong, dive-nosing trying to display to Vuria how this fight was going to go. After standing up on his hind legs, Chemi chemi charged at Vuria, who tried his best to win over Chemi chemi but he didn’t succeed! After finishing the play fight with Vuria, Chemi chemi walked towards Teleki and pushed him out of the way. Chemi chemi continued to exert his authority over the juniors by mounting on Sities and later Mutara. Barsilinga and Garzi had brief pushing game that was interrupted by Ololoo.
Later in the browsing field Bomani tried to bully Garzi. Sities, who always tries to protect Garzi, was standing close by and stepped forward to chase Bomani away. Bomani waited until Sities was far away again before trying to bother Garzi who was busy browsing. Garzi tried to defend himself but was overpowered by Bomani who was trying to mount him. Orwa and Turkwel were at loggerheads over something only the two of them could explain. They finally opted to settle the difference through pushing in which Orwa lost to Turkwel. At mud bath time, Kithaka and Laragai were the first ones to get into the mud. Kithaka didn't stay for long though and headed for dusting. The rest of the group wallowed for a long time and later headed for soil dusting. Shukuru, Laragai and Mutara then scratched themselves against a tree close to the soil dusting place. In the afternoon, the orphans settled to browse at the upper Kalovoto area where Orwa spent much of the time relaxing under a tree.
29 August 2015
A team of eleven wild elephants led by Half Trunk were at the stockade compound early in the morning waiting for water. When the water was turned on the wild bulls hurriedly started drinking. Narok was the first one to leave the stockade and headed straight for lucerne. Her friends followed shortly later. Zurura, Chaimu and Kilaguni joined the juniors and shared the lucerne. Later Zurura, Chaimu and Kilaguni left whilst the juniors headed to Kone area to browse. Vuria took some time to scratch himself between his left tusk and trunk to remove the ticks that were bothering him. The rest of the group browsed quietly for the entire morning.
After taking their eleven o’clock milk, the juniors headed to drink water where they were joined by three wild bulls. The juniors gave the bulls the necessary respect by leaving for wallowing instead. Only Suguta and Barsilinga remained at the water trough. Barsilinga was scratching against the acacia tree close to the water trough as he watched the wild bulls while Suguta tried to share water with bulls. Kainuk remained a spectator whilst the rest of her friends enjoyed wallowing in the mud. She just stood at the edge of the mud bath watching as she swung her trunk side to side. After wallowing, the juniors headed for soil bathing and later lined up for scratching against a nearby tree. Shukuru enjoyed herself as she scratched her belly on Mutara who was rolling in the red soil. Lemoyian was the first one to scratch against the tree but his scratching exercise was cut short by Bongo who came and pushed him away, so he just stood to the side waiting to see if he could get another chance. This was not possible though as after Bongo left, Bomani took over with Barsilinga also waiting. Bomani threatened Barsilinga not to come close to the tree so Barsilinga left. When Shukuru was done with soil bathing she too headed to the same tree where Bomani was scratching. Upon seeing Shukuru approach Bomani just left without waiting to be forced out. Mutara pushed Orwa away from the soil dusting place after he showed disrespect by attempting to mount her. Orwa moved a few metres away and waited for Mutara to leave, before returning to play with Narok. In the afternoon the orphans browsed along the banks of the seasonal river, a place with tall trees with good shades and better pastures. In the evening only two bulls, Zurura and Tomboi showed up at the stockade for water.
30 August 2015
The ex-orphans, the partially independent group and few wild elephants were at stockade compound in the morning. The former orphans and the partially independent group shared lucerne with the orphans. Orwa, as is his way when the seniors are around, invited Kalama into a strength testing game. Kalama, being a girl, fought Orwa hard showing him that he should not be taking girls lightly simply because he is a boy. Orwa surrendered and walked over to Melia and tried to challenge her. It appears he had not learnt his lesson as Melia humiliated Orwa by knocking him out of the way. Bomani fed close to Sunyei and from time to time Sunyei would stretch her trunk towards his mouth. Olare lay down to play so Kibo, who was standing close by, took advantage and mounted her. Olare managed to disengage herself from Kibo though and walk over to Bomani where she started giving him a few pushing lessons. Chyulu baby-sat Lemoyian right up until it was time to leave for browsing.
It was a fairly hot day but the orphans browsed calmly without being too bothered by the weather. Later in the day Bongo took some time to relax under a tree whilst Teleki dusted himself with soil. At mud bath time the juniors were joined by seven wild bulls that shared water and later wallowed with them. After, the orphans had a brief soil dusting exercise before returning back to the browsing field. The wild elephants followed them and an hour or so later, they left.
In the evening, eight wild bulls reported at the stockade for water with one of them limping. The limping elephant had a swelling between the left hind knee and the belly. Later the bulls were joined by the partially independent group that consisted of Olare, Melia, Tumaren, Kibo, Kalama, Chemi chemi, Kitirua, Murka, Kandecha and Naisula. Treatment for these bulls was arranged with Angela for the following day. The Amboseli Vet was going to be placed in situ until we were satisfied all were treated.
31 August 2015
In the morning, the juniors were joined by three wild bulls and a female with two calves. As the bulls concentrated on drinking water, the female with her two calves joined the juniors for lucerne. Laragai wasn't too happy about the three intruders and since there was nothing she could do about them, she decided to walk close to the one year old baby and confiscate the grass she was eating. The wild baby decided to defend herself, and a small fight ensued. The older sister of the wild baby intervened and Laragai backed off. Bomani, after having enough of the lucerne, started tossing it up in air. This annoyed the wild female and she reacted by walking towards Bomani with her ears raised. Bomani read the warning signal and took off. It seemed the wild female was annoyed at the young elephant wasting the lucerne in such a way as in all her years in Tsavo she had never come across lucerne growing anywhere. Hopefully this older and wiser female would be showing up from time to time to teach the juniors some manners and something about the hardships faced in the wild.
Later, Mutara led her group to Kone area while the wild elephants remained at the stockade water trough. The weather was cloudy and perfect for the juniors as they browsed calmly throughout the morning. After eleven o’clock milk, the weather was still cloudy and only Bongo and Kanjoro participated in wallowing. Bomani played with Lemoyian and Orwa played with Turkwel. Later, the orphan’s soil dusted themselves before returning back to the browsing field, where they stayed until the evening.