Our biggest news at the Ithumba stockades this month was the reunion with two of our three missing truants! Dupotto, Karisa and Kelelari scarpered from the stockade compound in May when they were scared by a loud noise but in good news and after a long search, our DSWT/KWS Yatta Anti-Poaching Team discovered them whilst on patrol and on the 5th August, Dupotto was rescued and brought back to the stockades where she was warmly welcomed by best friends Kamok and Oltaiyoni who were very pleased to see her. She was rather skinny but otherwise in good condition. As Kelelari is older than the others, the decision was made to monitor his progress as he seems to have integrated well with the wild herds, having been rescued at a much older age, much more in tune with the ways of the wild and easy to identify with his missing tail.
Karisa, on the other hand, seemed to disappear into the wild herds after the trio was first reported by the Yatta team and as Dupotto settled back into the routine of the compound under the guidance and friendship of her friend Kamok, our aerial teams continued their search for him. We were therefore amazed and blown away when, later on in the month on the 16th, the most miraculous thing happened at the mud bath area; a wild herd in the company of Galana, Gawa, Ithumbah, Kilaguni and Zurura passed by where the orphans were feeding. The herd didn't stay for long but continued with their journey, leaving Zurura and another young elephant with the orphans. The Keepers were drawn to the excitement among the orphans as they circled around this young elephant who they initially thought was just Tusuja, but as he approached and they called him, they realised it was Karisa! He walked to the keepers and raised his trunk and suckled a finger of one of the keepers. Karisa had returned on his own after two months and twenty nine days in the wilderness! He drank his first milk happily and ended up having 2 more bottles. In the afternoon, Karisa settled to browse with Wanjala, Galla and Dupotto and later returned to the stockades with the others. He was in very good condition and we lie in wait to see whether Kelelari will too decide to return now that both of his friends are back in the fold, or if he remains happy in the company of his friends in the wild.
The following day on the 17th August, a wild bull tried to spirit Karisa away again but the Keepers had their eye on him and managed to bring him back to his friends. Karisa seemed to enjoy his taste of wild life as again towards the end of the month the Keepers couldn’t find him along with Garzi, Barsilinga and Wanjala. They managed to track down Garzi and Barsilinga and at last found Karisa and Wanjala completely at ease browsing along the seasonal Kalovoto River, and marched them back to the stockade for the night.
On the 10th August, Olare’s group with Kenze and a wild orphan came for water at the stockade and we found that Tumaren had a snare around her right hind leg. The snare was fresh and appeared to have caught her in the early hours. A long wire with a hook was prepared to loosen the snare which came off and Tumaren continued with her daily activities.
All of the Ex Orphans were seen at least once this month; Ex Orphan bulls Tomboi, Buchuma and Madiba came and Yatta’s group of senior Ex Orphans and Galana were spotted frequently. Yatta’s daughter Yetu, who is now five-years-old, seems to becoming increasingly independent of her mother and taking on the role of ‘Nanny’ to the wild born babies in the herd, trying to shield them from playing with the dependent orphans. The young wild babies enjoy playing with the dependent orphans however, obviously being closer in age than any of the females in the Ex Orphan herd. Wiva in particular is often seen playing with Wanjala and sometimes she, Gawa and Kama try to follow the dependent orphans, although they are always stopped by watchful Nannies like Sidai, Lualeni, Ithumbah and Loijuk.
Recently independent Ex Orphans Orwa, Bomani, Vuria and Bongo succeeded in snatching Barsilinga, Lemoyian and Laragai away one day just before they were due to return home for the night. The keepers tracked them until they located them and brought them back to join their friends. Sokotei has been his usual naughty self this month at noon feeding time by trying to snatch more than his share of milk, but the Keepers are wise to his tricks and normally catch him before the act!