On particularly hot days, the orphans head straight for the mud bath. One day, Sattao, who always likes to forge his own path, opted to squeeze between some visiting wild bulls who were having a drink. The bulls did not appreciate his rapid approach, however, and one of them kicked Sattao from the side. Our little boy learned a valuable lesson that day about waiting and respecting his elders.
Our dependent boys tend to hero worship older bulls, particularly ex orphans. When 18-year-old Rapsu and a wild friend showed up at Ithumba at the beginning of the month, little Mundusi relished the opportunity to drink alongside the older gentlemen. They soon walked off into the bush, leaving Mundusi to bask in the glow of this successful interaction. He decided to celebrate by picking a fight with Mapia, clearly inspired by Rapsu and eager to show off his own dominance.
The month began on a somber note. On the morning of 2nd August, Galana introduced the Keepers to her newborn baby. Our jubilation soon changed to concern, as the calf was clearly premature and very feeble. Galana and her nannies seemed to know there was a problem from the outset. They calmly shadowed the sleeping baby throughout the night, waiting for the inevitable. The next morning, the Keepers stepped in and put the calf on the drip, which Galana allowed without objection. Tragically, the baby was too frail to survive and slipped away. Afterwards, Galana and her friends quietly walked off into the bush, with the stoic grace so distinctive of elephants. The wild can be a very harsh place, as these moments remind us.
Wild visitors and ex orphans filtered in throughout the month. We can always rely on Mutara, Suguta, Sities, Turkwel, Kithaka, Lemoyian, Orwa, Garzi, and Bomani to visit, although they don’t show up every morning. Dololo is always happy to have his older sisters in the fold. It seems that Suguta has established herself as his primary keeper, although Sities, Turkwel, and Mutara are equally enamoured with him. They even tried to kidnap Dololo a few times, although the Keepers are always quick to retrieve him.
Our little Nabulu is doing so well. She was treated to an extraordinarily special incident in August. On the way back to the stockades on evening, the dependent orphans encountered a wild herd who had a four-month-old baby in tow. While the elephants drank, Nabulu and Esampu had the opportunity to play with the baby. Esampu probably inserted herself into the situation through sheer brashness, as she is notoriously strong-willed and mischievous, but this also remind us how self-assured Nabulu is. As if we needed further proof, another moment stood out this month: Seeing half a dozen bulls converged at the water trough, Nabulu abandoned what she was doing and joined them for a drink. While the orphans don’t always receive such a warm welcome, the bulls seemed very happy to have Nabulu in their midst and allowed her to share water with them.
Despite their formidable size, elephants can be quite cowardly about the silliest things. One morning, a hamerkop bird created a lot of drama when it landed on the edge of the water trough. Naseku, who was walking down to drink, raised her ears and immediately retreated. Mundusi, Rapa, Sapalan, Sattao ,and Musiara lifted their trunks to investigate the situation, but as soon as they realised it was just a bird, no one wanted to be the first to confront it. Barsilinga came to their aid and forced the intruder to fly away.