Keepers' Diaries, December 2000

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Voi Reintegration Unit

The reappearance of Chuma, after an absence of many years as a wild elephant, has been an exciting event this month. Chuma is a little older than the first Nursery elephant, Olmeg, having been born a few months earlier in 1987, and given directly into Eleanor's custody. After such a long absence, he was nevertheless greeted very warmly by the older orphans who would remember him but also by the younger set of bulls who have never met him, but who have obviously been "introduced" as part of the extended "Orphan Family".

The reappearance of Chuma, after an absence of many years as a wild elephant, has been an exciting event this month. Chuma is a little older than the first Nursery elephant, Olmeg, having been born a few months earlier in 1987, and given directly into Eleanor's custody. After such a long absence, he was nevertheless greeted very warmly by the older orphans who would remember him but also by the younger set of bulls who have never met him, but who have obviously been "introduced" as part of the extended "Orphan Family".

The rains came late this year, towards the end of November as opposed to mid October, and Tsavo benefited from more than Nairobi, bringing on a flush of green vegetation and filling the natural waterholes. Being wet, December is always "the festive season" for the elephants, when both food and water are plentiful, and when play and socialising can dominate daily activities rather than just feeding. We are pleased with the progress of the "Nursery eight" who are already interacting with wild elephants, the little bulls being more adventurous in this respect than the females within Natumi's group.

Meanwhile, The Big Boys (other than Chuma) are now conspicuous by their absence, no doubt again with the wild herds, and this includes Edo and Malaika's two little boys, Uaso and Lewa. Imenti obviously opted out of becoming one of the Big Boys, choosing to remain instead with Emily and the babies, playing the role of "protector". In chasing off intruders of other species, he is reinforced by the younger set of females, headed by Natumi, Edie and Ilingwezi with the little bulls putting on an impressive side-show. Emily is now the acknowledged overall Matriarch, and Aitong a very active "Nannie", whose passion for little Nyiro is undiminished. It is gratifying to see Loisaba playing again after the death of Malaika.

An interesting development is that some of the younger set, mainly the little bulls, are now happy to spend time with Emily's group, a short distance from their human family. This means that they are gradually becoming more confident and independent. Lissa and "the kid"appeared several times during the month, once with Chuma and again with 8 wild elephants. However, contact with wild elephants was curtailed during the latter half of the month, only because the onset of rains released the wild herds from their dry season range, allowing them to travel inland. No doubt our Big Boys accompanied by Edo and his charges, plus Dika and Ndume went too, as did Lissa and friends.

December 2000 day to day

01 Dec

All the orphans left the Stockades together in the morning, as usual, and wallowed together at 11.30 a.m. At l0 a.m. they encountered 3 buffaloes, and Emily and Imenti gave chase, whilst Natumi's group charged here and there with ears raised. At 2 p.m. Salama, Nyiro and Laikipia (all little bulls) played with a young wild calf of their size. Back at the Stockades in the evening Aitong and Imenti played together for sometime.
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