Keepers' Diaries, December 2009

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

Last months excitement over the young new arrivals, Meibai, Naimina, and Enasoit is still at a high. The ex-orphans have been regularly visiting the youngsters to see the new babies. Enasoit is every female’s favourite baby; he is constantly guarded and looked after. Loijuk, Yatta, and Nasalot have particularly fallen in love with him. They often spend time browsing together and enjoying the mudbath as one large herd. On many occasions the ex orphans not only were there to greet the youngsters as they exited the stockades but also to accompany them back in the evenings.

01 December 2009

Wendi’s group came early in the morning to await the young orphans. As the stockade gates opened the orphans headed straight for the water trough to quench their thirst before leaving with the older ones. As the whole group shifted off into the bush Ndomot & Tomboi got left behind playing a strength testing game, they soon realized they were on their own and ditched the game to catch up with the others. Enasoit is everyone’s favourite baby; Loijuk, Chyulu, Lenana, Sidai, & Naserian kept a constant watchful eye on him. After the noon mudbath the Orphans spent the afternoon on the slope of Ithumba Hill. In the evening Yatta’s group showed up at the stockades and left shortly after arrival.

02 December 2009

Sian led the orphans out of the stockades to the Eastern side of Ithumba Hill. At 8am Tomboi joined them, followed by Yatta & Nasalot who arrived around noon while the orphans were at the mudbath. They joined the young orphans during their mudbath and for the afternoon browsing. Yatta left alone at 3pm while Nasalot and Tomboi stayed with the young orphans and escorted them back to the stockades for the night.

03 December 2009

The Ithumba Hill was concealed with mist as the orphans left the stockades at dawn. Tomboi emerged from the nearby thickets to join them as they all headed westwards from the stockades. For the first time since their arrival in Ithumba, Naimina, Enasoit, & Meibai were taken to the Imenti mudbath. Despite the overcast day the orphans still had a short wallow. When it started to drizzle the orphans left the mudbath to browse. The drizzle soon turned into a heavy storm that carried on for most of the afternoon.

04 December 2009

It was a clear sunny morning, the orphans headed north east of the stockades to browse in a rocky area before heading for the mudbath. They enjoyed a wallow in the water during their noon mudbath after which they browsed near Kanziku for the afternoon.

05 December 2009

As soon as the young orphans exited the stockade Wendi and her group emerged to join them at the stockade compound. Wendi & Loijuk stayed close to Enasoit while the herd browsed, following him everywhere he went. After the mudbath the orphans spent the afternoon on the eastern slopes of Ithumba Hill. Naserian, Kenze, Kamboyo, and Kora opted to not return to the stockades for the night and remained with Wendi’s group while the rest came back to sleep in the stockades.

06 December 2009

The keeper dependent group were led by Sian towards Kanziku area. At about 10am Naserian and Kora joined the group. Kenze and Kamboyo were still missing and the Keepers feel they are beginning to integrate into wild herds, yet time will tell how quick this transition will be. Just before the midday mudbath Ol Malo left the herd and returned to the stockades on her own. She remained there the whole day and rejoined the keeper dependent group in the stockades for the night.

07 December 2009

The orphans spent the early part of the morning feeding, at about 10am Nasalot and Kenze joined the them. There was a lot of excitement upon the arrival as the orphans all greeted each other. Nasalot rumbled and headed straight for Enasoit who is every females favourite baby. Almost every female has fallen in love with little Enasoit who is welcoming the attention. Nasalot stayed close to Enasoit till noon. All the orphans took part in the mudbath, they played and rolled in the water together. At 4pm both Yatta & Wendi’s groups joined the orphans for the evening. For some reason unknown to the Keepers the orphans suddenly all got very nervous. They ran around in panic scattering the Keepers who tried to calm them unsuccessfully as something had disturbed them. Only Enasoit, Sian, Olmalo, Lenana, Chyulu, Loijuk, and Kora returned to the stockades for night with the Keepers. Just after 8pm Naimina, Meibai, Sidai, Naserian, and Lualeni where escorted back to the stockades by Yatta. Yatta watched to ensure the young orphans were safe and let in to the stockades by the keepers before disappearing. Rapsu decided to sleep close to the stockades.

08 December 2009

Rapsu who had slept outside the stockades joined the orphans as they emerged for a drink at the water trough and headed out with the orphans for their morning browse. It was a hot muggy day so the orphans had several wallows in any mudbath they came across in the morning hours. They then went to their usual mudbath and played in the water for a long time. In the afternoon the young orphans were joined by the entire ex orphan group who fed and played with them before escorting them to the stockades. Kenze joined the young orphans in the stockades for the night after spending several nights out with the wild orphans. Kamboyo remained outside with the ex-orphans.

09 December 2009

At about 10am while the orphans were out feeding Nasalot came to join the young orphans but in particular her attention was on little Enasoit whom she has more recently shown a lot of interest in. She stayed close to him until the noon mudbath. During the mudbath the orphans where joined by Yatta, Challa, and Rapsu after which they parted again. Nasalot chose to stay with the young orphans for the entire day and escorted them to the stockades for the night.

10 December 2009

Sian led the orphans to the Kanziku area for the morning. They browsed there till 11am when Loijuk led the orphans to the mudbath. After the mudbath the orphans returned to Kanziku to feed. At 2pm the keeper dependent orphans where joined by the ex orphans who spent the entire afternoon with them before leading them back to the stockades in the evening.

11 December 2009

Yatta’s group joined the young orphans first thing in the morning and interacted with them for quite some time before parting ways. Kora led the young orphans to the slopes of Ithumba Hill where they browsed till noon. Following the midday milk feed the orphans decided not to have a mudbath. In the afternoon the weather got warmer, and they found a mudbath en route to the stockades and wallowed bfore Makena led them back for the night.

12 December 2009

Enasoit is loved by all the females, this morning Loijuk, Naserian, Makena, and Lenana all huddled close to him while feeding in the bush. At 10am the orphans came across a swamp which they all played in, with Zurura happily continuing to play long after the others had finished. In the evening the orphans settled to browse near Kanziku. Naserian found a muddy patch to stop an play in, Sian came to join her and they both smeared themselves in sticky mud. Makena led the way to the stockades in the evening.

13 December 2009

It had rained all night and by dawn the ground was covered in puddles which the orphans splashed through on their way to grazing fields led by Sian. Since the arrival of the rains the vegetation is beginning to recover from the drought and Tsavo is looking green again. With the availability of food everywhere the orphans no longer have to walk long distances in search of browse. They love the rains which have long been a long time coming. The Keepers can sense the orphans are happier now that food is more plentiful.

14 December 2009

It once again rained through the night and as a result the stockade compound has become slippery making the orphans tread carefully as they exit. They enjoyed sliding and skidding their way to the feeding grounds for the morning. Since all the dried up dams have filled up the orphans are spoilt for choice of mud baths and thus part take in several mudbaths a day. The ex orphans joined the young group and remained with them the whole day. The keeper dependent group returned to the stockades at 5pm escorted by the wild orphans who left the youngsters to go about their night activities.

15 December 2009

Zurura and Kenze spent most of the morning playing mounting games while the others fed. At the noon milk feed only the milk dependent orphans came while the rest browsed nearby, making full use of all the new shoots. The orphans spent the afternoon along the Kalovoto stream. Yatta’s group came by to see the young orphans in the evening, Ol Malo left the young group to join the ex orphans for the night.

16 December 2009

Kora took the lead as the orphans headed out to browse at dawn, while feeding the orphans separated into small groups. Loijuk teamed up with Enasoit, Naimina, Makena, and Lenana while Chyulu, Sian, Lualeni, and Kora grouped together and Meibai, Sidai, Naserian, Zurura & Kenze formed another group who stayed closest to the Keepers. As the orphans made their way back to the stockades for the night they came across a wet bank of loose soil near Kanziku which they all took turns to play in.

17 December 2009

The orphans left the stockades early in the morning, Ol Malo is still absent since having left with Yatta 2 days ago. Led by Sian, the orphans headed east of the stockades where they settled to feed. On route to the noon mudbath the orphans came across a water hole which they all stopped to have a drink at before taking the young milk dependent orphans to the milk spot. At 4:30pm Yatta and Nasalot brought Ol Malo back to the stockades and left her to await the junior group who arrived shortly afterwards at 5pm. Ol Malo happily joined them in the stockades for the night.

18 December 2009

Wendi arrived early in the morning keenly awaiting the junior group to exit the stockades. As soon as the orphans exited they exchanged warm greetings. Shortly afterwards Yatta appeared and came straight to Ol Malo to check on her. Wendi left after about an hour of being with the junior group while Yatta stayed with them till noon when she left together with Ol Malo.

19 December 2009

The orphans exited the stockades at dawn and slowly browsed their way westwards. Naimina & Meibai fed close to Sidai for the morning. At noon the orphans opted not to have a mudbath due to the cool weather conditions. They browsed the whole afternoon at the Kanziku area and returned to the stockades at 5pm. At 6:30pm Yatta & Nasalot brought Ol Malo back for the night. After ensuring she was safe they left.

20 December 2009

At early dawn Rafiki, the wild bull, who has been missing since the arrival of the rains suddenly showed up at the stockades accompanied by Yatta & Nasalot. All three of them waited till the young orphans where let out to join them at the water trough. There was a lot of excitement as Rafiki had not been seen for some time. He walked with the orphans towards their feeding area before leaving with Yatta & Nasalot. Yatta & Nasalot later came back to join the orphans. When the group returned to the stockades for the night Ol Malo left with Yatta & Nasalot again.

21 December 2009

About an hour after the junior group left the stockades to feed Rafiki arrived and had a drink at the water trough. He was followed by Nasalot, Mulika, Selengai, and Kinna. They hung around the stockades for a few minutes then headed westwards. At 10am Ol Malo showed up at the stockades wanting some milk which the Keepers gave her. She remained nearby the whole day joining the orphans at 5pm when they returned to the stockades for the night.

22 December 2009

Yatta & Wendi turned up early to greet the youngsters as they left the stockades. Yatta went over to ensure Ol Malo was ok, then left alone while Wendi remained with the junior group. Wendi has started to spend more time with Yatta and her group. The Keepers suspect she may have left her group under Galana’s leadership and joined Yatta’s group. There have been several other changes observed; Napasha and Rapsu seem to have shifted over to Wendi’s group (or now Galana’s group!), this has left Yatta’s group with Mulika, Mgeni, Kina, Selengai, Orok, Buchuma, Nasalot, and now it appears Wendi as well. The Junior group spent the morning feeding then headed to the mudbath at noon with Wendi. While there they where joined by Yatta, Nasalot, Mulika, Mgeni, Orok, Selengai, and Buchuma. They all wallowed and played together before leaving to feed. At 2pm Yatta’s group left, leaving Nasalot & Wendi with the juniors. They escorted them to the stockades for the night before leaving to re-join Yatta.

23 December 2009

As the Keepers & orphans headed out the orphans joyously trumpeted, showing their pleasure at having so much food available. At 9am Yatta’s group joined the junior group for a short time before leaving again. The junior group spent the rest of the day with the keepers feeding and having a mudbath at noon.

24 December 2009

While out feeding in the morning the junior group was joined by some members of Yatta’s group which included Mulika, Mgeni, Selengai, Orok, Buchuma, Challa, and Yatta. Missing from the group where Nasalot and Wendi. At 11am they all had a mudbath where Kora got to learn some new strength testing tactics from the wild bull Mgeni. Loijuk played strength testing games with Selengai and Orok. At 3pm Wendi, now re-joined with her group passed by the stockades, Nasalot was with her. They didn’t stay long; they had a drink at the water trough and went on their way. Yatta’s group separated from the juniors shortly before 5pm when the orphans, led by Makena, returned to the stockades.

25 December 2009

After having a drink at the stockade water trough the orphans remained close by. They fed throughout the day making their way towards Kanziku, where they where joined by Yatta’s group who had Nasalot re-join it again after having been with Wendi the day before. The herd came across a natural water hole in which they all had an afternoon swim & play. Yatta’s group escorted the juniors to the stockades for the night. At about 7pm Wendi’s group came to the stockades with them was Kamboyo who has recently become more independent and wild. He was looking very healthy and happy and didn’t show any signs of wanting to re-join the junior group. He played strength testing games with Taita & Rapsu near the stockades.

26 December 2009

The junior group spent the first half of the day going about their usual feeding and mudbath routine. At 3pm they were joined by the ex orphans. Under Yatta’s leadership they went to the mudbath again to have an afternoon wallow. They had a brilliant time splashing, rolling, swimming, and playing together. They then slowly browsed as they made their way towards the stockades. Upon arrival at 5pm the junior group went straight for their quarters while the ex orphans had a drink at the water trough and left.

27 December 2009

The orphans left the stockades and headed straight to the Park to feed where they met up with Yatta’s group. They spent the whole day together, feeding near Kanziku. When they arrived at the stockades Wendi’s group joined them. Ndomot & Selengai played strength testing games while Challa tried to mount Kamboyo. The ex orphans played with the youngsters for some time before leaving.

28 December 2009

The Junior group was joined by Yatta’s group while feeding in the Park. Nasalot went to feed next to her favourite baby Enasoit, while Yatta went to her favourite, Ol Malo. After everyone had their mudbath Ol Malo decided to return to the stockades on her own to feed nearby. Ol Malo seems to not mind being a loner, she slowly made her way to the stockades where she waited for the younger orphans to return in the evening.

29 December 2009

About 2 hours after Naserian’s group left the stockades Yatta’s group arrived for a drink at the water trough. Yatta then led her group away in the same direction the youngsters had taken. During the midday mudbath the orphans didn’t feel like bathing due to the cool weather conditions. Naserian led the group back to browse for the afternoon and were joined Yatta’s group. Chyulu led the way back to the stockades in the evening.

30 December 2009

The day began as usual with the orphans having a drink before going to feed for the morning. On the way back they got a little mischievous as Sidai, Naserian, Meibai, Naimina & Zurura dodged the Keepers and caused havoc at the stockades amongst the rest of the group! The keepers soon rounded up the cheeky runaways and Loijuk led the orphans into the stockades for the night. The Keepers suspect due to the new availability of food, orphans like Zurura, Sidai, and Naserian are not as interested in going into the stockades as they normally are. The Keepers try to persuade them to go in as the youngsters like Naimina and Meibai are not ready to sleep out yet and it is important for them to have guidance from the older orphans.

31 December 2009

The orphans left the stockades at dawn feeding as they slowly moved northwards. At 10am Yatta’s group joined the juniors to feed and then at the mudbath. Following a wallow the orphans had a scratching session on the trees nearby and carried on feeding as they shifted off. Yatta led the orphans back to the stockades at 5pm before leaving the youngsters there with the rest of her group.