It is very exciting to learn that both Yatta and Mulika are now very obviously pregnant, the change in their breasts now becoming apparent and as such a sure indicator.
It has been an action packed month for the Ithumba Orphans, with a great deal of intermingling between the Stockade dependent Youngsters and the now wild Ex Orphans, who have been returning to join the Juniors on an almost daily basis, sometimes, but not always, all together, but more often in Splinter Groups mainly led by Wendi who is often accompanied by the younger members of Yatta’s main group, i.e. Sunyei, Ndomot, Buchuma, Chyulu, Sidai, Kamboyo, Lualeni, Kora, Rapsu, Galana, Tomboi and Napasha. At other times odd individuals show up in smaller numbers, often younger bulls without a female Splinter Leader, having decided to peel off and check up on the Youngsters. There have only been 7 days in the entire month that Senior Ex Orphans have not joined up with the Juniors, (i.e. on the l0th, llth, l3th, l5th, l7th, 27th and 31st), the Ex Orphans either waiting at the Stockade Compound to greet the Youngsters first thing in the morning, often having spent most of the night sleeping in the Stockade Compound, or else meeting up with them out in the bush, or at the noon mudbath. One of their number is often left behind with the Youngsters when the main Ex Orphaned Group decides to head off to an undisclosed destination, usually Nasalot, who adores Kilaguni but sometimes Lualeni. Senior Ex Orphan Members usually comprise Yatta herself, who is the main Matriarch, plus Mulika, Nasalot, Kinna, Selengai, the wild recruit known as “Mgeni” and little Orok who seems to be a Senior fixture. Surprisingly, Napasha, who is the biggest of the Ex Orphaned Bulls, is usually to be found in the Splinter Group led by Wendi, as is Tomboi, Kora, Kamboyo, Zurura and Madiba, Mgeni and visiting wild bulls possibly acting as a deterrent.
Meibai and Makena who had been taken for some Night Out experience at the end of last month, were returned to the Juniors and a joyous reunion on the lst escorted back by a large contingent of Ex Orphans, Yatta herself, Mulika, Nasalot, Kinna, Sunyei, Kamboyo, Ndomot, Selengai, the wild Recruit named Mgeni, and on this occasion also Napasha, Ndomot, Buchuma and two large wild Bulls.
The 2nd saw the arrival at Ithumba of ex Nursery elephants Suguta, Melia and Tumaren who were greeted warmly and enthusiastically by the Keeper Dependent Group again led by Makena who had returned just the day before, her Leadership role taken over by Ithumbah during her absence. The three Ex Nairobi Nursery elephants seemed overwhelmed by the variety of green vegetation at their disposal, and wasted no time tucking in! Wendi came during the night of the 3rd, accompanied by Galana, Ndomot, Zurura and Naserian and waited in the compound until the morning to greet the new Babies, which she did amidst the usual excited trumpeting and urinating. She and her group spent the entire day with the Youngsters, sharing the mudbath with them, although the newcomers were reluctant to bathe, but instead just paddled, probably never having seen such a large waterhole before! The next morning Wendi was waiting outside the Stockades again, this time included in her group were Kora, Lualeni and Rapsu, with Zurura and Naserian absent. When she separated just prior to the mudbath hour, she left Lualeni to spend the rest of the day with the Youngsters and escort them back in the evening. That night Lualeni slept in the Compound in order to be at hand to greet the Youngsters first thing in the morning, joined at 9 a.m. by Yatta, Mulika, Nasalot, Kinna, Orok, Buchuma, the wild Recruit, Mgeni, Selengai and Napasha. Selengai adores Ithumbah and focused on her whilst Nasalot as usual homed in on her favourite Kilaguni.
When Yatta and her group left, she took Lualeni with her and left Nasalot to take over Youngster-Sitting duty, escort the Juniors back in the evening, and sleep that night in the Compound in order to there first thing in the morning. Later she was joined again by Yatta, Mulika, Kinna, Orok, Selengai, Napasha, Buchuma, Mgeni and Taita, who spent the morning browsing in amongst the Juniors, shared their mudbath with them and then left, still leaving Nasalot with them.
Meanwhile, back at the Stockades Kora, Rapsu and Zurura (all young bulls from the Ex Orphaned Group) turned up on their own at 3p.m. briefly for a drink, but then departed and on the 7th Rapsu and Zurura brought Lualeni with them to partake of the Junior’s mudbath at noon, leaving soon afterwards. However, the next day (8th) Kora, Lualeni and Zurura managed to sneak Meibai away from the Junior Group, and left with him for a wild Outing Experience.
After a heavy rainstorm during the night Lualeni, Rapsu and Kora were back the next morning to spend all day with the Juniors, but minus Meibai who returned that night at 7 p.m. escorted back by Yatta and her main group when the Keepers managed to entice Meibai back into his usual Stockade and rejoin his Junior Gang. He obliged, but reluctantly, after which the Ex Orphans left the Compound.
On the 12th, Meibai attempted to separate from the Junior Group, wandering off for some distance, but then having obviously had a change of heart, because he returned. At the mudbath that day the Juniors were joined by all the Ex Orphans except Yatta, Mulika, Kinna, Orok, Selengai and Taita. After the mudbath Wendi and her satellites escorted to Juniors to the slopes of Ithumba hill and left them there.
A day past, but on the 16th Wendi was back with a Splinter group to greet the Youngsters the moment they emerged from their Night Stockades, immediately running up to give Ithumbah a great deal of loving. Today, the Splinter Group made up of Sunyei, Ndomot, Buchuma, Kamboyo, Sidai, Lualeni, Kora, Rapsu, Napasha, Galana and Tomboi, spent the morning browsing with the Youngsters, shared the mudbath hour and then left, this time taking Makena off with them for another Wild Outing! Suguta was now happy to share the Matriarchal slot with younger Ithumbah who is a very confident Youngster and having originated in the area, probably knows it well.
On the l8th, whilst out browsing in the bush, Meibai suddenly raised his trunk to the wind and hurried off in an easterly direction, obviously to meet up with the Ex Orphans, undoubtedly summonsed to do so. On the l9th he was returned in time to take his morning milk after which he again slotted into the old routine with his Junior peers.
The 20th brought a scare when Tumaren suddenly rushed out of a thicket bellowing, triggering a stampede of all the others back to the Keepers, although Meibai showed his mettle by turning round to face possible danger, ready to do battle with his ears widespread. However, the supposed “enemy” turned out to only be a dikdik!
Yatta, Mulika, Selengai, Kinna, Nasalot and Orok came to the Compound before dawn and spent the morning with the Youngsters, Selengai paying particular attention to little Ithumbah. Leaving Nasalot behind, they separated after the noon mudbath, but the next day Yatta, Mulika, Selengai, and Orok were back this time with Taita in tow. They spent 2 hours with the Youngsters, during which time Selengai attempted to sneak off with Ithumbah! The Keepers had to trail the two and eventually managed to persuade Ithumbah to return with them.
On the 23rd Wendi and a large Splinter Group returned Makena to the Stockade Compound in the dead of night and slept there until dawn. With her was a large Splinter Group consisting of Tomboi, Galana, Sidai, Buchuma, Kamboyo, Chyulu, Lenana, Loijuk, Madiba, Napasha, Naserian, Challa, Ndomot and Sunyei. Having been absent from the Juniors for the past couple of days, the greeting that morning was especially exuberant. They were joined at l0 a.m. by Yatta, Mulika, Nasalot, Kinna, Orok, Selengai and Taita who after a short time, peeled off again, leaving Nasalot behind. That evening Zurura, Lualeni and Kora joined their Ex Orphaned peers in the Compound at 6 p.m. and left together with them once the Youngsters were in for the night.
On Christmas Eve Galana and Tomboi joined the Juniors, but left an hour later, Nasalot still remaining with them. Then Yatta and her six came to join the Youngsters briefly peeling off just before the mudbath, but Nasalot still remaining with the Youngsters them. She spent all Christmas Day with them. Boxing Day was a very special day for the Juniors who enjoyed the presence of all 29 Ex Orphans all day long, even escorted back to the Stockades by the entire herd in the evening. Ithumbah was spoilt rotten by both Wendi and Selengai.
Meibai was again taken by Wendi and her satellites for another Wild Outing on the 28th and the next day Nasalot and the Juniors entertained Yatta, Mulika, Kinna, Orok, Selengai and Taita at the noon mudbath, after which they left.
By the 30th Meibai had been away two nights, but he turned up for his morning milk feed escorted by Wendi, Loijuk, Chyulu, Makena, Lenana, Sidai and Galana (all Ex Junior Matriarchs) who were with the Juniors until after their noon mudbath but who then took Meibai off with them! The last day of the month was spent quietly, with no Ex Orphan contact, Ithumbah and Suguta in full control of the remaining Keeper Dependent Juniors now comprised only of Melia, Tumaren, Sabachi, and Kilaguni.