Keepers' Diaries, December 2011

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

Bountiful rains in November have turned the normally dry grey Ithumba Commiphora woodland into a lush green jungle, filled with flowers and butterflies and with food and water readily available, so it has been a festive month for our orphans. Sadly, however, poor Kora returned on the 11th with yet another two arrow wounds from the Kalavoto river area accompanied by faithful Lualeni (his very best friend)and 8 year old Rapsu. Kora was, very lame from one wound in the top joint of the right foreleg and was again admitted to the Stockades for treatment. Also needing medical attention has been Kitirua who seems to have had one eye pierced by a stick or thorn.

01 December 2011

The orphans headed out for the day with Ithumbah in the lead who was also keeping an eye out for the ex- orphans with whom she enjoys spending time. At 11am the group had their milk at the mudwallow before continuing to browse. They enjoyed a mudbath later in the afternoon.

02 December 2011

Soon after arriving in the browsing fields Sabachi and Kilaguni, watched by Kibo, played strength testing games. Kilaguni then turned to engage Kibo in a game and Sabachi took the opportunity to mount Kilaguni. At 11am Yatta’s group together with Mulika’s baby Mwende visited the stockades where they were joined by Wendi and the juniors. They all remained at the stockade compound for a while before separating and heading in different directions.

03 December 2011

Once out of the stockades the orphans engaged in different activities. Melia rolled on the ground and was climbed on by Murka while Kibo and Kilaguni played pushing games. At 10am Olare led the orphans in a dustbath.

04 December 2011

This morning we found Kora waiting outside the orphans stockades. As soon as the doors were opened he walked inside and we noticed that he was limping. On closer inspection we found that right front and back legs had arrow wounds. The keepers washed the wounds and applied green clay. Ithumbah managed to evade the keepers today and did not return until Yatta’s group brought her back in the evening.

05 December 2011

The orphans spent the morning browsing around the stockade compound. AT 10am Kora and Ithumbah split from the rest of the group and headed to the Kone area and did not return until dark. The rest of the juniors enjoyed a noon mudbath and spent the rest of the day feeding before returning home at 5pm.

06 December 2011

It was raining as the orphans were let out of the stockades in the morning. The orphans thoroughly enjoyed the wet weather as they skidded and rolled around in the mud. At the noon mudbath the orphans had their milk and water before heading back out to browse. Along the way they came across some stagnant water and enjoyed a mudbath before settling to feed on the slopes of Ithumba hill.

07 December 2011

The orphans were joined at the mudwallow by Yatta’s group. The juniors were all happy to see Mwende and spent their time following him around. Ithumbah was particularly intent on staying with the calf and the older group. She did not respond to any of the keepers calls to return to the stockades choosing instead to spend the night out with the Ex-orphans.

08 December 2011

The keepers have been putting cream in Kitirua’s eye and feel that she pierced it when out in the bush. They are worried that some permanent damage may have been caused as she does not seem to be able to see out of the eye. Kandecha was the only one to go into the mudbath today and was enjoying himself so much that he did not mind when the rest of the group left to continue browsing. He joined them when he had had his fill of wallowing.

09 December 2011

Wendi, Galana, Lualeni, Sunyei, Meibai, Chyulu, Lenana, Challa, Sidai and Rapsu joined the orphans in the morning leaving them before the mudbath. At 9am the youngsters passed Yatta’s group which has been joined by Makena and Ithumba. . Kora who has been spending the nights in the stockade did not return after heading out this morning to browse and we feel he has rejoined his group.

10 December 2011

It was cloudy as the orphans headed out to browse on the lush vegetation that is abundant in Tsavo following the rains. Kalama, Chemi Chemi and Kitirua all enjoyed a rock scratch which was briefly interrupted by some rock hyraxes.

11 December 2011

Kora was seen today near the Kalovoto river where he was in the company of Rapsu and Lualeni. The three were taken back to the stockades where Kora received some more treatment for the arrow wounds. On the way home in the evening Kilaguni got separated from the group as he stopped to continue browsing. The keepers were able to quickly locate him and bring him home.

12 December 2011

Suguta led the orphans to the browsing fields where Chaimu, Kandecha, Kibo and Olare spent time charging around trumpeting and breaking down small bushes. None of the orphans were interested in wallowing at noon preferring instead to continue feeding.

13 December 2011

Wendi’s group, together with Mgeni, was found sleeping outside the stockades this morning. Galana was in charge of the group as Wendi was not with them. The juniors were happy to see the Ex orphans and greeted them warmly after which they all headed out for the day. Lualeni spent the day with the youngsters, returning with them in the evening. She remained at the stockades to keep Kora company as he is still receiving treatment for his arrow wounds.

14 December 2011

At around 7am the juniors were joined by Challa, Napasha, Tomboi, Sunyei, Rapsu, Lualeni and Madiba who remained with them for a couple of hours before heading further afield. Shortly after 11am a KWS vet from Nairobi, who was in the area checking up on the tracker dogs, came by and treated Kora. He also had a look at Kitirua’s eye and confirmed that it had probably been pierced by something in the bush.

15 December 2011

Lualeni joined the orphans as they left the stockades this morning as she is very close to Kora and likes to be with him. Kandecha and Sabachi engaged each other in pushing games before settling to browse in the Kone area. Kandacha led the way to the mudbath where they all enjoyed wallowing.

16 December 2011

It was a lovely day as the orphans exited the stockades where they were met by Lualeni who had spent the night in the compound. At 10am as the group was preparing to head to the mudbath the keepers noticed that Lualeni and Ololoo were no longer with the group. They called for them but they did not come. By evening Ololoo had not returned, choosing instead to spend the night out with the ex-orphans, an indication that he will probably reintegrate back into the wild at a younger age.

17 December 2011

By morning Ololoo had still not returned. At around 7:30 Wendi, Ithumbah, Lualeni, Ololoo, Mulika and her calf Mwende visited the stockades in the company of Kijana and another wild friend. The keepers used milk to lure Ololoo into the stockade. Lualeni was not happy about this and refused to leave and waited for him to be let out again when the youngsters came back to get him. The group spent the day browsing together before Lualeni led them all home in the evening where they met up with Kora who is still recovering from his arrow wounds.

18 December 2011

The orphans had their milk rations before being let out of the stockades. The two ex orphan groups were there and they all rushed towards the youngsters to greet them. Nasalot, Wendi, Naserian and Sidai took the juniors to the waterhole were Sabachi and Kilaguni started a pushing game. The two were separated by Naserian when the game became very heated. Wendi led the entire group to the browsing field where they fed together before parting ways.

19 December 2011

The orphans were greeted by Lualeni, Sunyei, Tomboi, Rapsu, Naserian, Lenana and Chyulu as they exited the stockades this morning. They browsed together before the ex-orphans left to go further afield. At midday Mulika, Mwende, Yatta, Kinna, Ithumbah, Buchuma, Naserian, Wendi, Mgeni, Kijana and another wild elephant came to the stockades where they had a drink and relaxed under the acacia tree before heading back to the bush.

20 December 2011

Murka was the first to exit the stockades this morning and led the group in various games before Melia took charge and led the group to the Kone area where the settled to browse. Despite it being a hot day only Kandecha, Tumaren, Kilaguni, Naisula and Kalama had a mudbath while the rest of the group stood by watching them. The afternoon was spent browsing on the slopes of Ithumba hill.

21 December 2011

After spending close to 10 days in the stockade under the care of the keepers Kora is feeling much better. The junior group was joined by Lualeni who led them to the Kanziku area where they browsed until the 11am mudbath. Kandecha was the only one to have a mudbath after which Kora and Lualeni led the group back to the browsing fields. Lualeni led the way home in the evening leaving only after the stockade doors were closed for the night.

22 December 2011

Lualeni was back to greet the orphans as they came out of the stockades. She took the group to the Kanziku area to browse. Ololoo made sure that he was always close to Lualeni and when it was time for the mudbath she stood by him while he drank his milk causing drama when she grabbed his bottle for herself. The keepers were quick to get the bottle back so that Ololoo could finish his share.

23 December 2011

It was drizzling as the orphans headed out for the day which put them into a great mood. They settled to browse in the Kone area where they were joined by Yatta’s group. The youngsters wanted to play with Mulika’s baby Mwende but were prevented from doing so by Kinna who was watching over him.

24 December 2011

The orphans were trumpeting and rumbling as they were let out this morning. Murka led them to the water trough for a drink and a scratch on the nearby rocks after which Suguta led the way to the field. Melia and Tumaren found some loose soil and began to have dustbath. The two were joined by Kilaguni who wanted to partake of the fun.

25 December 2011

At around 8:30, unbeknownst to the orphans two wild dogs passed close to the where they were browsing. A few minutes later Wendi, Sunyei, Sidai, Kenze, Challa, Galana and Lenana joined the orphans for a short spell before heading to the Imenti area.

26 December 2011

Kora and the juniors settled to browse at the Kalovoto area where they remained until it was time for the noon mudbath. Kora led the way in walking the group through the water and out the other side where they all enjoyed covering themselves in red soil.

27 December 2011

The orphans gathered at the water trough for a drink before leaving for the field where Kandecha and Kibo engaged in a pushing game which was interrupted by Kilaguni. At Chaimu caused a commotion as she charged out of the bushes with her ears raised, frightening the rest of the orphans who ran to their keepers who calmed them down when they could not find what had scared Chaimu. At 10:30 Mulika, her calf and the entire Yatta group came to the stockades for a drink.

28 December 2011

The orphans exited the stockades in a jovial mood and were led to the browsing fields by Murka where Kandecha and Sabachi played strength testing games. At noon Kandecha led the way to the mudbath where they all had a lovely wallow before Chemi Chemi led them back to the fields to feed.

29 December 2011

At the fields Kandecha and Sabachi once again played strength testing games that went on for a while before Sabachi conceded defeat and went to feed near Kilaguni. Chaimu and Naisula came across a heap of soil and enjoyed a dustbath while the others continued browsing.

30 December 2011

It was a clear blue sky as the orphans headed out for the day. The orphans browsed until 11am when it became unbearably hot and Kandecha led the way to the mudbath where they all cooled off in the water before going back to feeding in the fields.

31 December 2011

It was a cloudy morning as the orphans left for Kone area led by Olare and Murka. At noon the youngsters had their milk before partaking of the mudbath. The afternoon was spent browsing before returning home for the night.