Keepers' Diaries, December 2012

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

It has been a particularly challenging month for our Ithumba Orphans, since the rains which should have broken in mid October came so late – the first meaningful shower falling on the l7th to relieve what has been one of the longest droughts on record in that part of the Park. More rain fell sporadically thereafter to bring on a green flush of vegetation which was greatly enjoyed by the Keeper Dependent group who are still anchored to the Stockades at night. Yatta’s Ex Orphan Group came to the Stockades on the lst to partake of the Junior Orphans’ Lucerne handout, but thereafter were not seen until the end of the month, although a splinter group comprised of Rapsu, Kora, Lualeni and Madiba turned up briefly for a quick drink at the Stockade trough on the 4th and another Splinter Group led by Galana and comprised of Loijuk, Challa, Tomboi, Kenze, Meibai, Sidai, Madiba, Kamboyo, Sunyei and a wild Junior Bull checked in again on the 26th intermingling with the Juniors for about half an hour before Galana led her Ex Orphan group off again. The same ten Ex Orphans turned up again the next day just as the Juniors were about to leave, but again did not linger.

01 December 2012

Despite the fact that the main rains should have broken in mid October, it is still bone dry, with both the Orphans and Ex Orphans enjoying the Lucerne supplementary feeding. Today the Juniors browsed the Kalovoto area after the Ex Orphans parted from them at the Stockades.

02 December 2012

None of the Ex Orphans showed up today to share the Lucerne handout. Kalama led the Juniors out to browse later and Kandecha led the way to the mudbath at noon, with Melia taking the lead back to browse for the afternoon feeding session.

03 December 2012

The day turned extremely hot forcing the Orphans to browse under shade whenever possible. All thoroughly enjoyed their noon cooling mudbath today before returning to the seasonal Kalovoto area, which is about the only place where browse is now available.

04 December 2012

More clear skies today promised another hot day. Suguta and Kibo enjoyed a Pushing Game while Chemi Chemi took on Kalama, attempting to mount onto her, something that she strongly resisted, driving him off! At 1 p.m. Ex Orphans Rapsu, Kora, Lualeni and Madiba came to the Stockades for a drink, and left again shortly afterwards.

05 December 2012

Mist covered Ithumba mountain as the orphans enjoyed their daily Lucerne handout, after which Olare scratched herself against the rocks and Kilaguni and Kandecha engaged one another in a Pushing Match, refereed by Sabachi on the sidelines. After Kandecha surrendered Sabachi engaged Kilaguni which only lasted a short while before he, too, surrendered. After the noon mudbath, Makireti led the orphans back to the Kalovoto browsing area before returning home in the evening.

06 December 2012

At the Stockades during the morning the orphans engaged in various activities, Kasigau and Ishanga scratching themselves against the rocks, Kitirua and Sabachi in a Pushing Game after which Makireti led the group out to browse. En route Kilaguni and Sabachi enjoyed their usual Pushing March and later Ololoo challenged Kilaguni to a strength testing exercise. Since the day was cooler, none of the Juniors went into the mudbath. At 3 p.m. a light shower fell, which left the Orphans exceedingly happy.

07 December 2012

Having emerged in the morning, the Juniors assembled at the Lucerne feeding area, standing patiently with their trunks up, eagerly awaiting the handout. Kilaguni and Sabachi rolled on the ground in a playful way as they waited. Having enjoyed the Lucerne, an hour later Chaimu led the way to the Kalovoto browsing field.

08 December 2012

At today’s mudbath only Ololoo, who is very fond of bathing, wallowed, while the rest opted for a dustbath instead. Melia scratched her body against a tree until Makireti led the Orphans back to browse.

09 December 2012

Kitirua engaged Ololoo in a Pushing game while Kalama scratched herself against the only remaining acacia tree at the Stockade compound. Today Suguta led the way out to browse. During the mudbath Ololoo and Kilaguni engaged one another in a Pushing Match which was won by Ololoo after Kilaguni surrendered in order to join the other orphans as they headed back to browse for the rest of the afternoon.

10 December 2012

Murka scratched herself against the rocks this morning while Ololoo and Kilaguni resumed their Pushing Game as did Sabachi and Kitirua during which it was Kitirua who surrendered. At the mudbath the Orphans decided to enjoy soil dusting instead, since it was a cool day.

11 December 2012

For almost 2 entire weeks the Ex Orphans have not shown up at the Stockades, having traveled further afield with the wild elephants in search of natural browse. Today Ololoo engaged Kitirua in a Pushing Game with the intention of trying to mount onto her. Today the Orphans browsed the Kanziku area.

12 December 2012

It was a quiet morning without much fun as the Orphans headed out to browse. At the mudbath, having taken their milk and water, Ishanga scratched herself against the trees while Ololoo and Kilaguni indulged in their favourite Pushing Game.

13 December 2012

Having taken their Lucerne, Kalama led the Juniors out to browse where Ololoo and Kilaguni resumed their favourite Pushing Game, which was won by Ololoo. During the afternoon the Orphans enjoyed a bush mudbath in a stagnant rainwater pool.

14 December 2012

Makireti led the way to the mudbath venue today after which Kasigau engaged Kibo in a Pushing Match, which was easily won by Kibo, who is much bigger than Kasigau.

15 December 2012

Kalama led the group out having finished their Lucerne hand-out. Ololoo, who thoroughly enjoys playing with Kilaguni initiated a Pushing Match, which he won after Kilaguni surrendered. The Orphans declined the mudbath today, but instead enjoyed a bush wallow in the stagnant rainwater pool during the afternoon browsing session.

16 December 2012

After finishing their Lucerne the orphans took it in turns to scratch themselves against the rocks, Chemi Chemi leading the way followed by Olare, then Kasigau and Ishanga. Later Kilaguni engaged Kasigau in a Pushing game which he won easily.

17 December 2012

It was a jovial morning for the orphans following a fairly heavy downpour of rain during the night. At the browsing field the orphans were overjoyed, playing in the puddles and wallowing in the mud, which negated the desire to go into the usual mudbath having taken their noon milk feed.

18 December 2012

Soon after leaving the Stockades, it began to rain again, so the Orphans thoroughly enjoyed slipping and sliding and rolling in the wet mud. By l0 a.m. the rain had stopped. Kandecha led the way to the milk venue after which the orphans again enjoyed an afternoon of playing in between browsing.

19 December 2012

Kilaguni and Ololoo opened up the field activities by engaging one another in the usual Pushing Match which left them playing catch-up to the others who had moved further away. During the afternoon the orphans enjoyed the Kalovoto area again.

20 December 2012

Following another wet night, the orphans settled down to enjoy their Lucerne and later browsed eagerly on the soft new shoots which had begun to emerge following rain. Makireti led the group to the mudbath venue, where the Youngsters took their milk before returning to browse.

21 December 2012

Kasigau scratched himself against the rocks after the Lucerne handout prior to the group moving out to concentrate on browsing until it was time for their noon milk feed.

22 December 2012

The orphans enjoyed moving from one sprouting bush to another during the morning browsing session, drinking from rainwater puddles and playing in the mud. Everything was readily available for them, which made for a very happy day.

23 December 2012

It was another quiet feeding day for the Juniors, again with all available for them.

24 December 2012

Ololoo and Kilaguni enjoyed their usual Pushing Game, which took another turn when Kilaguni lay down, encouraging Ololoo to continue the game that way. Sabachi, who was a spectator, came to help his friend Kilaguni get topsides of Ololoo, who has recently been victorious. At the mudbath only Ishanga and Kasigau enjoyed a wallow in the mud while the rest fed nearby.

25 December 2012

Christmas day for the Orphans was a day just like all others. Led by Melia the Orphans settled to browse along the Kone road until it was time for their noon milk feed. There only Ololoo took a mudbath while the rest returned to the browsing area, on the way pausing at a stagnant pool to wallow.

26 December 2012

As the orphans were settling into their Lucerne handout, they were surprised by the sudden appearance of Ex Orphans Galana, Loijuk, Challa, Tomboi, Kenze, Meibai, Sidai, Madiba, Kamboyo, Sunyei and a Junior wild Bull all of whom checked in. the Ex Orphans mingled happily with the Juniors for a full half hour before heading off again. Hopefully, the rest of the group might be on their way.

27 December 2012

As the Juniors enjoyed their morning Lucerne, Pushing Matches took place between Sabachi and Kandecha, Kasigau and Ololoo, while Kilaguni engaged Kitirua. As the Juniors were about to head out to browse the l0 Ex Orphans who turned up yesterday again arrived but remained briefly just to take water before again leaving. As soon as the Juniors had settled into their Stockades in the late evening, there was the heaviest downpour of rain experienced this season.

28 December 2012

No sign of any of the Ex Orphans today, so the Juniors got on with their day browsing calmly up until Chaimu led them to the milk and mudbath venue. Having taken their milk, the Orphans enjoyed a bush rainwater mudbath a short distance away before resuming browsing for the rest of the afternoon.

29 December 2012

The Juniors went about their usual activities, enjoying the fresh new browse and the wetter conditions throughout the day.

30 December 2012

As the orphans settled down to enjoy their Lucerne handout, 22 Ex Orphans emerged from the western end of the Compound – Mulika, Yatta and their respective babies, Kenze, Taita, Ithumbah, Galana, Kinna, Zurura, Chyulu, Wendi, Orok, Nasalot, Makena, Buchuma, Tomboi, Kamboyo, Meibai, Sunyei, Lenana, Loijuk, Sidai, Challa and a wild Bull, all of whom joined the Juniors for the Lucerne. Missing from the group were Kora, Lualeni, Naserian, Madiba, Rapsu and Napasha. The Ex Orphans remained with the Juniors for an hour and later escorted them out to the browsing field, where they separated.

31 December 2012

It was a quiet day for the Juniors. Ololoo enjoyed a free ride on Kilaguni, advertising his dominance. Out in the bush the Orphans concentrated on feeding. None of the Ex Orphans appeared today, obviously having just showed up briefly to announce their presence to their human family and the Keeper Dependent Juniors.