Keepers' Diaries, December 2013
Ithumba Reintegration Unit
This year has seen two of our Juniors upgrade themselves to the Senior Ex Orphan herd – namely Kilaguni and Ololoo so at the Ithumba Stockades we ended the year with l0 elephants still milk dependent, 26 still Keeper Dependent (which include Suguta’s group who will undoubtedly soon also make the transition to independence) and the rest (28) now all Ex Orphans and part of Yatta’s extended Ex Orphan family, making 54 of our hand-reared orphans there in all who are usually accompanied by wild friends..
Light showers and drizzling rain greened the vegetation throughout the month, but was insufficient to fill the Ithumba dam, although a lot of the bush waterholes held some water releasing the wild elephants from the Stockade and mudbath water troughs. It has been a happy month for our orphans, particularly the Ex Nursery newcomers, Laragai, Narok and especially Bongo all of whom are now thoroughly settled and enjoying their new home, sometimes even leading the Junior herd out to browse, or to and from the mudbath, and back home in the evenings.
01 December 2013
With the countryside having turned green following light showers of rain, the orphans do not have to walk far to browse. An hour after the Juniors had left the Stockade compound, the Ex Orphans passed by. At the mudbath only Bongo took advantage of the wallow, the rest just resting under shade until the Keepers had finished their lunch and were ready to take them back to browse.
02 December 2013
Chemi Chemi led the orphans to browse the Kone area today on a day when there was not much activity other than browsing.
03 December 2013
The Juniors were joined by the Ex Orphans at the compound this morning. Missing amongst the Ex Orphans were Lualeni, Ololoo, Rapsu, Tomboi and Chyulu. Later the entire herd headed to Kone, where the Ex Orphans parted from the Juniors, taking with them the older Juniors who recently have been reluctant to return – namely Suguta, Melia, Tumaren, Kilaguni, Chaimu, Sabachi, Murka, Kibo, Kitirua, Naisula, Chemi Chemi and Ishanga. At mudbath Bongo, Laragai and Narok enjoyed a spectacular wallow despite drizzling rain. In the evening, the Ex Orphans had not yet returned the 12 Juniors they took off with them.
04 December 2013
The l0 milk dependent orphans were enjoying their Lucerne when the group that had been taken off yesterday returned and rejoined their colleagues. Kanjoro led the way to the field today while Turkwel led the second group who have been weaned to the mudbath. After the mudbath Suguta, Melia, Tumaren, Kilaguni, Sabachi, Chaimu, Olare, Naisula, Murka, Chemi Chemi, Ishanga and Kalama left the milk dependent group, Suguta leading them towards Kanziku to browse. Shortly before seven Lualeni, Ololoo (who has recently upgraded himself to an Ex Orphan) and Loijuk escorted Suguta’s group back to the Stockades, and having seen them safely ensconced in their Stockade, then left.
05 December 2013
Ex Orphans Kamboyo, Tomboi, Challa, Buchuma, Loijuk, Lualeni and Ololoo joined the Juniors in the morning, and having enjoyed Lucerne, left with Suguta, Kilaguni, Sabachi, Chaimu, Melia, Tumaren, Olare, Kibo, Murka, Naisula, Kitirua, Chemi Chemi and Ishanga while Kanjoro led the Juniors to the Kone area to browse. Ex Orphan Kamboyo opted to remain with the Juniors. Laragai led the Juniors to the mudbath and soon after taking their milk, they were joined by Ex Orphan Wendi who watched over Laragai in the mudbath before turning her attention to Bongo, wallowing close to him. When the Juniors left, Kamboyo and Wendi remained in the water, disappearing later. Just before 6 p.m. Suguta brought her large group back to the Stockades, independent of an Ex Orphan escort.
06 December 2013
19 mls of rain fell just before dawn, and having enjoyed their Lucerne, Kanjoro again led the Juniors out to browse, where they enjoyed an early mudbath in some rain pools. Only Bongo, Sities and Laragai enjoyed a wallow today.
07 December 2013
After taking their Lucerne, it was Bongo who led the Juniors out to browse today, settling down at Kone. They drank and bathed in the Kone dam before splitting into two groups, Suguta leading those independent of milk while Shukuru led the milk dependent group. Suguta headed for the Kalovoto area. In the afternoon a light shower of rain (12 mls) before the juniors headed back to the Stockades. Suguta and her group reported in at 7 p.m.
08 December 2013
When the orphans emerged this morning, Kasigau had a limp, probably slightly injured whilst playing with Kibo during the night. At the browsing field the orphans had a wonderful time playing in rainwater puddles and smearing themselves in mud, Narok, Laragai and Bongo actually rolling in the mud while the others tossed it over their bodies. Later Suguta led Kilaguni, Sabachi, Chaimu, Melia, Tumaren, Olare, Kibo, Kandecha, Murka, Naisula, Kitirua and Ishanga away, which is what she has been doing throughout the month. The milk dependent orphans went for their noon milk feed, returning to the Stockades in the evening. Suguta’s group returned at 7 p.m.
09 December 2013
Again, Suguta led her group of 12 milk independent orphans towards the Kalovoto leaving the others with their Keepers. All were reunited in the evening as usual back at the Stockades.
10 December 2013
4 mls of rain fell during the night. Lualeni and Ololoo came to the compound during the night, and slept outside, in the morning leading the Juniors to the Kone area to browse. At 8 a.m. the orphans split into two groups as usual, Lualeni and Ololoo taking Suguta’s group with them and leaving the milk dependent orphans with the Keepers. After the milk dependent group returned to the Stockades in the evening, Kandecha, Makireti, Kasigau, Kalama and Kibo reported in, followed a little later by Suguta and the others.
11 December 2013
The Ex Orphan herd was at the Stockades to share the morning Lucerne, later taking Suguta’s group off with them. Suguta’s group reported back to the Stockades as usual at 7 p.m. in the evening.
12 December 2013
This morning, the eye drops for Turkwel’s bad eye arrived, and were inserted. The eye changed from white to red after the drops. Kanjoro led the Juniors out to browse, where they split into two groups again, Suguta taking her group off towards the Kalovoto. At mudbath only Bongo wallowed. The rest continued browsing.
13 December 2013
After the Juniors had left in the morning, Yatta’s Ex Orphan herd passed by the Stockades. At the mudbath only Bongo, Laragai and Narok bathed, the Ex Nursery orphans still becoming accustomed to the heat of Tsavo.
14 December 2013
Out in the Browsing area, Ex Orphan bull Madiba turned up to escort Suguta’s group off. Laragai led the first milk dependent group to the milk venue while Turkwel led the second sitting. In the evening Madiba brought back Suguta’s group whom he had taken off in the morning.
15 December 2013
At 9 a.m. Ex Orphan bulls Kora, Kamboyo, Tomboi and Madiba joined the Junior group, when Bongo was tempted to go off with them, but was called back by the Keepers.
16 December 2013
The Ex Orphans turned up to join the Juniors in the morning at the Stockade compound, when Wendi took a great interest in Laragai and Narok before moving off to drink at the trough. Later the Ex Orphans left, taking with them Suguta’s 12 and leaving the milk dependent elephants with the Keepers. At the browsing field Shukuru found a good rubbing rock, and spent time scratching herself on it, before catching up with the others.
17 December 2013
Having taken their morning Lucerne, the orphans split into two groups as usual, Suguta leading the older orphans off and leaving the milk dependent ones with the Keepers. At mudbath time Laragai led the first milk group while Shukuru led the second sitting. Suguta’s group were escorted back to the Stockades late at 8 p.m. accompanied by Ex Orphans Nasalot and Chyulu, who again left once the Youngsters were settled for the night.
18 December 2013
Ithumba hill was shrouded in mist this morning as the Juniors took their Lucerne, soon joined by Ex Orphan Bulls Kora, Rapsu and Kamboyo. After the mudbath the Juniors split into two groups as usual, Suguta leading the older Youngsters to the Kalovoto area, reuniting at the Stockades in the evening at 6 p.m.
19 December 2013
Ex Orphan Bulls Kora, Meibai, Taita, Ololoo, Zurura, Napasha and a wild male friend came with Ex Orphan females Loijuk, and Lualeni to the stockades. Napasha had an arrow wound on his face close to his left tusk, so we washed the wound and inserted green clay. Later the Ex Orphans left with Suguta’s group, Kilaguni and Ololoo enjoying a Pushing Game as they went. Suguta’s group reported back to the Stockades only at midnight, escorted by Ex Orphan Bulls Tomboi and Kamboyo.
20 December 2013
Ex Orphan bulls Tomboi and Kamboyo joined the Juniors in the morning, and having enjoyed the Lucerne, left with Suguta’s group again. Later Napasha accompanied by Challa came to have his face dressed again. The milk dependent orphans browsed the Kone area and enjoyed a heavy shower of rain at 11 a.m., sliding, playing in the puddles, and mudbathing in natural depressions, so there was no need to go to the main mudbath venue. Instead they took their noon milk feed at Kone.
21 December 2013
Once at the browsing field, Suguta led her group off as usual (Kilaguni, Chaimu, Melia, Tumaren, Sabachi, Kitirua, Olare, Chemi Chemi, Murka, Naisula, Ishanga and Kasigau) heading for the Kalovoto which is their favourite area. At 9 a.m. Ex Orphans Mulika, her calf Mwende, Chyulu, Naserian and a wild Boy passed by the Stockades passing by the milk dependent group and heading in the direction taken by Suguta’s group. 12 mls of rain fell in the afternoon and at 8 p.m. Ex Orphans Lualeni and Lenana accompanied by Ololoo brought Suguta’s group back to the Stockades.
22 December 2013
The Juniors had a quiet day today all to themselves, Suguta’s group remaining with the Keeper Dependent Juniors all day.
23 December 2013
They all enjoyed another peaceful and quiet day today, without interaction with either the Ex Orphans or wild friends.
24 December 2013
Lualeni and Ololoo joined the Juniors at the compound this morning, and left with Suguta’s group while the Juniors settled to browse at Kone, a favourite venue for them since it has a small dam that has filled with rainwater. Late in the evening Suguta’s group returned without Lualeni and Ololoo.
25 December 2013
Christmas Day and an hour after the Juniors had left the Ex Orphans passed by the Stockades. Missing in the group were Lualeni, Ololoo, Kilaguni, Buchuma and Kamboyo. Once in the field Suguta parted with her group of 12 but was back in the evening.
26 December 2013
Today only Ex Orphan Bulls Tomboi, Madiba and Napasha showed up in the morning. Napasha’s arrow wound is recovering well. The Juniors browsed all morning until it was time to return in the evening, when Narok led the Juniors back home.
27 December 2013
At around 9 a.m. Ex Orphan Bulls Napasha, Madiba, Buchuma, Taita, Kamboyo and Challa passed by the Stockades in a Batchelor group, while the Juniors browsed the Kone area again where Suguta’s group peeled off, as usual, meeting up again in the evening.
28 December 2013
A Splinter Group of Ex Orphans were at the Stockades in the morning without Yatta, and her baby Yetu, as well as Lualeni and Ololoo, Ithumbah, and Ex Orphan bulls Kilaguni, Kora, Meibai and Kamboyo. Having taken water at the Stockade trough, the Ex Orphans left with Suguta’s group of 12 plus two wild elephants they met at the Stockades. The milk dependent group browsed the Kone area again, and at noon only Laragai, Narok and Bongo enjoyed a lengthy wallow. In the evening Suguta’s group of 12 were brought back to the Stockades by a Wild Bull!
29 December 2013
The orphans left the Stockades early and began to browse close by, since the countryside is lush after rain. Later Suguta’s group parted, heading westwards and at the noon mudbath Ex Orphan Wendi joined the Juniors, watching over Bongo as he wallowed. Despite the fact that it was drizzling with rain, Bongo enjoyed his wallow immensely! Afterwards, Wendi left on her own.
30 December 2013
The Juniors left in a jovial mood, swinging their trunks from side to side as they went, which is a sign of happiness. Later Suguta led her group away, as usual. In the evening a group of Ex Orphans passed by the Stockades with Wendi being chased by 2 large wild Bulls. She is obviously again in season, meaning that the last chasing earlier in the year was not successful and she had not conceived. Suguta and her group reported back to the Stockades in the evening.
31 December 2013
Mist again covered Ithumba Mountain on New Year’s Eve as the Juniors strolled out to browse. Once in the field Suguta again parted from the Juniors with her group of 12 older Juniors and at the noon mudbath only Bongo, Laragai and Narok covered themselves in mud, while the rest wandered around. Turkwel scratching herself against the nearby Acacia tree.
In the Evening Yatta with a group of Ex Orphans and 4 wild bulls passed by the Stockades, one of the bulls in musth keeping a close eye on Wendi, and the others at bay. Wendi appeared comfortable and even coquettish with this wild Boyfriend, who kept a close eye on her and was clearly disapproving when she came to greet Dame Daphne and her family who were at Ithumba for the New Year. Suguta and her group returned to the Stockade in the evening.
The year has seen two of our Juniors upgrade themselves to the Senior Ex Orphan herd – namely Kilaguni and Ololoo. We end the year with l0 elephants still milk dependent, 26 still Keeper Dependent (which include Suguta’s group who will undoubtedly soon also make the transition to independence) and the rest (28) now all Ex Orphans and part of Yatta’s extended Ex Orphan family, making 54 of our hand-reared orphans in all.
Assuming Wendi conceives, and we believe that she will since she is comfortable with the Boyfriend, she will give birth to her own baby in the New Year of 2016, so we all look forward to that, since Wendi is an orphan who came to the Nursery still shrouded in foetal material from the remnant population of the Imenti Forest near Meru National Park, herself brand newborn! For us therefore, she is Special and showers love on the only family she knew throughout infancy and childhood which is her human one!!