December began with a couple of huge storms which filled the waterholes and dams surrounding Ithumba mountain. The orphan’s mudbath too was brimming with rain water, deep and fresh and became a huge attraction throughout the hot month, for both the dependent babies as well as the ex orphans who twice this month converged en masse and frolicked and swam for well over an hour. The dependent babies who are still coming home in the evening to their night stockades and having milk feeds are Orwa, Mutara, Vuria, Bongo, Garzi, Bomani, Kanjoro, Kandecha, Kainuk, Laragai, Makireti, Narok, Shukuru, Sities, Teleki, and Turkwel.
Then we have a group of partially dependent orphans who are still young elephants, but are making their way into the wild community and are becoming more independent of their human family. All these orphans are now weaned and no longer return to the stockades every evening, but do keep in close orbit still visiting regularly. That was until this wet season as most of Suguta’s group have been absent for much of the month. Three of Suguta’s group have chosen to stay closer to home now that the group has obviously gone further afield. Kasigau, Makireti, and Kilabasi who had chosen to remain behind joined up with the dependent babies regularly once more. They have this month been trying to recruit some of the dependent babies into their fold. The keepers have kept a keen eye on the three to ensure that their ulterior motives are thwarted! Suguta’s group consists of the following orphans: Chaimu, Chemi Chemi, Ishanga, Kalama, Kibo, Kilaguni, Kitirua, Melia, Murka, Naisula, Olare, Suguta, Tumaren and apart from the early part of the month they were absent for much of the rest.
The ex-orphans group of big and fully integrated orphans have chosen to remain close this December despite the plentiful vegetation and water which does enable them to head further afield should they choose. Wendi, and Kinna are both pregnant and so is Sunyei but we think Kinna is nearing the end of her pregnancy so were preparing for the possibility of maybe the Ithumba unit being blessed with a little wild December new born, but it was not to be – maybe it will be in January as everyone waits with baited breath. Kinna and Wendi despite their rotund bellies and full breasts have enjoyed the mudbath on a couple of occasions along with the other ex-orphans. The ex-orphans consists of the following elephants: Buchuma, Challa, Chyulu, Galana, Kamboyo, Kenze, Kinna, Kora, Lenana, Loijuk, Lualeni, Madiba, Makena, Meibei, Mulika, Napasha, Nasalot, Naserian, Ololoo, Orok, Rapsu, Sidai, Sunyei, Taita, Tomboi, Wendi and Zurura.
Big boy Napasha remains in the area despite having disappeared with the wild herds in 2014 for a good many months. He is often seen in the company of his friends Rapsu and Kora, Buchuma and Tomboi, accompanied by wild bulls. One of the highlights this month was being able to save a young wild bull who came to join the ex-orphans. He was sighted with a poisoned arrow protruding from his side. Quick response arranged for the Trust’s helicopter and the DSWT/KWS veterinary officer Dr. Njoroge to come and dart him and provide quick medical treatment and this took place on the 13th of December with the prognosis excellent for a full recovery.
The daily entries are full of stories specific to individual orphans coupled with wonderful pictures shared by the Ithumba Keepers.