January/February/March are normally the hottest months of the year in Tsavo, but this month daily temperatures throughout the month have been variable – some days too cold for the orphans to take a mudbath, and on others scorching. As the dry season tightened its grip on a daily basis, and the natural inland water pans dried so the wild elephants have begun to come to drink at the Stockade water trough again. Ten wild elephants came to enjoy the mudbath on the 13th, after which a wild bull joined the Juniors for a wallow.
The Ex Orphans, including the babies of Yatta and Mulika have come regularly to drink at the Stockade water trough and on the 20th, twice in one day. They were all there on the 5th, and on the 7th were accompanied by the wild recruits, Mgeni and Kijana. They came again on the 10th,whilst Wendi came with a Splinter group on the 8th and Napasha and Kijana came alone on the 13th. On the 14th the Juniors were joined at their noon mudbath by Kora, Lualeni, Zurura and Tomboi. All the Ex Orphans which included Yatta and her baby, Yetu, plus Mulika and little Mwende, plus some wild friends came to drink at the Stockades during the late evening of the l8th, and on the 22nd all the Ex Orphans joined the Juniors first thing in the morning at the Stockade compound. Meibai and Kora challenged each other to a Pushing Match, later engaging Ithumbah who was eager to join in.
The Ex Orphans came again to drink at the Stockades on the 23rd, accompanied this time by some wild friends, and on the 25th Madiba and Napasha brought the wild recruit named Kimathena and another wild friend for a drink. All the Ex Orphans were at the Stockades again for a drink on the 26th, after which there was a light shower of rain which left them all very happy, joyfully swinging their trunks from side to side.
The Juniors have all enjoyed a happy month, Kora now again with the Senior set having overcome his third arrowing. The Juniors are led out each morning by one of the females - either Tumaren, Kalama, Kitirua, Chaimu, Olare, Melia or Murka, with pushy little bull Chemi Chemi also hoping for the morning leader slot and Kandecha usually heading off on time for the noon milk feed and a mudbath. Kilaguni, Sabachi and Kibo are always eager to engage one another in tests of strength, which are sometimes interrupted by Suguta or another of the older females, all of whom dislike disruptive behaviour.
On the 11th Chaimu and Sabachi raised a trumpeted alarm, racing back to the Keepers for protection having spotted a domestic dog chasing a dikdik. The Keepers pursued the dog but were unable to catch up with it. The incident left all the Juniors nervous for the rest of the day. On the 9th Sabachi, Kilaguni and Kandecha enjoyed chasing off a mother pig and her piglets who would have liked a mudbath at noon. However, the warthog family were forced to be patient and were able to come in later. Kilaguni and Sabachi also enjoyed charging and chasing off a troupe of baboons and Suguta and Sabachi trumpeted the alert after noticing a buffalo hiding in dense bush. This triggered bush-bashing by the entire herd which so un-nerved the buffalo that it vanished in a cloud of dust!
Suguta, who is one of the main Ithumba Junior Matriarchs, has suffered some stomach problems during the month, but she appears better now. Over the years we have noticed that mud, well and water victims seem more vulnerable than others as they grow older, often succumbing to lung and heart disorders.