Keepers' Diaries, February 2018
Ithumba Reintegration Unit
Regularly the orphans we raise do something extraordinary, and we are further reminded what remarkable animals elephants are, and that our intimate knowledge still falls short of the mark; there remains still so much more to learn about elephants and their wonderful mystical ways. Our older orphans across our units have been rescued from all over the country. They are not related, with the exception of Faraja and Jasiri, yet they become as closely bonded as any elephant family. These friendships and bonds last a life time, and they form the families that are so integral to elephant society.
01 February 2018
Galla left with a branch in his mouth and soon as he was out, Roi requested him to break a piece for her. Galla resisted by walking away and pretended not to have heard Roi's request. Roi was angered by Galla's behavior and Roi quickened her steps and managed to catch up with him. Roi pulled the branch from Galla's mouth. Galla had no option other than to let go since he didn't want to invite the wrath of Roi, given that they share a stockade at night. Six wild elephants were drinking water at the stockade water trough as the orphans settled for lucerne. One wild elephant that had a three month old baby joined the orphans to feed. Shortly later, the wild mother and her baby left while the orphans headed towards Hyena Hill which is north west of stockade.
At around seven o'clock in the morning, the keepers herd some noise of elephants coming from the lower Kalovoto area and thought that it was the normal noise from female elephants being chased by bulls. Kauro settled to feed with Rapa. At around ten thirty in morning, the unexpected happened. At a distance Makena, Rapsu, Enkikwe and Tumaren approached the orphans with Makena paying so much attention to Enkikwe. The keepers walked to check why Makena was paying so much attention to him and to their shock, Enkikwe was bleeding on his right hind leg, neck and at the back. On top of his back one could see lions fur left behind after the attack. It appears that the way Makena was behaving she was the one who saved Enkikwe, assisted by Rapsu and Tumaren. The three were escorting him back to the stockade where they knew very well that he would get the much needed help. Laragai and her group checked in shortly later and together with the juniors and the keeper’s, they escorted Enkikwe to the stockade when he was put to wait for the vet to come and attend to his injuries.
In the afternoon, Makena left with Tumaren, Rapsu and Laragai’s group. An hour later Makena felt that the juniors needed protection and went looking for them. She finally located them on the eastern side of Ithumba Hill. Makena stayed with the dependent orphans until evening and after escorted them together with their keepers back to the stockade. At the stockade compound, Makena found that she couldn't access where Enkikwe was staying and so raised her trunk, rumbling to Enkikwe to inquire if he was okay. Enkikwe responded by thanking Makena for her help and assured her that he was in safe hands. Makena then left after being reassured by Enkikwe.
02 February 2018
It was a chilly morning and Ithumba Hill was partly covered by mist. The orphans settled for lucerne and shortly later they were joined by Laragai and her group, Makireti, Kilabasi, Kasigau and Chaimu. Barsilinga was limping after spraining his front angle. It's suspected that he was injured during the foray with the lions attacked yesterday. The incident will remain in the groups mind for a long time and they certainly know now how dangerous a lion can be, especially to young elephants. Enkikwe was captured by the lion perhaps after he threatened it, since Enkikwe is known not to run but raise his ears whenever anything or anybody passes close to him. Laragai, who is always alert, is the complete opposite to Enkikwe. She flees anytime she detects something strange or dangerous around, even before setting eyes on it. The rest of the day was quiet. At mud bath time, the weather was still chilly and none of the orphans dared to step into the muddy water. Roi settled to chat with Naseku as they shared food from the same shrub. From the look of things, the two were discussing the current affairs and probably asking themselves, what they would do if suddenly a lion appeared.
03 February 2018
Two wild bulls were drinking water at the stockade water troughs when the orphans were let out. Also present at the stockade compound were Olare’s group, Narok’s group, Mutara’s group, Chaimu and Kilaguni. After Tusuja and Galla had enough lucerne, the two settled into a morning warm up exercise by pushing one another since the weather was chilly. At one point, Galla sat down trying to show Tusuja how talented he was since he can also play fight while seated. On the way to the browsing field, Kamok who rarely engages in pushing games tried to show Galla and Tusuja that, although she might be quiet sometimes, she too can act. Kamok separated the two boys who were involved in a pushing game and dared any of them who felt offended to turn and face her. Tusuja and Galla did not dare do anything to Kamok because they saw she meant business!
Mutara’s group later joined the juniors. At mud bath time, the weather was windy and none of the orphans dared to go in the water. Tusuja had a brief chat with Turkwel asking how life outside the stockade was treating him, since in the near future he would like to join them. The sky cleared giving way to sun shine. The orphans converged under a tree while continuously flapping their ears. In the evening, Mutara and her group fed a distance away from the orphans. All over sudden something scared them, prompting a stampede in which the group headed to the stockade. Their stampede caused panic and tension amongst the orphans. The orphans couldn't wait for the unknown and so followed the Ex Orphans at high speed. Barsilinga who was limping, could hardly run and so dragged himself slowly and arrived safely late in the evening at the stockade. They stayed around the stockade for a while. We are not sure what scared them or indeed if there was anything and they just got spooked, but it is good they came back to the stockades for safety anyway.
04 February 2018
For several days now, the weather has been chilly in the morning hours. This is unusual as the month of February is considered a very hot month where the sun shines from morning to evening. Sunyei, Siku, Naserian, Lenana, Chyulu, Narok’s group and Olare’s group joined the juniors soon when they were let out. Baby Siku had fun with Siangiki, Laragai and Maramoja but when she came to play Kauro, things changed. Kauro doesn't entertain the games of these babies and pushed little Siku away as he wanted to be left alone to eat enough lucerne since he doesn't have the fingers at the end of his trunk after they were mauled by a predator before his rescue. This makes him work extra hard to eat as much as his friends! Tusuja and Galla, who for several days now have been trying to establish who amongst themselves is the dominant boy, had a pushing game for some time before Orwa intervened by separating the two. After lucerne feeding time was over, Kamok took her dependent group to Kone area while Laragai and her group joined the Ex Orphans. Ukame also tried to run away with them but after a second thought, decided to go back to the dependent orphan group. Ukame felt that by escaping, it will mean going without her share of milk and to her this was unacceptable and she couldn't imagine going without it. Galla took time off from feeding to scratch his buttocks against a rock while Roi and Oltaiyoni held a private meeting a distance away from rest of the group. Oltaiyoni and Roi came down to Ithumba in the company of Kamok in December of 2016 and they consider themselves as grown up girls. Later at mud bath time, Dupotto led the first group as Maramoja led the second group. The weather was still chilly and the orphans only had water after having their milk and shortly afterwards left for browsing.
05 February 2018
It was another chilly morning as the orphans strolled nonchalantly out from the stockade. Waiting outside the stockade were Narok’s group, Olare’s group and two wild bulls. The junior Ex Orphans joined the orphans at the foot of Ithumba Hill for half an hour then separated and rejoined again later on the way to the mud bath. Chattering baboons passing nearby scared Kamok, Dupotto and Kauro so that they ran as fast as their legs could carry them heading in the direction of the keepers. The keepers calmed them down by calling their names and whistling. Galla, who is trying to establish himself as a kingpin, rumbled to call Tusuja to accompany him to check out what the matter was. The two boys walked with their ears raised towards the direction of the chattering baboons. Shortly later, the duo came back after establishing that there was no cause for alarm as the baboons were only scavenging for food. At mud bath time Roi, who loves her milk so much, caused drama when she finished her milk and when she was passing the milk crate heading for water, grabbed a bottle of milk and ran off with it. Roi knew very well that it is very naughty to drink someone else’s milk but she thought she could get away with it by circling around in an effort to avoid the keepers. By the time the bottle was pulled from her mouth, Roi had already downed half of it! The question now was who among the remaining orphans would really appreciate taking one and half bottles instead of two. It was agreed that Ukame being one of the big girls would be given only one and a half bottles; although we were sure that she was going protest only we didn't know how. If she knew how to write, she would demonstrate by holding a placard written ‘I have been given less milk today’. When Ukame arrived, she was given the first bottle and then the second bottle. She didn’t understand why the last bottle was quicker than normal and knew she had been played, so decided to protest by rumbling and stood in the same place waiting for her balance. Lucky enough she was the last one and watched in disbelief as the empty bottles in a crate were loaded into a pick up. Ukame turned around to check if the small boys were around so as to vent her anger on them but it appears that they had sensed what was happening and so tried to avoid her at all cost. Yatta and her group reported later in evening at the stockade and left immediately after drinking enough water.
06 February 2018
Six wild bulls with Half Trunk among them were drinking water at the stockade water troughs when the orphans were let out. The number of wild elephants coming for water at the stockade is slowly increasing and this is due to the drying up of water holes in the area. Olare, Makireti and Narok’s group spent the night just outside the stockade, and joined the orphans to eat the lucerne the keepers were putting out for them. Galla, always eager to learn and test himself, picked on Chemi Chemi in an effort to learn new pushing tactics in a pushing game. Two hours after the orphans had left for browsing, seventeen wild dogs reported for water at the stockade water hole. The wild dogs then left immediately after having a quick drink of water. Laragai and her team left with Narok’s group, only to report back at the stockade late in the evening. Sapalan, the independent boy, spent most of his time browsing a short distance away from his friends. At mud bath time, the temperature was moderate and all the orphans participated fully in the wallowing exercise. In the evening, twenty five wild elephants reported for water. After drinking they wandered off back into the Park.
07 February 2018
Olare, Narok and Makireti’s groups arrived at the stockade compound in the dead of the night and lay down to sleep. The three groups joined the juniors for lucerne early in the morning. After peacefully eating lucerne, the junior Ex Orphans headed to Kalovoto while the dependent orphans headed to the eastern side of Ithumba Hill, where they settled to browse. Shortly before nine o'clock in the morning a wounded wild elephant in the company of Yatta, Yetu, baby Yoyo, Kinna, baby Kama, Mulika, Mwende and Sidai showed up at the stockade water troughs. The wild elephant appeared nervous, an indication that he wasn't a frequent visitor and probably was coming for water at night when it's always quiet. Lucky enough, this wounded elephant met with Yatta and her group that managed to convince him that they knew a place where he could get help and so ended up at the stockade. The bull was treated at around noon. Once the treatment was through, the bull was woken up and thanked everyone who took part in the treatment exercise. The wild elephant then slowly headed towards mud bath, probably to cool off since it was really hot. Ukame settled to browse with Oltaiyoni as they shared stories that were private since they had moved a distance away from the rest of the herd. Galla came across a dik dik that scared him and as he turned to run away, something made him decide instead to turn and face the tiny dik diks. The dik dik acted wise by waiting for Galla to get close then made a ninety degree turn which made it difficult for Galla to chase him since he couldn't make a sharp corner; once he slowed down to turn, Galla just watched helplessly as the dik dik disappeared from view.
08 February 2018
The number of elephants coming for water ever day at the stockade keeps growing. This morning a total of sixty elephants, wild ones with our Ex Orphans too, were at the stockade compound, all coming for water. A wild elephants that are familiar with the operations at the stockade joined the orphans to compete for their lucerne. One of the wild mums we have known for years carried a whole bale of lucerne and ran off with it. This is a clear indication of how dry it is getting out in the Park and we hope the long rains that are due in the next few months will alleviate their hardship. The orphans didn't stay for long due to the stiff competition they faced from their seniors. Led by Ukame, they passed by the water troughs to have enough water to see them through to midday, as it appeared it would be a hot day ahead.
Namalok, who has become an expert in walking over rocky terrain, climbed a way up the east side of Ithumba Hill in order to get the best vegetation he wanted. Indeed, the day turned out to be quite hot, prompting Kauro and Roi, who share a room, to take refuge under a tree to relax and also avoid the scorching sun. Narok and her group joined the orphans on the way to the mud bath and decided personally to escort Maramoja to her milk. In the evening thirty wild elephants reported for water at the stockade water troughs. The wild elephants left later after having the much needed water.
09 February 2018
The stockade compound was flooded with Ex Orphans and several wild elephants. The orphans were let out and intermingled with their seniors as they waited for lucerne. Galla kept himself busy by engaging Naisula in a pushing game while Pare settled for a scratching exercise on a nearby rock. The orphans parted ways with the Ex Orphans soon after the lucerne was finished. The orphans passed by the water trough and took enough water ready to face another day. Led by the hot tempered Ukame, the orphans headed deeper to south east of Ithumba Hill. It has reached a point where they have to walk quite far in search of vegetation. They had a quiet morning as each tried hard to get enough food before the end of the day.
At mud bath time, the sun was really hot and the orphans took themselves in to the mud bath without being told by anybody. Soon after mud bath, the orphans headed back to the browsing field where they converged under a tree waiting for the temperature to drop. In the evening Kithaka, Lemoyian, Sirimon and Boromoko, who are tired of being locked in the stockade with a padlock, refused to accompany the rest of the herd back to the stockade to avoid spending the night there. Barsilinga returned because he is slightly limping still, while Siangiki and Olsekki came back as they are not yet sure if they want to leave or stay, and their best friend Enkikwe is still recovering. The main character, Laragai, who is unpredictable, was front in line on the way back. This is the same Laragai who wants to be in the stockade, and at the same time wants to be free! The same Laragai who knows how to let the others out and also knows how to cross fences by kneeling down to make herself small enough to fit through. She is also known for jumping over walls to get whatever she wants. She will be a character that we will have to deal with for some time!
10 February 2018
The sky was partly covered by clouds when the orphans were let out. Outside the stockade, Narok and Olare’s groups were waiting. Shortly later a wild mum with her two calves four and eight years old joined the orphans to feed on lucerne. The four year old threatened to push Galla for no apparent reason. Galla stood his ground and rumbled in an effort to call his friends for help. It was interesting to watch Vuria and Garzi respond so quickly and come forward to help Galla, who they considered as their family member. The wild elephant didn’t wait to be attacked by the gang Galla had called and it retreated. Galla was left smiling after the four year old baby fled away. Galla then thanked Vuria and Garzi for their quick response. Shortly afterwards, Kamok led the group to the browsing field. Ukame and Roi couldn't leave without something to keep them busy on the way. The two wise girls carried a considerable amount of lucerne in their trunks that they enjoyed feeding on their way. Ukame and Roi know how tired one gets when looking for food these days and there was no need to leave the lucerne, given out freely, to go and start toiling away once they reached the browsing area.
Karisa started his day's activities with a soil dusting exercise, while Galla settled for scratching exercise when he came across a rock that he saw suitable for his belly. The quiet Sapalan teamed up with Namalok to browse. At mud bath time, Rapa finished his milk and instead of turning to go for mud bathing, he walked to the water trough and joined Half Trunk to drink water. Half Trunk, who is old enough to be Rapa's father, welcomed Rapa and shared water without intimidating the young calf. Rapa felt happy for a few minutes as he spent time with Half Trunk drinking. He hoped that a day will come when he will be big just like Half Trunk. The Ex Orphans briefly passed by the mud bath where Tusuja and Naseku tried to ambush baby Wiva so as to fight her. Wiva, who was accompanied by Mwende, ran a head of Mwende so as to avoid Tusuja and Naseku. Mwende walked in a zigzag style in an effort of blocking Tusuja and Naseku. This was meant to buy time for Wiva to run and get help from her mother Wendi, incase Tusuja and Naseku continued pursuing her.
11 February 2018
Early before dawn, two lions roared. The roaring of the lions forced Narok and Olare’s groups to run back and seek refuge at the stockade compound. At six o'clock in the morning, the orphans were let out and joined Olare and Narok’s groups. Naseku fed close to Narok as they recounted to each other how the roaring of the lion had frightened them. Narok informed Naseku that she was lucky to have a safe place to spend her nights compared to them. Naseku concurred with Narok that life was much smoother and safe at the stockades and with the keepers. Narok reminded Naseku that however much she is enjoying, a day will come when she will have to leave the human family and join her real family out in the wild. Naseku thanked Narok for her advice then with excitement, trumpeted to inform her friends that it was time to hit the road to start their day in searching of food to eat.
Ukame settled to browse with Galla as they discussed how time really flies given that it was only June last year when they were brought to Ithumba. At that time Ukame wasn't willing to stay and several times she wanted to escape. Now she knows this is her family and she is happy to stay, and thanks to the Ex Orphans because now they have discovered who they are and where they belong. At mud bath time, Ukame, Tusuja and Galla competed who would get to the milk bottles first. Tusuja won the race followed by Ukame. Two wild bulls joined the orphans to drink water and shortly later parted ways. In the afternoon, Laragai took her group and came later when the milk dependent group arrived back.
12 February 2018
The lions that had attacked Enkikwe spent most of their night roaring not far from the compound. Mutara and Narok’s groups spent the night outside the stockade and joined the orphans in morning. After sharing lucerne with the juniors, Mutara led the way to the browsing field. At the browsing field, Boromoko and Sokotei settled to browse with Kanjoro as they swapped stories. Boromoko and Sokotei wanted to know how life is treating him in the wild compared to life of being dependent stockade as the two wanted to make an informed decision of joining Kanjoro in the wild. As the three boys were sharing stories, two dik diks passed by running very fast, bringing their conversation to an abrupt end. Boromoko charged in the direction taken by the two dik diks and then changed his mind, simply because he realized they would most likely get away. At mud bath time, the weather was chilly and the orphans only had their milk and some water from the troughs before heading back to the browsing field.
13 February 2018
Fearing the lions, the junior Ex Orphans have been choosing to spend the night outside the stockades. For the second time now, the lions, early at dawn, roared not far away. The scuffle with the lions which made Enkikwe lame also left Barsilinga limping as he tried to escape from the scene, which resulted in him hurting his front leg. The junior Ex Orphans joined the orphans to feed on Lucerne, and later they left to browse altogether. On the way to the mud bath, the orphans were joined by Tomboi. After mud bath the junior Ex Orphans, Mutara and Narok’s groups left with Kithaka, Boromoko, Sokotei, Lemoyian and Laragai. In the evening, Boromoko didn't show up at the stockade with Laragai, Kithaka, Sokotei and Lemoyian, but decided to stick with the older Ex Orphans. This is not the first time Boromoko has spent the night out with the Ex Orphans and it appears that he is always comfortable being in their company.
14 February 2018
Yatta, her baby Yoyo and Yetu, Kinna, baby Kama, Mulika, Mwende, Kenze, Orwa, Meibai, Ithumbah, Sunyei, baby Siku and two wild bulls joined the juniors for lucerne in the morning. The playful baby Kama tried to attack Pare but he didn’t stand for her bad behavior; this was not her first time trying to tease Pare then run back to her mum. This time Kama was a distance away from her mum and Pare took the opportunity to teach Kama a lesson. Pare pushed Kama then moved away to avoid being detected by her mother.
Later the orphans were joined briefly by Olare’s group who took Sokotei and Boromoko away with them. The orphans were joined by fifteen wild bulls at mud bath, a number which is so far the highest recorded at mud bath since the beginning of the year. This is an indication of how dry it is getting as each day passes. The juniors had respect for the bulls and waited for some time before the keepers helped them by moving the bulls so the orphans could have some water too. This is because the bulls have all the time they want but the dependent orphans are on a time schedule. The juniors have to get enough food before the end of their day which is five o'clock in evening when they return back to the stockades. The orphans enjoyed drinking water as they praised their keepers for helping them get to the water. In the afternoon, Pare and Maramoja took a break from feeding to relax under a tree. When it was time to go back to the stockades, Boromoko and Sokotei had not yet returned so they spent the night out with Olare’s group.
15 February 2018
Galana, baby Gawa, wendi, baby Wiva, Chyulu, Lenana, Nasalot, baby Nusu, Makena, Orwa, Bomani, Sidai and Narok joined the orphans for lucerne in the morning. A lone buffalo showed up for water at the stockade in the morning. As the buffalo settled for water Tusuja and Kamok spotted it and tried to charge. The buffalo stood its ground making Kamok and Tusuja retreat. Kamok met with Gawa and tried to scare her, something that left everyone wondering what sort of mother would she become when she grows up! Initially the girls are supposed to be good nannies and guardians to the young since at one point they will be mothers and they should learn early how to be when the time comes. Tusuja had a lone game of rolling on the ground as Laragai, Kithaka, Barsilinga, Garzi, Lemoyian, Siangiki and Olsekki left with the Ex Orphans. Boromoko and Sokotei were not seen in the morning but by noon they had come back and joined Laragai. Sirimon decided not to join the Ex Orphans but instead stuck with the dependent orphans. At mud bath time, Roi, who has become so greedy for milk, decided to play a trick on the keepers. After having her milk, Roi stood a short distance away sucking her trunk and pretending to be a good girl. As the keepers got themselves busy on feeding the next group, Roi tiptoed up and managed to grab a bottle of milk from the ground. The keepers shouted and told her to stop but she didn’t listen and guzzled all the milk before one of the keepers could retrieve the bottle from Roi's mouth. Roi wasn’t disappointed but just noted somewhere that next time she should have the perfect plan to make sure that she empties all the contents in the bottle before she gets caught.
16 February 2018
Twelve wild elephants in the company of Mutara and Olare’s groups were at the stockade compound early in the morning. As the orphans were let out, Kibo, Kandecha and a junior wild elephant went into the lower stockade. Shortly later, Kibo and Kandecha went out leaving the wild elephant in the stockade as he was busy collecting the leftovers. The wild elephant then panicked after realizing that his friends had deserted him and with no knowledge of where the gate might be, the wild elephant broke the fence by bumping into the wires and ran without stopping until he disappeared from our view.
Galla challenged Kanjoro by engaging him in a strength testing exercise as Olsekki and Siangiki walked down to the water trough where they joined a wild bull to drink water. Their friend Enkikwe is still recuperating in the stockade after he was attacked by a lion two weeks ago. Olsekki and Siangiki will continue to miss the company of their friend Enkikwe since he will still stay in the stockade until he recovers. After Galla lost his game to Kanjoro, he walked down and met with Tusuja who they had a duel with, before Kandecha intervened by separating them. Shortly before mud bath time, Laragai and her group left with the Ex Orphans. At mud bath time, the orphans were joined by eight wild bulls.
17 February 2018
It was a busy morning today when some wild elephants and Ex Orphans came to share the lucerne. The dependent orphans came out after their milk and joined them. Some went to the water hole and some to the lucerne feeding area where the keepers were distributing the bales. Nasalot and Galana with their babies Nusu and Gawa were among the group. They interacted for short while as there was not very much lucerne to share out, and when it was finished, the orphans walked away and left the others to clear everything up.
The orphans were very busy browsing whilst Rapa scratched his bottom on a tree. Ukame and Tusuja browsed together and later we saw Sapalan try to escape from the group, but the keepers retrieved him. He tends to browse on his own these days and shows independent traits.
It was not as busy as other days at the mud bath and there were no other elephants besides the dependent orphans. It was very quiet as the orphans came in for their milk in groups and later walked to the new mud bath under the small trees where they had some fun. Later they walked back to the bush to browse.
Kauro was spotted browsing alone and later went on for a scratching session. The rest were very busy browsing the rest of the time until Kamok led the group to the small water pool along the road where they started showering themselves. Later they walked back to the stockades for their last milk bottle of the day and to go to bed.
Laragai’s group came by the stockades today for some left over supplements and we closed them in their room.
18 February 2018
The orphans had their morning breakfast of two milk bottles as usual and walked to the lucerne field where they met with some Ex Orphans and wild bulls who welcomed them out. They knew that when the dependent orphans came out they would get to have some lucerne as well! Nasalot and Galana with their babies Nusu and Gawa were among them. They all interacted together until it was time for the dependent orphans to walk out to the bush; Narok’s group accompanied them. They stayed with them for some time out in the bush. The other Ex Orphans and wild bulls stayed until they had finished all the lucerne and later walked away.
Sapalan browsed on his own, despite having many friends and being well liked, he prefers to be on his own when browsing. The orphans later walked to the mud bath for their milk. After their bottles they played vigorously in the water and were joined by other Ex Orphans and wild elephants. It was lovely to see them interacting and playing together. The dependent orphans later walked back to the bush with the keepers, leaving Nasalot and Nusu in the mud bath still mingling with other wild elephants there.
It was very hot and all the orphans were hiding under shade for the most of the afternoon. They came out to browse for a bit later and then walked to a small mud bath to cool themselves before going back to the stockades. A big group of wild dog who were hunting passed through the stockades and came to drink water. We had also some wild elephants and Ex Orphans visit including Yatta and her babies Yoyo and Yetu. They drank water and left. Enkikwe is still on medication and but is strong and doing well.
19 February 2018
It was a very busy morning with the orphans having their usual morning breakfast before joining the other groups of Ex Orphans and wild elephants outside the stockade. There was a big group comprised of wild elephants and Ex Orphans Nasalot, Sunyei, Wendi, Yatta, Mulika and Galana with all their babies.
Out in the bush, Kauro, Ukame and Galla were browsing together as all the orphans concentrated very much on getting enough food before it got too hot to think about browsing; later they walked to the mud bath for their milk.
At mud bath there was a mixture of wild elephants, Ex Orphans and our dependent ones. They played together and interacted and later, the orphans walked out to the bush as they could not compete with the wild bulls for space in the mud bath. It was very hot and most of the orphans stood in the shade. Maramoja and Dupotto were standing together under a different tree with Kamok. Sapalan was a bit further away browsing whilst the others were resting. The orphans came out from under the shade to browse for a little bit before walking back to the stockades for the night.
20 February 2018
This morning, Ex Orphans Kinna, Sunyei, Yatta, Galana, Wendi and their babies as well as some others appeared at the stockades in the early morning, waiting for the orphans to come out after their milk so they could join them to feed on lucerne. The orphans had their milk and later joined them. Wiva was the most playful as she was piling a bunch of lucerne on her head whilst eating more from the ground. After awhile her head was full covered with lucerne and she did not bother taking it off. Maybe she was trying to carry a stash of it for the day! She is also very proud of her small tusks which are already starting to show. She keeps throwing her trunk up in the air to show them off to the keepers. Maramoja and Rapa scratched their trunks together on a rock. The orphans left the Ex Orphans to finish off the lucerne as they walked out to the Park to browse.
Sapalan and Namalok browsed separately from the others. They prefer to be separate from others or sometimes amongst the older Ex Orphans. Roi later led the group to the mud bath for their milk.
Half Trunk was in a group of wild bulls who came in mainly to have water. Half Trunk tried to play in the new mud bath with the orphans after their milk. He later walked away to join his group who were at the water trough busy drinking water. The orphans later came back to drink water after the wild bulls had left and walked back to the bush to browse.
It was very hot as usual in the afternoon and most of the orphans were hiding in the shade. Wendi's herd passed nearby and Namalok decided to join them rather than staying with the dependent orphans. They walked with him trying to hide him in the middle of the group but the keepers ran a head of them and led him back to the younger orphans. He stood alone for some time and rubbed his bottom on the baobab tree. The rest of the group was busy browsing.
Laragai’s group did not return to the stockades this evening as they prefer to stay out rather than being locked in. Only Barsilinga appeared very late in the evening and we locked him in. Enkikwe is still on medication but his leg is still quite big; we are very busy taking care of him and giving him all the treatment he needs.
21 February 2018
It was a busy morning today as we were visited by a large group of wild elephants who came to drink water here. They were with two young babies Siku’s age and they drank water and left. Some Ex Orphans also arrived mainly for lucerne.
In the bush everyone was looking for nice things to eat. It was already very hot and it was still morning!
At mud bath time the orphans met with Kasigau who they played with after having their milk. Mutara’s group and a big group of wild elephants were also there. Mutara was scratching her belly on a fallen tree with Kauro, taking it in turns.
Later all the orphans were very busy browsing again but Sapalan, Namalok and Karisa were browsing separately to everyone else. Galla was pushing Roi from behind as they played. They walked towards the roadside and started playing in a small water hole that has formed there, before making their way home later on. This evening Laragai’s group came and they went into their stockade to have some of the food that had been laid out for them there.
22 February 2018
This morning the orphans had their milk as usual before coming out and greeting the Ex Orphans that were waiting for them there. They all co-operated and shared the lucerne nicely before the dependent orphans left for the bush.
Wanjala was pushing Tusuja as if requesting to play with him and Tusuja obliged. Most of the orphans concentrated on browsing however as it is cooler in the morning than the afternoon when they want to just stand in the shade mostly!
Wanjala was the most playful one at mud bath as well. He wallowed deep in the water and submerged his whole head! Galla was also rolling around in the water. Later, Rapsu arrived with other three wild bulls and started playing in the water too. It was very hot in the afternoon but the orphans had no other choice other than to browse; they hid in the shade for a few minutes and later came out to browse until it was time to walk back to the stockades.
A big group of wild elephants visited the stockades today with a very young baby. Some of Laragai’s group came back at night and were locked them in with Kithaka. Enkikwe is still receiving treatment.
23 February 2018
A big group of Ex Orphans came today to share lucerne with the orphans. They know the time and came in as early as possible. The orphans had their share of milk and later joined them with the keepers distributing lucerne to everyone. Barsilinga was very clever and was carrying his share on his back to have it later. Boromoko accompanied the dependent orphans to the bush and stayed with them the whole day.
Galla was very playful at mud bath today again. He actively played in the new mud bath and started rolling as he scratch his belly, head and bottom on the tree there. Six wild bulls also came to drink water but there weren’t any other Ex Orphans apart from Boromoko.
Back in the bush Sapalan browsed on his own as usual and didn’t socialize with the others. The others browsed and later walked towards the small water hole beside the dirt road to play in the water and cool down before heading home.
Wendi's herd came to have some water in the stockade today and say hi to the keepers as we had not seen them for the last few days. Kinna, Nasalot, Sunyei, Galana, Yatta and Mulika with all their babies were with Wendi. They stayed for a long time under the shade in the stockade. Narok also came with only Bomani and Vuria. Enkikwe is still on medication. Kithaka and Laragai today did not return for the night as they fear being locked in, but all others in her group came and were locked in.
24 February 2018
Due to the ongoing dry season, the Ex Orphans and wild elephants show up on daily basis. The Ex Orphans target the lucerne grass which is provided every morning by the keepers from the store. Two wild elephants that appear to be new in the area walked with caution as they raised their trunks up, trying to determine how safe the area is. They could not understand how a gathering of elephants of similar age were located in this one area, and with so many humans as well! Their curiosity subsided when Laragai passed close by and extended her trunk towards them, probably in an effort of calming them down by answering their questions. Soon after the orphans were through with the lucerne, Kamok led the way to the browsing field where Tusuja settled to browse with Ukame. From time to time, the two could be seen communicating through touch, perhaps discussing the current drought and how it is affecting them by having to walk long distances for food to fill up their huge stomachs. Later, Tusuja and Galla, who are now considering themselves as grown up boys, had a sparring contest that ended in a draw.
Laragai, Kithaka, Boromoko, Sokotei, Siangiki, Garzi, Barsilinga, Lemoyian, Sirimon and Olsekki, every morning take a different route to the other orphans and return back late at night most of the time.
At mud bath time, the hot tempered Ukame, who has made an habit of pushing any elephant close to her after having her milk, threatened to push Namalok. If it were not for the keepers intervening by shouting at Ukame, then Namalok would have had a difficult time with Ukame. After mud bath, the orphans stampeded in fright when a troop of chattering baboons passed by at a high speed. The orphans didn’t understand why the baboons were running so opted to run as well! The afternoon was quiet as the orphans concentrated mostly on browsing.
25 February 2018
The orphans strolled nonchalantly out from the stockade and settled for lucerne. Outside the stockade Olare’s group was waiting as twenty five wild elephants concentrated on drinking water. The sky was crystal clear and this was an indication of a hot day ahead. After finishing their Lucerne, the orphans briefly joined the wild elephants to arm themselves with enough water to take them through the entire morning. Led by Kamok the orphans walked off east of the Ithumba Hill where they settled to browse. At nine o'clock in the morning, a pack of African wild dogs passed by, disrupting the peaceful browsing of the orphans. They scattered in different directions and ran away from the wild dogs. It took the keepers nearly half an hour to get the situation came back to normal by trying to bring all the orphans back together again. Sapalan, known for his quiet behaviour and silently dodging the keepers, was the last one to be found. Whenever Sapalan heard the keepers looking for him, he would stop feeding and stand still to make sure he wouldn’t create any noise to alert the keepers as where he was. By luck the keepers eventually bumped into Sapalan and directed him to join his friends.
At mud bath, the orphans were joined by the senior Ex Orphans led Yatta. Naseku had a disagreement with Wiva that resulted in a fight. Olsekki came to assist Naseku and together drove the naughty little Wiva away. In the afternoon, the sun was still hot and this prompted the orphans to converge under a tree with nice shade until it was cooler. In the evening, the Ex Orphans in the company of twenty five wild elephants showed up at the stockade and left immediately after having enough water.
26 February 2018
Twelve wild elephants who came late at night, drank water and decided not to leave until early in the morning to have a second drink when the water was turned on. The elephants have learned with time that when the water in the water trough finishes there is always someone to turn it on, or a bowser to fill it up. So these elephants always exercise patience to receive more water, something that we humans can learn from them. The water was turned on and the wild elephants quickly quenched their remaining thirst before leaving one by one. Oltaiyoni was attracted to a wild born baby that was waiting for her mother to drink water. The wild born baby acted tough towards Oltaiyoni knowing that her mum was just close by if things turned ugly. The clever Oltaiyoni knew that if she mishandled the five month old, things would not turn out well since the baby might raise an alarm and its mum would come running to defend her.
Later in the bush the orphans were joined by Kilaguni and Bomani who later left with Laragai and her group. At mud bath it was really hot prompting the orphans to wallow in the water for a long time. In the afternoon, the sun was still hot making the orphans relax under a tree for nearly two hours before browsing again. In the evening, Wanjala took a break from feeding to participate in a soil dusting exercise. Only Laragai reported back to the stockade late in the evening, the rest of her group didn't come back as they know once they are in the stockade, the gate would be locked and Laragai will not be able to let them out. It is ironic that Laragai is sometimes the only one to return considering she was the one that used to let all the others out!
27 February 2018
The rest of Laragai’s group reported early, shortly before dawn at the stockade compound. Kithaka, who is such a little rascal, managed to climb up the stockade walls and broke a tap from one our tanks before the keepers on duty heard him and drove him out. Earlier he had passed by the KWS office and went under the electric wires and over tuned a plastic tank and pierced another one with his tusks. Olare’s group in the company of fifteen wild elephants were present at the stockade compound. Olare and her team joined the orphans for lucerne.
Tusuja and Galla settled to feed together. The two boys who are of equal size had a disagreement when Tusuja took some leaves from Galla's mouth. The disagreement ended in a strength testing exercise that finally ended in a draw. At mud bath time, Kamok, Wanjala and Tusuja were in the first group. Soon after having their milk, the three headed for the mud bath. When they saw the third group running for their milk, Kamok did a quick calculation and decided to trick and the keepers into thinking she hadn't had her milk yet. To make sure that her plan didn't backfire, Kamok incorporated Wanjala in her scheme. Kamok informed Wanjala that they would join the third group just running while in their midst to make sure that no body detected them. The naughty duo were disappointed however when they got to the keepers who were holding the milk bottles. They were informed that they had taken their share and what remained was for them was to walk to the water trough and drink a lot of water. Wanjala scolded Kamok for failing in their plan and wished he was big enough to punish Kamok for not seeing it through. The temperature was moderate and shortly later, the orphans were joined by Mutara’s group. In the afternoon, Namalok separated himself from the main group and returned later when it was time to return back to the stockades.
28 February 2018
It was a quiet morning with only few wild elephants and Ex Orphans reporting for water. As soon as the orphans were through with the lucerne, Maramoja led the way out. Maramoja appears to have inherited some of Laragai's ‘leading’ qualities and took the rest of the team to the eastern side of the Ithumba Hill. Maramoja has a tendency of browsing way a head of the others and this is a way of making sure that she gets the best of the vegetation before anyone else. At mud bath time, Maramoja, who is the fastest from the group that came to Ithumba in December last year, led the first group to the mud bath. Wanjala had fun while mud bathing as he rode on Naseku. In the afternoon, Sapalan, who likes browsing by himself, separated from the rest of group to feed on his own. Galla likes challenging Tusuja and decided to engage him in pushing game. Tusuja decided to show Galla he is more senior to him though they are of the same size. He easily overpowered Galla and after climbed on his back which is a show of dominance. Galla accepted defeat and headed to nurse his humiliation by pretending that he was busy feeding.