An exciting event occurred on the 30th December. For the first time since being in the North, the Ithumba unit met up with 4 wild elephants, and spent an hour with them, before leaving to go to the mudbath. Yatta and Kinna took the group to the wild elephants, quite used to fraternising with wild herds whilst in Voi. The rest of the month saw no further wild contact, but the orphans are extremely contented enjoying the company of each other, spending hours playing together. The mischievous side of Wendi is illustrated yet again, and it is obvious that the elephants are gaining in confidence, eager to chase the impala (who disappeared rapidly) and a warthog who did the same by disappearing down a hole, something that left them all puzzled, although a surprise encounter with a buffalo at their mudwallow left them slightly un-nerved.. January, February and March are the hottest months in Tsavo, and the orphans are obviously feeling the heat, and as a result have to spend a lot of time under shade, and greatly relish cooling off at the mudbath.
It was fortunate that the 3 ft. long red spitting cobra, who tried to get into the Stockade early one morning, got electrocuted and was found dead by the Keepers in the morning. After this incident, snake serum will be an addition to the Medical Store at each Elephant location.
Kinna is taking a much more leading role now, obviously feeling more settled in her new home, and often leading the group, although it would appear that the four older elephants are happy to share the Matriarchal Leadership duties, often allowing the youngsters to take the lead, which is a prized privilege. Nasalot is the one who most enjoys playing with the young bulls, especially Napasha, of whom she is obviously very fond. Obedience to the Keepers is illustrated on the 16th, when Napasha (who is inclined to be a glutton) tried to shove Taita away from his milk, yet respected the reprimand from the Keepers -simply tone of voice and the pointing of an accusing finger! Our elephant Keepers carry no sticks, no prods and nothing, and yet can command obedience from their charges, simply because they are respected and loved – a lesson for the brutal so-called “trainers” of elephants, who try and exact obedience through brutality and fear.