Keepers' Diaries, January 2005

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

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.

01 January 2005

Nasalot and Mulika took the other orphans to the East of Ithumba Hill. Wendi fell foul of Napasha, having shoved him during the milk feed.

02 January 2005

Napasha and Taita played a charging game around a small bush. Wendi was scared by a dikdik, and ran to the Keepers for protection. Olmalo and Tomboi had a wonderful mudbath, wallowing happily and teasing each other.

03 January 2005

Napasha, Wendi and Tomboi lay down to allow Taita and Olmalo to try and climb on top of them. They played for at least 30 minutes. Kinna, Mulika and Nasalot led the others to the East of Ithumba Hill again, but it was Wendi who led the way back to the Stockade in the evening.

04 January 2005

Today Napasha and Taita enjoyed a playful morning. Wendi and Selengai played but their game was interrupted by Kinna.

05 January 2005

The orphans headed to the Eastern side of Ithumba Hill again where Kinna and Yatta enjoyed a “round the bushes” running game, watched by Olmalo.

06 January 2005

The orphans had a surprise at the mudbath today – a lone buffalo, who ran away as soon as he spotted the Keepers. The orphans, led by Wendi, were scared, and ran to their Keepers for protection, leaving Tomboi behind, who courageously made a lot of noise before running to join the others.

07 January 2005

It was a chilly morning, so the orphans crowded together for warmth until the sun broke out at l0.30 a.m. Only Olmalo took a mudbath today; the rest dusted themselves with red soil

08 January 2005

Shortly before mudbath, Selengai accidentally knocked against Napasha, who wanted to retaliate immediately. However, Selengai ran to Mulika for protection and Napasha just stood and stared at her, unbelieving at how she had managed to escape retribution.

09 January 2005

Mulika, Yatta and Kinna led the convoy to the East side of Mazinga Hill. At mudbath, the orphans had a wonderful time wallowing. In the evening the Keepers spotted a troupe of monkeys and some buffalo, which were not noticed by the elephants.

10 January 2005

Nasalot and Napasha had a wonderful play pushing game, which looked like a real battle, but was only play. In the end Napasha surrendered. They had a super mudbath, wallowing and soiling themselves.

11 January 2005

It was a very hot day, so the elephants had to cool themselves by flapping their ears. They were eager for the mudbath, and ran into it, enjoying it immensely.

12 January 2005

Today was chilly, in contrast to yesterday, but it turned hot by mudbath time, so the elephants enjoyed the mud and had to flap their ears to remain cool.

13 January 2005

It was another very hot day. Nasalot and Napasha played happily, pushing each other around for most of the day.

14 January 2005

It was another scorching day, so the elephants spent time under shade. Npasha and Wendi led the team to the mudbath, which they enjoyed greatly, Kinna and Napasha playing together, whilst Tomboi and Selengai enjoyed a game.

15 January 2005

Kinna was the team leader today, and because the day was coolish, the orphans went about 4 kms. from the Stockades. They enjoyed their mudbath at noon.

16 January 2005

Another hot morning. The elephants played with each other, chasing, pushing and lying down playfully. At the mudbath Napasha pushed Taita trying to keep him from his share of the milk, so the Keepers warned Napasha by pointing their fingers at him. He took the hint.

17 January 2005

An uneventful day spent on the East side of Ithumba Hil, having been led there by Yatta and Nasalot.

18 January 2005

The group left early, as usual, and at 8.30 a.m. spotted a herd of impala. Kinna and Napasha charged and when the impalas saw the dust raised by the elephants, they fled, leaving Kinna and Napasha wondering where they had gone!

19 January 2005

It was another scorching day, so the orphans browsed under shade until mudbath hour, when they had a wonderful time in the mud.

20 January 2005

Kinna and Selengai had a wonderful game, pushing each other for around 20 minutes, and breaking vegetation. At mudbath Napasha, Taita and Olmalo rolled in the mud and then enjoyed a dust-bath.

21 January 2005

It was a pleasant day, which the orphans enjoyed, feeding peacefully without any major incidents.

22 January 2005

The day began as usual, until Taita and Tomboi spotted a warthog, and gambolled towards it. However, it disappeared down a hole, and the elephants were left puzzled as to where the quarry had gone!

23 January 2005

Just before dawn, a red Spitting Cobra tried to enter the elephant Stockades, and became electrocuted by the electric wire. It was removed and burned. Out in the bush, Yatta lay down and Napasha came and tried to climb on her.

24 January 2005

Today Yatta broke down a tree branch, and took it aside to feed on it without interference from the others. Today, at bottle feeding time, Napasha held the bottle with his trunk, without any help from the Keepers.

25 January 2005

Wendi is very mischievous, and enjoys playing tricked on the other elephants. Today, she pretended something scary was nearby, so she ran around trumpeting and breaking the vegetation. Mulika, Nasalot, Kinna and Yatta are wise to her tricks, and took no notice, but the others reacted by running to the Keepers, which pleased naughty Wendi!

26 January 2005

Olmalo, who normally likes being close to the Keepers, decided to attach herself to Yatta, whilst Selengai battened onto Mulika. It was a cold day, so none of the elephants went into the mud, but enjoyed the soil instead.

27 January 2005

Shortly before 10 a.m. Napasha decided to take a nap, whilst Taita fed close to him. At mudbath, Kinna had to go onto her knees in order to extract a piece of grass, whilst Taita found himself wedged between Yatta and Selengai. In the evening, Napasha surprised everyone by sitting on a rock and resting his head on Taita’s rump!

28 January 2005

After leaving the Stockades, the elephants were in a jovial mood, playing together by pushing whatever they found on their way. Wendi pulled up a small shrub and tossed it in the air; Taita picked it up, then ran away with it, which annoyed Wendi who gave chase. When Taita saw Wendi homing in on him, he rapidly dropped the shrub and escaped.

29 January 2005

Yatta and Wendi led the group into the bush today, but since it was a scorching day, the elephants went under shade quickly, and arrived early at the mudbath, which they greatly enjoyed, led by Wendi.