Keepers' Diaries, January 2009

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

With the beginning of another very hot dry season, more wild elephants have been visiting the waterhole at the stockades and as the natural waterpans out in the bush dry out, the Stockade water supply will obviously become even more popular with the wild community.

01 January 2009

The New Year began with a great start as the Junior group left the stockades at dawn. As usual the orphans headed straight to the water trough for a morning drink when the ever playful Loijuk decided to try climb into the water trough with all 4 feet! The playful mood of the orphans rubbed off on one another leading to a lot of mischievous behaviour! Kora & Ndomot had a little wrestling game which was won by Ndomot. Later Galana led the group towards Kone were they all settled to feed along the slopes of Ithumba Hill until noon when the young group headed to the mudbath. The orphans had a spectacular time playing in the mudbath after which Sian led the way out of the mudbath to Kalovoto were the orphans fed for the rest of the day.

02 January 2009

It was a chilly morning as the orphans were led out by Galana. At the midday mudbath most of the orphans were reluctant to go into the cool water except Loijuk, whose playful spirit was not dampened by the cooler weather! She was the only one to play in the mud whilst the rest watched, only dipping their feet in the water. Yatta’s group appeared in the evening and joined the young group in the stockades.

03 January 2009

As soon as the stockade gates opened at dawn the orphans rushed straight to the open fields to feed. When time came for milk Chyulu led the youngsters to the milk venue. The orphans enjoyed the mudbath where they were joined by Yatta’s group and later the two groups left together and were together for the rest of the day.

04 January 2009

Zurura & Kamboyo began the day’s playing activities by engaging in a strength test exercise. Ndomot decided to play the peace maker and ran over to separate the two boys. At around 10am Yattas group appeared and joined the young group until it was time for the youngsters to leave for their milk feed at 11am. The 2 groups rejoined at the mudbath and all enjoyed a red soil dust bath! Yatta’s group returned to the stockades with the youngsters, and left once they had all settled for the night.

05 January 2009

It was an exciting day at the mudbath because Galana and the youngsters were surprised to find Yatta and her group already there accompanied by 2 wild bulls. Initially Yatta’s group left the mudbath with the wild bulls and only later returned unaccompanied by the wild bulls.

06 January 2009

The boys started the day with their usual pushing games, Kamboyo & Zurura strength tested whilst Ndomot & Kora also engaged in a pushing game. Meanwhile the girls were busy feeding and scratching. Lualeni & Sian had a good scratch near the stockades. At the mudbath the young group was joined by Yatta’s group and they all enjoyed a glorious time at the mudbath followed by a red soil dust bath. The 2 orphan groups spent the rest of the day together. Yattas group accompanied the babies back to the stockades in the evening.

07 January 2009

Galana’s group spent the early part of the morning on their own, but were joined by Yatta’s group at around 9am, only to leave shortly after but not without little Challa who wanted to be with the bigger orphans today. After a mudbath Galana led the young group on to the slopes of Ithumba Hills were they remained grazing for the rest of the day. Challa spent the night out with the older group.

08 January 2009

Clear skies promised a hot scorching day ahead. The orphans all took a long drink before leaving for the days feeding activities. Yatta’s group was nowhere to be seen all day and did not return to the stockades for the night.

09 January 2009

Early in the morning, just as the stockade gates swung open Yatta’s group turned up at the stockades for a long drink of water and were very warmly welcomed by the youngsters. Kenze and Kora had a good scratch while Ndomot and Buchuma played a pushing game which was interrupted by Taita. The entire orphan herd headed West and settled at Kanziku area. On their way back In the evening Kamboyo led the way home. Yatta’s group didn’t follow all the way and stayed out at night.

10 January 2009

The youngsters enjoyed playing their usual early morning games, only this time it was Loijuk who challenged Zurura to a pushing game whilst Kora played with Ndomot and later Ndomot tried to mount Kora. Later, the youngsters were joined by Yatta’s group and all the orphans played together and enjoyed a long mudbath. The 2 groups remained together through to late evening and once the youngsters had settled in their stockade for the night, Yatta’s group left. Challa, who has spent the last few days with Yatta’s Senior Group initially followed them out for the night but decided to return at 9 p.m. when he had a change of mind and returned to the stockades alone. The Keepers on night duty opened the stockades to let him in with the others.

11 January 2009

Sidai led the young group out today. They all went their separate ways, some to drink, some to play and others to scratch! Sian had a really good scratch on a fallen tree whilst the boys got up to their usual boisterous games! Later on Galana led the group away from the Stockades. The day was relatively quiet, and the young group had a mudbath alone. However, Yatta’s group joined the youngsters in the evening back at the Stockades, and then left for the night.

12 January 2009

Yatta turned up on her own just before the young group was let out in the morning and led the young orphans to the Kanziku area where she remained with them briefly before separating to rejoin her group who were feeding nearby. Soon after she had left with the youngsters a familiar wild elephant came to the Stockades to take water. The 2 groups of orphans reunited at the 12pm mudbath where they were joined by a large wild bull. All the orphans surrounded him and he seemed to enjoy their company. Later, he accompanied the orphan herd for about an hour before disappearing again.

13 January 2009

The young orphan group was joined by Yatta’s group in the morning. The 2 orphan groups spent the whole day together before separating again in the evening.

14 January 2009

Galana’s young herd left the stockades with a cheery bounce in their step, the boys having enjoyed their usual morning pushing games.. Zurura and Kamboyo took each other on but the game didn’t last long because Ndomot quickly intervened to separate the two. At around 9 a.m. 3 wild bulls turned up to take a drink at the stockade trough.

15 January 2009

Yatta & Galana’s group spent the whole day together, and separated again in the evening. Challa again chose to remain out with the older orphans but at 6 p.m. he headed off on his own to an unknown destination, supposedly to join a wild friend for a night out!

16 January 2009

The orphans were in a wonderful mood in the crisp early morning conditions. Galana led the youngsters out to feed. Challa was again spotted back with Yatta’s group in the morning. At noon Makena led the young group to their milk point. As the day became more chokingly hot the orphans hurried as they headed to the noon mudbath, Sunyei leading the way. They thoroughly enjoyed the mudbath today. In the evening Yatta brought Challa back to the stockades for the night.

17 January 2009

Another beautiful day at Ithumba, as the orphans rushed out their stockades to the water hole and welcomed one another with loving morning greetings. The morning was spent feeding until Chyulu led the milk dependent babies for their noon milk feed. By noon the day had turned cloudy, so the orphans were reluctant to go into the mudbath and later on there was a drizzle of rain. The orphans were overjoyed to have a little rain which settles the dust and softens the vegetation.

18 January 2009

The 2 orphan groups met up at the noon mudbath where they all had a fun filled time! They spent the remainder of the day together browsing.

19 January 2009

Makena and Loijuk led the orphans to their feeding grounds today near the Kone area before leaving for their routine mudbath.

20 January 2009

The youngsters were thrilled to be joined by Yatta’s group in the early morning and the two groups left together, marching side by side. After the mudbath Yatta’s group left, heading towards the Western slopes of Ithumba Hills. Today, Galana, Ndomot, Challa, & Naserian decided to go with the older orphan herd while Sunyei took charge of the youngsters. In the evening Sunyei led the juniors back to their Stockades, and just as it was getting dark, Galana, Ndomot, Challa & Naserian came back to sleep with the young group in the stockades.

21 January 2009

After the usual morning excitement, playing & scratching, Chyulu and Lenana led the young orphans out to feed. After spending the morning feeding alone the young orphans were excited to be re-united with Yatta’s group at the noon mudbath. Challa is becoming eager to be with the older orphans and after a mudbath he and Rapsu decided to join the older orphans for the rest of the day. However, in the evening they both returned on their own to join the other young orphans and sleep in the stockades.

22 January 2009

At around 9am there was a light rain shower which the orphans thoroughly enjoyed. They began throwing soil up onto themselves and making joyful trumpeting sounds. On the way home that evening Kamboyo took the lead!

23 January 2009

Yatta’s group met up with the youngsters out in the Kone area, but did not stay long before separating again, taking Challa with them. The two groups met up again at the mudbath and then split up again. In the evening Challa returned on his own to sleep with the young orphans

24 January 2009

This morning soon after entering the feeding area, Galana, Kora, Rapsu, Ndomot, & Naserian separated from the junior group and headed northwards leaving the Juniors with Sunyei to browse in the Kone area. Sunyei is a very caring and wonderful little Matriarch and led the orphans to the noon mudbath. Yatta’s group did not join the junior group at the mudbath but at 2pm the adventurers from, the junior group (i.e. Galana, Kora, Rapsu, Ndomot and Naserian) showed up at the stockades for a drink. They then went off to re-join the young group out at their feeding spot.

25 January 2009

When the orphans were let out of their stockades in the morning Madiba & Sunyei rushed over to the younger orphans sleeping boma to check for any left over greens from the night. Kora & Sidai engaged in a pushing game whilst the others had a good scratch or a drink before heading out to feed, led by Sunyei. Yatta’s group was nowhere to be seen today.

26 January 2009

The orphans were rushed out to greet each other warmly today after which the boys began their usual favorite pushing games. Kamboyo naughtily chased Zurura around the yard trying to mount him, and creating such havoc that the Keepers had to step in and reprimand Kamboyo for bad behaviour! The chasing game was soon quickly over and Kamobyo gently rumbled in apology to the Keepers. Yatta’s group was not seen today.

27 January 2009

The orphans were in a joyous mood this morning. They all greeted each other lovingly with a lot of trunk hugging & low rumbling before heading out led by Sunyei to the feeding fields of their choice. It was as if they could sense something good was going to happen and indeed it did!. Midmorning the skies clouded over and we received one of the heaviest rain showers we have had in a long time. The orphans embraced the rain and stopped feeding to play in the damp soil. Once the rain stopped the orphans resumed feeding. After being away for 2 days Yatta’s group joined the young orphans at the mudbath and they all spent the afternoon together under Yatta’s leadership. Yatta, being the great matriarch that she is, delivered the young orphans to sleep at the stockades just before dark and went off with her group to sleep out in the wilderness.

28 January 2009

While the notoriously cheeky boys went about playing pushing games and scratching, Galana & Sunyei both stood aside together raising their trunks to smell the air and determine the best place to take the group out to feed and perhaps even to determine Yatta’s whereabouts.. Galana then led the way while the rest streamed behind her in an orderly line. They headed straight for Kone area were they were joined by Yatta’s group for the morning session. The two groups were together for the rest of the day Galana’s group back to the stockades before going to sleep out in the wilderness.

29 January 2009

At 6am Yatta’s herd reported to the stockades to greet the youngsters as they were let out of their night stockade. The 2 groups spent the morning together until noon when they went their separate ways. Yatta chose to go to the Airstrip area while Galana led her group to Kalovoto area.

30 January 2009

It was a cloudy and cool morning. Zurura & Loijuk led the way to the feeding fields. That evening the young group returned to the stockades in the company of Wendi & Tomboi who met up with them out in the bush. Yatta’s group did not show up today.

31 January 2009

This morning Kora challenged Sidai to a strength testing game which ended in a draw! Galana led the young orphans out. Wendi & Tomboi were hopeful to see Yatta so that they could rejoin her group. They kept smelling the air and listening out for their usual group. In the evening they got tired of waiting and decoded to leave the young group to go and find Yatta’s group.