Keepers' Diaries, January 2010

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

After several heavy rainstorms in December and early January, the Ithumba orphans enjoyed a period of plenty. Natural waterpans out in the bush were filled with rainwater and lush vegetation upon which to feast was at every turn all day long. At the Ithumba Reintegration Centre the New Year began with three distinct orphaned groupings - those that were still Stockade and Keeper dependent included Enasoit, Meibai, Naimina (the three most recent ex Nursery arrivals) as well as Lualeni, Loijuk, Kora, Ol Malo, Kenze, Makena, Lenana, Sian, Chyulu, Zurura, Ol Malo and Naserian. In overall charge of this group were the three oldest females, Naserian, Loijuk and Sian assisted by Makena and Chyulu all budding Matriarch in their own right.

01 January 2010

All the now independent ex orphans were in the Stockade yard at dawn to greet the Dependent Youngsters and after the usual rapturous greetings, Yatta steered the herd to the slopes of Ithumba Hill where they settled down to browse. Since it was a hot day all the orphans thoroughly enjoyed the noon mudbath, Napasha being the last to leave. In the evening the Independent orphans escorted the Youngsters back to their Stockades, before leaving for the bush.

02 January 2010

Today the Independent orphans led by Yatta and Wendi met up with the Juniors in the field, and browsed together all day, enjoying the noon mudbath together and browsing happily in the Kanziku area for the afternoon before returning to the Stockades in the evening.

03 January 2010

The sky was clear as the orphans left the Stockade compound in the morning. Loijuk and Makena shared a dustbath before leaving, which first encouraged Lualeni to join them followed by Naimina and Enasoit. All browsed calmly throughout the day without any significant incident.

04 January 2010

Sian led the Juniors to the Kone area today where they settled to browse. During the morning Loijuk and Chyulu enjoyed a soil bath, rolling on the ground when Lenana enjoyed climbing over Loijuk. Since it was a cold day, none of the Youngsters felt like going into the mudbath, so the milk dependent Juniors took their noon milk feed and returned to browse along with the others.

05 January 2010

The Youngsters gamboled around the yard before going out to browse, Loijuk kneeling down to pierce the ground with her short tusks, watched in disbelief by Enasoit who quite obviously wondered what she was “nailing”! Meanwhile the rest of the group began heading out, so Loijuk jumped to her feet and ran to join them, followed by Enasoit. It was another cool day, so the noon mudbath was replaced by a dustbath instead.

06 January 2010

On another cool morning the orphans left their Night Stockades in a happy mood, swinging their trunks from side to side. Just before 9 a.m. the ex independent orphaned groups led by Yatta and Wendi joined the Juniors out in the bush. Yatta’s wild recruit named Mgeni was amongst them, and all fed peacefully together for the morning, enjoying the noon mudbath as a group, and then returning to browse for the remainder of the day led by Loijuk and Enasoit.

07 January 2010

The orphans moved to the field in single file led by Sian and then split into two groups – Loijuk, Enasoit, Makena, Lenana, Sian and Chyulu remaining closer to the Keepers whilst Ol Malo, Kora, Zurura, Lualeni, Kenze, Naimina, Meibai, Naserian and Sidai were more adventurous moving to the East where they settled to feed on an open plain. Shortly before 11 a.m. the two groups merged again to head for the mudbath, led by Makena. After the wallow they browsed along the Kanziku area.

08 January 2010

On a lovely morning, the orphans quenched their thirst at the water trough, after which Kenze, Zurura, Kora and Loijuk enjoyed chasing each other around the compound, which ended when Kora attempted to mount onto one of them. After the noon mudbath Naserian led the Juniors to the open plain the older elephants had enjoyed the previous day, where they all settled down to browse until it was time to head back home.

09 January 2010

The Juniors greeted the new day in a happy mood, and headed out to browse after the usual Stockade activities. At around 9 a.m., Yatta, Mulika, Selengai, Kinna, Orok, Buchuma, Taita and Napasha checked in at the mudbath accompanied by a new wild bull. Missing in the group was “Mgeni”, the wild recruit who perhaps had been discouraged by the presence of the strange bull. At the noon mudbath, the Juniors were joined by Nasalot, Challa, Rapsu and Sunyei, who accompanied the Youngsters to the browsing field for the afternoon. The 4 ex orphans then escorted the youngster back in the evening, but having seen them all ensconced in the Stockades for the night, Loijuk opened the Gate and let herself out to join Nasalot, Rapsu, Challa and Sunyei who were feeding nearby. Nasalot’s group now included Kora, Kenze, Lualeni and Zurura.

10 January 2010

Led by Sian the Juniors headed out to browse along the Kalovoto river area. Makena led the Juniors to the mudbath where they were joined by Yatta’s group, still accompanied by the wild bull, and Mgeni still absent from the herd. Afterwards Challa and Orok engaged one another in a strength testing exercise having watched a contest between Ndomot and Tomboi. The Junior group then headed North of the mudbath whilst the ex orphans headed South. Later in the evening Yatta brought her group to the Stockade compound still accompanied by the wild bull.

11 January 2010

The Juniors left the Stockade compound in a hurry today, without even visiting the Water Trough. Out in the browsing field they were joined by members of Yatta’s group, who turned up one by one, Yatta arriving at the end still accompanied by the wild bull. The ex orphans browsed alongside the Juniors just for one hour before separating. However, Yatta and her group appeared at the mudbath ahead of the Juniors who arrived shortly afterwards, led by Naimina. The two groups enjoyed wallowing together for quite some time, before being joined by Wendi and her entourage. Later, after the usual dusting and scratching exercises, the Juniors left to browse along the slopes of Ithumba Hill, and were joined by Nasalot and Wendi’s group, who escorted the Juniors back to the Stockades in the evening. Again Loijuk opened the Gate of her Stockade and ran out to join Nasalot and Wendi and the ex orphans who were with them accompanied by Lualeni, Zurura, Kenze and Kora. Lualeni, Zurura and Kora returned an hour later but Loijuk and Kenze spent the night out with the Independent orphans.

12 January 2010

Soon after leaving their Night Stockades, the Juniors were joined by both Yatta’s and Wendi’s groups, amongst whom were Loijuk and Kenze, who had joined them the previous day. All then headed out to browse together where Galana lost a strength testing bout to Taita and Sunyei lost to Rapsu. All enjoyed the mudbath together after which the ex orphans separated, taking with them Naserian, Kora and Zurura. On their way back to the Stockades in the evening, the Juniors were joined again by the ex orphans (plus the wild bull). Once again, Loijuk opened the Gate to her Stockade, and along with her room-mates ran to join the ex orphans who were still within the compound. The ex orphans then left heading East.

13 January 2010

Having spent the night out with the Seniors, Kora and Zurura returned first thing in the morning to join their colleagues, but Lualeni, Loijuk and Kenze didn’t show up. Out in the field Kora attempted to mount Makena, but was brought down by Zurura, who seized a chance to mount onto Makena when she lay down to roll in the dust. However, she soon dislodged him. The Juniors enjoyed their noon mudbath, and returned back to the Stockades in the evening. Yatta’s group, plus her wild boyfriend, checked in later, followed by Wendi’s group who arrived soon after Yatta’s group had left. Lualeni, Kenze and Loijuk were within Wendi’s ex orphans, but headed straight to the Stockades, and, once the Keepers had opened the Gates, went back in!

14 January 2010

Galana and Wendi who were waiting at the Stockade Compound first thing in the morning, were happily joined by the Juniors as soon as they were let out. Wendi, Galana and Enasoit then led the orphans out to browse where there was competition between Wendi, Galana, Loijuk, Chyulu and Naserian for Enasoit, all 5 females wanting him, and all following him, even to the mudbath. After the mudbath Nasalot arrived to join the Junior Group and spent the afternoon with them, escorting the Youngsters back to the Stockades in evening, where they were joined by the rest of the ex orphans.

15 January 2010

Upon being let out in the morning, the Youngsters played with their human family before heading eastwards to an area with plenty of pasture to feast on. At 9 a.m., Loijuk, Kenze, Zurura and Sidai had an exciting time charging around the thickets, trumpeting and knocking down small bushes to express their strength and attacking skills. It was hot by noon, so the orphans enjoyed a prolonged and wonderful mudbath.

16 January 2010

Nasalot and Wendi were at the compound to join the Juniors in the morning, and led by Kora, all headed to the Kanziku area to browse until it was time for the noon mudbath and milk feed. Nasalot and Wendi accompanied the youngsters to the mudbath venue, and returned with them to browse for the rest of the afternoon, escorting the Youngsters back in the evening. There was no sign of any of the other ex orphans today.

17 January 2010

Wendi’s group, amongst whom was Nasalot were waiting to join the Juniors as soon as they were let out of their Night Stockades in the morning and browsed with them all morning until Makena led the herd to the mudbath venue at 11 a.m. After the mudbath Wendi took her group westwards accompanied by Kora, Zurura, Lualeni and Naserian but leaving Nasalot with the Juniors. Wendi returned with her group to the Stockades just before 5 p.m. and having left Kora and Naserian, left again almost immediately taking Lualeni and Zurura for a Night Out. Kora and Naserian joined the Juniors as soon as they returned. Later Loijuk again opened the gate and left with Kenze, leaving Kora behind in the stockade. Yatta’s group then passed by the Stockade Water trough, still accompanied by the new wild Bull, and left later heading in the direction taken by Wendi’s group.

18 January 2010

The Juniors left the Stockades as usual early in the morning and by 10 a.m. had been joined by all the ex orphans led by Yatta and Wendi. They browsed together until 11 a.m. when Kora led the way to the mudbath where Tomboi lost a pushing match to Buchuma. Later Tomboi tried again against Ndomot, but the two were separated by Yatta. The entire herd returned to the Stockade compound in the evening, but Naserian, Zurura and Loijuk decided to upgrade themselves, and left with Yatta and the Seniors for another Night out.

19 January 2010

Again, the Juniors were joined by the ex orphans at the Stockade Compound in the early morning. However, missing was Yatta and the wild Bull. Buchuma and Tomboi engaged one another again in a pushing match that went back and forth amongst the surrounding thickets which prompted Kamboyo and Kenze to follow suit, only to be separated by Wendi. At the mudbath, the orphans enjoyed wallowing whilst the milk dependent babies took their milk. Yatta and the wild Bull turned up to join the group after the mudbath. In the evening the ex orphans accompanied the Youngsters back to their Night Stockades before leaving for an undisclosed destination.

20 January 2010

Weeks have past since the last rainstorm, so the vegetation is turning from green to yellow, as another dry season takes hold. Out in the field the orphans fed happily, and because the day turned very hot, were forced to take to shade before making their way to the mudbath, flapping their ears to try and cool their bodies. All thoroughly enjoyed a lengthy mudbath and a rest under shade before returning to browse until the evening.

21 January 2010

Both Yatta’s group along with that of Wendi were at the Stockade Compound to greet the Juniors as soon as they were allowed out in the morning. Enthusiastic greetings ensued which entailed the intertwining of trunks, rumbling, urinating and trumpeting, Nasalot, Loijuk, Makena and Lenana all paying a great deal of close attention to Enasoit, whom they love dearly, since he is the smallest elephant at Ithumba at the moment. Wendi led the herd out to browse, all the others streaming behind her and all enjoyed the noon mudbath together, returning as a large group in the evening to see the Juniors back in their Night Stockades before leaving.

22 January 2010

The Juniors headed out as usual in the morning, when Naserian, Lualeni, Kora and Lenana happened upon a newly excavated aardvark burrow and enjoyed playing in the loose soil. Whilst Lenana was lying down, Kora seized the opportunity to mount onto her as she relaxed comfortably in the soft soil.

23 January 2010

Yatta and her wild Bull boyfriend joined the Juniors as they were browsing at the Kanziku area, and remained with them throughout the morning and mudbath before separating. Naserian then led the Juniors to browse along the slopes of Ithumba hill until Makena led the group back in the evening.

24 January 2010

On a cloudy morning, the Juniors left happily swinging their trunks from side to side as a sign of joy. Shortly before 9 a.m. Kenze and Zurura initiated a charging game, rushing around the thickets trumpeting and knocking down small shrubs followed by playful Loijuk and Kora who began doing the same. All enjoyed the mudbath after the smaller calves had taken their noon milk ration.

25 January 2010

Naserian led the Youngsters out to browse, all having quenched their thirst at the Stockade water trough first. Out in the bush they were joined by the Independent orphans and all concentrated on feeding until the noon milk and mudbath time when the Youngsters separated from the older elephants, who had been wallowing somewhere out in the bush. After the mudbath, the Juniors returned to join the ex orphans, who were waiting at the same place for them.

26 January 2010

Yatta’s group, still accompanied by the new wild Bull joined the Youngsters at the mudbath, where all enjoyed a lengthy wallow because temperatures were high. Challa and Buchuma had a strength testing exercise actually in the water, which was won by Buchuma. After the wallow, Yatta and her group left the Juniors at the mudbath, heading east, and the Keepers took the Juniors to the Kanziku area to browse until it was time to return in the evening.

27 January 2010

On a cloudy morning, the orphans left led by Sian, who walks slowly because of her deformed toenails. They settled down to browse near the Kone area until mudbath and milk feeding time at noon. Soon after the Juniors had left the mudbath, Wendi and her group arrived for a brief wallow before heading towards the Stockades where they took water and left ahead of the return of the Youngsters. They were followed by Yatta’s group accompanied by 2 wild bulls who likewise had a drink and then left. When the Juniors returned to the Stockades at 5 p.m., missing were Sidai, Kora, Lualeni, Zurura and Ol Malo but Sidai and Ol Malo turned up at 6 p.m. to join the Stockade Dependent group whilst Lualeni, Zurura and Kora had obviously opted for another Night Out.

28 January 2010

Kora, Lualeni and Zurura, accompanied by Rapsu from Wendi’s group turned up at the Stockades for a drink of water after the Juniors had already left. The Juniors returned to browse along the slopes of Ithumba hill after the noon milk and mudbath still minus their three usual colleagues and were still without them when they returned to the Stockades in the evening.

29 January 2010

For the second day running, Kora, Lualeni and Zurura did not return to join the Juniors, but the trio turned up at the Stockade during the morning for a drink and then left. The Juniors enjoyed the usual mudbath at 11 a.m. and shortly afterwards were joined by the ex orphaned group who happened to be passing by. In the evening Naserian was absent from the Stockade Dependent group, as were Zurura, Kora and Lualeni.

30 January 2010

Yatta, Napasha and Taita joined the Keeper Dependent group at their noon mudbath, after which Yatta left to join her wild Bull Boyfriend, who was waiting a few metres from the mudwallow. The Juniors settled down to browse at the Kanziku area for the afternoon until Makena led the way back home in the evening. At 6 p.m. the missing members, Naserian, Kora, Lualeni and Zurura, who had been on an adventure lasting several days were escorted back by Challa and Rapsu who then left once the truants were safely back in their usual Night Stockade.

31 January 2010

It was an uneventful and cool day throughout which the Juniors went about their usual routine without any incident worth mentioning. Since it was still chilly at the mudbath hour, the milk dependent Youngsters took their milk, and the Juniors then all headed out again to continue feeding until it was time to return in the evening.