Keepers' Diaries, January 2011

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

The New Year began with the following orphans (numbering 29) having made the transition to leading an independent wild life as part of the wild elephant community of Tsavo’s Northern Area:- Yatta (the main Senior Matriarch) assisted by Nasalot, Mulika and Kinna, Junior Matriarchs who often lead Splinter Groups from Yatta’s main unit, all of whom were Junior Leaders of the Keeper Dependent group in their time and who now are part of the Ex Orphaned group - Wendi, Loijuk, Sunyei, Galana, Naserian, Sidai, Lualeni, Lenana, Makena and Chyulu. ( Ol Malo has not been back to the Stockades for some time now. However she was always a very independent (albeit somewhat fragile elephant), who spent a lot of time either traveling with wild friends or alone, but we have no evidence to suggest that she is not still alive). Ex orphan Bulls permanently now part of Yatta’s main herd are Napasha, Taita, Ndomot, Madiba, Buchuma, Rapsu, Challa, Kenze, Kamboyo, Zurura, Orok, Tomboi and Kora with Meibai who should really still be classed as a Junior, but who oscillates between the Keeper Dependent Juniors and the Ex orphaned herd, spirited away again by Galana,( who adores him, on the 25th ) having been returned to the Keeper Dependent Unit on the 12th. That evening he turned up at the Stockades as part of Galana’s Ex orphaned Splinter Group which included Naserian, Sidai and Sunyei, and because Meibai is still milk dependent, the Keepers returned him to the Night Stockade along with Kilaguni, Sabachi, Suguta, Melia, Ithumbah, Chaimu and Tumaren who comprise the Keeper Dependent Junior Group. Galana and the other Ex Orphans objected strongly to having Meibai taken from them, pushing their way into the Stockades to try and repossess him. However, In the end, the Keepers managed to get the Ex Orphans out, leaving Meibai inside, but they camped just outside the Stockade gate all night, and were there to greet him first thing in the morning, along with all the rest of the main Ex orphaned Group. Thereafter Meibai remained as part of the Junior Group until the 25th when Galana cunningly sneaked him away again.

01 January 2011

On the first day of a New Year, both the Keepers and the orphans left the Stockades in a jovial mood, Sabachi and Kilaguni having enjoyed their usual pushing match whilst Melia and Suguta scratched their bodies against the sides of the water trough. All enjoyed the noon mudbath, and returned with full stomachs in the evening.

02 January 2011

Another happy day for the Ithumba Keeper Dependent orphans, who gamboled around thickets which still held plenty of green browse. Kilaguni and Sabachi indulged in bush-bashing, chasing each other around the bushes and trumpeting with excitement. Since it was a hot day, all thoroughly enjoyed the noon mudbath.

03 January 2011

All 29 Ex Orphans came to the Stockades at dawn before the Youngsters emerged from their Night Stockades. As soon as the Juniors’ Gates were opened, the Ex orphans rushed forward to greet them amidst rumbling, trumpeting, and urinating. As the smallest Juniors, Ithumbah and Chaimu enjoyed the special attention of Wendi, Selengai, Galana, Lualeni and Sidai. After taking a drink at the Stockade trough, Yatta led the entire group out to the field where they browsed together for two hours, until the Ex Orphans separated and headed off elsewhere leaving Nasalot behind to take care of the Youngsters. She, as usual, focused most attention on her favourite, Kilaguni. Since it was a cool day, the Youngsters decided against a wallow

04 January 2011

It was a very hot morning, so the orphans took to shade as they browsed during the morning. All had a very active mudbath, especially Melia, Tumaren and Suguta, who are still adapting to the hot temperatures of Tsavo’s Northern Area at this time of the year.

05 January 2011

Today, in contrast to yesterday the weather was cooler and cloudy, threatening rain which sadly never came. The orphans enjoy the cooler weather, Ithumbah and Chaimu gamboling alongside the Keepers as the group headed out to feed. However, by noon it had turned hot, so the Youngsters enjoyed their mudbath, but then fed under shade for the rest of the afternoon before returning in the evening.

06 January 2011

The Juniors browsed northwards along some rocky outcrops where there is more browse than in the more open areas. It was another very hot day, so the mudbath was again popular. In the afternoon the Keepers took the Youngsters to the Kanziku area where they browsed for the remainder of the day.

07 January 2011

The dry season is again taking hold, so the trees are beginning to drop their leaves and the vegetation turning yellow. The Juniors browsed calmly throughout the morning, had a lovely mudbath and returned happily in the evening.

08 January 2011

On a cool morning the Juniors filed out to browse swinging their trunks and bumping into each other in a display of joy to welcome another cooler day. Sabachi and Kilaguni instigated a bush-bashing game, in which all the others participated. After the mudbath and the afternoon browsing session, the Juniors enjoyed a second mudbath on their way back in the evening.

09 January 2011

Melia led the group to the water trough to quench their thirst this morning before heading out. In the afternoon the Youngsters were joined by Yatta, Mulika, Nasalot, Selengai, Buchuma and Orok who spent some time with them before separating and heading off again on their way to an undisclosed destination.

10 January 2011

The search for browse kept the Juniors fully occupied until the mudbath hour when Kilaguni had a prolonged wallow, whilst the others enjoyed resting under shade.

11 January 2011

All 29 Ex Orphans accompanied by two rather nervous wild friends were at the Stockade Compound first thing in the morning to greet the Youngsters the moment they emerged. Galana and Wendi rushed forward to welcome them, the two wild friends doing their best to remain inconspicuous amidst the Ex orphaned group in order to get a drink of water. Noticing this, the Keepers retreated to allay their fears. The entire herd, plus the two strangers, then accompanied the Youngsters out into the field, the Keepers trailing behind in order not to disturb the wild friends. The Juniors came to the mudbath ahead of the Ex Orphans and their wild friends, who joined them later. Wendi lavished attention on Ithumbah who is her favourite calf, and Ithumbah in turn enjoyed rubbing her body against that of Wendi. In the afternoon the Juniors browsed along the base of Ithumba hill leaving the Ex Orphans at the mudbath venue.

12 January 2011

The day began with mist shrouding Ithumba Hill as the orphans filed out to the field, enjoying the cooler temperatures. At 11 a.m. 28 members of the Ex Orphaned group joined the Juniors, amongst them Buchuma who had a minor injury on his trunk. The Keepers escorted him and Meibai back to the Stockades where Buchuma’s trunk was treated, and Meibai (who had been away for several days for a wild outing) relished his ration of milk. The Ex Orphans showed up at the Stockades in the evening, when Meibai was ushered back into his former Stockade along with Sabachi and Kilaguni. However, Galana, Naserian, Sidai and Sunyei objected strongly to him being taken back in and forced their way in, refusing to leave without Meibai. When the Keepers eventually managed to extract them, the four camped just outside the Gates, determined to remain close to Meibai. Galana, especially adores him and is always guilty of trying to sneak him away from his Junior peers!

13 January 2011

All the Ex orphans were at the Stockade compound in the morning, Galana, Sidai, Sunyei and Naserian waiting actually at the Stockade Gates to embrace Meibai as soon as he emerged. All the Ex orphans spent the morning browsing with the Juniors, Nasalot enjoying being close to Kilaguni whilst Wendi focused on Ithumbah and Galana on Meibai. After the mudbath, the Senior Ex Orphans departed, leaving Galana, Nasalot, Madiba, Rapsu, Sunyei, Sidai and Naserian with the Juniors. They remained with them for the rest of the afternoon and escorted them back in the evening, the Keepers again persuading Meibai to return to his Night Stockade with Kilaguni and Sabachi. Galana, Wendi and Nasalot stood outside watching their favourites as the Stockade Gates were closed, but on this occasion did not try and force entry themselves!. They rumbled to the Babies for a few minutes before heading off again after, having taken a drink at the water trough.

14 January 2011

Ithumbah led the Juniors out today who spent a quiet day feeding and following their usual routine, without meeting up with any of the Senior Ex Orphans.

15 January 2011

Another uneventful day for the Juniors, although Sabachi and Kilaguni had a tough test of strength. Melia and Tumaren led the way to the milk and mudbath venue, after which the Juniors browsed the lower slopes of Ithumba hill before returning in the evening.

16 January 2011

After the usual Stockade activities, the Juniors headed out into the bush to browse. The day passed calmly until it was time to return to the Stockades for another night.

17 January 2011

At l0 a.m. Wendi, Nasalot, Galana, Sunyei, and Tomboi brought along a wild friend and joined the Junior Group. They browsed together until it was time for the mudbath, the wild friend following the group at a safe distance because of the presence of the human family. After the mudbath, the Ex Orphans left with their wild friend.

18 January 2011

Today, having taken on water, the Juniors were taken to the Kalovoto area to browse. Just prior to returning in the evening, Ithumbah and Suguta raised their trunks to test the wind, but decided to continue browsing until it was time to return in the evening.

19 January 2011

On a cloudy morning the Juniors converged at the Stockade water trough for a drink, after which Ithumbah and Chaimu scratched themselves against trees, while Melia and Tumaren did the same at the Unloading Bay. Meibai and Kilaguni had a strength testing exercise, in which Meibai emerged victorious.

20 January 2011

After the usual Stockade morning routine, Tumaren led the Juniors out to feed heading towards the Kanziku area. Meibai and Sabachi had a tussle to settle some difference which ended by Sabachi surrendering and retreating hurriedly!

21 January 2011

At around l0 a.m. the Juniors were joined by Naserian, Taita, Lualeni and Kora plus a Junior wild bull, all of whom browsed with the Youngsters until it was time for the mudbath. Later the Ex Orphans left the Juniors heading south while the Juniors returned to the Kanziku area. Meanwhile, back at the Stockades, the wild bull named “Rafiki”,( who is an old friend), showed up with Wendi, Sunyei, Zurura and Galana for a drink at the Stockade water trough.

22 January 2011

Led by Ithumbah, the orphans left the Stockades early as usual and headed out into the bush to feed. They attended the mudbath at noon, and fed throughout the afternoon browsing the western slopes of Ithumba hill until it was time to return. Meanwhile, at 9 a.m. Lenana, Galana, Sidai, Madiba, Makena, Naserian, Chyulu, Nasalot, Mulika, Kamboyo and Kenze passed by the Stockade water trough for a quick drink.

23 January 2011

After the mudbath today the Juniors split into two groups, Ithumbah taking Chaimu, Kilaguni, Sabachi and Meibai to feed apart from Suguta who remained with Tumaren and Melia some distance away. The two groups only reunited when the Keepers signaled that it was time to return to the Night Stockades in the evening.

24 January 2011

At 6 a.m., soon after being let out of their Night Stockades, the Juniors were joined by l7 Ex Orphans, namely Selengai, Nasalot, Orok, Lenana, Taita, Yatta, Mulika, Chyulu, Zurura, Makena, Kinna, Sidai, Napasha, Sunyei, Galana, Tomboi and Wendi. When the Ex Orphans decided to depart, Galana was left with the Juniors, keeping close to Meibai who is her chosen favourite. Since Meibai has again returned to being part of the Junior gang, the Keepers never suspected that Galana might have had a secret agenda, which became obvious the next day. She escorted the Juniors back in the evening, and after seeing them all into their Night Stockades, left.

25 January 2011

Soon after the Youngsters were let out in the morning, a large wild bull joined them at the Stockade trough for a drink, but left having taken water. At 9 a.m. Galana met up with the Juniors again at the Kanziku area and fed calmly amongst them all morning, leading them to the noon mudbath and standing by as they enjoyed their milk. During the afternoon, when the Youngsters had scattered amongst the bushes to browse, Galana sneaked Meibai away, unnoticed by the Keepers until it was time to round the group up and return to the Stockades in the evening. It was only then that the Keepers noticed that Galana and Meibai were missing! Galana had planned her strategy cunningly, and although the Keepers tried to track the pair, they had long gone! That evening the Juniors returned again minus one of their colleagues – Meibai, whom the Keepers feel should still be classed as a Junior, even though Galana thinks differently!

26 January 2011

The orphans had a quiet and uneventful day, but for a nice soil dusting session against an anthill, Kilaguni enjoying a long time resting against the warm earth of the mound. At the mudbath Chaimu emerged the star of the day, remaining in the mud even after the others began filing out to browse. Ithumbah led the Group back home in the evening.

27 January 2011

Chaimu led the Juniors to the Kalavoto area to browse today until it was mudbath time, after which they settled down to feed at the Kanziku area. In the evening Wendi brought a Splinter Group of the Ex Orphans and 2 junior wild bulls to the Stockade Compound for a drink but did not meet up with the Juniors.

28 January 2011

It was a cloudy morning as Ithumbah led the Juniors out to feed. Later a wild female unit came to the Stockades for a drink comprised of an adult cow, and her three children, two boys and a girl aged 3, 6 and 9 respectively. Having taken water, the family enjoyed a cooling wallow at the Stockade mudbath before departing.

29 January 2011

After the usual Stockade activities, Melia led the way to the Kanziku area today. Sabachi and Kilaguni, the only two boys amongst five girls, enjoyed their usual pushing match in between browsing. In the evening Loijuk, Wendi, Rapsu, Galana, Meibai and Challa showed up at the Stockades, Challa along with Ndomot and the wild recruit “Mgeni” having been absent from the Ex Orphaned group for some time now. It was good to see Challa back again, and we hope that Ndomot and Mgeni will likewise turn up again soon.

30 January 2011

At l0 a.m. Yatta, Mulika, Kinna, Nasalot, Orok, Buchuma, Makena, Lenana, Chyulu, Kenze, Sidai and two Junior wild bulls joined the orphaned and browsed in amongst them, accompanying them to the mudbath venue. After the mudbath the Ex Orphans again accompanied the Youngsters to browse along the slopes of Ithumba hill before escorting them back to the Stockades in the evening.

31 January 2011

On a cloudy morning Suguta led the Juniors out to browse until 11 a.m. when they went to the mudbath, but decided against a wallow due to a chill in the air. In the evening Yatta, Mulika, Nasalot, Kinna, Makena, Buchuma, Taita, Orok, Selengai, Lenana, Chyulu and a Junior wild bull showed up at the Stockade compound, Meibai still away with Galana on a wild walkabout!