10 Juniors remained milk and Keepers Dependent at the Ithumba Stockades at the beginning of 2014 - Kanjoro, Kilabasi, Mutara, Shukuru, Turkwel, Kainuk, Sities, Bongo, Laragai and Narok. According to the Keepers, Kanjoro is the boy with an “attitude”, who approaches huge wild Bulls without hesitation whereas the others are more diffident and respectful. On the 2nd Kanjoro marched straight up to a Big Wild Bull who was waiting near the mudbath for the Juniors and their Keepers to depart before coming in. While the other Juniors hurried past, Kanjoro embarked on an intimate inspection! He and Kandecha, along with girls Laragai, Narok, Mutara and Shukuru often lead the Junior column out in the mornings, to and from the noon mudbath and back in the evenings while Sities now shares the Junior Matriarchal mantle, with Kilabasi. On cool days most of the Juniors opt out of wallowing at noon, but not so Bongo, who, having originated from the cold climes of Mt. Kenya, finds even Tsavo cooler days warm enough for him!
Suguta’s group, (comprised of Melia, Tumaren, Chaimu, Murka, Kitirua, Naisula, Ishanga, Olare and Kalama along with bulls Kilaguni, Sabachi, Kibo and Chemi Chemi), (all now independent of milk), have again enjoyed the best of both worlds throughout the entire month, peeling off from the 10 milk and Keeper dependent Juniors daily, either first thing in the morning, but often also out in the bush, to spend the day out as wild elephants, probably joining up with Yatta’s Senior Ex Orphan unit and/or other friendly wild herds known to them, but returning to sleep in the safety of the Stockades at night, on one occasion turning up as late as midnight. On many occasions they have either been escorted out and back by Ex Orphans, usually Bulls, who turn up early to collect them, although at other times Suguta is sufficiently confident to lead her gang out off without a Senior escort, obviously knowing exactly in which direction to head in order to link up with others. (Here again, sophisticated elephant communication is at work, the whereabouts of each group obviously known to one another). Ex Orphan Bulls Rapsu, Kamboyo, Madiba or Kenze have often provided the escort for Suguta’s group this month sometimes joined by a wild Junior Bull.
The Ex Orphan Unit, not always all together, but coming and going in splinter groups have been very much in evidence again, drinking regularly at the Stockade trough, and usually accompanied by wild elephant friends. Lualeni, who, according to the Keepers, has long aspired to having a unit of her very own, and who worked hard and long to persuade Ololoo and Kilaguni to join her, had not been seen amongst the main Ex Orphan unit for some two weeks (possibly to consolidate her possession of Ololoo and Kilaguni) so it was a relief to us all when she, plus Ololoo and Kilaguni was back amongst the Ex Orphans when they turned up on the 8th, accompanied on that day by 4 large wild Bulls. Later on in the month she added Chaimu from Suguta’s unit to her regular entourage, Chaimu being the long time best friend of Kilaguni. The comings and goings of Lualeni and her satellites, and with whom and when they are accompanied, is chronicled in detail in this month’s Diary and makes interesting reading, providing an insight into the intricacies of elephant relationships. These include members of both sexes the Ex Orphan Bulls playing an important role. Kora has always been Lualeni’s closest friend and Rapsu, Madiba and Kamboyo are other important male players in this respect.
It is fascinating that on the 12th Ex Orphan Bull Buchuma passed by the Stockades escorting Ololoo who was alone without Lualeni or any of her other satellites. Possibly, Buchuma had come across Ololoo with the main Ex Orphan unit, and was taking him from them to link up again with Lualeni! Later on that day Suguta’s group on their way home, bumped into a Splinter Ex Orphan group led by Mulika who were also on their way back to the Stockades. Later they jointly met up with the Keeper Dependent Juniors and Chemi Chemi, Kalama, Kilabasi, Kasigau, Olare and Chaimu from Suguta’s group joined Mulika’s group, but returned to reunite with Suguta later back in the Stockade. Like Lualeni, it would seem that Suguta also aspires to being the Matriarch of a Splinter Group of orphans loyal mainly to her, but still part of the greater Ex Orphan “family”.
Ex Orphan Bull Zurura spent the night of the 12th in the Stockade compound, in order to escort Suguta’s group out during the morning of the 13th. That day Yatta and her calf Yetu along with Wendi, Makena, Kinna, Nasalot and Bulls Taita and Madiba joined the Juniors at the mudbath and browsed with them for most of the afternoon until Yatta and her group peeled off heading in the direction of the Stockades. On the 16th Yatta’s unit came with her wild recruit, the teenaged bull “Kijana” plus 2 other wild Bulls to collect Suguta’s group and escort them out, a day when little Laragai greatly enjoyed playing with Mulika’s wild-born calf, Mwende. On the l8th it was Ex Orphan Bull Kamboyo who was waiting at the Stockade compound early with Ololoo and Kilaguni (again without Lualeni) ready to greet all the Juniors and Suguta’s group the moment they were let out. After an exuberant welcome, Kamboyo, Ololoo and Kilaguni remained with the Juniors on that day, Ololoo and Kilaguni obviously anxious to spend time again with their previous Junior peers, with Kamboyo detailed by Lualeni to provide the escort! Later all the Ex Orphans, (Lualeni included) joined the Juniors who were with, Ololoo, Kilaguni and Kamboyo at the mudbath, and when the Ex Orphan unit left later, they took Ololoo and Kilaguni off amongst them.
On the 22nd the Juniors were joined at their mudbath by a Junior Wild Boy and a little later by Suguta’s group who took the wild boy off with them when they left, and on the 23rd all the Ex Orphans again came to escort Suguta’s group out, who as usual came back to the Stockades in the evening but on this occasion minus Chaimu who had now been persuaded to join Lualeni’s Splinter Group. That afternoon an Ex Orphan splinter group which included Lualeni, Ololoo, Kilaguni Rapsu, Kamboyo, Madiba and a Junior wild Boy spent the night just outside the Juniors’ Stockade and the next morning, after Suguta’s group headed out, Lualeni and her group remained with the Juniors for an hour before leaving them. That say Rapsu came alone to join the Youngsters at their noon mudbath, and was followed a little later by Kitirua, Kasigau and Kilabasi, three girls who are part of Suguta’s group! It would appear that Rapsu came to be at hand to escort the three girls back after spending time with their Junior friends.
Amongst the wild friends who accompanied the Ex Orphans to the Stockades towards the end of the month was a female herd with a small 3 month old calf. Also towards the end of the month the Keepers were delighted to see the orphans’ first wild friend, the Big Dominant Bull known as “Rafiki” (the friend) who returned after a long absence with 2 “askaris” in attendance. He and his askaris were soon joined by the Ex Orphan unit and after they had all departed, Lualeni’s group escorted by Kamboyo accompanied Suguta’s group back home for the night.
This month, it has been the turn of Sunyei, now 11 years old, who has attracted the attention of the Wild Bulls. She came to the Stockades during the early morning of the 9th with a wild Boyfriend in tow, and left later in amongst Suguta’s group, returning later with Wendi’s Ex boyfriend trailing her. That evening 20 Ex Orphans turned up accompanied by 2 adult wild cows and 4 wild bulls, but minus Lualeni, Ololoo and Kilaguni, as well as Naserian and Lenana (who were probably with Lualeni) and Bulls Kora and Madiba who were probably providing Lualeni’s escort.
Two of our Ex Orphan Bulls have been absent from the Ex Orphan unit for a long time now, namely Big Boy Napasha, (last seen with some wild male friends) and his friend Tomboi who, we hope, is probably with Napasha and other wild Bulls, both now of an age when it is normal for the boys to travel independently of the female family. Buchuma has been seen just once this month, when he escorted Ololoo past the Stockades. We pray that they are all safe. Yatta’s wild teenaged recruit named “Kijana”, who has long been a permanent member of the Ex Orphan Unit, now often travels independently with wild male friends, but at other times is back amongst the Ex Orphan herd. On the 20th he came to the Stockades with 4 other bigger bulls and again on the 28th when he was 3 other wild bulls.