Keepers' Diaries, January 2015

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Ithumba Reintegration Unit

January and February are very hot months in Tsavo and so the mudwallow and bathing in the dam have been favorite pastimes this month. Often the junior group have been joined by their ex orphan friends, and at times over 40 elephants have been swimming and wallowing together at times totally submerged. On a couple of occasions this month the orphans have been joined by wild elephants too. Sometimes a female herd with a baby on another occasion a young female calf of about seven years old who joined Makireti’s group, and on another occasion the huge wild bulls proved too intimidating for the junior orphans who quickly exited from the water the moment the Tsavo Giants joined them.

January and February are very hot months in Tsavo and so the mudwallow and bathing in the dam have been favorite pastimes this month. Often the junior group have been joined by their ex orphan friends, and at times over 40 elephants have been swimming and wallowing together at times totally submerged. On a couple of occasions this month the orphans have been joined by wild elephants too. Sometimes a female herd with a baby on another occasion a young female calf of about seven years old who joined Makireti’s group, and on another occasion the huge wild bulls proved too intimidating for the junior orphans who quickly exited from the water the moment the Tsavo Giants joined them.

Lualeni and her favourite calf Ololoo have spent a few full days with the dependent juniors and their Keepers. Seldom does Lualeni do this without the ulterior motive of baby snatching! She loves to pluck the babies from the dependent group and whisk them away for nights out with her. The Keepers have been keeping a close eye on Lualeni’s intentions to ensure the milk dependent orphans are left intact still too young for this to happen.

Suguta’s partially independent group consisting of the following orphans: Chemi Chemi, Ishanga, Kalama, Kandecha, Kibo, Melia, Naisula, Suguta and Tumaren, Olare, Chaimu, Kilaguni, Kitirua and Murka have been absent since the middle of December so the unexpected arrival of most of them on the 4th of January at the stockades was most welcomed by the Keepers and the orphans alike. Missing from the group was Kilaguni, Chaimu and Murka and Kitirua and Olare. Thankfully on the 21st Kilaguni and Chaimu arrived back early in the morning both looking extremely well and Kitirua and Murka have both been sighted this month too. Olare is yet to return.

Yatta and Mulika’s ex orphans group have been in the area throughout December and January and this is probably because both Wendi and Kinna are heavily pregnant. We are hopeful we will have baby news from Ithumba soon.

Orwa is looking longingly at the independent big boys and he is definitely contemplating a life beyond the juniors and out with his older more independent friends. This is a tricky decision for him as he loves his milk bottle too so would not want to jeopardize that which is what is holding him back. Water babies Bongo and Mutara can never resist the water even on the cooler days, which have been few and far between this month, and due to the stifling hot weather Keepers and elephants alike have had to rest during the hottest times of the day in the shade. Extra mud wallows in the evening have been necessary and so many evenings on the way back home the day is punctuated with a second mud bath for the junior orphans.
The dependent babies still get a scare from time to time while out in the bush and this month startled Kudu antelopes have freaked them out on a couple of occasions requiring the Keepers to calm the situation down.

Makireti, Kilabasi and Kasigau have formed their own little Unit it would seem, having broken away from the more adventurous Suguta herd, and these three have hung around the juniors on most days in January joining them for all or much of the day. These older elephants provide entertainment particularly to the little bulls who love good sparing partners. When the big bulls Rapsu, Tomboi and Challa and Kora and Taita pass through the little junior bulls like Bongo, Orwa, Vuria, Teleki, Bomani watch in awe at their strength testing games, and bask in any attention shown them by these older bulls. Older bull Napasha has gone walk about once again and has not been seen in January.

So many more details unfold throughout the Keepers Dairy with beautiful pictures carefully taken by our Ithumba Keepers so as to share and chronicle January’s escapades.

January 2015 day to day

01 Jan

Orwa left the stockade with a branch in his mouth this morning while Vuria and Bongo started the year in style by engaging each other in a pushing game, a firm favorite with young bulls. Kainuk interrupted their game by pushing the two boys apart then tried to coax Bongo into a pushing game which he was not interested in doing. Kainuk then left the stockades a took a long while scratching against the rocks and rolling around on the earth. Shukuru started the day with soil dusting, the cool soil seemingly providing her with much comfort. Ex orphans Galana, Loijuk, Challa and a wild bull showed up and briefly joined the juniors. At the browsing field Sities played with Kainuk while Bomani engaged with Bongo who finally proved more inclined. At mud bath time the orphans were joined at their favourite dam by all the ex orphans and they all spent hours romping around, diving underwater and in some cases swimming. Eventually the juniors left the cool water and returned to the browsing field. January is a hot month, and the hottest time of the day is between two to four pm in the afternoon. Today two lesser kudus passed near where the orphans were feeding at a high speed. This upset the dependent orphans who ran with ears raised towards their keepers. The keepers calmed them down and the orphans resumed browsing, but it is clear that they are still babies at heart, still dependent on their Keepers and not with the confidence yet to manage on their own. This takes time like ones own children. In the evening Vuria led the first group back to the stockade, and he was clearly feeling good leading the group.

Bongo and Vuria strength testing

Kainuk playing

Challa surrounded by the juniors

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