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.