Already the Ithumba area is quite dry, so the Ex Orphans have been visiting the Stockade Compound for water and lucerne as well as the mud bath numerous times this month. Mutara’s Ex Orphan herd, consisting of Sities, Turkwel, Kainuk, Kanjoro, Suguta, Makireti, Kilabasi, Chaimu and Kilaguni, were very much present throughout the month; every five days or so they would be waiting at the Stockade Compound for the juniors to be let out and share lucerne with them. While the juniors, especially the bulls Orwa and Enkikwe, enjoy sparring with the older playmates in this Ex Orphan herd, within Wendi’s herd the interaction is more focused around the young babies, Wiva and Gawa, who are with them! Wendi’s herd was seen several times this month, especially in the middle of the month, and sometimes with Ex Orphan bulls Buchuma and Tomboi in tow as well. On the 14th her herd arrived in force at the stockade compound early in the morning with her baby Wiva, Galana and her baby Gawa, plus Loijuk, Lualeni and bull friend, Taita, along with Chyulu, Lenana, Zurura, Meibai, Sidai, Makena, Naserian, Ithumbah, young Ex Orphan bull Ololoo and older 14 year Ex Orphan bull Tomboi. Wiva engaged Roi in a pushing game and later played with Olsekki, Laragai, Bomani and Narok. Wiva and Gawa are such jovial babies, especially Wiva who likes to walk amongst all the orphans and, like her mother, enjoys showing off and messing around! Orwa played with Ololoo for a while and later Orwa and new arrival, Oltaiyoni, tried to leave with the Ex Orphans as they headed off into the bush! However the keepers managed to intervene and bring them back since they are still too young. At the beginning of the month Oltaiyoni attempted to wander off with some older bulls that had been mingling with the orphans as well, but after persuasion and calling from the Keepers returned to join her friends in the fold!
Of all the recent new arrivals from Nairobi, Naseku seems to have settled in most easily, probably because she was older at 15 months when she was rescued from Sera Conservancy. Her assimilation back to a wild life is probably accelerated due to the memories she retained prior to being rescued. Since arriving at Ithumba she has been comfortable and at ease being out in the bush, sometimes even sufficiently confident to steer the dependant orphaned herd in the direction she would like to take, whilst Kauro, Kamok, Roi and Tusuja have been slightly more reserved and prefer to stay closer to their Keepers. The new babies are still slightly nervous, and one day Oltaiyoni, Naseku and Roi were scared by a troop of chattering baboons and ran deep into the bush, but returned when were called by their Keepers.
Kasigau, the 7 year old independent bull, joined the junior dependent herd at the mudbath a couple of times this month, and browsed with them later as well, turning up again early the next morning to enjoy the lucerne hand-out as well. The juniors relished the opportunity to have his undivided attention, and learn some new pushing tactics as well. Normally he is with Makireti and Kilabasi but he briefly joined up with Mutara’s herd before returning to rejoin Makireti and Kilabasi, where Chaimu, from Mutara’s herd, was also present for a while.
Galana tends to peel away from Wendi’s herd sometimes, along with some of Gawa’s Nannies, but then even Wendi sometimes appears with her baby, Wiva, at the Stockades on her own without any of the others in order to partake of the lucerne. Usually spotted in Galana’s company are Lualeni, Naserian, Ithumbah, Madiba, Sidai, Taita, Buchuma, Meibai, Ololoo and accompanying older bulls such as Taita and wild friends now that Lualeni appears to be coming into season.
Yatta’s herd were seen only a couple of times this month including her daughter Yetu, Mulika and her daughter, Mwende, along with Lualeni, Orok, Buchuma, Makena, Nasalot and Ololoo. One afternoon they walked into the Stockade Compound where they joined fifty wild elephants who were drinking water from the Stockade troughs! Later, all slowly meandered away and melted into the vastness of Tsavo East.
All the dependent orphans were very playful this month, especially the bulls, but as the month wore on and it became hotter, the orphans spent more time browsing than playing. Bomani was one bull who seemed slightly reluctant to play this month, as his tusks begin to break through the skin of his face, having grown out incorrectly, and this was obviously somewhat painful for him. The new Nursery arrivals have found the temperature at Ithumba particularly hot compared to moderate Nairobi climes, and have often had to shelter in shade during the heat of the day, as well as enjoying additional mud bathing in rainwater pools along the Kalovoto River. Vuria and Bongo (the ‘water boy’) always have the most fun at mud bath time, trying to outdo each other in pushing and swimming games. The health of Shukuru has much improved this month having received treatment, she is back to her old self, enjoying the mud baths and dusting sessions, all of which is a great relief and joy for her human family. At the end of the month Wendi’s Ex Orphan herd joined the juniors in the afternoon after mud bath, and made off with Narok and Bongo ! The Keepers only realized later that the two had been snatched by the Ex Orphans so they tracked their footprints until dark, but to no avail. However, both Narok and Bongo returned to the Stockade later that evening, having decided that being “wild” was not yet quite to their liking!
Still absent by months end was Olare’s herd, who have been away since November. With it beginning to dry up we feel sure they will be returning in the not so distant future, as they did this last year after their green season walkabout. In the Olare herd are Olare, Tumaren, Melia, Kalama, Chemi Chemi, Murka, Naisula, Kibo, Kandecha and Kitirua.