Keepers' Diaries, January 2018
Ithumba Reintegration Unit
Ithumba is fast drying out having enjoyed a very short green season throughout December. All of the Ex Orphans were around this month which shows us that water sources elsewhere are scarce. We make sure our orphans and the wildlife in this area are kept hydrated with our water bowsers which make daily trips to our borehole and the Tiva River, to fill up both the water troughs and the water hole where the orphans take their daily mud bath, and where wild animals come to drink too. Some of the wild bulls around this month were actually in hot pursuit of Ex Orphan Lenana who was apparently in season. The Keepers would see her run past the compound at pace, followed by three or sometimes four rather large wild bulls, including Half Trunk, all competing to be her suitor.
01 January 2018
The orphans had a quiet morning today. Led by the running team that includes Maramoja, Rapa and Pare, the orphans settled to browse in the Kanziku area. The keepers refer to the new babies as the ‘racers’ as this as they run the fastest wherever they are going! They are always the fastest to run in for their milk. There was tension in the air when Wendi passed nearby with three bulls in hot pursuit of her. It appears that Wendi is in season and ready to have a second baby! Wiva is now two years and two months now. Maramoja raised her trunk in the air and ran towards the keepers as the rest of the group followed her. Later the orphans were joined by Taita who had followed them slowly up to the mud bath. The orphans enjoyed mud bathing in a smaller water hole slightly away from the main one, and after went back to browsing.
In the evening, the temperatures were still high and the orphans passed by the mud bath for an evening cool-off. The orphans had a soil dusting exercise before heading back to the stockades.
02 January 2018
After leaving the stockades, the orphans briefly settled for lucerne before Ukame led the way to the browsing field. Roi opted to browse with Kauro as Ukame settled to feed with Pare. Maramoja had a lengthy chat with Siangiki before moving to join Rapa to browse. The temperature continued to skyrocket making the orphans flap their ears continuously as they went on browsing. They also walked under trees with shade as they slowly moved to the mud bath. After having their noon bottle feeds, Karisa led the group to wallow in the mud bath. Shortly after, they went to dust themselves with soil to dry off.
In the afternoon, the orphans settled to browse in the Imenti area where Kauro and Namalok took a break from feeding to relax under a tree until the temperature dropped. In the evening, the orphans passed by the mud bath where they had an evening cool-off.
03 January 2018
Laragai, who had let her group out the previous evening, reported early in the morning at the stockade compound. She was accompanied by Kithaka, Lemoyian, Garzi, Barsilinga, Sokotei, Enkikwe, Siangiki and Olsekki. The group welcomed their friends for yet another day out in the bush. Shortly later, Kibo, Chemi Chemi, Kalama, Murka, Kandecha, Kitirua and Naisula showed up and joined the orphans. Led by Laragai, the group headed towards the Kalovoto area where they settled to browse. Sapalan settled to browse with Namalok while Wanjala settled to browse with Kauro. Pare, one of the racing team members, settled to feed with Siangiki. At mud bath time, the orphans were briefly joined by Ex Orphans Galana, baby Gawa, Zurura, Madiba and Chyulu. The orphans preferred to have a mud bath in a small water hole a distance away from the main one. Namalok enjoyed splashing water behind his ears as Madiba stood on guard. Ukame loved playing with baby Gawa and if it were not for the intervention by keepers, she might even have left with Galana and Gawa since the game was so enjoyable, and she didn’t think to walk back to her friends. Sapalan teamed up with Chyulu and Madiba and just as we thought that Sapalan would be snatched by the duo, to our surprise Madiba and Chyulu escorted Sapalan back to join his younger friends.
In the afternoon, Kauro took a break from feeding to participate in a soil dusting exercise and on the way back to the stockade, the orphans passed by the mud bath to cool off again in the hot weather.
04 January 2018
Narok, Orwa, Bomani and Vuria spent the night outside the stockade. When the orphans were let out in the morning, Olare’s group in the company of Galana, Gawa, Makena and Sidai joined them briefly before leaving. Gawa had the opportunity to interact with the orphans for some time before leaving with her mother. She started her game with Rapa and Maramoja before heading to play with Roi. Tusuja engaged Sidai in a pushing game but Sidai was too tall for him. Galla tackled Bomani but quit the game shortly later and moved to get some pushing lessons from Makena.
On the way to browse, Roi played with Boromoko while Oltaiyoni had her own game of rolling on the ground. The orphans were briefly joined by Mutara’s group and Tusuja seized the opportunity to challenge Sities. The no-nonsense Sities, who never entertains small boys, pushed Tusuja out of the way. Shortly later, the junior Ex Orphans left and we did not see them again today. Later Oltaiyoni, Pare and Rapa took a break from feeding to participate in a game of rolling on the ground while Sapalan dusted himself. After mud bath time, Garzi and Kithaka engaged each other in pushing game that ended in a draw.
05 January 2018
Kauro started his day's activities by running out of the stockade at top speed and scratching on the nearby loading-wall soon after the orphans left the stockade in the morning. Rapa and Galla entwined their trunks in morning greetings as Ex Orphan Ololoo emerged from the bush in the dim morning light as if an apparition, and joined the orphans for the morning lucerne feeding. The keepers threw bales of lucerne from out of the store and spread them around for the orphans eagerly awaiting their breakfast.
As they started to move out into the bush to begin their day, Tusuja settled to browse with Kauro as Namalok, Karisa and Sapalan moved to feed far away from their friends. They collected up little bales to themselves and carried them off with their trunks to eat in peace to the side. Normally it is Kithaka that likes to do this and they seemed to have copied his good idea! When it was time to go for their midday milk feed and mud bath, Sapalan, Namalok and Karisa did not join their friends, which prompted a quick search to locate the three boys. Finally they were located more than six hundred metres away from their friends, browsing quite happily in the bush and unaware it was feeding time; Sapalan did not mind anyway as he has decided to wean himself off the milk formula. The three boys then were led back to join their friends. The weather was cloudy and therefore the orphans skipped the wallowing exercise, choosing instead to have some water out of the freshly-filled water trough before walking to the pile of lose dusting before wandering back out to the bush again. In the afternoon, the cloud cleared giving way to sun shine and in the afternoon, the orphans passed by the mud bath on the way back to the stockades for an evening cool-off.
06 January 2018
Roi and Karisa left the stockade with branches in their mouths but the branches were taken away by Ex Orphan Kibo as soon as they stepped out of the stockade. Kibo is nine years old now and very much their senior. The orphans were welcomed by other senior Ex Orphans as well who were accompanied by several wild elephants. All the wild born babies were present with their mothers which was lovely to see as the herds have been splintering since some of their females had had their calves; not for any reason other than to be a more manageable number with youngsters - but they do all come back together on occasion like today. Half Trunk was also with the Ex Orphans who might have been around today as it is already starting to dry up and they knew they could get some water at the stockades. The orphans didn't stay for long in the compound since some of the Ex Orphans were bullying them and throwing their weight around. This morning the weather was cloudy and the orphans concentrated mostly on browsing without mucking around.
When it was time to go for their mud bath, the orphans only had their milk bottles and then walked over to the water trough to have some water before returning to the bush again, without having a mud bath like yesterday. In the afternoon, the orphans settled to browse on the eastern side of Ithumba Hill where Maramoja, Pare and Rapa teamed up with Tusuja to browse. Sapalan and Namalok settled to browse a short distance away from the rest and rejoined them when it was time to return to the stockades. Kauro led the first group while Maramoja led the second group as they raced back to the stockade for the night.
07 January 2018
Soon after leaving the stockades this morning, the orphans headed for water before being led away to the browsing field by Laragai. Laragai is such a clever girl and is showing her friends and the keepers that she and others like Kithaka and Barsilinga are ready to live a life in the wild. Even though they come into the stockade at night, every night just after 7pm Laragai opens their stockade gate by pulling the bar across and pushing it open! Oltaiyoni relaxed her trunk on her Nursery friend Kamok's back for sometime before the duo followed their friends.
Kithaka developed an itchy foot and spent some time scratching it on a bent tree. Enkikwe teamed up with his friend Siangiki to feed which we watched them doing for some time. These two have been friends since the Nursery but it is only since they came to Ithumba that their friendship has really blossomed - they like to browse together a lot and can often be seen by each others side. We wondered how this friendship would develop as they grow and mature and what the future had in store for them, these two little Nursery friends. Galla and Tusuja decided that work without play made Jack a dull boy and so took a break from feeding to participate in a strength testing exercise. Their game ended when Tusuja surrendered and Galla walked to a nearby rock to celebrate his victory by scratching on it and relieving himself of some pesky insects at the same time. Kauro settled to browse with Nursery-friend Kamok and at eleven o'clock in the morning, Maramoja led the first group to the mud bath. The orphans decided to go into the water hole today and Boromoko enjoyed riding on Naseku’s back, just because she could do nothing about it whilst in the water as well! Shortly after mud bath, the orphans headed west of the Ithumba Hill where they settled to browse. Naseku and Namalok decided to dust themselves in soil and have a relaxing afternoon messing around.
08 January 2018
Olare and her group were relaxing outside the stockade when the orphans were let out. The orphans teamed up briefly with Olare before heading to the browsing field. Galla who has become more active and adventurous these days as far as pushing games are concerned, tried to challenge Kibo. This was quite a brave challenge for him against the much older boy, but he surrendered immediately when the going got tough! At least it was a chance to try and test himself against a much older and independent bull.
Later Galla decided to go for Naseku who is at least the same size as him. The duo enjoyed a light strength testing exercise but it didn't last for long as they wanted to continue browsing as it is drying out at the moment. Kamok settled to feed with Sokotei as the racing team led by Maramoja took a break from feeding to relax under a tree when the temperature started climbing. The group drew water from their stomachs and started splashing water behind their ears.
At mud bath all the orphans had fun as they rolled and splashed around in the water. Boromoko, as usual, enjoyed riding on his friends as they were still wallowing, something that Galla has started to copy as well! Later, the orphans went to dust themselves on the loose soil, which they love to do as it dries their bodies after a bath and gives them a good protective coat against the sun and insects as well. They then went for a second mud bath to test out the small new water hole which is being filled close to the big one, but is more in the shade. In the afternoon, Sapalan and Oltaiyoni soil dusted while Kamok took a break from feeding to scratch her buttocks on an anthill. In the evening, the temperature was still high, prompting the orphans to pass by the mud bath again to cool-off before they went home.
09 January 2018
Laragai and her group originally consisted of Garzi, Kithaka, Barsilinga, Lemoyian, but now Siangiki, Enkikwe, Olsekki, Sokotei, Sirimon and Boromoko have also become independent and have joined this group out in the wild as well. When the new arrivals came from Nairobi they were very badly behaved towards them and since they were off milk as well, the keepers saw this as a sign that they were ready to stay out at night. Most of the time they spend the night just outside the compound, or close by, and come back in the morning to share lucerne with those still dependent. They were relaxing outside the stockade this morning with Tomboi when the juniors were let out. Galla and Roi left with branches in their mouths, which they continued to enjoy on their way out to browse. Tusuja developed an itchy neck and decided to use a nearby tree to scratch it.
Later Pare settled to browse with Maramoja as Karisa teamed up with Namalok. Sapalan, who still totally refuses to take his milk, browsed a short distance away from his friends. At mud bath, Karisa led Wanjala and Dupotto in the first group while Ukame led the second group consisting of Galla and Oltaiyoni. Maramoja led the third group of Namalok and Kauro. Rapa led Pare and Kamok; the orphans have to come in groups as they all get two bottles and the keepers cannot feed them all at once! After having their milk, the orphans headed to drink some water from the trough and to enjoy a short wallowing session, before going to dust themselves dry as usual. In the process, Galla picked up a piece of stick that he used to scratch what appeared to be an itchy chest. When he was done, he dropped the stick and joined in the procession of those heading back out to browse. In the afternoon, the sun was still hot as Pare joined Maramoja to feed while constantly flapping his ears to keep cool. Roi had a private soil dusting session before heading to relax under a tree that had good shade. In the afternoon the sun was still hot and the orphans passed by the mud bath to wallow and cool down. Shortly before six in evening, the senior Ex Orphans in the company of five wild elephants reported for water and left later after having enough. They left with Laragai and her group since Laragai had opened the gate to let her friends out again. She is clearly very eager for she and her friends to soon join their friends in the wild.
10 January 2018
Garzi, who has now joined Narok and her group, showed up in the morning with Narok and Bongo, maybe because they knew that Laragai and her friends were becoming more independent and they wanted to see what was going on. Roi and Galla came out with branches in their mouths that they continued enjoy as they relaxed outside the stockade waiting for directions. Shortly later, the racing team consisting of Maramoja, Pare and Rapa led the way to the browsing field. Lemoyian had spend the night outside the stockade without his friends in Narok’s group, and started his day by scratching his belly on a bent tree. An hour later, Garzi left with his new found family of Narok and Bongo. Tusuja and Galla took a break from feeding to participate in a strength testing exercise that ended in a draw. At mud bath, Namalok, Naseku, Pare, Wanjala, Tusuja and Kamok had a spectacular time wallowing and showed off all their favourite poses. In the afternoon, Kauro, Dupotto and Laragai spent some time soil dusting and later joined their friends to browse again. Yatta and her group showed up at the stockade in the evening and left immediately after having enough water.
11 January 2018
The orphans were joined for lucerne by Olare’s group and two wild elephants in the morning. Half an hour later, the senior Ex Orphans under the leadership of Yatta reported to the stockade compound, bringing an end to the free wandering of the dependent orphans as the Ex Orphans took over the area. The orphans decided to give their seniors respect by leaving for browsing. The morning was quiet as the orphans concentrated only on browsing. Olsekki settled to browse with Oltaiyoni as Karisa opted to feed on his own.
It wasn’t very cloudy when the orphans went to the mud bath so they all, except for Dupotto, decided to enjoy a mud bath. Two bulls reported for water and were briefly joined by Barsilinga and Olsekki. When they went to dust themselves dry on the loose soil, Olsekki made the mistake of lying face-down in the dust and he ended up getting stuck in that position. He struggled to get to his feet and he yelled for assistance. Kithaka, who had been left behind soil dusting with him, didn't bother to assist his adopted brother but instead walked away! Finally, Olsekki managed to rotate his body round to a suitable position in which he was able to get back to his feet again. In the evening, the senior Ex Orphans in the company of six wild elephants reported for water at the stockade water troughs. This is a clear indication that the area is drying up a lot.
12 January 2018
As soon as the orphans settled for lucerne, Namalok, Maramoja and Dupotto started their day by scratching on the nearby rocks. Shortly later, Mutara’s group showed up at the stockade compound and joined the juniors for lucerne. At the browsing field, Galla challenged Boromoko to a pushing game but ended up losing. Enkikwe settled to feed with Dupotto and later, went down on his two front legs in order to have a lone peaceful soil dusting exercise. After Galla surrendered to Boromoko, he walked down and met with Lemoyian who has folded ears just like him but without tusks. Galla challenged the ever playful Lemoyian but regretted it later when Lemoyian decided to ride on his head instead of his back. Galla quit the game giving way to Boromoko who came to tussle with Lemoyian. At eleven o'clock in the morning, the orphans headed for their milk and later had a spectacular wallowing session before heading back to the browsing field in a single file. Kamok, Wanjala, Sapalan and Laragai took some time off from feeding to participate in a soil dusting exercise. Two bulls reported for water at mud bath when the orphans had left for browsing. In the afternoon, the sun was still hot and therefore the orphans passed at mud bath for a cool-off dip again.
13 January 2018
Mutara’s group and another Ex Orphan group led by Wendi consisting of Lenana, Challa, Ithumbah, Makireti, Kasigau, Chaimu and Kilaguni arrived at the stockade compound early before dawn. Wiva was still not with Wendi. It's hard to tell if Wiva, who is now two years and two months, has decided to leave her mother while in the comfort of being with her other nannies, or it Wendi who has abandoned her baby, but we are sure it is a temporary separation. The juniors briefly settled for lucerne with the Ex Orphans were Wendi settled to feed with Namalok. Kithaka walked a distance away, then rumbled calling his friends to follow him, and they all followed leaving the Ex Orphans enjoying the lucerne. Oltaiyoni settled to browse with Ukame while Tusuja teamed up with Sokotei. Later, Kauro moved to feed with Sokotei, while Namalok took a break from feeding to participate in a soil dusting exercise. At milk feeding time, Sapalan, who shows almost no interest in his milk anymore, headed straight to enjoy a cooling mud bath as the keepers tried in vain to coax him to come for his milk. Mutara, Sities, Turkwel, Kainuk, Suguta, Kanjoro, Kilaguni, and Chaimu joined the orphans. Mutara later escorted the juniors to browse, then returned to join her own older group. The orphans settled to browse on the western side of Ithumba Hill. Galla briefly played with Boromoko, as the rest of the herd concentrated on browsing.
14 January 2018
Soon after leaving the stockade, the orphans were joined by the senior Ex Orphans under the command of Yatta. The playful baby Kama picked on Pare and engaged him in a light pushing game while Kithaka settled to play with baby Yoyo. Pare later moved to beg lucerne from Nanny Mulika who had a huge pile tucked in between her tusk and trunk. Mulika ignored Pare and later threatened to push him if he kept begging from her. After being warned Pare didn’t hang around to be pushed but moved away to pick his own lucerne. The dependent orphans love meeting up with the wild born babies to play with them, but their interactions are also important lessons for the wild babies who don’t yet have the natural composition in their herd of slightly older siblings; the junior dependent orphans can mimic this! Whilst they might get away with anything with their nannies that tend to just ignore their nonsense, they might get more of a telling off from the dependent orphans if they take things too far! Feisty little Wiva challenged Tusuja while Kama moved to play with Kamok. Kama pushed Kamok hard and Kamok decided to teach her a lesson in respecting her elders by whipping around and smacking her with her trunk. Kama didn’t wait for another whip from Kamok and walked away quite surprised since she has been enjoying pushing everyone up until now without being reprimanded. Boromoko settled to play with Lemoyian as Tusuja picked grass that had been mixed with lucerne and started tossing it up in the air, and wore some as a grass hat on his head. The Ex Orphans then walked off into the bush while the orphans headed east of Ithumba Hill where they settled for the entire morning to browse. At eleven o'clock in the morning, the orphans enjoyed a cooling mud bath and soil dusted before returning back to the bush. In evening the Ex Orphans returned back to the stockade this time in the company of twelve wild elephants. The number of wild elephants we see keeps growing each day and this is due to the many water holes drying up that the elephants rely on. We might see more wild elephants as it gets drier, or they might move on to greener areas until the next dry season.
15 January 2018
At 6am when the elephants came out of their stockades to the lucerne field, they found Chemi Chemi, Narok and Garzi there waiting for them. They welcomed the orphans and started sharing lucerne that the keepers threw in bales for them. Chemi Chemi started a play fight with Roi whilst Pare and Rapa scratched on separate rocks in the field. The orphans later walked to the water trough to drink water and left to the bush to browse.
In the bush, Kauro was busy browsing with Ukame and Sapalan was browsing separately. They all looked happy and active in the bush as they ate the green leaves they could find. Roi and Ukame browsed together and later the herd walked to the mud bath for their milk. The orphans played vigorously as they enjoyed their bath before they all walked out to to the dust bath and started rolling and playing in it like little children. The group then met with Laragai and Siangiki and Siangiki led them in a peaceful game in the dust bath which everyone enjoyed. Maramoja went on to scratch his neck on a tree to take off the ticks with Roi; it felt so good for them to take off the annoying insects. Galla led the group out to the bush again to browse for the afternoon.
Tusuja and Galla started play fighting and tussling with each other’s trunks. The rest were resting under the shade and Kamok was browsing on her own. The orphans later walked to the water hole along the campsite road and started playing in in the shallow water. They walked into the bush to browse for a bit before slowly walking to the main mud bath to drink water and play there for awhile. in for a bit. They ended their day by playing in the water and walking straight home in the evening for their last milk bottle. Laragai and Siangiki accompanied them to the stockade this evening but we did not see the rest of their independent group today.
16 January 2018
When the orphans came out of their stockades today they did not stay and eat lucerne from very long as it seemed they were in a hurry to get out to the bush and browse. Kamok led the group to the bush. Galla and Tusuja started twisting each other’s trunks and playing affectionately with each other. Namalok was browsing away from the other elephants flapping his ears to keep cool. Recently independent orphans Orwa, Vuria and Bomani came to join the group for awhile but they carried on walking into the bush. Roi later led the group to the mud bath. The orphans played in the mud today. They were joined by Rapsu and Kenze who were on the other side enjoying quite a serious play fight. Rapsu later walked towards a wild bull and to say greet to him. Kauro scratched his legs and trunk on a tree simultaneously which was quite funny to watch.
Ukame and Roi later browsed together. It was very hot and the elephants were sucking water from their stomach and splashing it on their bodies to cool down. This showed the keepers they felt very hot and they decided to walk them to the mud bath again to cool down and have another refreshing drink. From the mud bath they walked to the dust bath and started playing on the big pile of soil like Nursery babies again. When they walked back to the stockades in the afternoon they were accompanied by Siangiki and Laragai who came to their old stable, ate some browse that had been left there for any Ex Orphans that wanted it, before they walked off into the bush again.
17 January 2018
This morning Kauro was happily enjoying a pile of lucerne on his own. Dupotto on the other side was scratching her bottom vigorously trying to be rid of the insects that were annoying her. Barsilinga, Laragai, Kithaka and Siangiki came to join the dependent group after a long night browsing outside the compound on the hill behind. The orphans later walked to the water trough to drink water in preparation to leave for the bush. They met with a wild bull there and the wild bull was friendly enough for them to interact with him. Namalok was busy scratching his neck on the wall.
In the bush, Galla was busy browsing with his friends as they played. Namalok and Roi were browsing away from the rest of the group. Dupotto found herself alone and decided to walk towards her friends. Pare and Maramoja were standing under the shade from the hot sun. Later on, Ukame and Wanjala led the group to the mud bath for their milk.
After their noon mild bottles and a mud bath, all the orphans chose to keep themselves busy browsing despite the hot weather. Sapalan flapped his ears to keep cool whilst he browsed and Galla watched him. Naseku was browsing higher up the hill. Later on, the orphans walked back home in the evening for their milk.
Lenana passed by the stockade today with some wild bulls in hot pursuit as it seemed she was in season. Nasalot’s group also passed by and they drank some water and left. Nusu, Nasalot’s baby, was being very playful and charged around with her ears held wide and aloft, having a lot of fun with the keepers and the other orphans.
Later in the evening, Wendi’s group of Ex Orphans this time including Nasalot, Kinna and Sunyei with their babies and other nannies also arrived. They had some water and left not long after. Laragai arrived later in the evening with Siangiki, Sirimon, Sokotei, Boromoko and Enkikwe. They had some water then went into their old stockade, eating all the food inside before coming out again. Kilaguni started a serious play fight with Ololoo near the water trough and interacted with two wild babies who arrived for some water with their mother. Their mother just watched on and they later all walked back into the bush.
18 January 2018
Wendi’s group was waiting for the dependent orphans to be given lucerne so they could share. They all interacted and Wiva shared lucerne with Roi and later Wanjala; both were happy to share their food with the baby. Yatta also arrived with some of the Nannies in her herd, with Kinna and Sunyei and their babies Kama and Siku as well. The Keepers were very happy to watch all of the herds, dependent and those now living in the wild, all interacting together.
All the orphans browsed with intent concentration this morning. Kamok was stretching high to reach the green stuff as it is getting drier and drier. Galla was scratching his bottom and rolling on the ground while Dupotto was busy browsing alone .Pare was stretching high to reach some nice leaves while Sapalan was browsing off to the side as well.
At mud bath the orphans had their milk, except Sapalan who does not drink it any more. When the Keepers see Namalok coming they quickly open two bottles of milk and pour the contents into a bucket so that he can feed himself; he has never drunk from a bottle and is not about to start now, but he still enjoys the milk! They drank some water from the water trough next to the mud bath before they all piled in to enjoy a swim. Their swimming style is so funny at the moment because they all walk in one after another and swim as a little group altogether to the other side, where they get out and head straight to the dust bath. They played like Nursery elephants on the loose soil for a bit before walking to the bush to browse. Kinna and Wendi with their babies among some other nannies also visited the water hole briefly.
The orphans were very active this afternoon with Gala and Tusuja play fighting and kissing each other. The rest were busy browsing and later they came across a small pool of water and started playing in it. Kauro looked tired and was resting under some shade from the hot sun. The orphans later made their way back home in the evening for their milk.
In the stockade today we had Nasalot with her baby Nusu and two wild females as nannies. Nusu was so playful and was following the orphans, running behind them when they were going into their rooms. There was suddenly a huge commotion in the bush and lots of wild, loud trumpeting. We think this came from Lenana who is being pursued by some wild bulls as she is in season. Although we could not see them the trees were moving and we could hear a lot of crashing around amidst the trumpeting. Some wild elephants also came in with Nasalot, Yatta and Sunyei with their babies and other orphans. They drunk some water and left.
19 January 2018
Orwa’s group with Vuria, Bomani and Bongo decided to join the orphans in the morning. They drank water first and then moved to join their dependent friends in the lucerne feeding area. After a few minutes Laragai’s group came in and joined them. Now there was a big group present for the feeding. Pare started scratching his belly on the rock there. Bomani met with Gala and they started play fighting. The dependent orphans walk away from the other independent groups, leaving them behind still feeding.
Dupotto and Gala were both scratching their ears. Gala started play fighting again with Ukame. Pare and Sapalan browsed together while Roi and Tusuja were playing and kissing each other. Rapa was left behind and when he realised he ran towards the group in an excited trot, shaking his head and trumpeting. All the other elephants were happy and actively browsing. Dupotto was on her own browsing. The orphans later walked towards the mud bath for their milk.
They had their milk bottles as usual and then went to the water trough for some water. This is their routine because the keepers need them to move out of the way to feed the next group of 3 coming in for their milk. They decided to go into the mud wallow and again they did not all mess around, they chose instead to swim in a line to the other side. Ukame started scratching her trunk on a bent tree. The group got out of the water and went to dust bath to dry off. The orphans then walked over to the new mud bath area that was being created with a water bowser which is more shaded and under the trees. They started playing in this shallow mud hole again, before finally walking back out to the bush to browse. The orphans thought it was quite hot in the bush, despite having just come from the mud bath, and they hid themselves under the trees to hide from the hot sun. Later they started browsing until they came across a small pool of water and they splashed themselves to cool down again. Kamok was digging the ground near the waterhole as she played in it, seemingly wanting to make the mud hole bigger!
Wendi’s group came in with Kinna, Yatta, Nasalot and Mulika and all their babies. They drunk water and walked back out to the bush. Lenana also passed through with her wild boyfriends still chasing her. She looked tired and the Keepers felt for her but this is all a part of her wild life and moving forwards.
20 January 2018
The orphans met with a big group of Ex Orphans including Wendi, Yatta, Kinna, Nasalot, Mulika and Sunyei with their babies in the lucerne feeding area in the morning. Their babies were very active with Nusu being the most active and most playful one of all. He was climbing on Kama despite her being older than him. The orphans walked to the water trough to drink water to prepare themselves for a day in the bush. Before they walked away, Laragai’s group came running in for lucerne as they felt they were late. They interacted with their fellow Ex Orphans and the wild elephants present, and the dependent orphans walked out to browse. Three big wild bulls came to the stockade and they drank water and left.
The orphans browsed all morning, right up until Kamok led them to the mudbath for their milk. All the orphans got into the water hole and they swam along in a long line as one group. At the other end they got out and went to play on the soil pile before walking out to browse again.
In the bush Kamok was playing with a stick in her mouth whilst the others were busy browsing. Dupotto was browsing alone. It was very hot and most of the elephants went to hide under the shade of some trees. They later walk towards a small water pool along the road which they played in to cool down. They were all muddy and Wanjala was very busy scooping and tossing chunks of soil in the air and some on his back. The orphans later walked back home in the evening for their milk.
Nasalot came to the stockade today with her baby Nusu and a wild female Nanny who is helping to take care of him too. They were also with Loijuk. Lenana came in running through with her boyfriend’s pursuing her still and we noticed that Half Trunk was amongst them.
21 January 2018
It was a quiet morning today as the dependent orphans enjoyed their lucerne in peace without being pushed around by the older Ex Orphans. Galla was enjoying his bottom scratch with Rapa as well. Galla then he went to scratch his head and neck on the wall in the parking area. Galla didn’t stop there though and continued to enjoy his neck and trunk scratch in the bush. He was so enjoying the scratches as he was removing all the annoying insects biting and bothering him. Karisa was browsing with his ears open and flapping in the hot weather. Gala was stretching his trunk and play fighting with Ukame as they developed their close friendship. Dupotto was browsing alone while Gala and Ukame continued to browse together and we thought it was sweet how close they were becoming in the Reintegration Unit. Galla then led everyone towards the mud bath for their noon milk bottles. Here Galla continued his closeness to Ukame and the two started play fighting after having their milk.
Back in the bush, it was very hot and Kamok was sucking her trunk when standing under the shade. Karisa, Wanjala and Ukame were browsing together. Kamok was tired and was resting her trunk on Wanjala’s head which he was permitting. Dupotto and Ukame were resting under one tree while the rest stood under another one. When they felt it was a bit cooler all the orphans came out to browse and they came across a small water hole. They drank from it first and then started playing, so they did not get the nice fresh water all muddy and murky before drinking from it. They met with Laragai’s independent group at this small waterhole and the two started interacting each other. The orphans left them browsing as they were in no hurry but the dependent group had to head back to the stockades for the night.
In the stockades today we had a big group led by Wendi who came to drink water before going back out to the bush. They were together with Mulika, Yatta, Sunyei, Lualeni and Nasalot and all their babies. Galana had been missing from this group for the last 5 days or so but today she appeared with her baby Gawa. They were also accompanied by some wild bulls who were still interested in Lenana who was part of Galana’s group.
22 January 2018
Due to the current dry condition, the Ex Orphans are reporting on an almost daily basis. The number of wild elephants accompanying the Ex Orphans and those coming separately is also slowly on the rise. The dry season seems as if it is coming too soon compared to previous years, as it normally starts around February. Kauro started his day's activities by scratching on the nearby rocks as his friends began eating the lucerne the keepers were putting out for them. The juniors were then joined by some of the Ex Orphans and they didn’t stay long as the Ex Orphans took up so much space, and the dependent orphans were left with no choice but to try their luck in the bush.
The gentle Boromoko had a brief chat with Roi and we wondered if they were discussing how fast it is drying up in the area. For Roi life would be normal as being milk dependent, she would be getting her milk and in the evening she would be getting greens and lucerne pellets in the stockade as well, so she felt that everything would be fine for her. Boromoko is off milk and with the help of Laragai who opens the gate at night, he was at the stage where he was deciding if he should be independent or not, and now with the dry conditions he might decide to stay in the stockade area a little longer. Only time will tell what will happen as Garzi has already bid goodbye to stockade life and now has teamed up with his former friends Vuria and Narok. After taking their midday milk the orphans, led by Maramoja, jumped into the mud bath, where they enjoyed a cool-off exercise before heading for soil dusting. Naseku gave an outstanding performance in soil dusting as whilst her friends were just using their trunks to dust themselves, she climbed to the top of the pile of soil and started rolling down the side. Once she was through, Naseku stood up and picked up a stick that she used to scratch her chest again, showing off the intelligence of elephants and that they are capable of doing things that humans can do.
23 January 2018
Garzi, who left the life of a dependent orphans a few weeks ago, has now joined Narok’s group of Orwa, Bomani and Vuria. Bongo and Teleki who left with Narok and her friends at the same time, enjoy being in the company of the senior Ex Orphans these days. Narok and her team welcomed the juniors out from the stockade in the morning. Usually it is Laragai and her group that welcome the juniors in the morning. They always leave in the evening and return early the next morning but today they were not around yet. Two wild bulls reported for water. Maramoja, Pare and Dupotto went down to join one of the bulls to drink. As they shared water, one could see the thoughts going through their minds, as if they were wondering when it will get to a time when they will reach such a huge size! Pare shook his head as he returned back to his friends, wondering how long it will take to be a fully grown up elephant. Pare hoped the sooner the better! Shortly later, several Ex Orphans reported to the stockade and noticeable were the babies Kama, Yoyo, Nusu and Wiva. The flamboyant Kama tried to challenge Roi. Roi opted to tolerate the games since Kama's mum was close by and she didn't want to do anything which could invite the wrath of Kinna. Kama was upset because Roi didn't respond fully to her game. She later moved to try her luck on the quiet Kauro. Kauro didn't even try to do anything to Kama but continued with his business of feeding. The weather was chilly and gloomy and the orphans behaved like the weather. At mud bath time, only the hot tempered Ukame decided to wallow, the rest enjoyed a soil bath and nonchalantly threw soil on their backs. In the evening on the way back to stockades, the juniors were joined by Laragai and her rebel group who think they are all grown-ups, and can take care of themselves without the keepers anymore!
24 January 2018
A young wild bull in the company of two other wild elephants showed up at the stockade compound early before the orphans were let out. Soon after the juniors came out, the young bull joined the orphans to feed on lucerne, leaving his friends very confused as to why he would decide to join other elephants the same size but being herded by humans! The other two kept their distance but shortly later one of them appeared to embrace the spirit of sharing, and walked to the water trough to join Laragai, Maramoja and Rapa who were drinking water. Sapalan started walking towards the bulls leaving the keepers wondering what was going in between Sapalan and the wild ones. Sapalan appears to understand the elephant language the best, and kept approaching the bulls as they turned to move out; Sapalan followed them slowly. The keepers were devotedly watching this unfold, and they suddenly thought if they didn’t intervene then Sapalan would walk off with his new wild friends. The keepers took Sapalan and headed to the Kone area where the orphans settled to browse.
Galla, who is trying to establish himself as the kingpin amongst the milk dependent group, tried to challenge Naseku. Naseku opted to play a clever game by climbing up higher than where Galla was standing so he couldn’t reach her. This made Galla call off the strength testing exercise due to the fact that however much he tried, being on the lower end wouldn't earn him any points. At mud bath time, the orphans had spectacular wallowing with the exception of Dupotto, who skipped the exercise and instead opted for a soil dusting exercise. In the evening ten wild bulls reported for water at the stockade water troughs.
25 January 2018
On their night adventures, Laragai and her group came across Tumaren, Melia, Olare, Kitirua, Naisula, Kalama, Chemi Chemi, Chaimu, a wild orphan and Kilaguni. Shortly before dawn, the group walked back to the stockade compound where they decided to take a little nap before being joined by the juniors. Boromoko and Sirimon checked in later in the company of a wild bull. The wild bull settled for water as Sirimon stretched his trunk to the bulls mouth, enquiring which way they would go after drinking water. Sirimon and Boromoko, who have become good friends lately, are learning how to be big boys. Their friendship has been reinforced since they were the last to join Laragai’s independent group, and it appears that there is something they don't like about the group. Time will tell what it is that is bothering them! The bull left soon after drinking enough water and advised Sirimon that he was still young to go out with him, but from time to time he will be popping back to give him one or two lessons.
When the juniors were out Galla, who is growing fast, settled for a chat with Boromoko as he tried to find out what were his feelings were, given that he always spends the night out. The gentle Boromoko gave his answers as he took Galla into a series of pushing tactics that he would be using to attack his fellow boys. It appeared that Galla was enjoying the lessons and games and when the time comes, we think he would certainly love to join Boromoko in the wild. Later Galla tried to put into practice what he had learned from Boromoko on Tusuja, and attempted to climb on him. Tusuja didn't like it and turned to face Galla to see what his problem was. Galla stood his ground which seemed to inform Tusuja that he should watch this space and he was trying hard to be the most dominant male! The quiet Dupotto who keeps to herself and who never likes to be pushed settled for a soil dusting exercise, while the independent Sapalan settled in the valley enjoying a great variety of vegetation. On the way to the mud bath, the keepers realized that Sapalan was missing from the group. A search was quickly mounted and to the keeper’s surprise, he was still browsing in the valley, very unconcerned about what was going on around him. Sapalan weaned himself off milk the second day after arriving in Ithumba. So to him, nothing is special and he is giving signs that he can be on his own and he can survive without any problem. Later, it was realized that a short distance away four bulls were communicating with Sapalan, assuring him that all is well and if he wanted to he could join them too. It's only a matter of time before we think Sapalan will bid goodbye to the stockade life. Karisa used to behave the same way as Sapalan, but the only difference is that Karisa is still drinking. At the moment he has calmed down a lot, unlike before when he wanted to run off into the bush all the time. It was not long ago when Karisa ran off with Dupotto and Kelelari for close to three months! Karisa turned up in a group of Ex Orphans and rejoined the milk dependent group several metres from where he took off for his foray in the wild.
26 January 2018
Nasalot, baby Nusu, Meibai, Kilaguni, Chaimu together with Olare’s group brought Laragai and her group to the stockade in morning where they teamed up with the juniors to feed on the lucerne. Galla left the stockade with a branch in his mouth that he continued to chew as he waited for the keepers to provide the lucerne for them.
Shortly after the orphans had left for browsing, the senior Ex Orphans led by Yatta showed up at the stockade. Tomboi, the fifteen year old boy had an arrow injury at the right upper side of the back hip. The injury looked fresh, about two days old. Tomboi is one of the Ithumba old boys and came to Ithumba 18th June 2004 in the company of others including Wendi, Taita, Napasha. Treatment for Tomboi was organised by Nairobi HQ and the vet arrived in the evening. Tomboi was successfully treated and rejoined his friends after his ordeal. Nothing was found in the wound and it was suspected that Tomboi rubbed against a tree and the arrow came off.
Galla settled to browse with Dupotto and they shared stories of how life is treating them at Ithumba given that now it is the dry season and they would be forced to walk long distances in search of better browse. Dupotto agreed that life would be tough but to her it would not be worse than the one that she experienced in May last year when she went off wandering with Karisa and Kelelari before she was found and brought back to the safety of the stockade. She told Galla that now she has no intention of repeating the same mistake and she would wait until she is capable of dealing with life in the wild before she would try that again. Pare settled to browse with Wanjala and the story was the same about the drought. Pare wanted to know from Wanjala how to cope with the dry season since Wanjala has been at Ithumba for longer than him. The two boys played and tussled with each other. The senior Ex Orphans briefly joined the juniors at mud bath. In the afternoon, Kilaguni spent the remaining part of the day with the juniors and in the evening escorted them back to the stockade.
27 January 2018
The sky was partly covered by clouds in the morning when the orphans were let out. Outside the stockade, the orphans were joined by Orwa, Narok, Bomani, Vuria and Garzi who appeared to have been in the company of Laragai and her group the entire night. The herd settled for lucerne and after Narok led the way to the browsing field. Karisa and Rapa started their day activities by engaging in a soil dusting exercise, a game that also attracted Roi who joined them. Roi treated Karisa and Rapa as her younger brothers unlike Ukame, who tries to bully the young boys whenever they join her in whatever activity. If Roi stays like this she will grow up to be a very motherly elephant that will be mindful of her friends, although she still has got a long way to go and only time will tell. An hour after the orphans had left for browsing, Wendi, baby Wiva, Sunyei, baby Siku, Chyulu, Galana, baby Gawa, Kilabasi, Bongo and Tomboi reported at the stockade compound. Tomboi was looking fine after receiving treatment for his arrow wound yesterday.
Dupotto and Rapa boycotted the mud bath and opted instead for a soil dusting exercise. After mud bath, Narok and her group parted ways with the juniors. Garzi remained behind with the dependent orphans to share stories of how life has been treating him outside the stockades, and probably to find out whether any of them felt like joining him yet. In the evening, Garzi returned to the stockades where the dependent orphans went to bed and he met up with the rest of his friends, so it seems as if none of these dependent orphans are quite ready for life in the wild yet.
28 January 2018
Rapa woke up looking dull in the morning. When the keepers checked where he had been sleeping they found some loose stools with some small white worms as well. When the gates were opened for the juniors to come out, Rapa didn't go for lucerne but headed straight to the water trough where he joined Kilaguni to drink water. Kilaguni moved closer to Rapa and placed his trunk on him for comfort before wishing Rapa a quick recovery, as he could sense he was down.
The independent Sapalan separated himself from the rest of the group and spent awhile scratching his neck. Narok joined the juniors with Orwa, Vuria and Bomani, and settled to browse with Naseku and Tusuja. She had a lengthy chat with the two juniors as she tried to explain to them what was best for them during the dry period. Tusuja and Naseku could be seen copying what Narok was doing as far as picking the right vegetation is concerned. Kamok briefly joined Rapa who wasn't in a good mood and was feeding slowly. Kamok took Rapa for a soil dusting exercise to see if she could make him feel better but Rapa didn't feel up to it and stood watching what Kamok was doing. At mud bath time, the sun was really hot. The orphans headed for a drink of water as soon as they finished their milk and then jumped into the water to cool down. They all went to the soil to dry off where Sapalan emerged as the star of the soil dusting exercise by making sure that every part of his body was covered in red soil. In the afternoon, the temperature continued to skyrocket and this prompted Kauro and Rapa to look for a nice tree with shade. They settled to relax until the temperature dropped and they felt like browsing again. In the evening, Tomboi in the company of the Olare paid a visit to the stockade. Tomboi after getting treatment is now walking properly without limping. It is amazing to see how he stays around the stockades and is always looked after by a friend whilst he recovers – he knows he is safe here.
29 January 2018
For the second day running, Rapa had some discomfort in his stomach which made him to take just one bottle of milk even after being de-wormed. The other orphans seemed to understand that Rapa wasn't feeling well. The girls Roi, Naseku and Kamok all wished Rapa a quick recovery at different times by touching him whenever they passed close to him. Orwa, Narok, Vuria and Bomani who left the stockades in March last year joined the orphans briefly for lucerne after bringing Laragai and her group back in the morning. Shortly later, Mutara and her group checked in and joined the others for the lucerne. This is the only group so far now that has been left intact without any members trying to jump to another group. The other group that used to be glued together was Olare’s but these days it's slowly disintegrating because whenever they show up these days, several of the members are always missing and later show up in other groups. Mutara’s group is made up of girls with the exception of Kanjoro (Mutara, Suguta, Sities, Turkwel and Kainuk) so this might be why her group tends to stick together. In the near future, Kanjoro will quit the group and team up with other boys as bull elephants do. At the browsing field, the keepers could only pity Rapa because we have all felt ill at one time and they understand how much pain and discomfort one goes through before recovering. At mud bath time, the sun was really hot prompting all the orphans to jump into the water before even being coaxed to do so. Even our patient Rapa wasn't left behind and also got into the water to cool off since the scorching sun had become unbearable to him.
After mud bath, Wanjala opted to bully the quiet Sapalan by trying to ride on him. Sapalan bellowed loudly asking for help from his keepers. The keepers responded by shouting at Wanjala, something that made Sapalan happy since Wanjala stopped and walked away. Galla and Tusuja emerged as stars of the day for soil dusting as they tried to compete who amongst themselves knew best how to use their trunk to dust themselves. In the evening, the sun was still hot and so the orphans passed by the mud bath for a second cool-off exercise before returning to the stockades.
30 January 2018
Rapa was looking better in the morning after getting catasol and noroclave injections. Galla was the first one to leave the stockade holding a piece of branch in his mouth. Outside the stockade, Galla met with Chaimu and dropped the branch so as to challenge her. Instead of Chaimu defending herself, she decided to pick up the branch and enjoy a free treat instead. Galla didn’t want to wait for her to finish chewing the branch as he was desperate to wrestle with someone, so he settled on Kibo. Kibo had no time for such games as he was busy feeding on lucerne, which he knows very well he can’t find anywhere else. He pushed Galla away and continued enjoying his breakfast.
Out in the bush Galla settled to feed with Tusuja and later saw Pare passing close to them. Galla decided to show Pare who was boss by throwing himself on his back to ride on him. Pare managed to shake himself from Galla and moved away. Laragai and her group left with Kibo and only reported back to the stockade late in the evening. The rest of the day for the orphans was quiet as they concentrated on browsing without much fun and games.
31 January 2018
The sky was partly covered by clouds but there was an indication that the day a head would be a hot one. Rapa who has had stomach problems over the last few days is slowly recovering, and drank all his milk. Maramoja was the first one to leave the stockade, followed by Pare. Rapa was the last one to leave since he didn't want to compete with his healthy friends as he knew that if he did, Maramoja, who bullies him from time to time would take advantage of him not feeling very well. The orphans were joined by Yatta and her group outside the stockade. The herd shared lucerne together and thereafter parted ways. The playful Kama tried to play with Kauro but Kauro didn't feel like entertaining the rascal and slapped her away with his trunk. Kama wondered how such a big boy could slap a baby like her away instead of showing her any love. But what Kama forgot was that boys will always be boys and they don't have the same maternal instincts, and she should be more careful when around the young bulls.
Laragai and her group left with Yatta’s group as Ukame led the juniors to Kone area where the orphans settled to browse. At mud bath time, Ukame led the orphans to mud bath and then to soil dust. Ukame, who is very active, looks like she might be the next group leader as Laragai and Siangiki are less dependent on their human family these days. In the absence of Boromoko and Lemoyian at mud bath, Galla and Tusuja appeared to be slowly inheriting their shoes as far as riding on their friends is concerned. Tusuja enjoyed riding on Maramoja as they waded through the water. In the afternoon, Galla and Tusuja engaged in a strength testing exercise in an effort to try and establish who would inherit the dominance role among the group, but their game ended in a draw.