Keepers' Diaries, January 2020

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Ithumba Reintegration Unit

Kinna with Kama and the other ex-orphans Loijuk, baby Lili, Ishanga, Makireti, Kilabasi and Ithumba who had shown up towards the end of December again, stuck around for the first few days of the month. They then disappeared on the 5th, for some reason leaving ten year old Ishanga behind! Ishanga stayed with the Ithumba dependent orphans until the 17th when the ex-orphans returned to collect their friend. 

Every day up until then Ishanga would willingly follow the dependent orphans and Keepers out to browse, returning with them in the evening to sleep outside the compound until the orphans came out of their rooms again in the morning. She did this every day until her friends returned and that same morning, she was off with them back out into the bush; it was amazing once again to see how easily our orphans can adapt back into their old routine, never forgetting any stage of their young lives. 

When the ex-orphans returned Yatta’s herd stayed around the stockade area for the rest of the month, as some of the females, including Yatta, were seemingly in season and they had attracted several handsome wild admirers who proceeded to follow their every move. Yatta kept up a game of hide and seek with the bulls, trying to evade their advances and hide with the dependent orphans and the Keepers, perhaps because her youngest calf Yoyo is only just two years old. Nasalot had a wild bull following her around as well, and to keep the Keepers safe she tried to keep away from them as he was quite aggressive. It was interesting and heart-warming to see how the dependent orphans were quite protective of the older females as well, especially Namalok. He, Wanjala and Tusuja all volunteered one day to try and keep a young bull away from Yatta by blocking him and coming in between him and Yatta, perhaps confident in the fact that the Keepers were around as well and would never let any harm befall them! 

As usual the dependent orphans love having the ex-orphans around as they can learn so much from them, but also have the opportunity to play with their young babies as well. Kama got into trouble with Tusuja one day however when she tried to challenge him. Tusuja used all his energy to make sure that he had taught Kama a lesson! The young girls however love doting on the little babies, and Naseku and Roi happily took on the roles of ‘nanny’ to baby Lili.

Barsilinga also stayed with the dependent orphans this month. He too was left behind by his friends Kithaka, Lemoyian, Turkwel and Garzi close to three weeks ago now, but he seemed quite at home in their company. Sometimes he would wander off in the day to browse on his own, but he would always make his own way back to the stockades in the evening. When it grew cold and rainy towards the end of the month, he chose to stay with the junior orphans most of the time, seeking their company and warmth. On these very cold days, the whole herd stuck together for warmth, and browsed as one tight-knit group. With all the rain around on some days the orphans had to have their noon milk feed at the stockade compound instead of the mud bath, as the road was impassable and very slippery for the vehicles. On those mornings the orphans were rather reluctant to leave their covered night stockades as well, and they had to summon the courage after having their milk bottles to walk out into the rain. They used to have to walk out very carefully as well to avoid slipping over, but Ndiwa was unfortunate one day and despite being very careful she slipped over on her bottom. She composed herself quickly though and stood up fast, hoping that no one might have seen her fall. Elephants do get embarrassed as they never like to lose face!

Without doubt the most energetic bulls in the herd are Tusuja and Mundusi, but Barsilinga, being the oldest bull in the herd at the moment, sometimes likes to make sure they remember that, and we spot him asserting his authority amongst the other bulls by interrupting their wrestling games. Nevertheless Tusuja and Mundusi never miss an opportunity to play, and are often the two orphans fully engaged in a pushing game of some kind, and are always the last ones to come out of the mud bath as well as they love to swim. They have to watch who they pick for a wrestling match however, as older bulls like Olsekki and Sapalan don’t like being undermined! Wanjala is another good play mate of theirs. Sometimes Roi is willing to play with them too, but when they get too rough she is the first to step in, like when Wanjala was trying to play with Ndiwa one day and she kept running away from him. Roi came running over when she heard Ndiwa yelling for help, and Wanjala walked off the other way pretending nothing was happening.

Ambo and Olsekki seem to be quite close at the moment and are often spotted browsing together, and sometimes both boycott the mud bath as well, even when everyone else is swimming. Olsekki gave us scare, developing stiff front legs which impaired his walking, but thankfully he is back to his old self. Karisa has really improved this month as well, and seems to have all of his energy back. At the end of the month he, Kauro, Kamok, Oltaiyoni and Naseku managed to give the Keepers the slip as they were about to return home for the night, but they managed to find them happily browsing 1km away, seemingly unaware of the time, and walked them back home to rejoin their friends. 

January 2020 day to day

01 Jan

Ex-orphans Kinna, baby Kama, Loijuk, baby Lili, Ishanga, Makireti, Kilabasi and Ithumbah showed up early in the morning before the orphans were let out of their stockades. When the dependent orphans were let out by the Keepers, the ex-orphans interacted with them before they all left for browsing. Kama got into trouble with Tusuja when she tried to challenge him. Tusuja used all his energy to make sure that he had taught Kama a lesson. 

The ex-orphans remained together with the orphans until mud bath time when they parted ways. Kilabasi opted to stay with the juniors and later escorted them back to the stockades. Tusuja and Wanjala had an evening strength testing exercise. On the way back to the stockade, the orphans passed by the mud bath again where they had an evening cooling-off exercise.

Tusuja playing with Wanjala

Kilabasi at the stockade compound

Kinna browsing