We felt blessed to begin this New Year joined by Yatta’s entire ex-orphan herd, who remained in the area for the whole month. The Keepers and dependent-babies alike were thrilled every day they chose to visit. Sometimes the area in front of the Ithumba compound was filled with as many as 70 elephants – including Yatta’s herd, their fifteen wild-born babies, accompanied by some wild elephants. Fifteen-year-old Zurura visited a few times as well, and it was interesting to witness the reverence with which our young dependent babies, especially the bulls, have for their older male friend. Karisa was tackling age-mate Rapa one day when Zurura emerged from the thicket. As a sign of respect, the two boys stopped pushing each other when they saw the older bull approaching, and only resumed their game once Zurura disappeared from sight.
It was wet in the morning following light rain received overnight. The orphans left the stockade early as usual and headed to the browsing field to begin another new day in a new year. Mundusi welcomed the year in style by engaging Jotto in a strength testing exercise that was disrupted by Tusuja. Tusuja wanted to be the one playing with Mundusi but Mundusi refused, informing him that he was not the one chosen for this game. Tusuja quit and let the two boys have their pushing game in peace.
Tusuja then walked to join Ukame, Esampu, Kuishi and Mteto in a game of rolling on the wet soil. Barsilinga and Siangiki had a light pushing game as they discussed their own topics.
At mud bath time the temperature was only mild and not too hot, so the orphans decided to only have their milk bottles and some water without wallowing, before going back to browsing.
In the afternoon, Mundusi and Pare had a game of rolling on the ground. Galla, who was feeding close by, took advantage of Mundusi lying down to climb on him, as Kamok and Olsekki engaged in their usual pushing game that lasted for quite some time.
Ex-orphan bull Zurura was at the stockade compound in the morning. The orphans joined him soon after leaving the stockades and tried to find out where he had been all this time. Zurura didn't seem to respond but did lead them out to the browsing field, where they were joined by the other ex-orphans Yatta, Yetu, Yoyo, Wendi, Wema, Wiva, Sunyei, Siku, Kinna, Kama , Naserian, Lenana, Lapa, Vuria and two wild elephants. Mundusi had the opportunity to play with Siku which he really enjoyed. Later, Mundusi and Mteto ganged up against little Yoyo who threatened to push Mundusi. The ex-orphans parted ways with the orphans soon after mud bath time.
Olsekki, Tusuja, Kauro and Barsilinga left with the ex-orphans but returned two hours later. The afternoon was quiet as the orphans concentrated more on browsing. When it was time to return back to the stockades in the evening, Barsilinga, Enkikwe and Tusuja weren’t ready to go and managed to slip away and hide from the Keepers. The Keepers realized this as they were splitting the orphans up into manageable groups to go home. It isn’t the first time these orphans have dodged the Keepers to go their own way, which means they are slowly exploring the boundaries of their dependence; only time will tell when they are ready to become fully independent. They returned later in the night to be let in their stockade.
It was a misty morning when the orphans left the stockades today. Ambo headed straight to the water trough where he settled for water. Siangiki joined him to find out how his night had been. After making sure that all was good for Ambo, Siangiki left to attend to other issues.
Out in the bush, Ukame enjoyed peeling bark from a tree while Kamok enjoyed plucking leaves from the highest tree branches she came across. Esampu decided to scratch her buttocks on some rocks she found. Mapia and Rapa engaged each other in a pushing game in order to find out who was stronger than the other. At the end none emerged as the winner and they grew tired and quit the pushing game. Roi decided to take a break from feeding and relaxed on the ground but couldn't relax in peace as Oltaiyoni came and enjoyed scratching on Roi. Roi decided to give up trying to relax and perhaps try again later in the evening back at the stockade.
At mud bath time the orphans had their milk bottles and decided to wallow in the mud bath. After the orphans had enough of wallowing, they settled to browse a few meters from the water. A wild bull in musth emerged from the bushes and approached the orphans. There was excitement, trumpeting and bellowing from the orphans as they moved and surrounded the wild bull. The wild bull checked around but couldn't find any female in season and so he disappeared the same way he had come. The rest of the afternoon was quiet as the orphans concentrated more on browsing without any major distractions.
Soon after leaving the stockades this morning Karisa engaged Dololo in a pushing game. Sapalan, who was standing close by, didn’t understand why Karisa had picked on Dololo who is smaller and younger than him. According to Sapalan, Karisa ought to have picked on a boy his own size and strength. Sapalan then decided to confront Karisa and the confrontation ended up turning into a fight. Dololo tried to talk to his adopted elder brothers to try and make peace and stop the fight as he was not forced to play with Karisa and actually he didn’t mind. Sapalan understood what Dololo was saying and decided to bring the pushing to an end. It was sweet to notice that Sapalan obviously considered himself a protector of Dololo and that he could always call him if he needed him.
Ambo settled to browse with Naseku and later with Siangiki. The orphans were briefly joined by ex-orphans Yatta, Yetu, Yoyo, Kinna, Kama, Sunyei, Siku, Lenana, Lapa, Kitirua, Vuria, Wendi, Wiva, Wema, Naserian, Orwa and a wild bull. The ever-playful and charging Siku engaged Sana Sana in a pushing game but unfortunately lost the game to Sana Sana. The ex-orphans then left and walked off in a different location.
At mud bath time the orphans participated fully in the wallowing exercise soon after taking their milk bottles, and in the afternoon settled to browse along the slopes west of Ithumba Hill.
After the orphans left the stockade, Barsilinga, who had a slightly swollen foot, was checked over. Underneath the foot where he had previously suffered from a wound had completely sealed over, and we decided to wait for a few days to see if the swelling might go down.
The six, nearly seven, year old Ukame, who left with the ex-orphans yesterday, didn't come back and appears to have made her decision to become one of the many nannies to the wild born babies. The hot-tempered Ukame, who leads a quiet life and has never really had a close permanent friend, has made the decision to graduate to the ex-orphan herd. It will be interesting to see when she comes back with the ex-orphan herd, whether this is a temporary test to experience life outside the stockades, or if she has made a permanent decision of becoming wild again.
This morning the orphans enjoyed the cool weather and concentrated on browsing up to mud bath time when Sattao led the first group to the mud bath. The weather was still chilly and no orphans dared to step into the mud bath water. The boys kept themselves busy with pushing games as they waited for the Keepers to finish their lunch. Enkikwe played with Tusuja while Sattao settled on Jotto. Sapalan, who protected Dololo the other day from Karisa, decided to spar with him before being challenged by Namalok. Namalok dared Sapalan to engage him in such a tough pushing match but Sapalan didn't accept the offer and quietly slipped away, considering how he might take Namalok on later in the day.
In the afternoon the orphans settled to browse east of Ithumba Hill. The rest of the day was quiet as the orphans concentrated more on browsing.
The orphans headed straight out to browse soon after leaving the stockades today. Led by Karisa, the orphans settled to browse in the Kanziku area. Olsekki and his playmate Kamok took some time off from feeding to enjoy a strength testing exercise.
Jotto, who was feeding close to Rapa, inadvertently stepped back into an area that Rapa was feeding in. Jotto's action infuriated Rapa who lost his temper and decided to teach Jotto a lesson. Jotto saw what was about to happen as Rapa stopped feeding and turned to face him, but Jotto stood his ground and informed Rapa that he was no longer the boy he used to underestimate and he was more than ready for whatever he was going to bring. Rapa tried to push Jotto and Jotto pushed back. Mundusi was standing close by and Rapa must have thought he was laughing at him because he stopped attacking Jotto and decided to go for Mundusi instead. Mundusi tried to run but Rapa caught up with him and decided to start by climbing on his back, just to remind Mundusi that he was still more dominant than him.
Ambo decided to have fun by having a light strength testing exercise with Sattao. Siangiki was watching over him though, as she always has a close eye on Ambo, and decided to terminate their game by walking in-between them, informing the two boys that this was a time to browse and not to engage in activities that appear to be wasting time.
At mud bath time the orphans were joined by Yatta, Yoyo, Yetu, Kinna, Kama, Naserian and Vuria. Roi and Barsilinga had a light moment with Vuria entwining their trunks in greetings. The ex-orphans decided to go wallowing but the dependent orphans just stood at the edge looking like spectators in a football game.
When the ex-orphans got out of the water Mundusi wanted to play with Kama and Yoyo, but faced difficulties from big sister Yetu who kept on chasing him away from them. Shortly later, the ex-orphans left, probably to team up with the rest of their herd that didn't turn up for mud bath. Wendi, her baby Wema and a wild bull joined the orphans briefly before taking off again. Tusuja decided to go with them but later changed his mind and returned to join his friends on the way back to the stockades in the evening.
After the gates were opened for the orphans to come out, Ambo was the first one to step out, as usual, followed by Karisa. Ambo continued with his journey heading straight out to browse and walked quickly as if someone was calling him. The Keepers had to intervene by calling him to slow down.
Out in the bush, the orphans were joined by Wendi, Wema and a wild bull again. Roi decided to baby sit Wema while Wendi was around and she didn’t seem to mind at all – Wendi is always happy for a nanny to look after her babies! Wanjala took the opportunity to pose with baby Wema too. Shortly later, Wendi and her baby left to join her other ex-orphan friends who were somewhere out there in the bush.
At mud bath time nearly all the females from the ex-orphan herd showed up, but without the big boys. The ex orphans present were of course the matriarch Yatta, along with other mothers Kinna, Nasalot, Mulika, Wendi, Galana, Sunyei, Sidai, Lualeni, Loijuk, Lenana, Chyulu and all their babies, as well as Naserian, Vuria, Orwa, Kilabasi, Makireti, Kasigau, Teleki, Makena, Narok, Ithumbah, Ishanga, Olare, Kitirua, three wild elephants and the newest member of the herd, who happens to be none other than Ukame!
When the dependent orphans arrived for their noon bottle feed, there was trumpeting and rumbling and all sorts of ululating in excitement when Ukame was seen by her old friends. Ukame even requested for a bottle of milk but was offered water to which said no thank you after tasting it. After greetings with the dependent orphans, Ukame left to continue her new role and duty of being nanny to Lapa. After mud bath time, the Keepers thought that Ukame would change her mind and follow the dependent orphans after all, but she was totally unfazed and apparently very comfortable with her choice. Ukame left with the ex-orphans three days ago and appears to have made up her mind about going back to the wild. We wish her well as she leaves our care and explores this new life with the ex-orphan herd. We respect her choice and she is free to come back at any stage, but we hope that all will be well with Ukame. The question we ponder now is, who will be next in line to return back to the wild? Only time will be able to answer that question. The orphans settled to browse in Kone area and had a quiet afternoon, and in the evening they returned back to stockade for yet another night.
The ex-orphans led by Yatta were outside the stockade in the morning. After having their morning milk, the dependent orphans left the stockades and joined the ex-orphans. The entire herd settled to browse in Kone area. Kinna’s baby Kama engaged Siangiki in a pushing game while Sapalan played with Yoyo under close supervision from Yetu. An hour later, the ex-orphans left and wandered off into the Park. Tusuja decided to go with them as the idea of leaving and testing life in the wild seems to have caught up with him. Tusuja is the same age as Ukame, six going on seven years old, and he seems to want to follow in Ukame’s footsteps and make the same journey she did a few days ago.
It remains to be seen if Tusuja is just testing his time out in the wild with the ex-orphans, or if he has made a permanent decision to leave and going back into the wild. Bomani, who appears to have severed his close tie with Orwa at the moment, teamed up with Kasigau and remained behind with the dependent orphans. We are not sure why these two close friends are not speaking at the moment, but we hope they make up soon. Kasigau and Bomani escorted the orphans for their midday milk feed. The weather was chilly and only Kasigau decided to have a cooling-off exercise. The others drank some water then returned back to browsing. The afternoon was quiet as the orphans concentrated mostly on browsing without any major observation.
Tusuja, who left with the ex-orphans yesterday, was at the stockade compound early in the morning in the company of Bomani. Bomani, who seems to have severed links with Orwa and at one time was seen with Kasugai, may be talking to Tusuja so that together they can form their own boys club. It’s only a matter of time to know what the two boys are planning.
Soon, when the orphans left the stockades, Barsilinga had a strength testing exercise with Bomani and later this turned into a lengthy conversation. Perhaps Bomani wanted to find out why it is taking so long for Barsilinga to rejoin them in the wild again and he wants to encourage him to join him and Tusuja. We will have to wait and see what Barsilinga decides.
Out in the bush, Mundusi decided to challenge Namalok but ended up losing the challenge to Namalok. At mud bath time it was overcast and chilly and the orphans only had their milk and some water before going back to browsing. Olsekki, Tusuja and Mundusi joined a wild bull that had shown up at mud bath to drink water. The wild bull left immediately after taking enough water, while the three boys left to join their friends.
Sana Sana decided to teach Sattao some pushing skills by engaging him in a pushing game, while Esampu decided to keep herself busy by climbing on top of a soil heap to relax on it.
In the afternoon, the orphans settled to browse west of Ithumba Hill. In the evening, Tusuja refused to get into the stockade with his friends but followed Bomani out for another night out. Shortly before dark, Wendi and Wema accompanied by several wild elephant bulls checked in at the stockade compound and left immediately after taking water.
Soon after leaving the stockade Barsilinga engaged Bomani in a morning strength testing exercise again. Rapa settled to feed close to Kuishi and was seen engaging her in a serious conversation that was not revealed to anyone else. Shortly later, the two parted ways. Tusuja was back after another night out and joined his friends in browsing. Sapalan engaged his friend Namalok in a pushing game while Karisa and Mundusi had fun rolling on the ground.
At might bath time the weather was chilly and the orphans only had their milk bottles, some water and thereafter resumed browsing.
Gentle Jotto engaged Dololo in warm up exercise that was done in the form of a pushing game while Sana Sana did the same with Sattao. The afternoon was quiet and cold as everyone wondered how the weather has changed so much to be so chilly when normally this is a very hot time of year; right now it resembles the highlands around Ithumba Hill here! The orphans browsed calmly throughout the remaining part of the day.
In the evening Tusuja decided that he had enough of spending the night out when the rest of his friends are lying comfortably in their stockades, so tonight he decided to join them and left Bomani on his own outside.
It was a chilly morning again and one could have mistaken Ithumba for Mount Kenya or the Aberdares region with the mist covering the entire Ithumba Hill, and it was even drizzling. The orphans appear to be enjoying the cool weather though. Malima decided to have fun by rolling on the moist soil. Her game attracted Sapalan, Mteto and Malkia who joined her in rolling on the ground.
Jotto ran into trouble with Sapalan when he passed by and accidently stepped on Sapalan. Sapalan was mad at Jotto for disrespecting him and got up from rolling to go and deal with Jotto. Jotto stood his ground and the two boys had a rough pushing game that ended when Jotto opted to surrender.
Ambo and Sattao decided to practice what they had seen Sapalan and Jotto doing but they were disrupted by Siangiki who warned them not to continue fighting.
At mud bath time the weather didn't allow the orphans to go for a swim as it was still chilly. The orphans had their milk and some water before returning back to the browsing field.
In the afternoon, Olsekki and Bomani had pushing game that lasted for quite some time. Tusuja and Barsilinga, who didn't come for mud bath, decided to feed on their own and reported back early to feed close to the stockades, where they waited for the friends to come back so that they can go into the stockade together.
The highlands weather continued to be experienced at Ithumba as the orphans left for browsing in the morning. After walking for a short distance, the orphans came into contact with the ex-orphans, who they must have been communicating with. Roi, Naseku and Maramoja were happy to meet baby Cheka, the youngest baby at the moment. The three girls surrounded Cheka to practice how to be good nannies and future mothers by taking care of the little boy.
Half an hour later, the ex-orphans parted ways with juniors. Tusuja wasn't left behind but took off with the ex-orphans as he still seems at a crossroads of whether or not to remain as stockade-dependent or leave to start a new life back in the wild.
At mud bath time and the orphans’ noon milk feed it was still chilly, so the orphans only had their milk bottles without wallowing. They decided to go and play on the mounds of soil instead, before going back to browsing. The afternoon was a quiet one as the orphans concentrated more on browsing.
In the evening the ex-orphans passed through the stockade compound and the moment Tusuja saw his friends he decided to leave the ex-orphans and join the dependent orphans in the stockade for the night.
It was a quiet morning today. The dependent-orphans headed straight out to the browsing field soon after leaving the stockade. Kuishi and Ukame, who was visiting, started their activities by participating in a scratching exercise on some rocks they came across. The rest of the herd concentrated on browsing without any major distractions.
At mud bath time the cold weather had started to clear but it wasn't quite warm enough for the orphans to want to wallow. On the way to the mud bath, the orphans had been joined by Orwa and Bomani. It’s not clear how the two came together as they had been separated for some time, but we were glad to see the two friends together again. Tusuja and Barsilinga didn't come for mud bath but decided to stay back to continue with browsing.
Musiara and Sattao decided to engage each other in a strength testing exercise but Maramoja, who was close by and happens to be the main nanny to Musiara, stopped them from pushing one another as she knew that the pushing could end up in a proper fight and she didn't want her Musiara to get hurt.
Orwa and Kamok settled for soil dusting as Pare engaged Jotto in a pushing game. In the afternoon, the orphans settled to browse along the eastern slopes of Ithumba Hill. As the temperature went slightly up, Orwa, Sana Sana, Enkikwe and Bomani walked down and attended a roadside mud bath. The rest of the afternoon was quiet.
The orphans left the stockade compound early as usual and headed towards Kone dam where they settled to browse. The orphans were joined here by Orwa and Bomani again. Shortly later, Bomani engaged Olsekki in a strength testing exercise that attracted the other boys. Mapia settled to play with Rapa while Karisa played with Pare. Gentle Jotto played with Musiara as Esampu decided to play with Sattao.
Shortly before mud bath time the ex-orphans passed close by and Tusuja, still undecided, jumped onto the ex-orphan wagon and left with them.
On the way to the mud bath, Sattao managed to persuade Bomani to take him through some pushing lessons that he could happily apply when playing with his fellow boys. After mud bath time, the orphans headed south of the waterhole and had a quiet afternoon.
In the evening when the orphans returned back to the stockade compound, Namalok surprised everyone when he decided to walk straight past his stockade, following Bomani and Orwa. When the Keepers tried to call him to come back, Namalok increased his pace and even overtook Orwa and Bomani as if he knew where he was going. One would have thought that he was being called up ahead since he didn't even want to look back. He seems to want to try to be independent like his friend Tusuja, and it will be his first night outside the stockade compound in the company of Orwa and Bomani.
Tusuja and Namalok were back in the morning, this time accompanied by almost the entire group of ex-orphans. Shortly later, the ex-orphans left but Tusuja, Namalok and Bomani remained behind with the dependent orphans. For the past few days it seems as though Bomani has been wooing some of the dependent orphans to join him so that they can form a strong herd of their own. So far he has won the heart of Tusuja and Namalok and it’s not clear who will be next. If Bomani continues his stay with the dependent orphans, we are sure he will be able to harvest and convince a number of the dependent orphans who are around seven years old and ‘ripe’, wizened in their ways and ready to taste what it would be like to be wild again.
The orphans settled to browse in the Kone area again. Unbeknownst to the Keepers, Bomani continued with his underground campaign amongst the orphans and soon after mud bath time, Naseku, Kauro, Namalok, Wanjala and Oltaiyoni secretly left with Bomani. By the time the Keepers realized, it was too late. They tried to look for them within the area they were feeding but couldn't find then. As dark was fast approaching the Keepers couldn't go any further with their search and they returned back to the stockade compound, but later at nine o'clock, Oltaiyoni, Kauro, Namalok, Naseku and Wanjala, in the company of Bomani, arrived back safely at the compound, and were allowed in for the night. Bomani remained outside and waited to catch up with his growing team the next day.
The orphans left the stockade early as usual. It was a quiet morning and the orphans settled to browse in Kone area. Naseku decided to have fun by rolling on the ground while Mapia and Jotto tried to settle their differences through a pushing game. Bomani joined the orphans and later escorted them to the mud bath. Just as the orphans were finishing their milk bottles, Zurura emerged from the western side of the mud bath and settled for water. Tusuja spotted him and walked over to join him to drink water and have a talk before Zurura left him and joined the rest of the group. Shortly later, the entire herd of ex-orphans in Yatta’s herd, and their babies, showed up at the mud bath in the company of some wild elephants. Mteto, Naseku, Roi, Maramoja and Sana Sana decided to go and play with the wild born babies.
When it was time for them to leave, the ex-orphans left with Mteto, Namalok and Tusuja. The Keepers tried to call Mteto but Mteto would hear none of it as she was busy babysitting Cheka. What complicated matters more was the presence of the wild bulls who made it difficult for the Keepers to get close to Yatta’s herd and retrieve Mteto. Tusuja and Namalok, who have spent several nights out, were comfortable being with the ex-orphans, but Mteto had never spent the night out before and this made the Keepers a little worried about her. The Keepers hoped that the ex-orphans would drop her at the stockade compound later in the evening.
In the afternoon the orphans settled to browse along the western slopes of Ithumba Hill. As the temperature skyrocketed, the orphans returned back to the mud bath for a cool-off before resuming browsing. In the evening Siangiki, Sapalan, Dololo, Roi, Kauro and Wanjala dodged the Keepers on the way back to the stockades. The Keepers realized this when they were separating the group to get them back to the stockade in an orderly manner. A search was mounted and the missing six were located an hour later as they headed two kilometres north away from the stockades.
Later, as we all hoped, the ex-orphans passed by the stockade compound shortly before nine o'clock at night and Mteto was able to leave their company and rejoin her friends who were comfortably enjoying their night inside their stockade. After safely depositing Mteto home, the ex-orphans walked off into the night.
Mist partly covered the Ithumba Hill this morning as the orphans strolled nonchalantly out from their stockades. Ambo, who just walks in any direction that comes to mind, led the way out, heading south. Roi, who saw Ambo leaving, ran to catch up with him so as to make him slow down; with the speed he was walking at they would be at the mud bath area in about 15 minutes! After putting the brakes on Ambo, Roi decided to scratch her itchy ear against a nearby tree before starting to browse.
Bomani joined the orphans in Kone area and had a good time with them. When it was time to head to the mud bath, the older orphans were reluctant to follow and the Keepers decided to leave them behind to come at their own convenient pace. Kamok, Barsilinga, Wanjala, Roi, Kauro and Oltaiyoni arrived later, when the Keepers had finished their lunch and were getting ready for the second part of the day. The entire group then headed east of the mud bath and they all had a quiet afternoon.
In the evening, Yatta, leading a group of close to sixty elephants, a mixture of both wild and ex-orphans, showed up at the stockade compound. Noticeable were Ukame, Namalok and Tusuja who didn't bother to get close to the stockade gates, lest they be mistaken for trying to come back to the stockades. The three appear to have made their decision and would like to stay with the ex-orphan herd, certainly for the time being. Shortly later after drinking water, Yatta again led the way out, heading west as the entire herd followed behind her.
The morning started by treating Barsilinga. An abscess had developed on his problematic foot but this time behind the leg, just slightly higher above the foot, and it had opened up. We cleaned the area well and applied green clay. We hope this will be the end of his foot problems and are sure this was whatever has been bothering him finally being expelled from his leg. Zurura made a brief visit in the morning before disappearing off again.
Out in the bush, Malkia teamed up with Kuishi and Sattao to browse. Shortly later, Malkia requested Sattao to give them space so that they can have a girl to girl talk with Kuishi. Sattao moved further away and let the girls have their conversation. Later, Kuishi took the conversation over to Maramoja, but it appeared that Maramoja wasn't interested as she didn't pay attention to what Kuishi was telling her.
At mud bath time the orphans participated fully in the wallowing exercise, with the exception of Ambo and Jotto who boycotted a swim. Ambo and Jotto went to relax under a tree instead, where they kept themselves busy by having a light pushing game.
After their mud bath, some of the orphans opted for a soil dusting exercise while others headed straight back out to browse. Enkikwe, who has become quite close to Barsilinga recently, perhaps as they both have problems with their legs, came together with him for their milk after all their friends had left for browsing. In the afternoon, the orphans in the company of Orwa and Bomani settled to browse along the western slopes of the Ithumba Hill. In the evening the temperature soared, making the orphans decide to pass by the mud bath again for an evening cool-off.
Barsilinga and Enkikwe received their treatments on their foot and leg respectively in the morning. The rest of the herd walked straight out to browse where after sometime, Musiara had a game of rolling on the ground under the watchful eye of elder adopted sister Maramoja.
Naseku and Mundusi came across a heap of soil that they used to slide down and play on. After the two had enough of playing, they put their heads together to decide what to do next. It appears that there was a disagreement because Naseku shook her head and left.
Orwa and Bomani joined the orphans in Kone area with Olsekki welcoming Orwa through a pushing game. Later, the two boys joined Ambo to drink water.
At mud bath time, a wild herd consisting of a mother and her children, about four of them, two boys and two girls, disrupted the peace amongst the orphans. The wild herd was trumpeting and charging trying to scare anyone in sight, including the orphans. Finally, the group left after the orphans left the mud bath due to threats from the wild herd. The Keepers directed the orphans in the best and safest direction to take.
In the evening, the sun was getting hot and the orphans opted to pay a visit to the mud bath where they had an evening cooling-off exercise. After wallowing, the orphans were joined by Nasalot, baby Nusu and a wild bull, which meant that the rest of the ex-orphans were not far away.
On the way back to the stockades, Jotto, Barsilinga, Enkikwe and Rapa decided not to go back with the rest of the group and sneaked off, only for the Keepers to realize later that the four boys had dodged them. A search was mounted as the rest of the group was taken back to the stockades. The four missing boys were found feeding close to the mud bath area, completely unfazed about what time it was; without wasting any time the Keepers directed them back to the stockade compound for the night.
The orphans left the stockades early as usual, soon after finishing their milk. Barsilinga settled to scratch on the nearby rocks before following his friends who headed north east of the stockade. It was a morning with fewer activities as the orphans concentrated mostly on browsing.
Later, the orphans met with ex-orphans Nasalot, Nusu, Zurura, Orwa and Bomani. The sighting of Nasalot, Nusu and Zurura was an indicator that the rest of ex-orphans were not far away in the area.
Towards mud bath time it appeared that there was some communication going on between Teleki and some of our dependent-boys as he tried to direct them to where they would find him. As the Keepers gathered the orphans to take them for their noon bottles, they were surprised to find out that several orphans were missing, yet they were with them in less than half an hour ago! Rapa, Karisa, Kauro, Sapalan, Olsekki, Siangiki and Malima were missing and the Keepers started the search knowing that the missing ones were definitely coaxed by the ex-orphans to join them. Their search came to an end when they finally located them with Teleki, who was leading them heading further north. The Keepers called them and turned them back towards the mud bath to have their milk bottles. Teleki decided to accompany them as apparently he wanted to see if he could succeed in getting them back again! Teleki tried but the Keepers were too aware now, and kept a keen eye on the baby-stealer Teleki. When Teleki saw that his mission was thwarted, he decided to leave and probably try his luck next time, whenever the opportunity might present itself.
Soon after leaving the stockade, Kuishi had a light pushing game with Olsekki. Shortly later, the dependent-orphans left for browsing. It was a day without much activity or drama as all the orphans behaved well throughout the entire morning session.
Orwa and Bomani joined the orphans out in the bush and later escorted them to the mud bath. Ambo boycotted the wallowing exercise and walked away to wait for his friends under a tree. After mud bath time, the orphans had a lot of fun on the piles of soil next to the water, rolling around and dusting themselves and changing their colour from grey to red; one would have mistaken them for moving ant hills in the bush.
Enkikwe picked a fight with Kamok just to show her that despite his bad leg, he can still defend himself. The afternoon was quiet as the orphans concentrated mostly on browsing throughout the remaining part of the day.
The orphans headed straight out to browse soon after leaving the stockade compound. Shortly later, the ex-orphans showed up with several bulls among them. After drinking enough water the ex-orphans left again.
The dependent orphans settled to browse north east of the stockades as they slowly headed for mud bath. The vegetation is now changing colour from green to yellow which is an indication that we are slowly easing our way into the dry season. This coming dry season is the shortest one in the year as it lasts for about two months or so, before the rains come in late March or April. We hope that it will be less than two months this year as well, as we have experienced good rains these last couple of years and we hope that 2021 will be the same! This is a blessing for Ithumba as it hasn’t become extremely dry for a couple of years now.
Towards mud bath time the weather changed to be slightly colder and we had a very short rain shower. The orphans didn't dare to step into the mud bathing water though. Malima and Dololo had fun pushing one another.
Siangiki, Olsekki, Rapa, Barsilinga and Oltaiyoni didn't even come for mud bath as they saw it as a waste of time and decided to stay back to continue browsing, given that it was the perfect weather for it. They later joined their friends on the way back to the stockades in the evening. It remains to be seen what will be their next step because this particular group with Kauro and Galla always display reluctance to come back to the stockades in the evenings.
Mulika and her youngest baby Mkuu in the company of nine wild bulls showed up at the stockades today. One of the bulls was in musth and was in hot pursuit of Mulika, evidently in season, as the eight other bulls hung around to try their luck too. The eight bulls couldn’t get close to Mulika as the bull in musth was so aggressive and kept on chasing them away. When Mulika and her baby left, the bulls followed and it’s not clear if they managed to succeed with Mulika, who already has two babies, or not. We will just have to wait and see if a new baby comes along in about 23 months!
Bomani, who spent the night just outside the stockade compound, joined the orphans soon after they were let out. Barsilinga, who is getting better with each passing day, settled for a pushing game with Bomani. During their game, perhaps Bomani wanted to find out from Barsilinga when he might feel ready to rejoin his older friends, as Orwa seems to have abandoned him for the time being. He is always on and off in their relationship. We are sure Barsilinga didn't have an answer for him though.
Karisa had a private talk with Mteto while Sattao decided to learn one or two pushing techniques from Pare by engaging him in a strength testing exercise. Mapia enjoyed his own exercise by lifting logs of wood and tossing them aside with his trunk.
The ex-orphans led by Yatta passed by the stockade compound heading east. Later Mulika and Mkuu, in a convoy of wild bulls, also passed by the stockade compound following the direction taken by Yatta.
At mud bath time the weather was chilly and none of the orphans participated in wallowing. The orphans participated in soil dusting instead and thereafter returned back to browsing. The afternoon was quiet as the orphans concentrated more on browsing.
Late in the evening Tusuja in the company of two wild bulls showed up at the stockades. Tusuja didn't even bother to look at the stockades, even after the gate was opened to allow him in. In fact, he walked off further away to avoid being bundled into the stockade by the Keepers. He later left with the bulls.
Bomani and Tusuja walked to meet the dependent orphans soon after they were let out. Last night Tusuja passed by the stockade compound in the company of two wild bulls and left with them to wander off into the bush. It appears that on the way Tusuja happened across Bomani who was on his own. Bomani managed to convince Tusuja to stay with him, instead of following the wild bulls. Tusuja accepted and that's how it came to be that they were together in the morning to meet up with the orphans.
Barsilinga enjoyed a morning greeting with Bomani through a pushing game. Tusuja stood facing the two boys as if he was the referee officiating the game. Shortly later the three boys walked together out to the bush.
Out in the bush Wanjala engaged Tusuja in conversation, perhaps trying to find out where he had been for the past few days and what it was like out there in the wild. Tusuja was brief in his response as in less than two minutes he walked away from Wanjala to have a word with Siangiki, and later settled to browse with Mundusi.
At mud bath time the temperature was moderate with Musiara, Tusuja and Bomani opting to spoil themselves by playing in the water. The rest of the orphan herd opted for a soil dusting exercise before heading back out to browse. In the afternoon, Malima came across a nice rock that she used to scratch on. Tusuja decided to spend the night in the stockades with his friends today.
The sky was partly covered by clouds when the orphans left in the morning. The orphans were joined by Orwa and Bomani and settled to browse in the Kone area. A group of ex-orphans passed by and Tusuja, who is still confused which side he should be on, joined them and left, only to appear later in the evening at the stockades to join his friends.
At mud bath time the orphans were joined by ex-orphans Sidai, baby Sita, Nasalot, baby Nusu, Ishanga, Teleki and a wild elephant. Mteto, Maramoja and Mundusi tried to persuade Sita to play with them but she totally refused and stayed close to her mother. Mundusi left to play with Nusu who was ready for a pushing game. Esampu had fun rolling on the heap of red soil at the mud bath. Later, the ex-orphans parted ways with orphans and the dependent orphans chose to browse along the slopes of Ithumba Hill.
In the evening on the way back to the stockades, Rapa and Kauro dodged the Keepers as they didn't want to return home early. The two boys returned back to the stockades about an hour after their friends.
The bulls were in a playful mood this morning. Jotto engaged Karisa in a pushing game in what appeared to be settling old differences. Mapia settled to play with Mundusi, a game that later ended in a draw. Later Kamok led the girls Malima and Esampu in some scratching exercises that were done on nearby rocks as Jotto moved to play with Pare. Their game ended when Pare attempted to ride on Jotto in an attempt to show off his dominance over Jotto.
A troop of chattering baboons passed close by which at first scared the orphans. Kuishi, Sattao and Mteto ran towards the Keepers for safety, before gaining courage to turn and charge at the baboons. The orphans settled to browse in the Kone area close to the Kone dam where they were joined by Bomani who started his day by engaging Olsekki in a pushing game.
The temperature was moderate but none of the orphans participated in wallowing.
In the afternoon the orphans settled to browse along the lower Kalovoto River where some orphans took advantage of messing around with their Keepers. Siangiki, Olsekki, Oltaiyoni, Tusuja, Rapa, Mteto, Esampu, Enkikwe, Naseku, Wanjala, Galla and Kauro sneaked away quietly, leaving the rest of group browsing close to the Keepers. The small group knew very well that with most of their friends browsing close to their Keepers, this gave them the cover and advantage they needed to escape without raising any suspicion. The surprise came to the Keepers when it was time to round everyone up to return back to the stockades for the night. They found several orphans were missing, including Esampu who had never dodged the Keepers before! For the rest it is quite normal now and at one time or other they have managed to sneak away from the Keepers. One of the notorious ones who never misses out on sneaking away, given the opportunity, is Rapa, and it remains to be established whether he is the mastermind of these games or it so happens that he is just always a member to the discussions of when to give the Keepers a hard time. It wasn't until a few minutes to nine at night when Enkikwe arrived with the first group of Esampu and Mteto. Later at nine, the remainder led by Naseku arrived safely and were ushered in their stockade for the night.
Ambo woke up in a playful mood expressed by the swinging of his trunk as he hurriedly headed for browsing. Ambo decided to have a stretching exercise before starting to browse though, and later settled to have a light pushing game with Olsekki. Olsekki didn't play hard with him as he understands that Ambo is still a baby and doesn’t match his strength. Kauro was standing close by and chose to spoil their game as he came and started pushing Olsekki away from Ambo. He wanted Olsekki to stop playing with the young ones and instead test his strength against his age mates and his equals. Olsekki stopped playing with Ambo and took on Kauro in a fierce sparring session. Ambo didn’t seem to mind and left the two boys dueling as he headed for a scratching exercise, and then got busy with browsing.
Karisa tackled Rapa in a pushing game as ex-orphan bull Zurura emerged from the thickets. The two boys stopped pushing each other when they saw Zurura approaching, as a sign of respect. The two boys resumed their game only after Zurura disappeared from their sight.
At mud bath time it was quite hot and the orphans accepted to have a wallowing exercise before settling into a soil dusting exercise. Ambo and Tusuja joined a wild bull who showed up at the mud bath to drink water. Shortly later, ex-orphan Challa came and joined the dependent orphans still wallowing. In the afternoon, the orphans settled to browse west of the Ithumba Hill and in the evening returned safely back to the stockades, without anyone dodging the Keepers tonight!
Mutara, Sities, Suguta, Kainuk, Turkwel, Lemoyian, Kithaka, Garzi, Kilaguni and Kibo arrived early before dawn and waited for day break to join the juniors. The arrival of Mutara’s herd, who have been away for nearly two months now, meant the Keepers had to be extra careful because this is the group that can easily leave with Dololo and other young babies if they wished to! They are so besotted with them and are expert baby-snatchers.
When the orphans were let out of their stockades in the morning there was so much excitement - trumpeting, bellowing and even urination as the big girls searched for Dololo, Sattao and Musiara. As soon as they found them the excitement subsided as they concentrated on getting reports from the babies about how life has been since they have been away. The ex-orphans then led the way out to the browsing field where they spent most of their time browsing with Dololo.
Bomani decided to play with Garzi while Enkikwe settled to play with Lemoyian. A wild bull joined the orphans before mud bath time but left immediately after seeing the Keepers. The orphans had their noon milk feed before the ex-orphans from Yatta’s herd and some wild elephants started streaming in. It was as if they had decided to meet up at the mud bath today. There was so much excitement as all the groups met but there was also angst amongst the Keepers as they feared losing some of the youngsters in the foray. It’s always difficult for them to retrieve the babies from the ex-orphans once they have absconded with them!
There was a startling total of one hundred and twenty elephants present at the mud bath before the Keepers started calling the dependent orphans to continue browsing for the rest of the afternoon. Mutara and her group split from the senior ex-orphans and wild elephants and opted to follow the dependent orphans. Later in the evening, Mutara and her group escorted the orphans back to the stockades for the night.
The ex-orphans were at the stockades in the morning and joined the dependent orphans briefly before parting ways. The dependent orphans settled to browse in the Kone area where Mapia teamed up with Malima in a brief discussion, but of course we didn’t know what it was about. It was a quiet morning with moderate temperatures and the orphans enjoyed each moment as they moved about freely in the thick bushes.
At mud bath time no wild visitors showed up. The orphans had their milk bottles and then some water before briefly going to enjoy a soil dusting exercise and then going back out to the bush to browse. The afternoon was also quiet as the orphans settled to browse west of Ithumba Hill without any major observations for the rest of the day.
It was a chilly morning today. Mutara’s group was waiting outside the stockades to whisk Dololo and his friends away but the Keepers remained vigilant and wouldn't allow that to happen. The Keepers led the orphans towards the Kone area as Mutara and her group followed.
Bomani and Barsilinga had a warm up exercise that was done through a pushing game. Their warm up exercise attracted Karisa and Sapalan who started their own game. Suguta made sure that she walked beside Dololo so as not to lose him to the other girls, all lining up to keep Dololo company. Later Rapa had brief chat with Malima which resulted in a pushing game due to a disagreement that seemed to arise during their conversation. Sapalan disrupted the pushing game as he wanted to wrestle with Rapa himself. Rapa didn't respond but turned to attack Sapalan who was fully prepared for any eventualities since he expected Rapa to protest by retaliating.
When the orphans reached the mud bath around 11am the temperature was moderate and the orphans decided to boycott the wallowing exercise. Barsilinga and Bomani came later but this is when the drama started. Despite not having milk for some time now, Bomani protested to the Keepers for failing to offer him any milk, yet he had accompanied Barsilinga to the mud bath who was getting some, and they are almost the same age and size (Barsilinga is still on milk in order to receive treatment for his foot injury). When Bomani realised that the Keepers were not going to give him any milk he protested by turning and trying to take away a bottle of milk that Barsilinga was guzzling down. Barsilinga certainly wouldn’t allow Bomani to take any of his milk and asked the Keepers to keep away his troublesome friend away until he finished. The Keepers acted quickly by trying to keep Bomani away from Barsilinga until he finished.
The afternoon was quiet as the Keepers kept a keen eye on Mutara’s herd whose mission was almost certainly to try and snatch some of the dependent babies as they love them so much. The day ended well with all orphans accounted for back at the stockade compound in the evening.
Mutara and her herd joined the orphans out in the bush this morning. Later, Rapsu, who had been away for some time and was last seen in October last year, showed up at the stockade compound. He has a broken tusk and we’re not sure how he might have done that. Elephants often break their tusks in different ways perhaps digging, pushing something or in a fight.
The orphans had settled in Kone area where Mutara and her herd decided to take a cold bath in the dam. They tried to entice the dependent orphans in to join them but they wouldn’t accept as it was too early for them to get into a cold body of water.
At eleven o'clock in the morning the orphans had their milk bottles and as they were discussing which way to go next, the senior ex-orphans accompanied by some wild bulls showed up at the mud bath and disrupted the orphans’ plans. Naseku, Roi, Maramoja, Malkia and Oltaiyoni quit the discussion and moved at a quick pace to go and spend time with the wild born babies. Therefore the discussions came to an abrupt end making each orphan to go in different directions. This gave the Keepers a hard time trying to get their babies from the ex-orphans. In the end, the ex-orphans managed to go with Jotto, Enkikwe, Oltaiyoni and Ambo. The keepers tried to follow but it proved hard because one of the wild bulls that was in musth kept on charging at them. Lucky enough, the ex-orphans passed by the stockade compound at around four o'clock in the evening and dropped off Enkikwe, Jotto, Oltaiyoni and Ambo. Oltaiyoni was guarding Ambo since she knew very well that it was so easy for Ambo to follow the ex-orphans to wherever they were going and not return back. After drinking some water, the ex-orphans left in the company of the wild bulls heading in the direction of Kalovoto.