Again, very evident in this month’s Diary is how Nasalot has taken little Orok into her big elephant heart, so he has, indeed, found a new “mother” and could not be happier or more pampered. Always close to Nasalot and Orok is Sidai, Orok’s best Nursery friend,, who likewise has settled in happily and enjoys the special protection of Nasalot. Sidai is now in fine fettle which is so rewarding when one recalls that she literally almost died twice from advanced milk deprivation and subsequent malnutrition upon arrival in the Nursery, and had to be revived by an intravenous drip in an ear vein. Seeing her now, it is difficult to recollect the pathetic, emaciated baby that we so nearly lost in the Nursery and who came in looking like a hat-wrack! It is also rewarding to note that Challa is now happily established in his new home, and has formed a strong bond of friendship with Madiba. One day, when feeding close together, as they often do, these two young bulls had a scary moment when a tree hyrax dropped out of the tree that they were feeding on, falling, in betweens them! This sent both racing back to their Keepers, in fully cry, but having calmed down, they plucked up courage to go in search of the intruder who, of course, had long since vanished.
A lone wild dog who came to the Stockade water trough to drink one morning likewise put the fear of God in all the orphans, until the Keepers had calmed them down. Then some noisy baboons made the youngsters nervous, so all the older elephants retaliated by charging the baboons but were thwarted when the quarry took to the trees! As always dikdiks have been fair game, even for the youngsters.
As usual, extravert Wendi is recorded as being up to all her “showing off tricks” in the Diary whenever there is a visiting audience. She and Sunyei remain good friends, and view themselves as Junior Matriarchs, Sunyei always eager to lead the younger set, and usually the one that loves the mudbath, even in cool weather.
As usual, the little bulls have enjoyed their dominance pushing bouts, Taita and Tomboi major players in this activity, but Buchuma putting up a courageous challenge to the bigger boys. He and Ndomot are old Nursery “pushing opponents” from their Nursery days, and continue to be so at their new home in Ithumba. Napasha, who is the oldest “Big Boy” again is often recorded as interrupting pushing bouts amongst his junior peers, and has obviously learnt that he has to respect the older females, resisting retaliating against Kinna, who snatched a branch he had acquired for himself. Any loser of these pushing contests can always seek the protection of the older females, and often do so. The older females, especially Yatta and Nasalot also ensure that the babies of the group are kept well supplied with branches which the older elephants reach up and pull down for them. Therefore, at Ithumba, no-one goes hungry, for the vegetation is varied and dense so all are a picture of health, and could not be more content.
A highlight in the Diary is the visit to what the Keepers have named “The Imenti Waterhole”, a large natural pool of rain-water where many wild herds come to drink, so named by the Keepers in honour of 12 year old “Imenti” who is now with the wild herds, and who was the pioneer orphan of the Northern Area. The orphans were very excited to be taken to this waterhole by their Keepers, where Yatta and Mulika and the older elephants investigated the fresh signs of wild elephants very carefully, circling the waterhole. However, most of the wild elephants of the North, who remember the terrible poaching of the 70’s, 80’s and early 90’s still drink mainly at night, so no wild contact was made. Nevertheless, it was obviously a thrill, especially for the older females, to make contact by scent. All enjoyed being able to immerse themselves entirely in this large pool, especially Orok, Sidai, Buchuma, Madiba and Sunyei, so much so that they were reluctant to leave, and when they passed by it again on the way back to the Stockades in the evening, they could not resist going in for a second time. Whilst this natural depression still holds water, the Keepers have been given instructions from Nairobi to take the orphans there weekly from now on, the only downside being that its location entails quite a long walk for the elephants’ human family!