Keepers' Diaries, July 2006

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

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.

01 July 2006

It was a cool drizzly morning, which made the orphans very playful. Once out in the feeding fields, Sidai, Orok, Naserian and Nasalot enjoyed a dustbath, Orok being dusted by Nasalot, who loves him most. When it was time for the mudbath, Challa took the lead, but only Sunyei went into the water, it being too cold for the liking of the others

02 July 2006

As soon as the orphans were let out of their Night Stockade in the morning, the big ones sandwiched Orok between them, all wanting to be closest to escort him to the water trough to take a drink. However, Nasalot, who is very possessive of Orok, had a tough job warding them off. At the water trough a tough fight broke out between Buchuma and Tomboi, Tomboi having pushed Buchuma away from the water. Kinna immediately sorted it out. All enjoyed the mudbath today because it was much warmer, Napasha, Orok, Sidai, challa, Madiba and Olmalo putting on a splendid show. A running lesser kudu caused panic later on when the orphans all ran to their Keepers for protection, and had to be calmed down.

03 July 2006

Yatta led her herd north today to a different feeding area. Sidai and Orok, sandwiched between Nasalot, fed happily, Nasalot breaking down green branches for the babies. Later Kinna, Madiba, Challa and Sidai were scared suddenly by a dikdik that sprinted in amongst them, being pursued by another. Kinna and her group became fully charged, trumpeting and rushing around the thicket trying to punish the dikdik that gave them such a fright. This attracted the attention of the rest of the orphans, who rushed along to determine what was the problem

04 July 2006

It was a cold morning, which was enjoyed by the orphans. The younger ones played pushing games as they waited for the older elephants to give the signal to depart. Out in the bush Ndomot and Madiba had a test which attracted Rapsu, but as soon as Rapsu appeared, they broke contact and ran off into the thicket leaving Rapsu confused! It was too cold for a mudbath today.

05 July 2006

Upon leaving the Stockade, Buchuma, Ndomot and Sunyei had an interesting game, kneeling down and digging up soil using their stubby tusks, as the older elephants scratched themselves against rocks. Nasalot,Sidai and Orok enjoyed a dustbath using soil dug from an anthill by Nasalot. Again, it was too cold for a mudbath, so the orphans used the extra time to feed, after the babies had taken their milk

06 July 2006

It was another cloudy day, making the orphans very playful. The older elephants charged around the thickets, knocking over small bushes, whilst the young ones also rushed around emitting squeaky trumpets. The games ended when Tomboi tried to mount onto Buchuma and Ndomot in turns, forcing the two to take shelter beside Kinna. Again it was too cold for the mudbath, so the youngsters had their milk ration, and the herd continued feeding for the rest of the afternoon

07 July 2006

The orphans split into two groups this morning. Yatta, Kinna, Mulika and Olmalo headed to the water trough, but Nasalot took the others straight out to the feeding area. However, a while later Yatta rumbled, so Nasalot and the others returned to join her. All was peace until Tomboi pushed Orok, which infuriated Nasalot. Tomboi made himself scarce, feeding far from her for the rest of the morning, hoping that her anger would subside.

08 July 2006

Another cloudy day, so the orphans spent time feeding, although Nasalot, Sidai Orok, Galana, Yatta and Olmalo took time off to dust bathe. Selengai led the orphans to the mudbath, where they encountered a troupe of baboons in the trees, making a lot of noise, which puzzled the orphans for a while until one dropped down. Yatta and Mulika charged, trumpeting, which sent the baboon rapidly up another tree, frustrating his attackers. However, all settled down, knowing that it was only the baboons who had made such a lot of noise.

09 July 2006

This morning Napasha challenged Yatta to a pushing match, and got what he deserve, because Yatta did not appreciate this. At l0 a.m. Sunyei very gently took on Sidai, who was very happy to play with Sunyei, but Nasalot came to interrupt events. Some of the youngsters went into the mud, whilst others looked on, the temperature being not conducive for them.

10 July 2006

It was another cool day, when browsing and dust bathing dominated the morning. In the afternoon Yatta and Mulika led the orphans eastwards to the slopes of Ithumba hill, where they fed until it was time to return for the night.

11 July 2006

When it was mudbath time, Challa led the younger set whilst Buchuma led the next group. Galana now knows how to hold her own milk bottle, and takes her ration without any help from the Keepers. Only Naserian, Orok and Sunyei sprayed water onto themselves whilst the others had a dustbath.

12 July 2006

After the wallow, Yatta led the entire herd northeast where they browsed along a riverbank before heading for the plains beyond. It proved quite a hot afternoon, so the orphans sought shade under trees until the temperature dropped, when they resumed browsing.

13 July 2006

Having taken a drink in the morning, the orphans paired up for pushing games. Yatta took on Napasha, Madiba tackeled Ndomot and Buchuma targeted Tomboi. The orphans enjoyed the wallow today, because it was warm. Later, Orok refused to join the baby group who normally come to the Stockade ahead of the others to take milk, but decided to remain with Nasalot and the older elephants, and come along with them later.

14 July 2006

This morning, the foster-parents of Buchuma and Naserian were at the Stockades to see their elephants. The orphans all headed to the water trough, except Wendi, who always likes to show off in front of visitors. She spent a long time with the foster-parents, and had to run to catch up with the others, who had gone ahead. After the orphans had left the mudbath, two warthogs enjoyed a drink from the water barrels.

15 July 2006

Having been let out in the morning, Wendi and Sunyei shared a green branch. At the noon milk feed, Rapsu downed his share rapidly, and then came to try and grab some of Sidai’s. The Keepers cautioned him, and he left rumbling a grumble at being denied. Some of the orphans enjoyed the mudbath, but others sought shade under the trees.

16 July 2006

Having taken an early morning drink, the orphans headed for the browsing fields where Tomboi and Buchuma had a wonderful pushing match, but when Buchuma, who is younger, seemed to be getting the upper hand, Tomboi became rough and shoved him very hard. On the way back in the evening Nasalot and Orok lagged behind the main group, but Yatta took up her position at the back to ensure that no harm game to Orok.

17 July 2006

As the orphans went into the bush, they formed a long line behind Yatta and Mulika, swinging their trunks happily from side to side. Once at the browsing place, the boys, namely Tomboi, Buchuma, Ndomot and Madiba enjoyed pushjing one another until Tomboi tried to mount onto one of them, which angered the other three and broke up the game.

18 July 2006

Trumpets, charging and rumbling filled the morning air today as the orphans joyously greeted a new morning, leaving their Stockade, swinging their trunks from side to side in happiness, Nasalot escorting her special “baby”, Orok, watched by the foster-parent visitors, who enjoyed every moment of the spectacle, especially as Wendi paid them a lot of attention. Out in the feeding area, Nasalot reached up into a tall tree to pull down a succulent branch for little Orok. Wendi then copied Nasalot and brought down a branch for Challa. After mudbath, all enjoyed a dust bath to dry themselves off.

19 July 2006

The orphans playfully “bumped” each other as they headed for the water trough this morning, followed by the youngsters play games as they awaited the signal to leave. They all enjoyed a spectacular wallow at mudbath hour, because it had turned hot.

20 July 2006

Sunyei led the orphans out to the feeding grounds today, a privilege she often enjoys. Out in the bush Kinna snatched an Acacia branch Napasha had pulled down, which left him very annoyed. However, since Kinna is senior, he had to concede it having learnt that he could not afford to challenge her and younger elephants must respect their elders, as in human society. All enjoyed the mudbath, except Tomboi and Taita who shared a dust bath instead. Later on these two enjoyed a pushing match, which was interrupted by Napasha

21 July 2006

It was a warmer day as the orphans headed out to feed. Sunyei and Sidai enjoyed a gentle pushing game, in which Orok joined in, siding with Sidai against Sunyei, and very closely monitored by Nasalot. At the mudbath the orphans were joined by Dame Daphne, Angela, Robert and their children, so they put on a spectacular show, always enjoying an audience. They then rested under shade until 3 p.m., when they resumed browsing. The Sheldrick family were at the Stockades to see the orphans going to bed for the night, when Ndomot and Buchuma enjoyed a pushing game and Wendi, as usual, played to the gallery!

22 July 2006

Today, both Yatta and Nasalot pulled down branches for the small babies to enjoy (Sidai, Orok and Challa). Since it was too cold for a mudbath, the orphans just concentrated on browsing until it was time to return for the night.

23 July 2006

Having taken a drink first thing in the morning, the orphans were taken to a new area by their Keepers, and were very excited to find fresh dung and footprints of many wild herds around a natural waterhole. Yatta and Mulika investigated these carefully, circling the waterhole, and at noon all the orphans enjoyed being able to immerse themselves entirely in this large pool. Orok, Sidai, Buchuma, Madiba and Sunyei loved this waterhole, which the Keepers have named “The Imenti Waterhole” in honour of “Imenti”, who is now 12 years old and with the wild herds, and who was the pioneer orphan of the Northern Area. All the elephants so enjoyed this waterhole that they were reluctant to leave in order to browse, and on the way back, passing the waterhole again, they could not resist going in for a second time.

24 July 2006

Out in the feeding grounds, Tomboi and Buchuma spent a long time pushing each other, a contest that was won by Tomboi, although Buchuma put on a spirited challenge, but eventually retired near Nasalot for protection. After the mudbath, the orphans went Eastwards to a seasonal watercourse (now dry) where they enjoyed a variety of browse. Here Galana enjoyed sliding down the banks on her bottom whilst Naserian, Madiba and Sidai had a competition seeing who could climb up a very steep incline first, a contest won by Sidai.

25 July 2006

This morning, a lone wild dog came to drink at the Stockade trough, but left when a Keeper on Stockade duty went to try and capture the scene photographically. However, its presence greatly distressed the orphans, who charged around trumpeting, and had to be calmed down by the Keepers. Then some chattering baboons made the babies nervous, so Yatta, Mulika, Kinna, Nasalot and Napasha gave chase making the baboons take to the trees, and leaving the elephants frustrated, looking up at them with ears outspread in anger.

26 July 2006

Yatta led the group out today where Madiba and Ndomot cornered two dikdiks and chased them back towards the rest of the group, making the babies charge, trumpet and rush about knocking down small bushes. Only Sunyei went into the mudbath today, because it was cool.

27 July 2006

The orphans enjoyed games around the water trough, until all had quenched their thirst and were led out by Yatta. Madiba and Challa remained behind the others, feeding close together until a tree hyrax fell from the tree and landed in between them. This scared them witless, and they rushed back to the Keepers, crying, as fast as their legs could carry them! Having calmed down the two boys went in search of the cause of their fear, but the hyrax had long since disappeared!

28 July 2006

It was another cloudy day with pushing games amongst the boys until it was time to leave, this time with Mulika leading the group. However, Sunyei soon took over from her. Throughout the day Nasalot closely guarded little Orok, whom she loves dearly. They all enjoyed a soil bath, it being too cold for the mudbath.

29 July 2006

It was a cool morning, so Rapsu, Buchuma and Ndomot, led by Tomboi warmed themselves up by rushing around the thickets. By 1 p.m., however, it had become very hot forcing the orphans to seek shade under trees, until the temperature cooled a little and they could resume feeding.

30 July 2006

It was another cool day, so the orphans could concentrate on browsing throughout the day, Nasalot always remaining close to Orok, and Yatta close to her favourite calf, Olmalo.

31 July 2006

Light early morning showers made the day very chilly, so the orphans spent the morning feeding happily in the thickets, declining to go into the mudbath. Later on Buchuma and Tomboi enjoyed a playful game chasing each other around the bushes.