Keepers' Diaries, July 2008
Ithumba Reintegration Unit
The Ithumba orphans usually begin the day by having a drink at the stockade water trough, after which one can often find them scratching against nearby trees and rocks, running around or engaging each other in pushing matches before heading out for the day. Once out in the bush they browse together for a while before splitting into two groups, with the older orphans, led by Yatta, separating themselves from the youngsters, in search of the numerous wild orphans that are now returning to the Northern area in the hundreds. The orphans usually leave the stockades together as a herd, splitting up once out in the bush with the older orphans rejoining the younger orphans at the noon mudbath, or in the browsing fields. More often than not they rejoin the younger group when they return to the stockade in the evening. There are days also when they remain together as a group, led by Yatta, Mulika or Kinna who decide which direction the orphans will take and where they will spend the day feeding.
01 July 2008
The sky was clear as the orphans headed to the field to browse till it was time for their noon milk feed, by which time the weather had cooled so none of the elephants partook of the mud bath, opting instead for a dust bath. Yatta led the group to the browsing fields. At 7pm the stockade was visited by four wild bulls where they drank water from the water trough. They remained at the stockade until 9pm.
02 July 2008
Before leaving the stockades the orphans engaged in pushing games. Ndomot took on Tomboi and Kora took on Taita. The orphans then headed out to Kalovoto where they settled in to browse. As it was a hot day they all enjoyed wallowing in the mud bath before covering themselves in red soil at the dust bath. At 9pm two wild bulls visited the water trough before heading back to the bush.
03 July 2008
The morning was cold as the orphans headed out to the fields where most of them concentrated on browsing except for Zurura, Kamboyo and Madiba who spent their time running around. As it was a chilly day most of the orphans chose the dust bath over the mud bath after which they headed south to browse. Along the way they encountered a lesser kudu which scared the young ones. Mulika and Yatta, trumpeting, rushed to the front to see what was wrong. They managed to calm the younger ones before going on their way. This evening 10 wild elephants visited the water trough to drink water. The keepers had to replenish the water after the wild group left.
04 July 2008
Before heading to the browsing field the orphans had a drink at the water trough. They then grazed peacefully until Rapsu and Tomboi engaged one another in a pushing match which Ndomot, Madiba, Orok and Kenze joined. They were watched by Lenana, Chyulu and Makena. Only three wild elephants came to the stockades for a drink in the evening.
05 July 2008
Trumpeting filled the air as the orphans headed out for the day. Yatta led the way steering the group towards the slopes of Ithumba hill where they came across a dust bath. Lenana, Chyulu, Makena and Loijuk enjoyed lying and rolling in the red soil attracting the rest of the elephants who joined in the fun. Loijuk, Chyulu, Makena and Lenana were the first to go to the mud bath for their milk. Mulika then led the orphans back to the fields to browse for the afternoon. The water trough at the stockades was visited by a group of wild elephants as well as two leopards.
06 July 2008
Yatta, Mulika, Nasalot and Kinna led the entire group out to the field. Along the way they came across a pile of loose soil which they enjoyed frolicking in. During the mud bath Loijuk decided to lay on Lenana who screamed for help. As the older group had not yet arrived the keepers intervened reprimanding Loijuk for her actions.
07 July 2008
Sunyei ran out of the stockade trumpeting with the other orphans in a line behind her imitating her. The compound was soon filled with noise and dust as the orphans tried to kick the soil loose. Chyulu and Makena joined Nasalot in the front of the group as they headed to the mud bath. Loijuk, Makena, Lenana and Chyulu headed off for their milk ahead of the rest. As it was a cool day only Makena, Chyulu and Lenana wallowed in the mud bath.
08 July 2008
The hot weather has forced the orphans to minimize their movements. Instead of browsing in several areas they choose to stay in one area for as long as possible before the day gets too hot. The group wallowed for about an hour before dusting themselves with red soil and taking refuge under the trees until it was cool enough for them to continue feeding.
09 July 2008
The group left the stockade early and headed towards Kanziku where they settled in to browse. At the mud bath the orphans were joined by Angela, Robert and their friends. The elephants enjoyed wallowing before heading to the dust bath. The orphans were joined by a wild elephant that had gone to the stockades in search of the group. Due to the presence of the people at the mud bath he chose to remain in the thickets, but was spotted by Rob and the rest of the visitors. Yatta and her group then headed to the Imenti waterhole with the wild bull. They returned to the stockade at about 7pm.
10 July 2008
The day began with the orphans having a drink at the water trough before heading out to browse. Shortly before the mud bath Taita and Galana engaged one another in a pushing game during which Taita tried to mount Galana. When he was unsuccessful he turned his attention to Kora who he managed to mount. Yatta led the group back to the browsing field after the mud bath.
11 July 2008
Led by Yatta the orphans headed to Kalavoto, following the footprints of the wild elephants that had visited them that night. They then split into two groups. The younger group remained under Wendi and Galana’s watchful eye. Yatta, who had heard wild elephants rumbling in the distance, took her group to socialize with the wild ones. Zurura led the milk dependant orphans to the mud bath for their noon feed before returning to the field where they were rejoined by Yatta and her group. The orphans returned to the stockade and were followed an hour later by three wild elephants who had their fill of water at the water trough before heading towards Kalovoto.
12 July 2008
In the morning the orphans split into two groups, Yatta’s group headed in the direction the wild bulls had taken. The young ones, led by Wendi, headed to the slopes of Ithumba Hill where they settled for the day. At noon Naserian led the milk dependant orphans to their milk before wallowing in the mud bath where they were joined by Yatta and her group. The two groups browsed together before Zurura led the younger ones back to the stockades for the night. A group of wild elephants came to the stockades for a drink of water before disappearing into the thickets.
13 July 2008
The sky was clear as the orphans strolled out of their stockades towards the water trough. Mulika then led the way to Kanziku where they browsed for some time before the older group split from the younger ones. At noon Kora and Zurura led the way to the mud bath where they enjoyed wallowing before taking their milk. Galana led the younger orphans back to the browsing field. The two groups reunited at the stockade in the evening.
14 July 2008
In the morning the young ones engaged themselves in pushing matches as the older ones scratched on nearby rocks. Once at the browsing field the group split into two with Yatta, Mulika, Kinna, Nasalot and their group heading towards the Imenti waterhole. The rest of the orphans remained with their keepers. As the keeper was filling the water drums at the mud bath Yatta and her group arrived with four wild elephants. The keeper hid allowing the group to have their fill of water before heading eastwards. The younger orphans had a lovely mud bath before hading back to the browsing field where Kora and Tomboi engaged one another in a strength test.
15 July 2008
The orphans had a peaceful night before heading out to the field in the early hours of the morning where Rapsu and Challa began a pushing game which attracted some of the other boys. Kora engaged Tomboi, Buchuma engaged Ndomot and Napasha engaged Nasalot. After the noon mud bath Kinna led the entire herd back to the browsing field.
16 July 2008
Yatta, Mulika and the rest of the older group joined the younger ones at the water trough and then led them out to the field where they settled in to browse. Yatta then led her group past Kalovoto to the wild elephants while Zurura led the younger group to the mud bath and their noon feed.
17 July 2008
The morning was warm and bright as the orphans filed out of the stockades. Mulika led the elephants to the Imenti waterhole with the orphans browsing along the way. After the noon mud bath Kinna led the orphans to the Kanziku area where they browsed for the rest of the day.
18 July 2008
The orphans exited the stockades passing the water trough before heading out for the day. At the mud bath the orphans enjoyed wallowing in the cool waters before partaking of the dust bath. They spent the rest of the day browsing in the general vicinity of the waterhole before returning to the stockades for the night. At six thirty two wild bulls emerged from the thickets, had their fill of water from the water trough then headed back from whence they came.
19 July 2008
Makena, Chyulu and Lenana, were in a jovial mood swinging their trunks from side to side as they headed to the water trough for an early morning drink. At the noon mud bath Lualeni, Sunyei and Challa enjoyed wallowing while Lenana, Makena and Chyulu watched. Makena and Lenana decided it was time to go and headed back to the fields forcing the rest of the orphans to follow.
20 July 2008
Loijuk, Sian and Lenana had the honour of leading the group out to the fields. On the way Kora and Kenze engaged in a pushing game and were soon separated by Yatta. Lualeni led the milk dependant orphans to the noon mud bath where Chyulu amazed the keepers by heading straight into the mudwallow before having his milk. He was soon joined by Makena and Lenana who are still not used to the scorching sun and hot temperatures in Ithumba.. Ndomot, Nasalot, Buchuma and Napasha had a scratch against the trees before they all headed back to the browsing fields.
21 July 2008
While the rest of the orphans had a drink at the water trough Sian was busy scratching her belly on a rock. Zurura then attempted to mount Makena but Galana, who was aware of his intentions came to Makenas rescue. At 11 Lenana, Chyulu and Makena made their way to the mud bath for their share of milk, and were later joined by the rest of the orphans. The group then headed to the Western slopes of Ithumba hill where they browsed until it was time to return to the stockades for the night.
22 July 2008
Under the leadership of Nasalot the orphans spent the day browsing, taking a break at noon to go the mud bath from their milk and a wallow. An hour after the elephants had returned to the stockades they were joined by three wild bulls. Kinna, Nasalot and Wendi rumbled as they circled the stockades sniffing the air for the bulls scent. The wild bulls remained at the compound for two hours before heading back to the bush.
23 July 2008
Soon after exiting the stockades Nasalot led the group to the fields. Along the way the came across some loose soil and had fun throwing it over their bodies. During the mud bath Sunyei decided to rest on Lualeni who was relaxing in the waterhole. Lualeni screamed for help. As the older orphans had not yet arrived the keepers reprimanded Sunyei for her actions. The orphans spent the afternoon browsing in the Kanziku area.
24 July 2008
The orphans came into the compound, from the fields, at five in the evening. Seven wild bulls were seen slowly approaching the compound. The group headed straight to the water trough for a drink. One of the bulls had only half a trunk, which had probably been severed by a snare. The bulls stayed in the compound for about two hours before leaving.
25 July 2008
Once the stockade doors were open the orphans engaged themselves in various activities. Some of them had a drink, others enjoyed pushing games and others had a scratch against nearby rocks and trees. Kinna and Nasalot led the way to the field where they browsed till time for the mudwallow where they remained for half an hour before Yatta led them to the eastern side of Ithumba hill where they browsed for the rest of the day. Three wild elephants visited the stockades in the evening leaving shortly before dawn.
26 July 2008
It was a cool morning as the orphans left the stockades. Kenze and Orok busied themselves with strength testing before being separated by Wendi. Kora on the other had was trying to mount Buchuma with no luck. Galana had the privilege of leading the group out to the fields where they browsed for the day, stopping only to take their noon milk feed. During the course of the night the orphans were visited by a lone bull.
27 July 2008
The orphans headed west of the stockades eventually settling to feed on the slopes of Ithumba hill where they remained before the milk dependant orphans headed to the mudwallow for their milk where they were joined by Yatta and the rest of the older group. Buchuma decided to mount the orphans who were laying in the water, he was reprimanded by Galana reprimanded who pushed him out of the wallow. A little while later he engaged Sonya in a pushing match which she won. The group spent the afternoon browsing in the Kanziku area where they had been led by Kinna. That evening the orphans were visited at the stockades by Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick.
28 July 2008
Yatta’s group left the compound earlier then usual in search of a wild herd that had visited the stockade leaving before dawn. She took the older group in the direction of the Imenti water hole, coming to the mudwallow after the younger ones had left. Her group took their time wallowing before joining the rest of the orphans in the field. The whole group was again visited by Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick. That night four wild bulls, coming from the east came to the compound for a drink. Kinna and Wendi stood close to the fence, watching the four bulls and communicating with them via low rumbles.
29 July 2008
An hour after arriving at the Kanziku area Yatta got wind of some wild elephants. Her group split from the younger ones and headed towards the Imenti waterhole. Orok was the only member of the younger group who did not have his noon milk bottle as he had gone with Yatta’s group. Dr. Dame Daphne Sheldrick and her visitors enjoyed watching the younger orphans who due to the cold weather decided to forgo the mud bath in favor of a dust bath. They then headed to the slopes of Ithumba hill to feed until it was time to head home. Makena, Lenana, Chyulu and Lualeni were the first to arrive at the stockades. Yatta and her group did not arrive until 7pm. For the first time the stockade door was left open for Yatta’s group so that they could go in and out as they pleased.
30 July 2008
The morning was cold as the young group left the stockades to join Yattas group whose stockade door had been left open during the night. Orok was escorted to his morning feed by the four older girls. The group then followed Yatta out to the field until it was time for the dependant orphans noon feed. Orok didn’t miss out on his bottle as the group remained together for the whole day. In the afternoon Yatta led the orphans towards the Imenti waterhole.
31 July 2008
Yatta's group is now free to move in and out of their stockade as they please as their stockade door is left open at night. After exchanging morning greetings Yatta led the orphans to the browsing fields to the east of the stockades. The orphans spent the day together browsing, stoppping only to take the milk dependent orphans to the mudbath for their noon milk feed. The orphans returned to the stockades in the evening where the older group had some Copra while Orok and Ol Malo had their milk. They then headed back out for the night. At 7pm two wild bulls came to the stockade to quench their thirst at the water trough.