The Ithumba orphans, who number 30 in total, continue to consist of 3 distinct groups whose Matriarchs are Yatta, Wendi, & Naserian. The 2 older groups have now had several wild teenagers join their ranks who accompany them to the stockades and the waterholes. On the majority of days the younger group makes their way out to browse on their own with Naserian at the helm often meeting up with the older ex-orphans at some point in the day. On occasion they spend the morning together and attend the noon mudbath in each other’s company before going their separate ways. Otherwise they meet up in the afternoon and are escorted back to the stockades by the older orphans.
Although it is very dry, on only five occasions have wild elephants visited the stockades to drink at the water trough and interact with the orphans. The most significant of these was on the 13th when a total of 22 wild elephants came to the stockades with the first group of 4 arrived at 4:30pm with regular additions arriving. By the time Wendi and her group reached the stockades there were so many elephants that they had to wait till dark before they could have a drink.
This month saw some coming and going of the orphans in the 2 older groups. Napasha was the first to begin this by leaving Yatta’s group for Wendi’s. The Keepers feel this is due to the fact that he is being bullied by one of the wild teenage elephants in Yatta’s herd who enjoys engaging him in strength testing and pushing games. The wild bull feeling Napasha’s absence followed him to Wendi’s group as he obviously has formed an attachment to Napasha and enjoys the challenge of strength testing with him. Galana & Challa on a few occasions have left Wendi’s group for Yatta’s. Ol Malo has been absent from the older orphans group this month often visiting the stockades on her own or in the presence of a wild friend. On several occasions it has been a couple of days between her visits. Challa has also been known to separate himself from the orphans for a few hours to spend time with wild friends and on occasion has gone off with Ol Malo.
Even though Naserian is technically the Matriarch of the younger group she often lets one of the others lead the way out in the morning or to the noon mudbath sharing her duties with Sidai, Sian, and Makena. The youngsters have on occasion been joined by wild elephants while out browsing as well as at the mudbath.
The mornings are often filled with mischievous activities particularly from the boys who enjoy engaging each other in pushing and strength testing games. Kora, Buchuma, Zurura and Kamboyo often challenge one another in a friendly manner. Sometimes these games continue in the fields and at the mudwallow after they have had their milk feed. The orphan’s favourite areas for browsing are Imenti, Kone, Kanziku, and the slopes of Ithumba Hill. On one of their outings a fight broke out between Sidai and Kora over a piece of Acacia bark that Sidai had carefully peeled from a tree. Kora proceeded to grab the bark from her. As Kora is bigger and stronger she was unable to retrieve the bark and had to watch as Kora enjoyed his winnings!
The Sheldrick Family paid a visit to Ithumba and the mudbath where they enjoyed watching the orphans at play. As usual Wendi, who never fails to impress, put on a show for the visitors.