Keepers' Diaries, July 2009
Ithumba Reintegration Unit
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.
01 July 2009
The orphans were greeted by a cold breeze as they exited the stockades this morning. Loijuk, Makena and Lenana all stopped to have a scratch whilst the rest of the orphans headed to the water trough for a drink. Wendi and Yatta’s group were nowhere to be seen as Naserian’s group headed to the Kanziku area to browse before heading to the mudbath. The afternoon was spent in the Imenti area.
02 July 2009
As it was a cold morning the orphans bypassed the water trough and headed out to the fields where Lenana found a tree to scratch against. At 8:30am Challa visited the stockade accompanied by a wild elephant. They had a drink and left, joining up with Naserian’s group who were headed to the mudwallow. In the afternoon Loijuk lead the group up the slopes of Ithumba hill where they browsed for the remainder of the day. Both Yatta and Wendi’s group visited the stockades in the evening where they were rejoined by Challa.
03 July 2009
The 12 keeper dependent orphans had a drink at the stockade water trough before Kamboyo led them out for the day. As it was a hot the elephants had a lovely time in the mudbath. When it was time to leave Loijuk decided to kick over the water drums before being stopped by the keepers. Lualeni led the group to Imenti with Naserian bringing up the rear.
04 July 2009
Following a two day absence Wendi’s group visited the stockades together with Napasha who seems to have left Yatta’s group. This could be due to the fact that he is being bullied by a young wild bull that is often seen around the older ex orphans. Later in the afternoon Yatta’s group joined the younger ones at Kone where they browsed together before heading back to the stockades.
05 July 2009
At 6am Sidai led the orphans to the Kalovoto seasonal river where they spent the morning feeding. At noon, Ol Malo came to the stockade where she had a drink of water before heading back out. Her visit was followed at 2pm by Yatta’s group who had their fill of water before disappearing back into the bush.
06 July 2009
Today the group with Sian at the front went to the Kanziku area to browse. At one o’clock Ol Malo again visited the stockade and was joined an hour later by Yatta’s group which was one elephant short as Taita was not with them. The younger orphans attended the mudbath at noon before heading to the foot of Ithumba hill for the remainder of the day. Wendi’s group with Taita in tow came to the stockades at 5pm and was joined at the water trough by 9 wild elephants an hour later.
07 July 2009
The orphans exited their stockades and scattered around the compound for a scratch against the unloading bay and trees in the area before coming together at the water trough. Makena led the group to Kone where they were joined by Yatta and her herd. Kora and Buchuma engaged each other in a strength test which was broken up by a young wild bull. After the noon mudbath all the groups headed to the Imenti area to browse. At 3pm Yatta left the younger orphans to browse further afield. In the evening Wendi and the other 8 orphans in her group came to the stockade where they were joined by the younger orphans.
08 July 2009
The orphans left the stockade in a jovial mood headed for the browsing fields where they remained until noon when they went to the mudbath and wallowed in the cool water before going back to the bush. Soon after they left Wendi and her group came to the mudwallow then left in the same direction taken by the younger elephants. The two mini herds browsed together for a while before the older orphans went on their way. The groups met up again at the stockades in the evening.
09 July 2009
Naserian's group arrived at the mudbath to find Yatta’s group already there. The orphans wallowed together for a while before parting ways. The stockade water trough was visited by many wild elephants with the first group of 3 arriving after 12 noon. Two others came in just before 4pm and were joined a little while later by Wendi and her followers who had a quick drink and left. At dusk another 3 elephants came staying on the compound until it was dark.
10 July 2009
Nasalot and Challa arrived at the stockades just before the younger orphans were let out of their night quarters. Nasalot led the entire group out to the Kanziku area and then to the mudbath where they were joined by a wild elephant. The younger orphans were brought back to the stockades by Nasalot where they met up with the older ex orphan groups.
11 July 2009
Four wild elephants greeted the orphans as they exited the stockades leaving soon after the elephants headed for the bush. At 7:30am Wendi and her group, who had been joined by the young wild bull that has been bullying Napasha, came to the stockade. After having a drink they left to join the younger orphans at the Kanziku area where they browsed together before going to the noon mudbath. At about 3pm Ol Malo accompanied by 4 wild bulls came to the stockade for a drink. Wendi led the orphan’s home for the night where they met up with the Yatta’s herd and 5 wild elephants, all of whom were busy quenching their thirst at the water trough.
12 July 2009
Even though it was a cold morning the orphans were as active as ever, playing pushing games as they waited for one of them to make the decision to head out. Sian led them t the Kanziku area where Kamboyo and Zurura continued the morning pushing games. Kora went to join in but the two took off into the thickets leaving Kora dejected. The younger orphans met up with Wendi and her group at the mudbath. None of the elephants partook of the mudwallow opting instead to have a soil dusting session.
13 July 2009
A record number of wild elephants visited the stockades during the course of the day. At 4:30 the first group of 4 arrived followed swiftly by another 5. This continued until 6:30 in the evening by which time we had 22 wild elephants around the water trough! Wendi’s group arrived at the stockades at 6pm and had to wait until it was dark before they were able to have a drink.
14 July 2009
Yatta’s group came to the stockade compound two hours after the younger orphans had left, and proceeded to empty the water trough of water. After the noon mudbath Loijuk led the younger group to the Imenti area where they were joined by the two older orphan groups. They all browsed together until 7pm when the youngsters left to return to the stockades. By 9pm the older elephants had rejoined them.
15 July 2009
The orphans were in a boisterous mood charging around the fields knocking over thickets and trumpeting loudly. They eventually settled down to browse along the Kone road where they were joined by Yatta’s group. After a quick drink at the mudbath they were led to the Imenti area where they were later joined by Wendi’s group. The three orphan herds walked back to the stockades together before parting ways.
16 July 2009
It was a cloudy cold day but this did not prevent the orphans from engaging in their usual activities, except for the mudbath. At about 11am Sidai, Naserian, Kora, Loijuk and Lenana had a soil bathing session.
17 July 2009
Soon after the young orphans left for the day Yatta and her group arrived at the stockade for a drink before heading back out. Wendi and her group came to the stockade water trough in the early afternoon. Later in the afternoon Yatta’s group joined the junior group on the slopes of Ithumba hill where they fed together till 5pm when they escorted the younger ones back to the stockade.
18 July 2009
The sky was clear as the orphans exited their stockades. Sian headed straight to some nearby rocks to scratch her belly and was soon followed by Loijuk, Makena and Lenana who did the same. A short while later Lualeni led the way to the browsing fields where they were joined by Yatta’s herd. Ol Malo, who had not been seen yesterday, visited the stockades for a drink before heading back in the direction from which she came. At 1pm Wendi’s group came to quench their thirst at the water trough. They met up with the other two orphan groups at Imenti at 5pm. The entire group returned to the stockade after 7pm.
19 July 2009
It was early when Naserian led her group to Kanziku to browse before heading to the mudbath where they joined a wild elephant that was already wallowing there. Ol Malo once again came to drink at the stockade before leaving in a westerly direction. Yatta and her followers visited the stockades at 1pm. The young orphans were led back in the evening by a group of 4 wild elephants who had joined up with them after the mudbath while on their way back to Kanziku. The wild elephants settled around the water trough and were joined an hour later by Wendi and her colleagues who left once it was dark.
20 July 2009
It was a cool morning as Sian led the group to the fields to browse. A few minutes before 8 a fight broke out between Sidai and Kora over a piece of acacia bark that Sidai had peeled and which Kora grabbed from her. The orphans, except for Lenana and Sidai who had a dust bath, had a lovely time in the mudwallow. Late in the afternoon Kamboyo and Zurura engaged each other in pushing games which ended when Kora intervened.
21 July 2009
It was a cool and overcast day. The orphans went about their usual feeding activities till noon when Makena led the herd to the mudbath. None of the orphans partook in a mudbath instead they had a drink and played in the dry soil. At 4pm Yatta’s group accompanies by four wild elephants turned up at the stockades for a drink of water. Amongst the group were Ol Malo who had spent several days away and Galana & Challa who are normally in the Wendi group. Shortly after their arrival the Keeper dependent group arrived at the stockades and there was allot of greetings and interaction between all the orphans. As dusk came Yatta led her group away while the young dependent group remained in the stockades for the night.
22 July 2009
It was Naserian who led the herd out into the park for the morning feeding activities. While feeding on the northern side of the stockades Lenana took a time out, lying down to rest in the shade for about 15 minutes. Approximately an hour after the junior group left the stockades Yatta’s group arrived at the stockades in the company of 2 wild bulls and hung around the water trough for a drink and rest. Ol Malo and Challa were missing from the group. The Yatta group then headed to the mudbath to await the arrival of the junior group at noon.
23 July 2009
It was a clear crisp morning; the orphans spent the morning browsing. Around 10am Naserian, Kora, and Lenana had a soil bathing session while the rest carried on feeding nearby. The orphans skipped the mudbath and spent the rest of the day on the slopes of the Ithumba Hill.
24 July 2009
Another clear day, the orphans left the stockades and passed by the water trough on their way out to the browsing fields. While out on their daily feeding activities Kora & Zurura had a brief pushing contest. Their game ended quickly as Kora charged and gave Zurura a hard shove which made him reconsider the idea of playing! Following the mudbath Naserian led the group to Ithumba Hill where the orphans remained till evening.
25 July 2009
The entire ex-orphan group arrived early at the stockades before the junior group was let out. Upon exiting Naserian’s group joined the ex-orphans as Yatta led the herd to Kanziku area where they settled to browse. At about 10am 2 adult female elephants with 2 calves joined the orphans followed by a wild bull. The 2 cows and their calves left later on and 2 more wild bulls joined the orphans. The wild bulls accompanied the orphans to the mudbath and later to Imenti where the wild elephant and orphans parted ways. The ex-orphan group then escorted the junior group back to the stockades for the night.
26 July 2009
The orphans left the stockades in a jovial mood and headed out straight to feed, except Kamboyo and Zurura who spent most of the morning playing pushing games until Kamboyo eventually won. Yatta & Wendi’s groups arrived at the mudbath about thirty minutes before the junior orphans. At 11am Dr Dame Daphne Sheldrick and her family arrived at the mudbath to see the arrival of the orphans. The orphans all had a fabulous time at the mudbath with almost all them participating in playing in the mud with Wendi being her usual self showing off to the visitors. When it was time to leave them all disappeared into the bush as Yatta steered the group towards Imenti staying there for the rest of the afternoon.
27 July 2009
At 10am while the orphans were out on their usual feeding activities the ex-orphan group turned up accompanied by 2 wild elephants. Ol Malo was missing from the older group, and is thought to have found some new wild friends. She was seen early in the morning passing by the stockades, she greeted the Keepers as well as the Sheldrick family who were visiting Ithumba that day. At 11am the entire herd of orphans together with their wild recruits turned up at the mudbath, following which the older elephants left the junior group and went to feed further afield. Ol Malo turned up at the stockades accompanied by a wild elephant, they both had a drink and then left together . The junior group returned to the stockades at about 6pm.
28 July 2009
As the orphans left the stockades they all began going about their morning games, some trumpeting happily while others pushing and shoving. Makena led the way out and later Sian took over leading the herds to the feeding fields were they fed throughout the day skipping the mudbath as it was cool and cloudy.
29 July 2009
The sky was clear and by 10am the temperatures were soaring making some of the orphan like Makena & Chyulu draw out water from their stomachs to spray it under their ears to facilitate better heat loss. All the orphans took part in mudbathing, even Yatta and her group turned up to join the young orphans in the water. They all left following Yatta’s lead towards the eastern slopes of Ithumba Hill where they settled to browse. Yatta’s group later escorted the juniors back to the stockades.
30 July 2009
At 8am Challa & Ol Malo accompanied by two wild bulls came to the stockades and had a drink at the water trough. After quenching their thirst Ol Malo left with the wild bulls while Challa headed west to join Naserian’s group. At about 1pm Wendi brought her group to the stockade’s water trough and was accompanied by Ol Malo & her wild friends. About an hour after the junior group had returned to the stockades for the night the entire ex-orphan group appeared and stayed near the stockades till just after dark.
31 July 2009
The early morning saw some light drizzle which unfortunately was not enough to settle the dust. The orphans left the stockades and headed straight for the browsing fields. Naserian took the group to Kone for the day where they were later joined by the ex orphans. As it was a cool day none of the orphans turned up at the mudbath. In the evening the juniors were escorted back to the stockade by the older orphans.