Keepers' Diaries, July 2010

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Ithumba Reintegration Unit

The beginning of the month saw Loijuk leaving with some members of Wendi’s group who had joined the youngsters out in the field at 10am. Loijuk did not return to the stockades for a couple of nights choosing to spend some time out with the ex-orphans returning to the compound a couple of days later in the company of Yatta’s group. During Loijuk’s absence Sunyei took charge of the group assuming all the Matriarchal duties. She was given some guidance by Galana and Wendi who joined the youngsters at the mudbath the day after Loijuk left.

The beginning of the month saw Loijuk leaving with some members of Wendi’s group who had joined the youngsters out in the field at 10am. Loijuk did not return to the stockades for a couple of nights choosing to spend some time out with the ex-orphans returning to the compound a couple of days later in the company of Yatta’s group. During Loijuk’s absence Sunyei took charge of the group assuming all the Matriarchal duties. She was given some guidance by Galana and Wendi who joined the youngsters at the mudbath the day after Loijuk left.

Kilaguni, Chaimu and Sabachi have settled in well in the Ithumba Unit and are thriving although they are not yet completely acclimatized and still suffer when the temperatures at Ithumba rise forcing them to draw water from their stomachs to splash behind their ears in an effort to cool off. The three babies of the Ithumba unit, have become a favourite of all the older females, Nasalot, Kinna and Galana, although Sabachi prefers to spend time with the older boys, Zurura and Meibai, and can often be found browsing in their company. Meibai is now used to the three new comers and has accepted them as part of the herd and is no longer trying to dominate and mount them whenever possible.

Following a short absence Rafiki has once again returned to the compound often in the company of other wild bulls. They all have a drink at the water trough and spend some time visiting with the ex-orphans before going on their way. Mgeni continues to be a part of the ex-orphan group which has recently been joined by another wild bull who the keepers have yet to name.

The ex-orphans have taken to meeting up with the younger group nearly everyday joining up with them at any time from the early morning when the youngsters exit the stockades to the afternoon when they all spend time browsing together and it is not unusual for the older orphans to escort the younger ones back to the safety of the stockades at nightfall. As the dry season has taken hold and the waterholes are drying up more wild elephants are visiting the stockades in the evening and during the course of the day to drink from the water trough.

From the time the orphans rise to the time they go to sleep the day is filled with activity. Upon exiting the stockades some of the orphans engage each other in strength testing games while others charge around chasing one another in a game of hide and see. Whilst out in the park the time is spent browsing. On scorching days this is done under the shade of the acacia trees. At the mudwallow the orphans have a lovely time, splashing and rolling around in the cool water, covering themselves in mud and generally having a great time playing and clambouring over one another. On cooler days they opt for a dustbath instead of their usual mudbath.

On the 30th Naserian, Kora, Lualeni and Kamboyo greeted the orphans as the exited the stockades. The entire group left together with Naserian browsing close to the little ones. Late in the afternoon the youngsters, except for Chaimu and Kilaguni, slowly browsed further away from the keepers until they were out of sight. Upon realizing that they could no longer hear their charges the keepers mounted a search but were not able to find them. As dusk was falling they had no option but to return to the stockades with Chaimu and Kilaguni leaving the little ones in the care of Naserian and her group. As soon as it was light enough the keepers headed back out with the remaining two orphans and a couple of hours later the entire group was found happily feeding on the slopes of Ithumba Hill.

July 2010 day to day

01 Jul

The orphans left the stockade as dawn broke stopping for a drink at the water trough before being led out for the day by Loijuk. At 10am part of Wendi’s group joined the youngsters and they fed together till it was time for the mudbath and noon milk feed. None of the orphans partook of the mudbath choosing to quench their thirst while Chaimu scratched her back foot against the water trough wall. At 3pm Loijuk left with Wendi’s group leaving the youngsters in the keepers’ capable hands. Loijuk did not return to the stockades in the evening preferring to stay out with the older ex-orphans. In the evening the orphans were visited by Yatta’s group who had two wild elephants with them. They all had a drink at the stockades before heading back to the park.

Yattas group visiting the stockades

Chaimu

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