The Ithumba stockades have been a hive of activity this month due to the extremely dry conditions throughout Tsavo, the April/May rains having failed yet again. In between caring for the Stockade based Youngsters who are with them at all times, they have been providing support for the Ex-orphans and their wild friends, who now visit the stockades daily to drink and enjoy a hand-out of Lucerne. The wild friends who have come to rely on water at the Stockade Water trough have been mounting in numbers mainly bulls, with a few cow herds with young now also coming to drink. The Stockade water trough has to be refilled many times during the day in order to meet the demand imposed upon it since the draw from the borehole is slow, and cannot produce sufficient for the needs of so many wild visitors. Hence the
Stockade Bowser has had its work cut out ferrying additional loads of water in from the stagnant pools of the Tiva sand-river to supplement what the borehole can yield.
The Junior orphans give way to those more Senior, whether they be Ex Orphans well known to them, or wild strangers. They are learning important lessons in elephant etiquette, which govern rank and status, all of which will stand them in good stead in the future, and are an integral part of growing up.
On the evening of the 3rd of July all of the Ex-orphaned herd showed up accompanied by 10 wild friends. Nearly all reappeared again in the morning, soon after the Youngsters had left while early on the 11th so the Stockade compound was heaving with wild elephants and ex-orphans, all awaiting the bowzer’s refill of the Trough. The wild elephants understand exactly what is going on, patiently awaiting their turn, and when it eventually comes, they sometimes take several hours to satiate their thirst, obviously having traveled from afar. A week later when another herd of wild elephants arrived early in the morning at the stockade for water, three wild dogs emerged from the thickets. One of the wild elephants decided to try and eject the wild dogs, but they were persistent, and merely kept on dodging the elephant until he tired of chasing them. By the 18th the number of wild elephants coming to drink at the water trough kept increasing – as many as 24 at the beginning of a day and by the end of the same day upwards of 40!
At six o’clock in the evening on the 13th, the wild bull subsequently given the name “Mshale”, plus two of his wild male friends came for water at the stockade. Mshale’s upper hind leg was seeping pus from a large swelling which was obviously a poisoned arrow wound. Angela Sheldrick happened to be there at the time, and alerted the Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit that this magnificent bull with large tusks needed urgent attention to save his life. The Mobile Veterinary Unit funded by the Trust and its attached KWS Vet came to the Ithumba stockades to await the reappearance of Mshale in order to treat him and fortunately he and two wild comrades showed up in due course, so Mshale was immobilized, the arrow head removed and the wound thoroughly cleared of gallons of sepsis. After this, Mshale was given a long-acting antibiotic injection before being revived and he was back again the next day looking much more comfortable, and barely limping. We are confident that he will now make a full recovery. It is an enormous privilege to save such an iconic bull who would otherwise have succumbed to a slow and lingering death to satisfy the sickening demand for ivory in China and the Far East which is taking such a heavy toll of Africa’s elephants.
On the evening of the 17th, the wild father of little “Mwende” and “Yetu” showed up at the stockade together with other wild bulls, instantly recognized by the Keepers who had witnessed the mating over two years ago of Nursery reared Mulika and Yatta. His offspring, little Mwende and Yetu played happily around their huge wild father, rolling in the red soil pile and chasing one another around. The Keepers were overjoyed to see the family all together and to have witnessed the entire cycle!
On the 19th all the Ex-orphans turned up again at the Junior’s mudbath and were accompanied this time by Yatta’s wild attachments, “Kijana” and “Mgeni” plus another wild bull in tow. Despite it being quite a cool day, a few of the ex-orphans including little Mwende joined the juniors in the mudbath and a good time was had by all.
Two jackals turned up during the morning of the 26th as the orphans were feeding on their daily Lucerne handout, with wild elephants drinking at the water trough. The jackals were forced into hiding when one of the wild elephants blocked their access, only emerging once the wild elephants had left. At that point the some wild dogs joined the jackals for a drink.