July has been a spectacular month at Ithumba with almost all of our ex orphans home, with the exception of Kora who is still on walkabout, and the company of numerous wild elephants who have decided to stay close to Ithumba throughout the dry season, with more arriving all the time. This month it has not been unusual to enjoy sixty to seventy elephants congregating for mudbath time and again in the evenings at the stockades. The wild bulls are so tame that it is difficult to know who is an ex orphan or a wild elephant, with some old faithfuls who actually stay months at a time with our ex orphans and are completely accepting of the Keepers now.
Newcomers Kithaka and Barsilinga and Lemoiyan have settled in well, with Kithaka displaying his naughty ways at Ithumba but not without some reprisal from the older orphans if spotted. Lemoiyan is a favourite with ex orphans Chyulu and Lenana particularly who visit regularly so that they might lavish him with attention. When they are not around Kainukpart of the dependent group is the stand in Mummy and relishes these opportunities. Barsilinga being as mellow as he is has settled in well, has made many new friends, and these three little chaps love the company of the big wild bulls and surprisingly are not overly intimidated by them either.
Suguta who suffered some injuries a few weeks back has since made herself a fully dependent orphan so that she can get ongoing medical attention, and she has healed beautifully. Her wounds are only slightly visible now. Her herd of young ex-orphans have been led by Olare in her absence and have decided to stay close to home visiting most days to check on their dear friend. This group of young partially independent orphans is comprised of Olare, Kibo, Kandecha, Tumareen, Chemichemi, Kalama, Kitirua, Naisula, Murka and Kilabasi. A couple of times this month they have reported to the stockades and chosen to sleep there over night, prone and nestled together outside the stockade gates ready to greet the dependent babies in the morning. It is quite a sight to see them all prone and so relaxed at home base.
Chaimu, Kilaguni and Ishanga have formed their own group and tend to travel as a threesome, joining the ex orphans, partially independent Olare group and from time to time checking in with the fully independent orphans - the three have formed a firm friend ship, two girls with one boy being Kilaguni. Ishanga has been a rover jumping from group to group, but has stayed with Kilaguni and Chaimu for some time now and seems very content. Of course all the time they are mixing with ex-orphans and wild friends, but this little satellite herd have formed a close threesome. On the 4th of July this three came to the stockades with an injured wild friend. This is no coincidence as our orphans know full well that they and their wild friends receive help when in need and as a result of being made aware of their injured friend we were able to mobilize timely veterinary intervention and operate on the wild bull with the support of the DSWT helicopter and are hopeful he will make a full recovery.
This month not only have wild elephants been regular visitors, but wild dogs too have frequented the stockades waterhole and been sighted a number of times. Other regulars are Kudus, baboon, warthogs and bushbuck, hyena, leopard and lion at night.
On the 23rd of July Ithumbah returned having been away for nearly two months. She arrived in the company of a wild female with two calves of her own. She looked happy, healthy and pleased to be home amidst her old friends.
The daily dairy entries for the Ithumba Unit are filled with more details of individual orphans and what they have got up to throughout the month of July.