Keepers' Diaries, July 2018

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

Many wild elephants have been visiting the stockade this month as the northern area of Tsavo and around Ithumba is fast drying out. This time of year is typically cloudy, chilly and dry in Tsavo but they have been experiencing some warm days as well. As the water holes across Northern Tsavo East shrink, more and more wild elephants visit the permanent water pools around Ithumba, fed from boreholes and our water bowsers. Our graduate orphans have stayed very much in the area as well, visiting the stockades and the dependent orphans regularly.

01 July 2018

The independent Sapalan who weaned himself off from milk the moment he arrived at Ithumba, left the stockade with a branch in his mouth that he continued to enjoy feeding on as he waited for lucerne supplements. Karisa walked to the nearby rocks and kept himself busy by scratching his buttocks while Galla conversed with Naseku. Shortly later, Laragai rumbled, signaling her team of rebels that it was time to hit the road and go and browse while looking for their other graduate orphan friends. Kithaka followed immediately and the rest followed suit. It was a quiet morning in the bush as the orphans settled to browse in Kanziku area. Esampu teamed up with Maramoja as she tried to learn some survival tactics. At mud bath time, the orphans were joined by all the senior graduate orphans including Yatta, baby Yoyo, Yetu, Kinna, baby Kama, Wendi, baby Wiva, Mulika, Mwende, Naserian, Bongo, Teleki, Zurura, Chyulu, Makena, Sunyei, baby Siku, Nasalot, baby Nusu, Sidai, Narok, Vuria, Ololoo, Lualeni, Kilabasi and Olare’s group and four wild bulls. The atmosphere was tense as the wild elephant’s, Yatta, Kinna, Mulika, Sidai and Chyulu were grumpy and everyone kept away from them. It appears that something had affected them or they had an encounter with a bad experience as they had been missing for some time. Yoyo and Wiva had torn ears that have healed while Narok had lost her right tusk. The commotion was so much at mud bath that the dependent orphans called it quits early, before they could fully enjoy the mud bath. Baby Yoyo was also grumpy as he tried to attack Tusuja who responded by knocking him to the ground and thereafter left immediately fearing the consequences he might face if caught by Yoyo's nannies, and more, his mother Yatta! Makena, who appears to be the main nanny in charge, came running and picked Yoyo up and walked away as Siku followed them. Makena relaxed with Yoyo and Siku under a tree for some time before leading them to their respective mothers so as to nurse. Despite the atmosphere being tense, Olare and Chyulu didn't forget to check on Enkikwe's progress. The orphans headed to Kone for the afternoon and the graduate orphans walked away. Narok decided to stick with the dependent babies as she had been away for so long and she had missed them. Despite losing her tusk, Narok didn't let that become a hindrance and she seemed to be fine.

02 July 2018

Narok, who has a new identity after losing her tusk, showed up in the morning with Mutara’s group. When the gates were opened for the dependent orphans to come out, Narok walked in to the stockade in anticipation of finding some nice leftovers, while Kainuk stood at the exit gate where she welcomed the juniors outside. The herd briefly settled for lucerne before being led away by Mutara. Siangiki and Enkikwe, the lion victims, stayed together and had a chat as they settled to browse. Siangiki has now recovered and only has a small scar above her tail to show where the lions tried to make a meal out of her. Enkikwe is still on the path to full recovery, and it will take a long time for the wound to heal since it is the knee joint which is always moving. At mud bath time, the orphans were joined by two huge bulls. Mundusi, Esampu and Mteto were mesmerized by the size of the bulls, who were very gentle with them. They expected to be pushed away from the water trough but the bulls were very friendly and allowed everyone to have some water. Sapalan, who is never in a hurry, was the last one to leave the water trough as he enjoyed the company of the two wild bulls. In the afternoon, Esampu spent time trying to forge a friendship with one of the big girls, the hot tempered Ukame, of all elephants! It was amazing to see Ukame behaving nicely towards Esampu, since she is known for often hitting the other young boys and girls.

03 July 2018

Mutara’s group arrived in the dead of night and decided to sleep outside the stockade compound. In the morning, when the dependent orphans were let out, Sities assigned herself the role of welcoming the babies outside. Tusuja walked to Kanjoro and exchanged morning greetings by entwining their trunks. A lone wild bull also visited the stockade water trough and left immediately after having enough water. Shortly after the group had enough lucerne, Mutara led the entire herd to the browsing field. At the browsing field, Kainuk settled to browse with Wanjala, a boy who is very curious. Wanjala from time to time was seen putting his trunk in Kainuk's mouth, in an effort of asking some questions. At one point Kainuk got tired of Wanjala's endless investigations, and so moved away from him. Maramoja teamed up with Ukame and Roi and they were all seen communicating, but their conversation was disrupted by Kanjoro who passed by and attempted to bully the girls, but was warned by Mutara who was feeding a few metres away. At mud bath time, the weather was chilly and none of the orphans dared to step into the water. The afternoon was quiet as the orphans settled to browse along the eastern slopes of Ithumba Hill till five o'clock in the evening, when Maramoja led the first group back to the stockades.

04 July 2018

Mutara’s group was sleeping soundly outside the stockade and were woken by the noise of the gates as the juniors were being let out. Shortly later, the orphans were joined by Kasigau, Kilaguni, Meibai, Melia, Chemi Chemi, Chaimu and Kilaguni. Tusuja seized the opportunity to test his strength by engaging Meibai in a strength testing exercise while Turkwel settled to chat with Enkikwe as she tried to find out how he was feeling now. Later, Enkikwe walked to the water trough and joined a wild bull that had come for water. As they all started to leave, Siangiki and Olsekki, who are Enkikwe's friends, walked down to where Enkikwe was relaxing and informed him that it was time to leave. Though Enkikwe was reluctant to leave the lucerne he was feeding on, he later followed them carrying some lucerne with his trunk. An hour later, Yatta and her group in the company of four wild bulls passed by the stockade to drink water. They later settled for lucerne leftovers before heading to join the juniors. In the mix up, the group made off with Sapalan and the Keepers realized at mud bath that he was not with their group. A search was mounted but by evening, Yatta and her group could not be traced. At dark the search could not continue and the Keepers returned to base frustrated, hoping that the group might bring him back at night or by morning. If they did not then the search would continue. Earlier in the year on the 10th April, Sapalan had dodged the Keepers and left with Mutara’s group, only to be brought back in the morning. Sapalan who is independent and always keeps to himself has tried to dodge the Keepers many times, as he is obviously yearning to be independent, but he is always found.

05 July 2018

Early in the morning, the stockade compound was deserted with not a single elephant in sight. This got everyone worried since we expected to find Sapalan outside the stockade with the graduate orphans who had made away with him the previous day. Once the gates were opened to let the juniors out, the Keepers planned which direction they would go in search of the missing Sapalan. As the orphans settled for lucerne, Laragai appeared to realize that someone was missing from the group. She walked down to the water trough with her trunk up in the air and later headed south east of the stockade, closely followed by Kithaka. The other orphans headed west. The Keepers decided to follow the direction taken by Laragai and to their relief, met with Sapalan five hundred metres from the stockade as he was coming back to the compound. Laragai, who found him, decided to escort him back for the Keepers. The Keepers then took him to join his dependent friends. Sapalan is very independent and just rejoined his friends with no fanfare. The other orphans continued to browse with only Galla and Tusuja raising their trunks up to wave and welcome him back after spending the night out. Sapalan didn't respond to their wave but just continued to browse as if he had spent the night inside with the others! At mud bath time, the sky was clear with nice sunshine and this prompted the orphans to have a spectacular wallowing session that was followed by a soil dusting exercise. The orphans were briefly joined by Mutara’s group and a wild bull and later they parted ways. In the afternoon, the orphans settled to browse on the western side of the Ithumba Hill. In the evening a wild bull in the company of Mutara’s group showed up at the stockade and left after they had drunk enough water.

06 July 2018

In the morning, the stockade compound was flooded with graduate orphans and wild elephants, an indication that the surrounding area is now rather dry. Noticeable amongst the group were babies Yoyo and Nusu, two boys that are now eight months old. The two rascals were trying to get everyone’s attention as they kept running around while trumpeting. Their trumpeting would prompt their nannies to surround them in an effort to try and find out what was happening. The orphans briefly settled for lucerne but due to the competition from their seniors, the dependent orphans decided to show respect by walking away, and they walked out to browse in the Park instead. The sky was clear and this was an indication of a hot day a head. The orphans settled to browse in the Kanziku area and had a quiet morning without any major observations. At mud bath time, the orphans were joined by Mutara’s group and two wild bulls. One of the young bulls was a bit aggressive and tried to show off his might by charging at any one in sight. This young bull who was a nuisance soon left, leaving the mature bull drinking water. Later the mature bull was joined by graduate orphan bulls Rapsu and Zurura. In the afternoon, the dependent orphans settled to browse on the western side of Ithumba Hill, where they were briefly joined by Yatta’s herd. In the evening a wild herd with two young babies showed up for water at the stockade and left shortly later after having enough water. It's now clear that most of the water holes have dried up and now the wild elephants will be relying mostly on the water provided at the stockade or at mud bath.

07 July 2018

The orphans settled for lucerne immediately after leaving the stockade. Mutara and her group who had spent the night just outside the stockade, joined the orphans to feast on lucerne. Pare exchanged morning greetings with Sities by entwining their trunks while Mteto settled for scratching exercise on the nearby rocks. Rapa teamed up with Kamok to feed while Turkwel used Suguta as scratching post by rubbing against her. Shortly later Nasalot with a few members of the senior graduate orphans herd reported at the stockade compound, thus disrupting the calm amongst the dependent orphans. Karisa and Sapalan didn’t wait to be shoved around by their seniors, and did the wise thing of leaving the area to head out. Nasalot’s baby Nusu, who had an escort of many nannies, attacked Pare simply because he knew that Pare would not retaliate amidst the heavy security trailing behind him. Pare of course didn't retaliate and just walked away, hoping to teach the little rascal a lesson one day when the opportunity arises!. As we approach drier weather, most of the graduate orphans in the company of six wild elephants showed up at mud bath, with all the wild born babies present. After mud bath, the dependent orphans headed north while the graduate orphans headed south. The afternoon was quiet as the orphans concentrated mostly on browsing.

08 July 2018

The dependent orphans came out of their stockades this morning and went to feed on the lucerne supplements. Nasalot’s herd then came in with baby Nusu among them. They were also accompanied by Olare’ herd including Kitirua, Naisula, Tumaren, Kibo, Kandecha, Kilaguni and Chaimu. They all interacted in the lucerne feeding area and followed the dependent orphans out to the bush when they were done feeding on the lucerne as well. Kitirua and Kandecha were looking after baby Nusu. The same herd of graduate orphans tried to follow the dependent orphans as if they wanted to browse with them, but the juniors walked to the top of the hill leaving them behind. The graduate orphans chose to browse at the bottom of the hill instead, with Bongo browsing with baby Nusu trying to show him the nice fresh grass that was good to eat. The herd was very busy browsing except for Orwa who was playing and scratching his trunk on a tree. In the dependent orphan group we watched Olsekki and Siangiki browsing together and remarked how these two hate to be separated. They were browsing and communicating all morning, putting their trunks into each other’s mouths and just generally keeping each other company. Later the dependent orphans walked to the mud bath to have their milk bottles and have some water. Olare’s graduate orphan herd arrived at the water hole too. The orphans had their milk and decided to go for a swim in the water hole. Graduate orphan Murka joined in too and was really enjoying the swimming, which prompted the others Tumaren, Olare, Kilaguni Ololoo and Chaimu to swim too. A wild bull also visited but he only had some water from the water trough and then walked away again. The orphans came out of the water and walked to the dust bath to coat themselves in loose soil, before walking out to browse. Everyone concentrated on browsing in the afternoon with new babies Esampu, Mundusi and Mteto actively browsing together. Sapalan still seems to enjoy browsing on his own separate from the others. Graduate orphans Orwa, Bomani and Bongo joined the dependent orphans and later walked back with them to the stockades in the evening. Esampu, the new little leader at the Ithumba Unit despite only just arriving, led the group home for their milk bottles and to go to bed. Laragai's herd turned up in the evening as well, and were locked in for the night in their old stockade.

09 July 2018

It was a busy morning at the stockades as we had a big group of elephants including Nasalot, Wendi, Yatta, Olare, Mutara and Orwa’s herds, plus some wild elephants. They all visited and wanted to share the lucerne supplements too. Nasalot was with Nusu, Yatta with her babies Yetu and Yoyo, Sunyei with Siku, Kinna with Kama, Mulika with Mwende and Wendi with her baby Wiva. Only Galana and Gawa were not present. It was so lovely to watch all the orphans and graduate orphans interacting with the wild elephants and watching some of them playing together. Babies Yoyo and Kama were trying to climb on Kainuk when she was lying on the ground resting. The orphans didn't have time to feed on the lucerne, and they walked straight out to the bush to browse. Rapa and Dupotto browsed together while Karisa was scratching behind his ears on a tree. Oltaiyoni was scratching her bottom as she played with her trunk. Later the group walked to the mud bath for their noon milk bottles. Wendi and Nasalot’s herds also arrived at mud bath with their babies. They mingled with Mutara’s group as the younger dependent orphans respected their space and stayed away. Some of the graduate orphans walked in to play in the mud hole, including Nasalot with baby Nusu. Nusu was playing in the water as Nasalot watched him. When the graduate orphans arrived, the juniors decided to walk back out to the bush to browse. Namalok was scared of the monkeys playing around him. New arrivals Esampu, Mteto and Mundusi were very active; Esampu kept trying to take the lead of the whole group, taking them in different directions to browse. Later on the dependent orphans walked back home in the evening for their milk. Mutara's group with Kainuk, Turkwel, Sities, Kanjoro, Kilaguni, Vuria, Bomani and Orwa also came to drink water and later they walked out again. Laragai's herd then arrived and they were locked into their stockades as well.

10 July 2018

When the orphans woke up this morning they found some visitors from Mutara's herd sleeping on the ground just inside the compound. Mutara, Suguta, Sities, Turkwel, Kainuk, Kanjoro, Orwa and Bomani were all there. Kilabasi was with them as well, even though he is not normally part of their group. Barsilinga started scratching his neck on the raised wall, and Kilabasi relieved an itch on a nearby rock as he fed on lucerne. The dependent orphans then walked out to the forest with the graduate orphans following them. In the bush, everyone was busy browsing. Namalok browsed on his own and seemed to be happiest that way. Sapalan was also browsing separately as this seems to be what he prefers as well. The graduate orphans separated themselves from the dependent ones and walked off into the bush. The dependent orphans walked to the mud bath for their milk. Namalok drank his milk from the bucket as usual. Some wild bulls arrived and drank water from the water trough before walking to the mud bath to prepare for a swim. The dependent orphans also lined up to get into the water from the other side. The wild bulls got in first and started wallowing. They did not swim for very long and soon gave way to the little orphans to get in. Esampu led them in and they swam from one end to the other. They walked out in a line and made their way to the dust bath where they started rolling on the soil and playing again. Esampu started rolling on the ground first, and the others followed suit. Finally they all walked back out to the bush to browse again. We had one wild bull drinking from the water trough next to Enkikwe who came in late to have some water.

11 July 2018

The graduate orphans in the company of wild elephants reported early at the stockade compound. As the dependent orphans were let out, the graduate orphans had already placed themselves strategically to await the lucerne bales dished out by the Keepers. The orphans joined them briefly for lucerne before Maramoja led the herd out to the bush. The vegetation is turning slightly brown these days but is still edible. Later the dependent orphans were joined by Olare’s group. Pare, who likes to test his strength on his seniors these days, picked on Kalama who handled him roughly before calling it off. The group then settled peacefully to browse right up to mud bath time when Dupotto led the first group for their eleven o'clock milk feed. The weather was chilly and none in the group dared to take a mud bath. Vuria spent some time dueling with Kalama before their game was brought to an abrupt end by Kibo who passed by and pushed them out of his way. Roi settled for soil dusting with Dupotto and Rapa. Later, the quiet and independent Sapalan settled for soil dusting on his own, while Siangiki gave her friend Enkikwe some company, and chose to browse with him for the rest of the day. In the evening shortly after six o'clock, thirty wild elephants reported for water at the stockade. Amongst them were five babies who were all under one year which is an indication of the population around northern Tsavo increasing. The wild elephants took the much needed water and when they were done they moved on.

12 July 2018

Early before dawn the lions were roaring close to the stockade compound. We had not heard them for some time. At six o'clock in the morning, Mutara and Olare’s groups showed up and waited outside for the juniors to come out, probably to escort them out to the forest because they had heard the lions and they wanted the juniors to be accompanied by a mature herd. Karisa came out of the stockade with a branch in his mouth but he met with Kainuk who forcefully took the branch away from him. Karisa had to reluctantly let it go, since he didn't have the ability to fight Kainuk. Galla and Wanjala, who both have folded ears, settled for a strength testing exercise that didn't last for long since Kanjoro happened to pass by and push the two boys away. Turkwel had a brief chat with Sirimon while Esampu settled for a scratching exercise on the nearby rocks. At mud bath time, the weather was chilly and the orphans just waded through the water, choosing not to swim, and instead they went to dust themselves in the loose red soil. In the afternoon, they settled to browse in the Kanziku area in the company of Olare and Mutara’s groups. It appears that Laragai and her group took the warning given in the morning seriously as they dodged the Keepers and went back to the stockade early before five o'clock in the evening. At five o'clock in the evening the rest of the group returned back to the stockade and then Laragai and her group were allowed into the stockades for the evening as well. One Tusk, one of the biggest wild elephants we have in the Ithumba area, reported for water and later left after drinking to his satisfaction.

13 July 2018

Early in the morning, the stockade compound was deserted with no other elephants in sight. Early before dawn, the lions were heard roaring again. Karisa, who used to be quite shy, now seems to be quite confident challenging his fellow bulls. He first challenged Galla, but lost the pushing game to Galla. Later he moved to try his luck on Tusuja but things got tough, leaving him with no option other than to surrender. Pare then invited Tusuja for a pushing game which didn't last long since Oltaiyoni passed by and interrupted their game by picking on Tusuja. Shortly later, two jackals came for water and brought the orphans activities to a standstill as suddenly made their barking noise out of the blue, prompting the orphans to flee as they got a fright, and they ran towards the Kone area. The Keepers then intervened by calling them and assuring them that all was well and there was no need to panic. The orphans listened to the Keepers and calmed down, settling to browse. The jackals seemed very pleased with themselves that their presence had caused the orphans to run away, as they are actually quite little chaps. In fact they were so happy it seemed they forgot that they had come to drink water! They just turned and walked away. Esampu settled to browse with Roi while Dupotto had a disagreement with Namalok when Dupotto tried to take grass from his mouth. Namalok decided to walk away from Dupotto to avoid a direct confrontation which seemed to work since Dupotto didn't try to follow. The weather was chilly and at mud bath time, the orphans didn't dare to touch the mud bath water. They went around mud bath to the loose soil, before heading back to the browsing field. In the evening, four wild bulls reported for water and left only after they had drunk enough.

14 July 2018

Tomboi, who had been away for several months, reported early in the morning. He had crossed the fenceline and was living in the community area near Kanziku. He was spotted outside the fence and the gate was opened so he could be pushed in by the DSWT/KWS desnaring team. Tomboi seems to have fully recovered from the arrow injury he received in January this year, which he must have received when in a similar community area. Today he looked very well and he joined the orphans to feed on lucerne. Shortly later, Mutara and her team checked in and joined the orphans. Tusuja picked on Kanjoro shortly later after exchanging morning greetings, and they settled for a strength testing exercise that saw Tusuja bow out without giving any reason. After feeding on lucerne, Mutara led the entire herd out to browse, while Tomboi headed the opposite way. The weather was chilly and the orphans concentrated on browsing without any major distractions. Roi, who has an abscess around her buttock area, settled to feed with Oltaiyoni. The abscess was treated today and looks much better now. At mud bath time, the weather was still chilly and the orphans had their milk and drank some water before soil dusting, without going into the mud bath. The afternoon was again quiet and dull just like the weather. Four wild bulls reported for water in the evening and left shortly after having enough water.

15 July 2018

In the morning, Yatta, baby Yoyo, Sunyei, baby Siku, Galana, baby Gawa, Loijuk, Naserian, Lualeni, Ololoo, Wendi, baby Wiva, Mulika, Mwende, Yetu, Sidai, Makena, Ishanga, Ithumbah, Zurura and several wild elephants were at the stockade compound when the orphans were let out. Gawa, who is now one year and ten months, has tusks which are starting to show and she seems to be very happy about it as she tried to challenge Esampu and Mteto. Mwende tried to charge at the Keepers but was calmed down by Tusuja. He seemed to communicate to her that she should calm down as the guys she was charging at were good people who raised her mother. Later, Tusuja, Kauro and Rapa held a meeting under the only remaining acacia tree in the stockade compound. Their conclusion seemed to be that they should walk out to the forest, and shortly later that was what all three did. The sky was clear with no clouds, which was an indication of a hot day a head. Tusuja wondered if Kauro, who hardly takes a bath, would feel like one if it turned into a hot day. Kauro wasn't bothered by Tusuja and kept himself busy feeding. Galla challenged Ololoo and when he lost the fight he ran to follow his friends who had already left the stockade. Out in the bush, Sapalan, who never participates in any activity apart from soil dusting and mud bathing, found a suitable tree stump that he used to scratch his buttocks. Later, he relaxed under a tree and forgot that it was time to go to the mud bath. The Keepers came back and found him and led him to join his friends who had already started the walk to the mud bath. There the junior orphans were joined by a lone wild bull who shared water with them. Mutara and her group then showed up and joined the orphans to mud bath and soil dust. Garzi engaged Kanjoro in a strength testing exercise that lasted for quite some time and later joined Sirimon in soil dusting exercise. In the evening a wild herd consisting of twenty five wild elephants reported for water and left immediately after having enough.

16 July 2018

Olare and her group welcomed the juniors out as soon as the gates opened. Kalama and Chemi Chemi lay down in an attempt to woo the juniors to play with them. It didn’t work however as the juniors just carried on feeding on lucerne without paying any attention to what the two graduate orphans were doing. Kalama and Chemi Chemi eventually got tired of waiting and soon were on their feet, thinking if they win them over they might as well join them, so they too started feeding on lucerne. Later, Olare led the way to the browsing field. It was really hot today but that didn't deter the orphans from carrying on with their browsing. At mud bath time however they made up for it and chose to swim for a long time given the high temperature. In the afternoon, the orphans parted ways with Olare’s herd and settled to browse in Kanziku area. In the evening twenty five wild bulls reported for water and as soon as they had enough water, the bulls disappeared the same way they had come. The number of wild elephants coming for water every evening keeps on growing.

17 July 2018

The stockade compound was flooded by graduate orphans and several wild elephants when the orphans were let out in the morning. On the way out, Pare met with Makena and exchanged morning greetings by entwining their trunks as Mteto stood aside watching and wondering how long will it take her just to reach the size of Makena, even though Makena isn’t even fully grown yet. As Mteto seemed deep in thought, Mundusi bumped her from behind and together they walked down to have some lucerne. Lualeni, who is heavily pregnant which is very exciting news, looked tired and rested her trunk on the loading wall for some time, before settling for lucerne as well. Galana refused to share the lucerne she was holding with her daughter, prompting Gawa to go and look for her own. Later, the graduate orphans escorted the juniors to the browsing field and later they wandered off elsewhere into the Park. As Rapa was going down a valley, he slipped and fell. He quickly stood up and composed himself, hoping that no one saw him. Sapalan, who is independent and never seems concerned with what is going on around him, kept himself preoccupied by feeding on his own from some bushes, and he was left behind when the others walked for their midday milk bottles at the mud bath. A Keeper went back for him and found Sapalan totally unconcerned that he was on his own, happy and content with feeding. The weather was sunny and the orphans had a spectacular wallowing session, with the exception of Kauro who is known for boycotting the wallowing exercise, no matter how hot it becomes. The Keepers told Kauro that he must have a bath since it was for his own good. Kauro was led to join his friends in the water but when he got in he just waded through the shallow part as his friends really enjoyed rolling and splashing into the water. After mud bath, the orphans went to soil dust before heading back to the browsing field. Dupotto led the way as her friends followed in a line behind her. The dependent orphans settled to browse in the upper Kalovoto area for the rest of the afternoon. In the evening Mutara’s herd in the company of five wild bulls reported at the stockade compound to quench their day's thirst. Later, the wild elephants left after having enough water. Mutara’s group stayed behind for an hour or so before disappearing too.

18 July 2018

A lone bull was relaxing outside the stockade when the orphans were let out. Rapa and Galla walked down to the second water trough and faced the bull that was just few meters away from the water trough. The two boys had a brief conversation with the wild bull and at the end, invited the bull to the morning feeding party on the lucerne grass. The wild bull accepted the invitation and followed the boys at a distance, and finally reached where the rest of the herd had settled to eat lucerne. Shortly later Mutara’s group followed by seven wild bulls reported for water. After having enough water, Mutara led the way to the browsing field where Suguta settled to browse with Sirimon, Lemoyian and Olsekki. Tusuja challenged Kainuk in a pushing match but lost that game, while Galla battled with Kanjoro. Later Siangiki had a friendly game with Kainuk. On the way to the mud bath, the orphans were joined by Yatta’s graduate orphan group. At milk feeding time, Naseku finished her share and stood next to two other bottles of milk hoping to get more. Roi, who had been shown away due to her known habit of stealing extra milk whenever an opportunity arises, could not believe how Naseku just stood right next to milk and did not herself to more by grabbing a bottle and running away with it. We watched Roi watching Naseku and thought she might be thinking how she would steal a bottle and run off with it if she were the one there! Naseku has never learned such dirty tricks and ended up just walking away to join the graduate orphans, where she settled for a brief pushing game with baby Wiva. In the afternoon, the orphans settled to browse in the Kanziku area and in the evening, five huge bulls reported for water and left shortly after they had had enough.

19 July 2018

The orphans headed straight to the water troughs soon after the gates were opened. They joined Mutara’s group who had arrived shortly before six o'clock in the morning. The orphans enjoyed sharing water with the junior graduate orphans and after they walked together to feed on lucerne. Half an hour later, Yatta’s big graduate group of orphans showed up and joined in feasting on lucerne. Later on, the groups parted ways; the dependent orphans headed north-west while Yatta’s herd went east. It was a quiet morning with the orphans concentrating on browsing. At one time, the quiet Namalok tried to defend himself from being bullied by Galla but unfortunately he didn't have experience and so turned to run away as Galla attempted to climb on him. At eleven o'clock in the morning, Mteto, Mundusi and Esampu, who have now been at Ithumba for over a month, led the way to the mud bath. The trio walked to the mud bath as if they have been here for years. After taking their milk, Esampu, Mundusi and Mteto walked to the water trough unaided and relaxed there waiting for their friends. It is good that the trio have mastered the routine and ways around Ithumba, and more have confidence in themselves. The orphans felt it was warm enough to have a mud bath and got in the water to wallow. They really enjoyed themselves with Esampu, Mteto Olsekki, Naseku and Roi putting on quite a show, which was followed by a soil dusting exercise. Later, Maramoja led the way back to the browsing field as the rest of the team filed in behind her in a single line. At around three o'clock in the afternoon, fourteen wild bulls reported at the stockade for water. The number of wild elephants reporting for water is now slowly going up and this is an indication of many waterholes drying up in the area.

20 July 2018

Yatta and her group reported early before dawn and relaxed just outside the stockade. At six o'clock in morning, during the milk feeding time, Esampu finished her bottles and ran to where Namalok's bucket was kept and stretched her trunk to try and get a sip. Namalok complained bitterly to Esampu but she didn’t listen and continued to sip at the milk using her trunk. The Keepers then intervened to avoid the scene getting out of hand. Rapa and Karisa left with branches in their mouths but these were taken from them by the senior graduate orphans in the compound. Tusuja exchanged morning greetings with Kilabasi while baby Yoyo settled to play with Galla. Sapalan parted ways with the herd and moved down where he settled to browse on a shrub, while a bird sat on top of the shrub watching him. Sapalan was later joined by Wanjala as Naseku settled to play with baby Wiva. After sharing lucerne, the orphans parted ways with the graduate orphans, taking wild born babies Yoyo and Wiva with them. The orphans settled to browse in Kone area and had a quiet morning until mud bath time, when Mteto led the first group for their milk bottles. Rapa led the second. Ukame led the third and Mundusi led the fourth group. The orphans were joined by Mutara and Olare’s graduate groups and had a mud bath together before parting ways. In the evening, the number of wild elephants coming for water increased from previous days. First, a wild herd consisting of sixteen wild elephants reported for water and an hour later they were followed by another herd consisting of twenty wild elephants. The herds left shortly after having enough water.

21 July 2018

Sapalan, Roi and Karisa left the stockade with branches in their mouths and were careful not to lose them to their seniors who were waiting out in the compound. Yatta, Olare and Mutara;’s herds in the company of six wild bulls had come to join the orphans for lucerne. Little wild born baby Siku was limping and appears to have sprains in her left hind leg. Namalok greeted Siku and sympathized with her, perhaps wondering what caused her the injury. Baby Wiva was in fine spirits however, and threatened to push dependent orphan Roi by charging at her. Roi didn't like the little one disrespecting her, and decided to teach Wiva a lesson by pushing her away. Wiva left unhappy but there was nothing she could do other than walk towards Naseku for comfort. Later, the orphans left to Kone area where Galla and Karisa enjoyed a lengthy wrestling match. At mud bath time, the weather was chilly and none of the orphans wanted to step even one foot into the waterhole. Instead they had their milk and then went to the water trough for some water, before going to the pile of soil to dust themselves. In the afternoon, Tusuja and Galla warmed themselves up by playing a pushing game. Laragai and her rebel group who left in the morning with Yatta’s herd reported back to the stockade early before five o'clock in the evening. They are fearful of the lions around and like to be in the compound at night, but they are being tempted back by the offer of some delicious milk as well as we want to shut them up for the night with the others.

22 July 2018

There was tension in the morning after lions caused disturbance close to the stockade after they tried to attack elephants that were coming for water. Mutara’s herd, part of Olare’s herd and Chaimu, Kilaguni, Kilabasi and Makireti appeared nervous when they reported at the stockade in the morning. The junior graduate orphans decided to stick with the Keepers and the dependent orphans for the entire morning and this wasn't much fun because they were very skittish and nervous at any tiny noise. At mud bath time, the sun was hot and the entire herd decided to wallow in the waterhole and then soil bath as well. Five bulls showed up for water and joined Enkikwe, Olsekki, Lemoyian and Siangiki who were still drinking. In the afternoon, the junior graduate orphans parted ways with the orphans. This was once they felt less tense and much more relaxed, and everything was back to normal. The orphans had their milk and drank some water and then decided to swim in a line through the mud hole. It was lovely to see them swimming so gracefully through the water and none of them decided to play any funny games. They came out and went to the pile of soil where they covered themselves in a protective layer before going back out into the sun to browse.

23 July 2018

It was a quiet morning with Orwa, Narok, Bomani and Vuria present at the morning lucerne feeding time. This used to be Narok’s old herd and they appear to be re-grouping! Only Orwa and Bomani had remained from the old herd as the others had dispersed amongst the other graduate herds, where Bongo and Teleki seemed to have stayed. At the moment, the two boys are with Yatta’s herd, and seem to be very attached to Nasalot and her baby Nusu. Namalok and Esampu decided to briefly scratch on nearby rocks while Galla teased Vuria. Vuria didn't retaliate and allowed Galla to push him around. Galla felt great that he seemed to be winning, not realising that Vuria was just having fun with him. The sky was bright clear and the day promised to be a hot one. Narok and her small team escorted the juniors to the browsing field and they all browsed together up to mud bath time. At the mud bath, the orphans were joined by six wild bulls and had water together but when it came to wallowing, the dependent orphans were reluctant to share the space with their seniors, perhaps for fear of being pushed around. The juniors instead walked to another smaller water hole north east of the main one, and had fun before returning back to the bush. In the afternoon, the temperature soared, making the orphans take a break from feeding and relax under a tree before resuming browsing. In the evening, twenty wild bulls reported for water and left as soon as they had enough.

24 July 2018

This morning Karisa left the stockade with a branch in his mouth and the independent Sapalan wasn't left out either as he also left the stockade carrying some branches with him. Shortly later, Mutara led the entire group to the browsing field. At around eight thirty in morning, Nasalot, her baby Nusu, Bongo, Galana, her baby Gawa, Lenana, Loijuk and Teleki visited the stockade before heading to join the juniors who were out in the bush browsing. Maramoja decided to take a break from feeding to play with Nusu and Gawa. In the evening, Laragai and her group once again returned back to the stockades as the lions were still in the area. Thirty wild bulls reported for water at the stockade water troughs and left after dark when they had drunk enough water.

25 July 2018

Karisa always likes to leave the stockades with a branch in his mouth it seems, and this morning was no different. He sauntered out of the stockades with a tasty branch in his mouth, something that Rapa copied from him. Rapa picked his own branch and followed Karisa out of the gate. Outside the stockade, Mutara and her group had reported early before dawn and slept outside the stockade waiting for daybreak. Barsilinga engaged Kanjoro in a strength testing exercise and just as he felt he was losing the battle, Garzi came in and assisted him in his fight against Kanjoro. Shortly after, the orphans left for browsing, leaving Mutara and her group in the stockade compound. The weather was chilly today and the orphans concentrated only on browsing. Karisa paired with Pare to browse as Kauro, who is forging a tighter friendship with Kamok, had a light friendly pushing game with her. Prior to mud bath time and the midday feed, twenty wild dogs visited the waterhole mud bath and left as soon as they saw the milk car approaching. It is always nice to see this very endangered animal. At mud bath, the orphans were joined by graduate orphans Nasalot, Nusu, Bongo, Galana, Gawa, Lenana, Kenze, Kilabasi and Makireti. Makireti checked on Enkikwe's progress by touching his wound with her trunk and we are sure she was wishing him a quick recovery. In the afternoon, the orphans settled to browse in the upper Kalovoto area where Wanjala enjoyed a pushing game with Tusuja, since the weather was still chilly and they felt like warming up. In the evening, a wild bull who was treated two days ago came for water at the stockade compound and left immediately after having enough water. He is looking in good health.

26 July 2018

Nasalot, who appears to be forming her group consisting her own baby Nusu, Galana and her baby Gawa, Loijuk, Lenana, Bongo and Teleki, reported early in the morning at the stockade compound. We have seen this group together for quite a while and it seems for the moment that they have a bond. Kithaka briefly engaged baby Gawa in a light pushing game as Wanjala was charging around at goodness knows what. Tusuja took advantage of Mteto while wallowing and tried to climb on her. Mutara’s herd and the orphans settled in the upper Kalovoto area where they were joined by Turkwel, Bomani, Narok Vuria and Orwa. There was much trumpeting and excitement as the group embraced and welcomed these other graduate orphans. Calm was then resorted and everyone resumed browsing again.

27 July 2018

A wild bull, who the DSWT/KWS Vet treated a few days ago for an arrow wound, reported for water and left shortly before day break. It was a quiet morning with no other graduate orphans visiting. Kauro exchanged morning greetings with Kamok by entwining their trunks while the quiet and independent Sapalan got into trouble with Karisa when he inadvertently stepped on lucerne that Karisa was feeding on. Karisa pushed Sapalan off of the lucerne he was stepping on and Sapalan left without a word. Later, Kamok had fun when she tried to charge at a bird that was sitting on the ground. The bird kept on flying off whenever Kamok drew closer. At last Kamok gave up and walked away after getting tired. Galla, who had seen Karisa push Sapalan earlier, walked purposefully towards him. We wondered what he was going to ask him, but perhaps it was why he had pushed Sapalan earlier as they all know he is such a shy and gentle elephant. Karisa turned and threatened to push Galla, so we know it was not a conversation he was enjoying. Karisa thought that he was equal to Galla but Galla showed him that he was still a junior, by engaging him in a strength testing exercise that saw Galla emerge as the winner. Later in the day Tusuja engaged Galla in a friendly strength testing exercise. The sky was clear but the temperature was moderate; no single graduate orphan or wild elephant showed up at mud bath. In the evening seven wild bulls reported for water at the stockade water troughs and at dark more and more wild elephants continued trickling in to quench their days thirst.

28 July 2018

Nasalot and her small group reported early before dawn and relaxed outside the stockade waiting for the juniors to come out. As soon as the orphans were let out, Nasalot and her group joined them to feed on lucerne. A while later, a lone buffalo checked in for water. Kithaka, Barsilinga and Olsekki walked towards the buffalo with their ears wide open as they tried to scare it away. The buffalo stood its ground however and drank water until it was satisfied, before leaving the same way it had come. Nasalot led the entire herd out to browse, where they were joined by Mutara’s group. Mundusi had fun with baby Nusu as they chased each other around, while Mteto briefly played Gawa. The sun was really getting hot and Esampu took a break from feeding to relax under a tree for some time before resuming browsing. At mud bath time, the temperature was so hot all of the orphans decided to go wallowing, without the encouragement of the Keepers. Only Kauro, who is well known for boycotting any swimming session, escaped and went for a soil dusting exercise instead. We are sure that he is so adverse to water because he was a well-victim and will always dislike the water. In the afternoon, the sun was still hot and the orphans converged under a tree that had a good shade while continuously flapping their ears in order to cool down. They only resumed browsing later on when the temperature dropped to a favourable level. In the evening, twenty wild bulls reported for water at the stockade water troughs and left at their pleasure when they felt that they had drunk enough.

29 July 2018

Nasalot and her small group consisting of baby Nusu, Galana, baby Gawa, Loijuk, Bongo, Teleki, Kilabasi, Makireti, Lenana and Meibai joined the juniors for lucerne in the morning. After lucerne time, Maramoja rumbled as she made her way to the browsing field. The rest of the herd followed her. Nasalot’s group browsed with juniors the entire morning. For a while now, Yatta and the rest of the senior graduate orphans haven't shown up at stockade and we hope wherever they are they have enough water. At mud bath and midday milk feeding, the orphans were joined by a junior wild bull who shared water with them and later left with Nasalot’s group. Mundusi, Mteto and Esampu had a spectacular wallowing session. Mundusi specifically enjoyed sitting in the water and splashing around with his trunk, a game he enjoyed for some time. In the evening, Sapalan again hid and dodged the Keepers. The rest of the group returned back to the stockade without him but the Keepers soon realized and half of them went back to look for him. Half an hour later, Sapalan emerged from the eastern side of stockade in a slow measured walk like someone who knew exactly where he was going. The Keepers were still looking for him in the bush and were informed over the radio that Sapalan had arrived on his own. He likes to do everything in his own time!

30 July 2018

Olare’s group in the company of two junior wild elephants were present outside the stockade when the orphans were let out. Murka lay down to attract the young babies to come and play on her, but they didn’t want to. Nine year old Kibo however saw a good opportunity to come and climb on her back! Rapa, Galla and Karisa walked down to the water trough to join a fifteen year old wild bull. The three dependent orphans stood there obviously admiring the boy, wishing they were his size to be able to defend themselves from their older friends. It wasn't clear what advice the teenager gave to the boys but we are sure he communicated something to them. Half an hour later, Olare escorted the juniors out to browse where Naisula played with Tumaren and Chemi Chemi tackled Kitirua. Enkikwe settled to browse with his friends Olsekki and Siangiki who are so good at taking care of him. Siangiki developed an itchy ear and used a nearby tree to scratch it. An hour later, Wanjala had the same problem and instead of scratching against a tree, he broke a piece of branch and used that to scratch with. At mud bath, Sapalan used the smaller mud bath unlike the rest of his friends who walked to use the large one. As Sapalan was busy splashing water behind his ears, a warthog emerged from the bush and joined him to mud bath. At first, Sapalan wasn't sure how to react, but opened his ears out just in case as a warning to the warthog. This didn’t seem to faze the pig however, who carried on with its bathing. Sapalan had no option other than to let the warthog carry on since he certainly didn’t feel like chasing it, he is a very slow boy. Mundusi, who has watched and learnt how to climb on his age-mates from the older graduate orphans, decided to climb on Mteto in the water. Galla rode on Roi while Tusuja rode on Maramoja. All the naughty orphans take great delight on doing this in the water when it is a) easier to climb on their friends and b) when their friends can’t retaliate! Later Tusuja engaged Olsekki in a strength testing exercise that went on for quite some time.

31 July 2018

After being away for nearly a week, Yatta and her herd showed up in the morning and joined up with the orphans for lucerne. Kamok and Sapalan went to Laragai's stockade and managed to come out with leftover branches that were nice to feed on. Naseku, who loves playing with babies, spent time with baby Yoyo, who initiated the pushing game. Garzi settled to play with Makena. Shortly later, the orphans parted ways with the graduate orphans. Out in the bush, Namalok briefly chatted with Kamok before moving on to feed with Pare. The weather was chilly and at mud bath time, only Olsekki decided to swim in the water hole. Four wild elephants joined the juniors to drink before disappearing. In the afternoon, Karisa engaged Galla in a pushing game that also attracted Wanjala and Tusuja who dueled for some time before Olsekki intervened by pushing the boys out of his way. Baby Siku is now using her left hind leg that she seemed to have sprained a week ago, so that was good news. In the evening only handful of wild elephants showed up for water due to the chilly weather.