Keepers' Diaries, July 2021

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Ithumba Reintegration Unit

We are feeling the effects of the dry season here in Tsavo. While this is a challenging time for wildlife, it brought many of our ex orphans back home. Mutara’s herd remains anchored to the area, perhaps because so many of the girls are besotted with little Dololo. In addition, Galana and her herd took up residence, much to the delight of the dependent orphans. The junior girls got to practice their nannying skills on their wild-born babies — although they sometimes found these calves to be a bit more than they bargained for! Lenana and Loijuk’s babies, the rascal Lapa and Lili, are particularly guilty of playing rough with the orphans because they know they can get away with it. 

Everyone benefits from the company of the ex orphans. Our orphans in “Class Five” — the stockade reserved for the most senior members of our dependent herd — now seem to prefer the company of their older friends. Barsilinga, Tusuja, Siangiki, Olsekki, Oltaiyoni, Roi, Kamok, Naseku, Rapa, Enkikwe, and Galla spent as much time as possible with Galana and her herd, often only returning to the stockades as night fell. 

Many wild bulls were in attendance this month, with dozens circling in for water on any given day. The orphans visibly hero worship these magnificent giants. One morning, two bulls drinking outside the stockade caught Musiara’s eye. He strolled over in a measured walk and proceeded to squeeze himself between them. His polite approach paid off, and the bulls happily allowed him to join their drinking circle. Afterwards, Musiara scampered over to Ambo and Dololo, no doubt to brag about this successful interaction.

A more sedate mood generally prevails during the dry season, as creatures great and small spend their days searching for ample browse. However, there were still many playful moments among our dependent herd. One day, our resident drama queen Esampu spotted two dik diks ahead of her. She immediately ran towards them, trumpeting with great excitement. This attracted Mundusi, Rapa, and Pare to the scene, and a great chase ensued. There was a lot of fanfare over two tiny antelopes!

We are happy to report that Nabulu is doing very well since losing her friend, Maisha. She is very close with Musiara, Sattao, and Dololo, who are her roommates in “Class One.” The older dependent girls have taken it upon themselves to look after her. During an afternoon feed, we saw Malkia, Sana Sana, and Malima team up with Nabulu for a girls’ talk. Althought she is the youngest member of the herd, Nabulu always leads everyone from activity to activity, which is a great privilege for any orphan. The ex orphans’ babies are a great novelty, and she had a lovely interaction with Sunyei’s daughter, Siku, this month. Nabulu clearly didn’t want the moment to end: She tried to follow Sunyei and Siku off into the bush, until the Keepers called her back!

In mid-July, during one of the ex orphans’ visits, the Keepers noticed that Ishanga had an injury on her left foreleg. They alerted the operations room at our Kaluku Field HQ, and our SWT/KWS Tsavo Vet Unit was mobilized to treat her. Dr. Poghon discovered that she had a deep wound from an arrow, which had since fallen out. Fortunately, the treatment was straightforward, and Ishanga has since made a complete recovery. By the end of the month, she was her usual active, playful self. We have also coordinated our Anti-Poaching Teams to address the arrow issue.

July ended on an auspicious note when, on the last day of the month, 40 wild bulls arrived at the mud bath. They were led by “Dad,” a magnificent tusker who earned his nickname by siring several of our ex orphans’ babies. However, it was a chilly day, and no one opted to wallow — perhaps the special guests provided ample entertainment! At the end of the day, little Nabulu led orphans back home for the evening, capping off a memorable month for our Ithumba herd.

July 2021 day to day

01 Jul

Galana and her herd have become regular visitors to the stockade compound. Today they arrived early as usual and settled for lucerne with the orphans. The babies Lapa and Lili played rough with the orphans simply because they could with their mothers around, offering them protection! Malima was disappointed that Lili smacked her so hard with her trunk and for no reason, when she is only a little girl like her. 

After feeding on lucerne, the ex-orphans left with Barsilinga, Tusuja, Siangiki, Olsekki, Oltaiyoni, Roi, Kamok, Naseku, Rapa and Enkikwe, only to show up at mud bath time, before leaving again. The Class Five members appear to be very much enjoying company of their older friends, even more than their stockade dependent friends now. Galla chose to stay behind with the dependent orphans and engaged Pare in a pushing game. When he was done Karisa chose to play with Pare too. Malkia and Maramoja spent a lovely time browsing together, while little Musiara browsed close by. 

It was quite sunny today and at the mud bath twenty wild bulls came for water. Later they all made the same pilgrimage to the stockade water trough too where they enjoyed some more fresh water. Enkikwe teamed up with Kandecha, Chemi Chemi and two wild bulls who escorted him back early to the stockade compound, where he stood waiting for his friends to arrive a bit later. 

Karisa sparring with Pare

Kamok browsing

Kandecha dustbathing