Keepers' Diaries, June 2004

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

On the l8th June, six of our Nursery Elephants graduated to the new Re-introduction Facility at Ithumba in the Northern Area of Tsavo. Emily’s family of 31 still dependent elephants was becoming too unwieldy for our Keepers to handle during the dry season. Furthermore, we would like the Voi orphans to grow up to the point when they need no longer be sheltered in the Night Stockades to protect them from lion attack. The introduction of more small babies from the Nairobi Nursery inevitably anchors the older females, who remain to care for them.

18 June 2004

Wendi and Selengai also tried to jump out of the lorry when the upper tailgate was opened. The Keepers blocked them from doing so. Napasha did not display any difficulty in coping with the new environment, and immediately began to browse.

19 June 2004

Early in the morning the babies were led to their browsing field. At first, the orphans were confused and reluctant to feed on the dry browse, with the exception of Napasha, who tucked in as usual. At 9 a.m. the others began to follow his example.

20 June 2004

At mudbath Napasha lay down to play, and Tomboi came along to jump on him as Olmalo watched. Selengai spotted a dikdik and charged it, forcing it to flee.

21 June 2004

Wendi’s group came to greet the four older elephants who had just arrived from the Voi group, namely Yatta, Kinna, Mulika and Nasalot. Nasolot showed a great deal of interest in the babies, touching each one gently with her trunk. Olmalo responded, and immediately began to follow Nasalot.

22 June 2004

Wendi led the others to the mudbath with Olmalo bringing up the rear.

23 June 2004

At noon bottle feeding time, Napasha finished his milk fast, and went to try and hijack Olmalo’s shjare, but was prevented by the Keepers. Napasha entered the drinking trough and splashed water over himself with his trunk.

24 June 2004

At 9.30 a.m., Selengai suckled Nasalot’s ear, whilst Nasalot just stood still. At mudwallow, Napasha drank water standing inside the drinking trough.

25 June 2004

At l0 a.m., Kinna tried to bully Napasha and Wendi, but was prevented doing so by the Keepers. At 2.30 p.m., the babies followed Nasalot and fed a short distance away from the Keepers.

26 June 2004

This morning the babies appeared very relaxed, settled and free of stress. Out in the bush, they scattered, each browsing independently. At 11 a.m. a mongoose emerged from a hole, which scared Olmalo, who ran to the Keepers for protection, whilst Napasha dealt with the mongoose, chasing it away.

27 June 2004

At mudbath, Tomboi shoved Olmalo. Nasalot spotted this and came running to rescue Olmalo, chasing Tomboi away.

28 June 2004

On their way out into the bush, Taita took the lead, followed by Selengai. Nasalot remained behind to protect the other babies. At around noon, Mulika placed her trunk on the back of Wendi, which is a sign of the beginnings of a strong friendship. She is showing much more interest in the babies now.

29 June 2004

In the evening Selengai and Taita initiated a pushing game, which deteriorated into a fight. Nasalot came to separate them.

30 June 2004

In the morning, Kinna and Yatta walked joyfully, swinging their trunks from side to side, which is a sign of happiness. Tomboi and Selengai imitated them, doing the same.