Keepers' Diaries, June 2007

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

Apart from the appearance of a lion and a jackal, both of whom came to the Stockade trough for a drink in the early morning, and Sian and Loijuk taking fright at a dikdik, it has been an uneventful and happy month for the Ithumba orphans with Kenze, Loijuk and Sian now well settled into their new home. Kenze has been embraced by the Big Girls, mainly Mulika and Nasalot choosing to spend time with them, obviously relishing finding himself back in a proper elephant herd. Mulika, especially, seeks him out, and lavishes a great deal of attention on him. Meanwhile Sian and Loijuk are inseparable, having been close Nursery friends, whilst Sunyei and Naserian are always at hand to ensure good behaviour amongst the junior set. Wendi, as usual, is ever eager to engage any visiting humans, and this month has been taking an interest in the Greens Trailer, obviously picking up the odd tasty tidbit that has been left in it. Lualeni and Kora remain extremely close, Kora still a reluctant mud-bather, having never been overly fond of water.. As always, the boy orphans enjoy engaging each other in pushing matches to test dominance and strength, with Rapsu now a force to be reckoned with. Sian and Loijuk, often accompanied by Naserian to ensure that the newcomers do not get lost, have been leading the group on many occasions, showing that they have rapidly learnt the way around their new home. Sunyei, Wendi and Naserian, as previous Nursery Matriarchs remain very much in charge of the younger set, often splitting from the older orphans to feed apart, but reuniting with them when it is time to either go to the mudbath venue, or return to the Stockades in the evenings. Yatta, remains the overall Matriarch of the Ithumba orphans, with Ol Malo still her special “baby”, backed up by Mulika, who, although younger, is also taller, and who still adores Selengai, and also Kenze, and Naserian and her little satellite Orok, who is never far from her side.

01 June 2007

Naserian Sian and Loijuk were the leaders out into the field today. En route Napasha and Kinna engaged one another in a pushing game, which was ended by the intervention of Yatta. At noon, Kenze, Loijuk and Sian went straight into the waterhole to cool their bodies before taking their milk, obviously not yet adjusted to the heat of Ithumba! Later Ndomot, Sian, Loijuk and Kenze enjoyed scratching themselves against the trees.

02 June 2007

Yatta, Mulika, Nasalot and Kinna, the 4 Big Girls, led the orphans out into the field today, pausing to have a concerted dusting exercise, spraying dust over themselves using their trunks. During the mudbath, Lualeni sat on Madiba, who screamed for help, but the older elephants had not yet arrived, so the Keepers warned Lualeni not to sit on Madiba!

03 June 2007

It was a cool morning, so the orphans bypassed the water trough. Wendi spent time inspecting the Greens Trailer, and hurried to catch up with the others. Out in the field Loijuk and Sian fed together, but Kenze joined the Big Group. Sian and Loijuk are firm friends, and always close together. At mudbath, whilst most of the elephants found it too cold to go into the water, Sian and Loijuk thought otherwise, and enjoyed a good wallow.

04 June 2007

The morning began with a cool breeze, which prompted Sunyei, the cunning one, to rush around trumpeting with the others running behind her, all kicking up dust with their feet and making all sorts of noises. Sian and Loijuk made sure they were at the front, fearing too much attention from the naughty boys. When mudbath time drew near, Sunyei insisted on being the group leader, and again only Sian and Loijuk went into the mud, it being considered too cold by all the others.

05 June 2007

Yatta led the group out today, where all fed peacefully until Sian and Loijuk were scared by a dikdik. They rushed to the Bigger Elephants for protection!

06 June 2007

Under the leadership of Yatta, the orphans browsed close to the Stockades. Loijuk and Sian split from the main group, but Nasalot and Orok went to supervise them. On the way to the mudbath Yatta and Olmalo were last to arrive, since Olmalo is always slow. During the afternoon, all fed quietly until it was time to go home, when Yatta, Kinna, Nasalot and Mulika had to mount a search for Olmalo, who had gone deep into the thickets. Yatta accompanied her back, making sure that OlMalo arrived safely.

07 June 2007

At dawn a lion came to take a drink at the Stockade trough, when all the elephants were still in their Stockades. As soon as the Gates were opened, all cautiously approached the trough with their trunks in the air. Kora was tempted to follow the scent of the lion, but was turned back by Yatta and Mulika. The day turned very hot, so the orphans relaxed under trees until the temperatures cooled a little.

08 June 2007

The dry season is now taking hold, and the country turning drab and dessicated, so the orphans have to work hard to fill their bellies each day before it becomes too hot and they have to retreat into shade. They enjoyed a wonderful mudbath, after which they rested under shade, although Taita, Tomboi and Buchuma continued to feed despite the heat.

09 June 2007

Yatta and Mulika led the way out today, after the orphans had enjoyed romping around the water trough, engaging each other in pushing matches. All enjoyed the mudbath today, followed by a soil dusting session.

10 June 2007

After the early morning thirst quenching, the orphans followed Yatta who led them to the Kalovoto watercourse where they browsed along the banks. Yatta and Napasha dug roots up with their tusks, which they relished. All were happy to partake in the mudbath since it was very hot.

11 June 2007

The milk dependent babies having taken their ration of milk at dawn, they all gathered around the water trough awaiting the decision of the older females about which direction to take. Yatta, Mulika and the older elephants led the way, enjoying the first rays of the sun. Kenze enjoyed the company of Mulika, who paid him a great deal of attention, following him around. All enjoyed the mudbath at noon.

12 June 2007

At the mudbath Madiba sat on Lualeni, who screamed for help. Immediately Sunyei responded, pushing Madiba away so that Lualeni could get up. Soon all the orphans were in the mudbath with Lualeni, after which they enjoyed a soil bath which lasted some 20 minutes. Later Sian and Loijuk returned to the mudbath for a further cooling off, before trundling out again to browse.

13 June 2007

It was a chilly morning, which the orphans enjoyed. Madiba and Ndomot enjoyed a game running around the thickets followed by a pushing game which ended when Madiba surrendered. Because it was still cool at noon, all the orphans took a dustbath instead of the mud.

14 June 2007

Sian, Loijuk and Naserian led the way out today, and were also first at the milk venue and mudbath. After mudbath, Nasalot led the herd out to feed again.

15 June 2007

Taita took the lead today, steering the herd towards the Imenti waterhole, where they spent time feeding before moving on to the Ithumba Dam. Yatta then led them back to the Imenti Waterhole, where they enjoyed a mudbath which lasted a full hour. Mulika then signaled that it was time to head for home, feeding along the way.

16 June 2007

Kinna and Napasha engaged one another in a Pushing Match before leaving the Stockade compound. Their game went on for a long time, by which time the others had left and were out of sight. This brought the game to an abrupt end as they hurried to catch up. In the evening the orphans fed close to the mudwallow before returning in the evening.

17 June 2007

In the morning, at around 9.30 a.m., 2 jackals came to take water at the Stockade. At around 9.30 a.m. Madiba engaged Naserian in a Pushing Match. Naserian slipped and fell, so Madiba seized the advantage and tried to mount onto her. She yelled for help, and this brought Sunyei at the double, who pushed Madiba away. At the mudbath, whilst taking milk, a Keeper called Kenze to take his milk, and Sidai, who is very greedy, having been starved of milk when orphaned, tried to push Kenze away from his bottle and accidentally pushed the Keeper, who fell down. The Keepers yelled at Sidai, who ran off, aware that she had done something very wrong.

18 June 2007

Dame Daphne was at the mudbath, and watched Ndomot and Madiba engage one another in the mudbath to show their strength. Sunyei came to stop the boys antics, but as Ndomot was walking away, Madiba took the chance of giving him a prod in the bottom!. All the orphans, enjoyed the mudbath except Kora, who just walked across it. When it was time to leave Sian and Loijuk led the group back into the bush.

19 June 2007

As all the orphans gathered around the water trough, in no hurry to head out, Sian and Loijuk led the way, with Naserian following. By l0 a.m., it became very hot, so the orphans took to the shade to feed, and later all enjoyed a prolonged mudbath to cool their bodies down. The afternoon was spent browsing peacefully.

20 June 2007

Yatta, Mulika, Nasalot and Kinna led the group out today, and as it became hot, the orphans took to the trees, the only sound the flapping of their ears to cool themselves. All enjoyed the mudbath, and again took to the shade until 3 p.m., when it was cooler and they could go out to browse.

21 June 2007

Nasalot led the group out today. Once out in the field, the orphans split themselves into three groups; Sian, Loijuk, Naserian and Challa forming one group, Sunyei Madiba, Ndomot, Rapsu, Buchuma and Taita forming the second group whilst Yatta led the remainder. Each group went in a different direction, reuniting shortly before 11 a.m. for the regular mudbath. In the afternoon the orphans headed for the Kalovoto area, where they browsed for the remainder of the day.

22 June 2007

It was a cool morning as the orphans gathered around the water trough to decide which direction to take today. Soon afterwards Yatta led them to the slopes of Ithumba Hill. As it was still cool at noon, none of the elephants went into the mudbath, but continued their feeding activities after the babies had taken their milk, heading out in groups. Yatta, Nasalot, Mulika, Orok, Kenze, Kinna and Olmalo went first followed by Sian, Galana, Loijuk, Wendi, Lualeni and Naserian whilst Sunyei led the third group, which enjoyed a dustbath on the way out. The orphans congregated together in the evening when it was time to return to the Stockades.

23 June 2007

Another cool day, as Yatta led the group out in the morning. At the waterhole, Sunyei and Naserian enjoyed a pushing game which was interrupted by Kinna, since girls are not supposed to indulge in such games. Later Kora and Rapsu engaged one another, which left Kora running away, defeated by the strength of Rapsu.

24 June 2007

Mulika led the orphans out on another cool day, taking the road that leads to the Headquarters. When near the buildings, Yatta took over, and veered into the thickets. Out in the bush Rapsu, Sunyei and Lualeni scratched themselves against trees. Rapsu pushed Lualeni away, but Sunyei immediately retaliated, punishing Rapsu by pushing him away. Afterwards Mulika sought out Kenze and OlMalo and led them away from the rest. However, Ol Malo bellowed and immediately Yatta arrived in response. As it was a cool day, there was no mudbath, but the orphans enjoyed walking far without becoming tired.

25 June 2007

Another cool day, so the orphans were happy to wander far afield. Wendi again lagged behind to inspect the Greens Trailer in case any tasty tidbits had been left, before following the rest of the herd, swinging her trunk from side to side. Out in the field the youngsters took their noon milk feed, and the older elephants immediately herded them back out to browse.

26 June 2007

Wendi took the lead today, heading out in a completely different direction Eastwards. Out in the field Ndomot and Tomboi engaged one another in a strength testing exercise which went on for sometime until Ndomot surrendered. It was too cold for a mudbath, but at 2 p.m. the sun came out and very soon it became unbearably hot again, sending the orphans searching for the trees and shade. When it cooled down in the afternoon, they continued feeding.

27 June 2007

During the night a herd of wild elephants visited the Stockade water trough to quench their thirst. They left soon afterwards leaving the orphans rumbling and bellowing for the gates to be opened so that they could join them. Early in the morning, having taken a drink, Nasalot led the way, following the tracks of the wild nocturnal visitors, but the orphans gave up the quest after an hour of trailing them, although Nasalot, Orok, Kenze and Buchuma carried on for a while, but returned when they noticed the others remaining behind. Nasalot would probably have walked all day trying to make contact with her wild peers. En route to the mudbath Naserian lagged behind, but on realizing that she was alone, bellowed loudly whilst running to catch up with the others. Kinna and Mulika responded by retreating to see what was amiss, meeting Naserian as she ran towards them. They calmed her down and escorted her to join the others, who were ahead.

28 June 2007

In the dead of night while the orphans were in a deep sleep, a lone lion passed a few metres from the Stockade, roaring loudly, which scared the elephants. In the morning Kora followed the footprints of the lion, but Yatta led the rest of the group in the opposite direction. Once he realized he was on his own, Kora retreated and headed back to join them.

29 June 2007

Today, Naserian Kora and Lualeni led the group out into the bush, where serious feeding was the order of the day. Since it was too cold to wallow, the orphans, led by Kora returned to the browsing fields

30 June 2007

Nasalot, followed by Kenze and Orok led the way out early this morning. The orphans browsed contentedly until it was time for the milk feed and mudwallow where different activities took place, ranging from Tomboi and Buchuma’s Pushing Game, soil dusting, and Taita trying to mount onto Naserian. Kinna, who was at the dust-bath, noticed this and immediately came to Naserian’s aid, sending Taita fleeing for safety rather than face the wrath of Kinna!