Keepers' Diaries, June 2009
Ithumba Reintegration Unit
The Ithumba orphans remain in 3 distinct groups, the “Youngsters” or “Juniors” are those that are still Keeper Dependent and who return to the Stockades of their own free will each evening and who now number 12 since Rapsu and Challa seem to have made the decision to upgrade themselves from the group and become permanent members of the 2 Senior Keeper Independent groups (known as the “Ex Orphans” or “Seniors”). They now number l8. The Senior group of older orphans is led by “Yatta”, (who has always been the overall Matriarch of the Ithumba elephants), and the Sub Senior Group is led by orphan “Wendi” who was reared in the Nursery from the day she was born. However, it is very obvious that Wendi’s group is still an integral part of Yatta’s older group and of the orphaned “family” as a whole which numbers 30.
01 June 2009
Naserian led the Juniors from the Stockade on a cool morning, and was met by Wendi’s group at the Stockade trough. All the orphans then headed out to feed in the bush, browsing calmly without incident until it was time for the mudbath. Meanwhile Yatta’s group, including her wild boy recruit who has been named “Mgeni” (meaning visitor) and who has become a permanent fixture of our now wild ex Ithumba orphans, turned up for a drink, and returned to the Stockades at 5 p.m. where they met up with Wendi’s Sub Seniors and the Youngsters. Naserian took her group straight into the Stockades, after which the two groups led by Yatta and Wendi left for a night out as usual.
02 June 2009
Sian and Makena enjoyed a scratch against the unloading bay where they were joined by Chyulu. On the way out Kora found a good tree strump to rub his jaw against, and as soon as he had quit, Zurura followed suit, scraching his jaw! En route to the mudbath, the Juniors were met by Yatta’s group (including “Mgeni) as well as Wendi’s gang, and the two Senior groups then changed direction, opting instead for the Stockade water trough rather than the mudbath bins of drinking water. Having relaxed for some time, they headed Eastwards, where they met up with the Youngsters who were browsing at the Kalovoto river area following their mudbath. Yatta then led the Juniors back to their Stockades, leaving the rest of her group still browsing near the Kalovoto seasonal river.
03 June 2009
A clear day promised hot weather. Sian led the group eastwards and at 8 a.m. Sian, Chyulu and the ever playful Loijuk enjoyed basking in the sun, rolling around on the ground, enjoying the warmth after a chilly night. At 11 a.m. sharp, Makena led the group to the mudbath, by which time temperatures had soared, causing Chyulu and Lenana to draw water from their stomachs to spray over their ears and back. All thoroughly enjoyed a wallow in the cool mudbath today.
04 June 2009
Naserian led the Juniors out, passing by the water trough for a drink. Soon after they had left Wendi’s group turned up for a drink, and then headed off, following the direction taken by Naserian’s group. An hour later Yatta’s group turned up for a drink at the Stockades, and followed the direction taken by the earlier groups, joining up with Wendi’s group and the Juniors who were browsing in the Kanziku area. All browsed together as one large herd, until “Mgeni”, the wild recruit, led the herd to the mudbath venue. After the mudbath, all enjoyed a dustbath, and browsed together for the rest of the day, returning together to the Stockades to see the Youngsters back for the night. Once the Youngsters were settled, Wendi’s group and that of Yatta left together.
05 June 2009
At first light a wild bull was waiting patiently at the Stockade water trough waiting for the Keepers to fill it. He then enjoyed a long drink, joined by a second bull and the Juniors, once they had been let out of their Stockades. The two wild bulls then left, and the Juniors, led by Sidai, also headed out separately. Shortly before 10 a.m. 3 wild elephants checked in for a drink. At noon, Wendi’s group and that of Yatta joined the youngsters at the Kone area. Within Yatta’s group were 2 wild elephants. All browsed together until the wild elephants led the entire herd back to the Stockades, where all enjoyed a long drink as well as a wallow. Afterwards the entire group headed eastwards, and at 5 p.m. Nasalot brought the Youngsters back to the Stockades, and relaxed until she was joined by Yatta and the others at 6 p.m. Ten minutes later they were joined by 2 wild bulls, and all then left together, the babies having settled in their Stockades for the night..
06 June 2009
The Juniors left their Night Stockades in a jovial mood, swinging their trunks from side to side, and deliberately bumping into one another. Having taken a drink, they headed off to the Kone area, where they were joined at 8 a.m. by Wendi’s group as well as that of Yatta. They then browsed together slowly moving eastwards, the Keepers following and by noon the entire herd had walked so far that they couldn’t turn back for the mudbath. It was a very long day, but the elephants simply moved deeper and deeper into the thickets, so the Keepers returned to the Stockades. By midnight the Juniors had still not returned, and the Keepers became extremely anxious. At 1 a.m. the Keepers heard rumbling, and were extremely relieved to see the Juniors heading back, led by Makena. Each orphan entered into its usual place, as the Keepers happily closed the stockade doors and could then relax!
07 June 2009
Early in the morning, Yatta’s and Wendi’s groups came to the stockades accompanied by 2 wild bulls, probably to confirm the safe arrival of the Juniors. As soon as the Juniors were let out of their Night quarters at 6 a.m., they joined the Seniors. Shortly afterwards the wild elephants led the group out, the Keepers following at a distance. At Kanziku two more wild elephants joined the group, and took control, escorting the orphans to an early mudbath at 9 a.m. However, since it was still cool, the orphans opted for a dustbath instead, and remained at the mudbath venue when the wild elephants left, heading westwards. The orphans went instead to browse along the slopes of Ithuma Hill.
08 June 2009
At 7 a.m. Wendi’s group joined the Juniors who were browsing just behind the “Cooperative Rock” just behind the Stockades, where they were joined a few moments later by a wild elephant, whom they welcomed very warmly. The wild elephant browsed with the orphans until l0 a.m. before deciding to leave. At 11 a.m. Wendi led the orphans to the mudbath, but since it was cool, only Lualeni and Loijuk went into the water, while the rest enjoyed a drink and a dustbath before resting under trees, and scratching themselves against fallen logs. Sunyei then led the group to the Kanziku area where they browsed until 5 p.m. and time to return to the Stockades. Once the Youngsters were settled for the night, Wendi’s group headed off, and 4 wild elephants came for a drink.
09 June 2009
At 5.45 a.m. 2 wild bulls were waiting for the Stockade trough to be re-filled with water. They were joined l0 minutes later by both Yatta’s group and that of Wendi, who joined them at the trough. The Seniors then left, but the wild bulls remained and greeted the Juniors as soon as they emerged. Sian then led the Juniors to the Kanziku area where they settled down to browse. Meanwhile Yatta’s group and Wendi’s group, (still accompanied by “Mgeni”) checked in at the mudbath venue, an hour before the Juniors were due, and relaxed under trees waiting for the arrival of the Juniors at 11 a.m. All then remained together until 2 p.m. when Yatta and Wendi took their respective groups off, leaving the Youngsters with their Keepers. At 4.30 p.m. 4 wild elephants came to drink at the Stockades, one of whom had enormous tusks. The 3 bulls left shortly before the arrival of the Juniors. At 6.30 p.m. 3 adult wild elephants and 2 yearling wild babies came for a drink, and left at 7 p.m.
10 June 2009
Naserian led the Youngsters to the slopes of Ithumba Hill to browse. Wendi’s group then came to the Stockades for water and headed west. The juniors attended their mudbath as usual, and enjoyed relaxing under trees for a while before heading out to feed again. At 3 p.m. Wendi’s group joined the Juniors and all browsed together until it was time to head back to the stockades. While Wendi’s group were still taking water, Yatta and her group turned up to join them, and all then headed off together for the night.
11 June 2009
The youngsters left their Night Stockades as usual, Makena taking a moment to scratch herself against a fallen log, while Chyulu did the same on a rock. Sian then led the group to the slopes of Ithuymba Hill.
12 June 2009
As soon as the Juniors were let out of their Stockades this morning, Kora and Rapsu engaged one another in a pushing match while Lenana, Chyulu, Makena and Zurura enjoyed a dustbath until Lualeni decided it was time to browse and they headed off. At noon the Juniors were joined by their Senior colleagues and all spent the rest of the day together, returning together to see the Juniors into their Stockades for the night before the Seniors headed out again. 30 minutes after they had left Rafiki turned up again, this time accompanied by 5 wild bulls, all of whom enjoyed taking a drink before leaving.
13 June 2009
It promised to be a hot day as the Juniors left their Night Stockades, joining a lone wild bull who was drinking at the stockade trough. The wild bull then left, and Sian led the group to the Kanziku area. Meanwhile the Senior ex orphans checked in at the Stockades for a drink before heading out again in the direction taken by the Juniors. However, the Juniors were without the Seniors at their noon mudbath, but were joined by the Seniors as they browsed in the afternoon along the slopes of Ithumba hill before returning to the stockades together. Once the Juniors were settled for the night, the Seniors headed out again.
14 June 2009
It was an uneventful and cool day. The Juniors headed out as usual, browsed all morning, and went to the mudbath at noon, where they enjoyed a dustbath. In the evening Makena led the way back to the stockades. The Senior ex orphans came for a drink after the Juniors were in their Stockades for the night, but then left.
15 June 2009
The Juniors were in a hurry to leave their Night Stockades today, heading off to climb Ithumba hill where they settled down to browse. After the mudbath Challa and Rapsu scratched themselves against trees while the rest enjoyed a soil bath before heading back to the hill to browse. At 5 p.m. the Seniors turned up at the Stockades for water where they were joined by 4 wild bulls. They left at 6 p.m., “Mgeni” enjoying a free ride by mounting Napasha and soon afterwards, the Juniors returned, led by Makena.
16 June 2009
The Juniors left to browse not far from the Stockades in a rocky area, where Loijuk enjoyed scratching herself againstthe rocks. At 7 a.m. the group surprised the Keepers by heading back to the Stockades where they met up with the Seniors who had turned up for a drink. The Juniors then left the Seniors and headed West to browse at the Kanziku area until noon, when Makena led the way to the mudbath. After the mudbath the Juniors returned to browse before returning for the night.
17 June 2009
It was a misty morning with drizzling rain, so the Juniors enjoyed rolling in the damp earth and drinking from tiny puddles. The seniors turned up at the noon mubdath venue an hour before their Junior colleagues, but hung around waiting for the Youngsters to show up. Since it was still cool, all headed back out to browse having taken water, and spend the afternoon and evening together before it was time to return the Juniors to the Stockades.
18 June 2009
The youngsters joined a lone bull who was drinking at the Stockades as they were let out. They then headed out westwards, leaving the wild bull at the compound. Yatta and Wendi’s groups then arrived at the Stockades for a drink, after which they were led back out by “Mgeni”, their wild bull recruit and joined the Juniors at the Kanziku area. All then browsed together as one large herd, attended the mudbath together, were together all afternoon, and escorted the Juniors back to their Night Stockades in the evening.
19 June 2009
Naserian led the Juniors out on a cloudy morning to browse along the Kalovoto seasonal river area. The Senior groups arrived at the mudbath venue an hour before the Juniors turned up, but waited for their arrival. Buchuma and Rapsu enjoyed a pushing game while the others all took a drink from the drums before heading out together. The entire herd spent the rest of the day together and returned the Juniors to the Stockades in the evening.
20 June 2009
Two hours after the Juniors had left their Night Stockades, a wild elephant turned up with a wound on left left leg, likely to have been inflicted by an arrow. At noon the Junior group attended their usual mudbath, and thereafter headed back to the browsing area to feed. At 3 p.m., the ex orphans accompanied by a large wild bull with only half a trunk (obviously as a result of a snare wound) joined the Youngsters at the Kanziku area and at 4 p.m. Wendi’s group, comprised of Napasha, Galana, Taita, Tomboi, Sunyei and Ndomot turned up. An hour later the wild bull steered the entire orphaned group back to the Stockades for a drink, where the herd relaxed until it was time for the Juniors to enter their Night Stockade. Having done so, the ex orphans left with the wild bull.
21 June 2009
Having scratched themselves against the Unloading Bay, Chyulu, Makena, Loijuk and Sian led the Juniors out to feed. An hour later a lone wild bull emerged from the thickets for a drink at the Stockade trough, and then left, and at 9 a.m. Yatta and her group came from an easterly direction, accompanied by 2 wild bulls. Having taken water they all headed west. At 10 a.m. Wendi with her small group also came to the stockades for a drink and then left. The Juniors enjoyed their noon mudbath as usual, and returned to the Stockades in the evening, after an afternoon browsing session.
22 June 2009
The Juniors, led by Sidai, headed to the Ithumba Hill and climbed a quarter way up where they settled down to browse. At 11 a.m. they descended and headed for the mudbath, where they were joined by both Yatta’s group and that of Wendi. All enjoyed fun in the mudbath together, Sunyei engaging Orok in a pushing game, Rapsu playing with Taita, Orok rolling and playing alone whilst Ndomot found a suitable rock to scratch himself against. Afterwards a few individuals enjoyed a dustbath and later the entire herd, still with their wild friend “Mgeni”, returned to the browsing area to feed. In the evening the Juniors headed back to the stockades, followed by Wendi’s group, who were joined by a wild friend at the water trough. Yatta’s group did not show up at the stockades in the evening.
23 June 2009
An hour after the Juniors had left the Stockade compound in the morning, having taken a drink first, Yatta brought her group back for water. Wendi’s group passed by the trough at 8.30 a.m. Today, all the ex orphans joined the Juniors at their noon mudbath, spent the afternoon with them feeding, and escorted the Youngsters back in the evening before heading back out for the night.
24 June 2009
This month Challa and Rapsu seem to have decided to become part of the Senior group under the Matriarchship of Yatta and Wendi. They were waiting at the Stockade Gates early in the morning to greet the Youngsters the moment they emerged. Having taken water, the orphans then ambled off to the Kanziku area to browse. At 11 a.m. Makena led the way to the mudbath, and the Youngsters were joined en route by Yatta, who joined in the mudbath ritual. (Wendi’s group was absent). After mudbath the orphans headed off to the Kalovoto seasonal river area to browse for the afternoon, returning to the Stockades in the evening. Olmalo and Rapsu lagged behind which prompted Yatta to raise her trunk from time to time to check on their whereabouts. At 6.30 p.m. Yatta’s group was still at the Stockade compound, where they were joined by Wendi and her group who emerged from the South. They were then joined by 2 wild elephants, who came to take water. The orphans then left the compound, but the 2 wild elephants remained behind.
25 June 2009
Today the youngsters, led by Nasrian, decided to head South to browse. En route Lenana initiated a soil bath, in which Chyulu and Makena also took part. It was a warm day, so the Youngsters enjoyed a prolonged mudbath at noon. Later in the afternoon, the orphans again passed by the mudbath where they met up with the Seniors who were accompanied by a wild friend. All enjoyed another mudbath, including the wild friend, so the day ended on a cool note!
26 June 2009
Today Naserian led her group westwards to browse. Kamboyo and Zurura enjoyed a pushing match, which was interrupted by Kora, who sent both boys off to browse. At the mudbath, the Juniors were joined by the Senior group, and all enjoyed a prolonged and happy mudbath together followed by a dustbath. In the evening the entire herd returned together to the stockades to see the Youngsters in for the night, and once they were settled, the Seniors left, having taken water.
27 June 2009
the orphans headed out in the morning in a happy mood, swinging their trunks and bumping into one another playfully. Kenze and Kamboyo engaged one another in a pushing match, in which Zurura participated to learn new tactics, while Sian and Loijuk enjoyed scratching their bodies against a flat rock. At 11.30 the Juniors headed off for the mudbath where they found the Senior group waiting for them. Later Yatta led the entire orphaned herd to the Imenti waterhole area to browse until it was time for the return to the Stockades in the evening.
28 June 2009
On a warm cloudless day, Kenze and Kamboyo had another pushing match, which once more was interrupted by Kora, who keeps the Stockade dependent boys in line. Because it was extremely hot, all partook of a prolonged mudbath. At 4 p.m. the ex orphans met up with the Juniors who were browsing in the Kanziku area, and later the entire herd returned with the Juniors to the Stockades. Soon after the Seniors had left the compound, having seen the Youngsters into their respective Night Quarters, 4 wild elephants checked in for a drink, after which they followed the direction taken by the ex orphans earlier.
29 June 2009
On a cool morning, Naserian led the Youngsters out in the morning, their Keepers following behind. The orphans settled to browse in the Kone area today until it was time to show up at the mudbath, but because of the cool weather, none took a wallow, opting for a distbath instead. Whilst thus engaged, Yatta and the Seniors turned up from the west and the entire group remained together for the rest of the day until the youngsters were back in their stockades in the evening, when the Seniors left the compound as usual.
30 June 2009
The vegetation is turning very dry as the drought tightens its hold, so the orphans have to concentrate on trying to find sufficient browse to satisfy their hunger. Today they opted for the Kanziku area where they were joined by the Senior group. All enjoyed the mudbath, because the day turned hot, the young wild bull “Mgeni” still very much part of Yatta’s family. When it was time to return to the Stockades in the evening, the Youngsters headed off, leaving the Seniors behind, who turned up at the Stockades much later shortly before dark to quench their thirst at the Stockade trough.