Keepers' Diaries, June 2012

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

Following the failure of the April/May rains, the vegetation has dried out much sooner than usual, so the dry season began to bite early this year. Mulika and her baby Mwende have been frequent visitors to the Stockades to enjoy supplementary feeding, as have other members of the Ex Orphan unit, sometimes all together along with Yatta and her baby, little Yetu, and at other times either alone, or just accompanied some some friends. The month began with Kora and Lualeni coming early to the compound, followed shortly afterwards by Mulika and little Mwende, who were welcomed warmly by Chaimu, Kalama and Kandecha. Later Kora and Lualeni accompanied the orphans out into the bush, but peeled off once out there. The following day several of the Ex Orphans again turned up to enjoy a handout, accompanied by “Kijana” Yatta’s wild recruit and on that occasion Challa intervened to break up the pushing bout that was in progress between Sabachi and Kandecha. ( Although actually older than Kandecha, Sabachi is smaller and not as strong, so he usually only emerges victorious over the smaller boys such as Chemi Chemi and Ololoo, while Kandecha’s main sparring partner is Kilaguni and testing their strength against one another is the favourite pastime of these two bigger boys who spar on a daily basis The Youngsters were again briefly joined by the entire Ex Orphan herd out in the bush on the 5th, and at the Stockades during the morning of the 7th when Kora intertwined his trunk with that of Kora and Madiba. On the 8th Mulika and little Mwende turned up at the mudbath to join the Juniors along with Wendi, Selengai and Tomboi plus a friendly wild bull. All then accompanied the Juniors to the slopes of Ithumba hill for the afternoon browsing session. Challa joined 6 wild bulls who came to drink at the Stockades on the 10th, treating little Ololoo to some Pushing tuition and the next day it was Napasha who turned up along to join the Juniors at the Stockade and accompany them out. On the way they met up with Yatta and the entire Ex Orphan herd on their way to drink at the Stockades, so he left the Junios to join them instead and returned with them to the Stockades where they drank, leaving the Youngsters to proceed on their way. The Ex Orphans were back on the 12th for water, but missed the Youngsters who had already left. However, they joined them at their noon mudbath later. Interaction with the Ex Orphans continued to take place throughout the rest of the month, partoiclarly Mulika and little Mwende who come frequently to the Stockades for Mulika’s supplementary feeding. Little Mwende is no longer weak, and is a very endearing and playful baby, who thoroughly enjoys interacting with the Keepers, chasing the wheelbarrow around and playing with Head Keeper Benjamin who named her, and can handle her with ease. “Kijana” Yatta’ wild recruit came with Taita to drink at the Stockades on the 14th while the entire Ex Orphan herd returned to drink at the Stockades again on the 17th. Mulika and Mwende return more frequently than the others, Mulika obviously feeling the need for supplements to keep her milk flowing as it should, the milk bar having suffered a setback when she returned a month or two ago with a pierced ear. Challa was met up with the Juniors in passing out in the field on the 25th . After several days’ absence the Ex Orphans returned to mingle with the Juniors at the Stockade compound early on the morning of the 30th

01 June 2012

At 6 a.m. Ex Orphans Kora and Lualeni (best friends) came to join the Juniors, within half an hour followed by Mulika and her baby, Mwende. Chaimu, Kalama and Kandecha ran to welcome little Mwende, and escorted her and her mother to the Stockades before returning to feed on the Lucerne hand-out. Later Tumaren led the Orphaned group out to browse, where Kora and Lualeni left them, heading South. At 11 a.m. the Juniors attended their usual mudbath,returning to browse in the afternoon until it was time to return to the Stockades in the evening.

02 June 2012

While the orphans were enjoying their ration of Lucerne, Sabachi and Kibo engaged one another in a test of strength, which was easily won by Kibo, who has outgrown Sabachi, despite being younger. Sabachi is only able to overpower the smaller boys such as Chemi Chemi and Ololoo. At the mudbath Kitirua, Kilaguni and Chaimu outshone all the others during a prolonged wallow, which was followed by soil dusting before the group headed out to browse again. Kitirua began leading the Juniors back, but was overtaken by Kalama.

03 June 2012

As the Juniors were enjoying their morning Lucerne, some of the Ex Orphans, namely Challa, Madiba, Kenze, Kamboyo, Galana, Naserian, Loijuk and Lenana, accompanied by Yatta’s wild recruit “Kijana” emerged from the bush just as Sabachi and Kandecha were engaged in a Pushing Game which was short lived because Challa separated them. When it was time to head out to browse, the Ex Orphans accompanied the Juniors to the Kone area, where they left them, heading East. It was too cold for a mudbath today, so the Juniors opted for a dusting session instead.

04 June 2012

The day began with Kilaguni and Kandecha testing their strength before joining their colleagues at the Lucerne pile. It was an uneventful day, the Juniors fully occupied browsing up until the milk and mudbath hour, and then during the afternoon.

05 June 2012

As the Junioors were drinking at the Stockade water trough, they were joined by a wild bull. At first they retreated, but later gained courage and returned to join the wild bull as he drank. At l0 a.m. the Juniors were joined by the Ex Orphans who browsed alongside them at the Kanziku area, before heading off. It was another cold morning, so the Juniors enjoyed a dustbath rather than wallow.

06 June 2012

The day began, as usual, with Kilaguni and Kandecha engaging one another which ended in a draw when the boys went to take their Lucerne. Chaimu led the group out to browse today. After the noon mudbath Sabachi led the Juniors back to browse for the rest of the afternoon. Just before the Juniors arrived back in the evening 14 wild Bull Elephants came to drink at the stockade water trough and were joined by the Juniors as soon as they came in.

07 June 2012

Nine wild Bulls were drinking at the trough as the orphans emerged from their Stockade in the morning, so the Youngsters headed directly to their Lucerne pile where Kandecha and Kilaguni had their usual brief Strength Test. Shortly afterwards all the Ex Orphans turned up, warmly welcomed by Kandecha who intertwined his trunk with that of both Kora and Madiba. When it was time to leave Kitirua led the Juniors to the Kone area to browse. At the noon mudbath only Chaimu, Kitirua and Kilaguni went in to wallow while the rest scratched themselves against trees instead.

08 June 2012

This morning Kandecha took on Suguta in a Pushing Game because his friend Kilaguni was otherwise occupied, chasing some guineafowl around the compound. This attracted the attention of the whole herd who joined in filling the compound with dusk until all the guineafowl took to the air! At the noon mudbath the Juniors were joined by Mulika, her baby, Mwende, Wendi, Selengai and Tomboi who came with a wild Bull friend. Later the Ex Orphans and their wild friend accompanied the Juniors to the slopes of Ithumba hill to browse, before carrying on without them heading for the Stockades.

09 June 2012

Another uneventful day when the Juniors concentrated on feeding. At the mudbath only Murka and Kilaguni wallowed while the rest opted for a dustbath instead.

10 June 2012

As the Juniors emerged today, six wild Bulls were busy taking water at the Stockade trough, so the Juniors went straight to the Lucerne pile. There they were joined by Ex Orphan Challa who emerged from the bushes. Ololoo engaged Challa in a Pushing Game in which Challa was very gentle with the little boyand seeing this, Kilaguni immediately took on his friend, Kandecha. Meanwhile, the wild Bulls had taken their fill and moved on, so the Juniors went to the trough, after which, led by Kalama, they headed out to the Kone area. At the mudbath only Chemi Chemi and Kitirua went in, while the rest opted for a dustbnath instead. In the evening another six wild Bulls turned up to drink at the Stockades, where they were joined by Ex Orphan Tomboi.

11 June 2012

As soon as the Juniors left the Stockades, they were joined by Ex Orphan Napasha and a short while later, by the rest of the Ex Orphan herd who were heading to the Stockades for a drink. Napasha then separated from the Juniors in order to accompany his peers. At the mudbath Ololoo climbed into the drinking trough to cool himself, but climbed out and joined the others in a dustbath when cautioned by the Keepers.

12 June 2012

The Ex Orphans joined the Juniors at the Stockade compound this morning, but separated from the Youngsters at Kone to head towards the Kanziku area. However, the two groups met up again at the Mudbath, but only a few of the elephants wallowed. In the afternoon they all browsed along the slopes of Ithumba hill until it was time to return to the Stockades in the evening.

13 June 2012

Having taken their Lucerne, Chaimu led the orphans out this morning. The day proceeded wirhout incident until mudbath time, when a few went in to wallow. Later the Juniors browsed the slopes of Ithumba hill.

14 June 2012

Mulika and her baby came for the supplements in the morning. Mwende was in a very playful mood and kept charging the Keepers as they cleaned the Stockade compound. Later Ex Orphan Taita came with Yatta’s wild attachment, Kijana, to drink at the Stockades and spent a short while with the Juniors before they headed out to browse, leaving Kijana, Taita and Mulika and baby at the Stockades.

15 June 2012

A wild Bull joined Sabachi and Tumaren as they were drinking at the Stockade water trough this morning, but ran off when he spotted the Keepers. Shortly afterwards three more wild Bulls came to join the orphans at the Stockade water trough. The Juniors left them there to head out to browse. It was another day that was too cool to tempt the orphans into the mudbath.

16 June 2012

As the orphans were taking their Lucerne quota today, a very nervous wild elephant passed by and charged the Keepers who were with the orphans, before doing the same to the other Keepers who were cleaning the compound before retreated a short distance. It then drove the orphans to the water trough, and joined them there to drink without fear. It was a warmer day today for the mudbath, so all the Juniors went in.

17 June 2012

The orphans were in a jovial mood, swinging their trunks from side to side as they headed towards the Lucerne pile. They then joined three wild Bulls who came to drink at the Stockade water trough, and after the Juniors had headed out to browse, all the Ex Orphans turned up for a drink. The Ex Orphans then joined the Juniors at their noon mudbath and later the entire herd settled down to browse together on the slopes of Ithumba hill until the evening. When it was time for the Juniors to return, only Mulika and her baby accompanied the Juniors back so that Mulika could have supplements.

18 June 2012

On a cool morning Mulika and Mwende joined the Juniors at the Lucerne pile. Out in the bush Kilaguni and Kandecha ran around in a warm-up exercise. It was too cool for a mudbath, so the Juniors had a soil bath before heading south to browse. En route they encountered a lesser kudu which scared them at first until Murka led the charge to chase the kudu off, all the orphans then with trunks raised once the antelope had disappeared.

19 June 2012

Suguta led the Juniors out to browse today. It was a warmer day, so all enjoyed the mudbath. At 4 p.m. Kibo and Sabachi had a Pushing Match while the rest concentrated on filling their stomachs.

20 June 2012

It was another cool day, so the Juniors opted out of the mud again. Kandecha and Kilaguni had an exciting Pushing Game in the afternoon which was interrupted by Kibo who took over Kandecha.

21 June 2012

It was clear this morning, promising a hot day in which all the orphans enjoyed a prolonged wallow without any side shows other than Kandecha trying to mount onto Kilaguni for a free ride!

22 June 2012

It was a cold and humid morning as the orphans and their Keepers headed out to browse. The day was too cool for a mudwallow so it was a dustbath instead, followed by an afternoon spent browsing before returning in the evening.

23 June 2012

As the Juniors were taking their Lucerne, three wild Bulls came to the Stockade to drink and were joined by the Juniors once they had finished the Lucerne. The Juniors then headed out to browse, leaving the wild elephants still taking water.

24 June 2012

The orphans emerged in a playful mood and having taken water, moved off to feed. Kilaguni and Kandecha had their usual Pushing Game which prompted Sabachi and Kibo to do the same. Kandecha led the group to the milk and mudbath venue, but Kalama led them home in the evening.

25 June 2012

Naisula led the Juniors out today, where they were joined by Challa, warmly welcomed by Chaimu, Melia and Tumaren who intertwinded their trunks with his. He didn’t spend long with the Juniors before heading off, probably to locate his colleagues.

26 June 2012

The Juniors filled the air with trumpets as they left their Night Stockades this morning. Chaimu and Kalama led the group towards the Eastern side of Ithumba hill where the orphans found some loose soil by the roadside in which Kitirua and Chaimu provided the incentive for all to join them in a dustbath before settling down to feed.

27 June 2012

Due to the failure of the March/April rains over Tsavo, the orphans have to focus on feeding as the dry season begins to bite. Today, they spent more time than usual at the mudbath area after which they sheltered under trees during the heat of the day, before feeding again.

28 June 2012

As the orphans were taking their Lucerne ration today, a wild herd of 4 adults and 3 calves came to drink at the water trough. The orphans joined them, and since the entire group could not fit around the trough, they took it in turns until it was time for the orphans to head out to feed. They took advantage of a cooler day and only took their milk at the mudbath venue.

29 June 2012

Another wild herd came to take water at the Stockades this morning. The orphans waited until they had finished drinking, before Suguta led them to drink themselves before heading out to feed. Kalama led them East of the Stockades and they returned to the Stockades for their mudbath. Meanwhile, at the usual mudbath venue a baby lesser kudu was found stuck in the mud. In order to extract it the Keepers had to soften the mud around it with water, and once it was pulled free, it ran off at speed to try and find its family.

30 June 2012

During the morning 3 wild Bulls came to drink, one minus a tail who is well known to the Keepers. They were joined by the Ex Orphans, who were joined by the Juniors as soon as they emerged from their Stockades before heading out to browse. At the mudbath a baby lesser kudu was so stuck and held firmly by the mud that the Keepers had to soften the surrounding mud with water in order to release the baby. Once free, it bounded off in search of its mother and family.