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
It was fortunate that the Trust managed to re-drill the Stockade borehole, which was beginning to fail, because wild elephants, mainly bulls, have also been frequent visitors to the water trough this month. One Big wild bull came alone during the morning of the 5th and that evening 14 enjoyed a drink at the Stockades. 9 Bulls came during the morning of the 7th, and another 6 on the l0th. The Bull that came to drink on the 15th was very nervous, fleeing when he sighted the Keepers, but the next day a very angry, but determined wild bull, desperate for water charged the Keepers as he fled, but then cunningly rounded up the orphans who were at the Lucerne pile, herding them to the water trough so that he could drink in amongst them, which he did quite peacefully! The next day 3 more friendly wild bulls turned up to drink and probably the same 3 were back again on both the 23rd and the 30th while a small female herd comprised of 4 adults and 3 calves came to drink on the 28th, followed by another female herd on the 29th.
On the 30th the Keepers discovered a baby lesser kudu so bogged in the mud of the orphans’ usual bush mudbath that they had to soften the surrounding mud with water in order to free it, but once out the little kudu bounded off to try and locate its family. It was an adult kudu that scared the Juniors on another occasion out in the bush, when brave Murka swung into action to see it off. Kilaguni initiated a mass routing of guineafowl which came to also drink at the Stockades, something that excited all the Juniors so that the air was filled with trumpeting and dust! But, mainly this month, due to the dry conditions, the elephants have had to focus on filling their stomachs, rather than play but it is very gratifying to see little Mwende fit and healthy again and full of playful mischief. She is the pride and joy of the Keepers and because of being frequently at the compound with her mother, is more familiar with them than Yatta’s baby, Yetu who is more integrated as a member of the main Ex orphan herd.
We apologize for the lack of photos from the Ithumba Unit. This is due to technical problems with camera equipment which is being rectified.