Keepers' Diaries, June 2015

Select your unit:

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

The new arrivals Kithaka, Barsilinga and Lemoyian are having a wonderful time in their new home, favored by the females in the dependent group, and ex-orphans Sidai, Lenana and Chyulu all hooked on the little chaps. They have fitted in like veterans and love the stimulation and exposure to all the older orphans and wild bulls too. Dependent orphan Kainuk has become extremely attached to Lemoyian and gets jealous when the older orphans come to take charge of him.

The new arrivals Kithaka, Barsilinga and Lemoyian are having a wonderful time in their new home, favored by the females in the dependent group, and ex-orphans Sidai, Lenana and Chyulu all hooked on the little chaps. They have fitted in like veterans and love the stimulation and exposure to all the older orphans and wild bulls too. Dependent orphan Kainuk has become extremely attached to Lemoyian and gets jealous when the older orphans come to take charge of him.

Little Garzi was the tiny one in their midst until recently and now likes playing mounting games on the new arrivals relishing that he is not the little guy any more – these games however are not tolerated by Sities, Turkwel and Kainuk. The females keep an eye on the naughty dependent bulls in case they harass the newcomers and keep them in line.

With the cool season sweeping over Tsavo now soil dusting is favored and some days the midday mudbathing session is missed altogether. This of course is not always the case, but predictably one elephant who never misses a wallowing opportunity is water baby Bongo. This month a number of wild bulls have been visiting regularly, with old faithful Half Trunk still very much in the mix.

On the 5th of June after a long absence Suguta returned home escorted by big ex-orphans Loijuk and Madiba. Clearly arriving without her herd meant something was wrong so the Keepers immediately went to take a closer look. Sure enough she had two wounds which we suspected could have been poisoned arrow wounds. Dr. Poghon was called immediately and she was treated and thankfully no arrows were found. However, Dr. Poghon was concerned that something maybe lodged deep inside or even in a lung so the DSWT portable X-ray machine was flown down along with a metal detector and Suguta was X-rayed and checked over thoroughly. Thankfully no object was found inside her. Suguta has since reverted to becoming a dependent baby, enjoying the milk feeds, the attention and the tender loving care afforded to her from all the orphans, big and small and her trusted Keepers. What happened to Suguta we will never know, but we think a crude spear made from a sharpened stick perhaps was thrown at her by bush meat poachers. Thankfully by months end she had almost totally healed. What was remarkable about this was how she was brought home, with a fresh wound, by ex-orphans Madiba and Loijuk who ensured she was safely delivered to the Keepers at the Ithumba stockades where she could receive the attention and help they knew she needed. This happened after an extended absence of almost two months with her semi-independent orphan herd. Also once treated she has understood that she needs to remain close to home in order to heal and recover fully, enabling follow up treatments of dressing her wounds. She enters the stockades of her own free will and has demoted herself to fully dependent orphan once more.

Lualeni has been around with her group of ex-orphans looking to recruit some newcomers. The Keepers are mindful of her baby snatching ways and have been keeping a close eye on things whenever she is around. She knows this and responds by appearing completely disinterested in the dependent babies, trailing at a distance; trying to give the impression of little interest in an effort to outwit the Keepers.

The wild bulls have been around joining the Ithumba ex-orphans and on one occasion Teleki was spirited away by a big group of ex-orphans and wild elephants, making it extremely difficult for the Keepers to retrieve him. As a milk dependent calf, still requiring milk, it was important they did get him back into the fold and thankfully he finally returned.

On the 15th of June the rest of Suguta’s herd, Melia, Tumaren, Chemi chemi, Kibo, Kalama and Kandecha, arrived back to the Ithumba stockades. Given that Suguta returned ten days earlier with injuries the Keepers inspected them all very closely to be sure all was ok, and sure enough Tumaren and Kandecha had small wounds which looked like they had almost totally healed but were probably inflicted at the same time as Suguta’s. There was no arrow and the wounds were too small for a spear so we conclude that maybe a crude sharpened stick was what was thrown at them probably by bush meat poachers. Their wounds required little attention apart from some cleaning and green clay and they otherwise all looked in excellent health.

On the 21st of the month the ex-orphans returned with wild bulls in their company and one magnificent bull pursuing Kinna relentlessly and mating her. This has now thrown our theory as we thought Kinna was pregnant having been mated in February 2013. We have been expecting a baby any day but now with this recent activity we are left extremely confused. The increased swelling of her breasts and stomach size had convinced us otherwise, and we have been waiting for babies all this time. Time alone will tell! The suitor has been persistent following Kinna for a number of days, and she appears to like her handsome boyfriend.

June 2015 day to day

01 Jun

Soon after leaving the stockade, Sities immediately headed up to the new babies stockade to check on Kithaka, Barsilinga and Lemoyian who have become very much become a central part of the dependent orphan’s attention.. Upon finding them she kept a close watch on them, sniffing them all over. She then picked up a few of their left over night feed and left with them. As the others spilled out of their stockades ready to face the day Laragai stepped on the grass that Kanjoro was intending to feed on. He was angered by Laragai’s actions and gave he a very hard shove, making sure she was painfully aware of his displeasure. The morning was chilly and none of the orphans passed by the water trough to drink, but instead headed towards Kone with their faithful keepers trailing behind. Narok led the way today and the rest of the group filed out behind her. The new arrivals Kithaka, Barsilinga and Lemoyain have now settled in well and seem extremely happy and excited by their new home. There is now so much more stimulation for them between the dependent young, semi dependent and the ex orphans and their wild friends. Every day is different and they love the browse in Ithumba too. . Sities and Turkwel kept guard on the three babies having to discipline Garzi from time to time and he was always prone to riding on them. Garzi used to be the smallest in the group, but now after arrival of the three new babies, Garzi now wants to show that he is not a junior anymore and is prone to harassing them whenever he gets chance – thankfully the girls make sure this never gets out of hand. At mud bath time, the weather was still chilly and the juniors only took milk then water before Kithaka led the way back to the bush. The by passed a mud bath entirely but this is not unusual in the cold season. On the way, Teleki took some time to roll on the ground before finally following the rest. Kanjoro and Shukuru also spent time soil dusting tossing the powder red earth over their bodies. Its cooling effect is favoured by all the elephants. Towards evening, the juniors were joined by a group of ex orphans who found them in the bush. The group included Sidai, Lenana, Tomboi, Lualeni, Ololoo, Loijuk, Madiba and Zurura. Sidai and Lenana who from the beginning have fallen in love with Kithaka, Lemoyain and Barsilinga, didn't want to leave them for a moment and kept trailing them. The group passed at mud bath where Lualeni opted for an evening mud bath. Orwa who likes to challenge his seniors decided to have a strength testing exercise with Ololoo but unfortunately lost and sheepishly faded into the background hoping it was not noticed by the others. As the herd headed to the stockade, there was great excitement from Loijuk who was just celebrating life, charging and trumpeting, thrashing bushes in her path. On the way, Barsilinga stopped to perform a soil dusting exercise using his trunk. Buchuma, Sidai and Lenana also stopped and waited for him to finish. The little babies love the attention they are having lavished on them. At the stockade, Sidai was furious to be locked out, as she had every intention of heading into the stockades with her little babies. She moved up and down until she was tired. Its only then she teamed back up with Lenana, Buchuma, Zurura, Loijuk, Ololoo, Lualeni and Madiba and left for an undisclosed location.

Sities off to check on the new babies

Shukuru and Kanjoro soil dusting

Garzi plays with lemoyian

Select your unit:
View keepers’ diaries for another month?