Keepers' Diaries, March 2011

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Ithumba Reintegration Unit

The high temperatures experienced in February continued into the month of March with the exception of a few showers. The remaining Keeper dependent orphans Suguta, Melia, Chaimu, Ithumbah, Tumaren, Kilaguni and Sabachi continue to suffer due to the soaring temperatures and as such they have long cooling mudbaths, on occasion arriving at the mudwallow earlier than normal. They spend time feeding in the fields and when the temperatures are at their highest they seek the coolness offered by the shade of the acacias where they are sometimes forced to draw water from their stomachs to throw behind their ears in an effort to cool off. A heavy rain shower during the night of the 19th brought some welcome relief to the orphans who spent the next day wallowing in the rain filled puddles and drinking rainwater that had collected in all the nooks and crannies. There were more short showers at the end of the month which we hope signals the beginning of the expected rainy season.

The high temperatures experienced in February continued into the month of March with the exception of a few showers. The remaining Keeper dependent orphans Suguta, Melia, Chaimu, Ithumbah, Tumaren, Kilaguni and Sabachi continue to suffer due to the soaring temperatures and as such they have long cooling mudbaths, on occasion arriving at the mudwallow earlier than normal. They spend time feeding in the fields and when the temperatures are at their highest they seek the coolness offered by the shade of the acacias where they are sometimes forced to draw water from their stomachs to throw behind their ears in an effort to cool off. A heavy rain shower during the night of the 19th brought some welcome relief to the orphans who spent the next day wallowing in the rain filled puddles and drinking rainwater that had collected in all the nooks and crannies. There were more short showers at the end of the month which we hope signals the beginning of the expected rainy season.

The keeper dependent orphans were visited on many occasions buy both Yatta and Wendi’s groups. On the 2nd all of the Ex orphans paid a visit top the stockade water trough. Among Yatta’s group was Mgeni and two other wild bulls. On the 4th Yatta, Mulika, Mgeni, Selengai, Buchuma, Taita and Orok joined the youngsters at the noon mudbath after which they all went to the slopes of Ithumba hill to browse. On the 5th the juniors were met at the stockades in the morning by Yatta’s group which included Wendi, Mgeni and another wild bull. Both of the Ex orphan groups joined the babies on the 6th and Wendi immediately gave a loving embrace to Ithumbah who is dearly loved by many of the older orphans. The Ex orphans accompanied the babies out to browse where they were joined by a wild herd consisting of a one tusked female and her three calves. This same group joined the youngsters at the mudbath on the 8th, and it turned out to be the most exciting and eventful day of the month. During the mudwallow the wild female inspected all of the orphan’s one at a time after which she led Ithumbah away while her two older claves kept the keepers at bay. Ithumbah willingly followed the wild group with the orphans and keepers calling to her from a safe distance. She stopped to think and with both groups calling to her she made the decision to return to her orphaned herd.
On the 10th four wild bulls came to the stockade late in the evening to quench their thirst at the water trough before heading back into the bush. On the 14th after the orphans were back in their stockades a cheetah surprised the keepers by coming for a drink. On the 19th the orphans were joined by older groups and later were escorted to the mudbath by Mgeni, the wild bull who has befriended the orphans and joined their ranks. At the end of the month the orphans were visited again by the ex orphans who had been absent for several days. On the 28th Wendi, Napasha, Kamboyo, Loijuk, Madiba, Kora, Lualeni, Meibai, Naserian, Sidai and Lenana joined the orphans who were browsing in the Kone area. Wendi once again tended to Ithumbah and the two fed side by side. On the 29th Yatta, Mulika, Selengai, Nasalot, Orok Buchuma, Mgeni and two wild bulls came to the stockades for a drink before returning to the park.
The two Ex orphan groups generally consist of the same members, Yatta’s Senior Group mostly made up of the older females, Mgeni, Napasha and Orok as well as some of the younger bulls and the odd wild visitor. Wendi’s Group usually comprises of the other ex nursery Matriarch’s such as Galana, Sunyei, Chyulu, Makena, Naserian, Lenana, Loijuk and Sidai.

Once out of the stockades in the morning Suguta and Melia can often be found scratching and soil bathing together while Kilaguni and Sabachi engage in strength testing games. On several occasions Tumaren has been found to take the lead when the orphan group is on the move. On the 7th Chaimu, who likes charging around set her sights on Melia and ran towards her with ears flapping. Melia was unperturbed and stood her ground which brought Chaimu to a grinding halt. On the 14th Sabachi tried to mount Chaimu who was busy browsing. Suguta and Tumaren were quick to discipline him just as they used to when they were all at the Nursery.
On the 27th a flock of guinea fowls passed the orphans who were busy drinking at the stockade water trough. Their attention was quickly diverted to the guinea fowl with Chaimu leading the charge. Ndomot continues to be absent from the main orphaned herd and the keepers are keeping an eye out for him.

March 2011 day to day

01 Mar

Heavy clouds obscured the sky as the orphans left the stockades. Despite the weather they were in a jovial mood, swinging their trunks from side to side. They had a dustbath before Ithumbah led them out to the Kone area to browse. By noon the temperatures were soaring and the orphans had a lovely mudbath after which Kilaguni and Tumaren had a scratch before they all headed back to the browsing fields.

Tumaren enjoying a cooling mudbath

Kilaguni relaxing in the mud

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