Keepers' Diaries, March 2011

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.

01 March 2011

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.

02 March 2011

Chaimu led the orphans out for the day where they spent their time browsing stopping only for their noon milk feed and mudbath. At 7am Wendi, Galana, Sunyei, Meibai, Challa, Tomboi, Naserian, Loijuk, Makena, Lenana, Kenze and Zurura visited the stockade for a drink of water followed at 10am by Yatta, Mulika, Kinna, Nasalot, Orok, Selengai, Buchuma, Zurura, Kora, Lualeni, Sidai, Mgeni and two other wild bulls.

03 March 2011

Once out of their stockades Tumaren and Suguta scratched against the nearby rocks while Kilaguni rolled around on the ground having a dustbath. The keepers led the orphans to the Kanziku area to browse before going to the mudwallow. They had a lovely long mudbath before they each found an acacia tree to scratch against.

04 March 2011

Tumaren led the way out of the stockades after which Ithumbah took the lead to the browsing fields with Suguta bringing up the rear. At the noon mudbath the youngsters were joined by Yatta, Mulika, Mgeni, Selengai, Buchuma, Taita and Orok. The two groups walled together for a while before the youngsters headed to the slopes of Ithumba hill for an afternoon of browsing.

05 March 2011

Suguta came out from the stockades and headed straight to her scratching rock while the rest of the orphans had a drink. The youngsters were joined at the stockades by Mulika, Yatta, Kinna, Nasalot, Wendi, Galana, Buchuma, Orok, Selengai, Madiba, Napasha, Mgeni and another wild bull. The orphans spent the morning browsing before going to mudwallow for a cooling mudbath.

06 March 2011

The orphans left the stockades early browsing in the fields until 11am at which time they made their way to the mudwallow. Kilaguni and Sabachi were extremely active today and have fun showing off all of their mudbathing skills. The orphans then had a drink at the water trough were they were joined by Yatta followed by Selengai, Kinna, Wendi, Taita, Buchuma and Napasha. Wendi headed straight for Ithumbah placing her trunk on Ithumbah’s back. The two groups were joined by a wild group among them was a one tusked mother and her three calves.

07 March 2011

At around 9am Chaimu charged towards Melia flapping her ears all in an effort to scare her. Instead of running Melia stood her ground which surprised Chaimu who stopped and sniffed at Melia’s trunk before walking away.

08 March 2011

The orphans spent a quiet morning browsing before heading to the mudwallow where they were joined by the same mother and calves that had visited on the 6th. They all bathed together before the one tusked mother’s two older calves led the orphans away as the one tusked female left the waterhole taking Ithumbah with her. Ithumbah who looked calm followed her and her calves, ignoring the keeper’s calls. As the group crossed the road Ithumbah started to lag behind and stopped to scratch against a tree. The wild elephants continued to rumble and call her but she turned and rejoined the rest of the orphans who were following at a safe distance with the keepers.

09 March 2011

Once out of the stockades the orphans had fun running around dashing in and out of the nearby thickets. Sabachi and Kilaguni engaged one another in strength testing games after which the orphans headed to Kanziku to browse for the morning before going to the mudbath for their noon milk feed. The afternoon was spent relaxing and browsing on the slopes of Ithumba hill. In the evening all the ex orphans, with the exception of Ndomot, visited the stockades.

10 March 2011

The orphans had a scratching session on the rocks before settling down to browse. At the mudbath Ithumbah had fun rubbing herself against Kilaguni who had lying in the mudwallow. Tumaren had a lovely time wallowing in the deepest part of the mudbath. Suguta was enjoying rolling around on the ground as Melia, who was scratching against a tree, watched her. Later in the evening four wild bulls came to the stockade water trough for a drink.

11 March 2011

The orphans were greeted by a cold day as they headed out to browse. At 9am Kilaguni, Sabachi and Ithumbah stopped browsing to have a dustbath on a stream bank. Due to the cool weather none of the orphans partook of the mudbath.

12 March 2011

Chaimu charged out of the stockades and knelt down digging at the soil with her small tusks while the rest of the orphans scratched themselves against the trees and rocks. While out browsing Ithumbah and Tumaren had a dustbath in some red soil. As it was a cold day the orphans all opted for a dustbath.

13 March 2011

The day was again cool as the orphans fed on the drying vegetation. None of them was in a hurry to go to the mudwallow and they slowly made their way there for the noon milk feed before heading back to the fields to browse.

14 March 2011

It was already turning into a hot day as the orphans passed by the water trough before heading out for the day. Sabachi and Chaimu were browsing together when Sabachi attempted to mount Chaimu. His actions did not go unnoticed by Tumaren and Suguta who were quick to reprimand him. In the evening, once the orphans were back in their stockades, a lone cheetah came out of the bushes and had a drink at the stockade waterhole before disappearing again.

15 March 2011

Soon after the youngsters had left the stockades for a day out in the bush Yatta, Mulika, Nasalot, Kinna, Meibai, Galana, Naserian, Taita, Chyulu, Buchuma and Orok visited the stockade water trough for a drink before they too headed into the bush.

16 March 2011

By 10 am the temperature was soaring forcing Suguta, Tumaren and Melia to draw water from their stomachs to spray behind their ears in an effort to cool down. This was not sufficient and as such the orphans headed to the mudwallow with Ithumbah, Chaimu and Sabachi pushing each other in an effort to lead the rest. The orphans all had a long wallow before relaxing under the shade of the acacia trees, they all had another mudbath on the way home in the evening.

17 March 2011

The sky was clear as the orphans headed out for the day, an indication that the temperatures would be soaring. Kilaguni and Sabachi, the only two boys among the youngsters, spent some time locked in a pushing game with each other. A long mudbath was had after which the orphans settled under the trees for a scratch before going back to the bush to browse.

18 March 2011

In the morning both Wendi and Yatta’s groups came to the stockades for a drink before heading back out to the park. The youngsters had a quiet day spent browsing in the fields.

19 March 2011

The ex orphans came to the stockades for a drink as the youngsters were leaving for the day. Once they had their fill they split into two groups led by Yatta and Wendi. Yatta’s group of Mulika, Kinna, Orok, Buchuma, Taita, Selengai, and Mgeni chose to join the youngsters who were browsing at Kone while Wendi’s group headed to the mudbath. At noon Mgeni escorted the orphans to the mudbath and went straight to the water as the youngsters had their milk. The group was joined at the mudbath by Wendi’s group and later by two wild elephants. They all had a glorious time bathing before going their separate ways.

20 March 2011

It rained heavily during the night and the orphans had a lovely time enjoying the wet vegetation and wallowing in the rain filled pools. They also had a lovely time drinking the rain water from all the nooks, crannies and rock crevices that they could find.

21 March 2011

Upon exiting the stockades the orphans scattered each engaging in a different activity. Suguta and Melia were busy scratching against the rocks while the rest of the group had a drink at the water trough. Ithumbah led the group out with Chaimu, who lagged behind with the keepers bringing up the rear. At the noon mudbath the orphans had their milk bottles before heading back to the field where they could have their pick of mudbaths to wallow in.

22 March 2011

While out in the field Ithumbah and Suguta found some loose soil and stopped browsing to have a dustbath and it was not long before they were joined by the rest of the group. As they browsed their way to the mudwallow Chaimu stopped to cool down in a small mudbath before Tumaren led the rest to their milk feed.

23 March 2011

The day was uneventful and the orphans spent it browsing in the company of their keepers. The stopped only to go to the mudbath for their milk before going back the fields to browse.

24 March 2011

The orphans led by Suguta strolled out of their stockades and headed to the fields. They spent the morning browsing before going to the mudbath where after taking their milk they tried to stay cool by standing under the trees flapping their ears.

25 March 2011

Suguta and Melia began the morning by scratching against the rocks while Sabachi and Kilaguni engaged each other in a pushing game. The keepers led the orphans out and they spent the day browsing stopping only for a cooling wallow in a nearby mudbath.

26 March 2011

A golden sunrise greeted the orphans this morning as left their stockades. Kilaguni and Sabachi had a pushing contest of which Sabachi was the victor. The day was once again hot and the orphans had a lovely long mudwallow before going back to the fields to browse.

27 March 2011

As the orphans were busy having their morning drink of water a flock of guinea fowls passed by prompting Chaimu and the rest of the orphans to mount a charge. The guinea fowl saw the orphans charging towards them and quickly flew away. It was a somewhat chilly day and the orphans avoided the mudbath choosing instead to spend the day browsing.

28 March 2011

The orphans left the stockade compound at 6am and settled to browse in the Kone area. At 10am they were joined by Wendi, Napasha, Kamboyo, Loijuk, Madiba, Kora, Lualeni, Meibai, Naserian, Sidai and Lenana. Wendi headed straight to Ithumbah and the two browsed side by side until it was time for the youngsters to go for their noon milk feed.

29 March 2011

It was a partially cloudy morning as the orphans headed out for the day. At 9am the weather changed and rain clouds gathered. It was not long before the distant rumble of thunder could be heard followed by the occasional flash of lightning and rain could be seen falling in the east. The afternoon was sunny as the orphans browsed before returning to the stockades for the night where it drizzled throughout the night. In the evening Yatta, Mulika, Selengai, Nasalot, Orok, Buchuma, Mgeni and two wild bulls came to drink at the stockade water trough before heading back where they came from.

30 March 2011

The orphans left the stockade at dawn and scattered around the stockade compound to scratch on the rocks before Melia led the way out for the day. It was a cool day and it seemed as if it would rain, and it did drizzle for a while. The orphans took their milk at the noon mudwallow before going back to the fields to continue their browsing activities.