Keepers' Diaries, March 2012

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

March is usually the hottest month of the year down in Tsavo but this time, according to the Diary, it has been interspersed with cooler days when the Orphans even declined a mudbath, so the temperature has been more variable. However, on the lst little Chemi Chemi - the smallest of the Ithumba Unit- had to resort to drawing water from his stomach with his trunk in order to spray it over and under his ears to cool himself down. On the 23rd he had to do the same again, as did Ololoo. Ex Nairobi Nursery Youngsters take some time to become accustomed to the Tsavo temperatures, which is why we usually move Youngsters from the Nursery during the cool months of June, July and August.

01 March 2012

Tumaren and Chaimu led the orphans to the Kalovoto area today, all in a happy mood, swinging their trunks from side to side and playfully bumping into one another. It was a very hot day, so all enjoyed a protracted mudbath. During the afternoon, it was so hot that little Chemi Chemi had to draw water from his stomach to spray over himself.

02 March 2012

Soon after the Keeper Dependent orphans had left the Stockade compound, Yatta and her calf turned up, accompanied by a few of the Ex Orphans and her three wild recruits, Mgeni, Kijana and Kimathena. The same group of Ex Orphans joined the Juniors at the mudbath, Kandecha challenging Ex Orphan Makena to a Pushing Match in which he was out-classed.

03 March 2012

All concentrated on browsing today, only Kilaguni and Sabachi taking time out to have a Pushing Match. In the evening the group split into three, Kandecha leading the first group, Kalama the second and Tumaren bringing in the last.

04 March 2012

Having all had their fill of water at the Stockade trough, Kandecha led the orphans out today. After the mudbath, they browsed the Kalovoto area again until the evening. At 2 p.m. all the Ex Orphans came to the Stockade for water and at 5 p.m. a wild herd came to drink at the Stockade water trough.

05 March 2012

It was a cool day, so the orphans bypassed the water trough and headed out to browse. Kilaguni and Sabachi engaged each other in a Pushing Match, while Suguta found a tree against which to scratch herself and Melia chose a suitable boulder. Kandecha again led the orphans back in the evening.

06 March 2012

Today the orphans chose the Kanziku area in which to browse, Olare finding a wet patch of soil to enjoy, soon joined by Sabachi and Melia. Only Kilaguni opted for a mudbath, the rest scratching themselves against trees. Meanwhile, at l0 a.m. Yatta and the Ex Orphans came to drink at the Stockades, and in the evening a wild herd did the same.

07 March 2012

Murka led the orphans out today to browse the Kone area. As it was a cool morning, they did not drink before leaving. At the mudbath venue two wild bulls came for a drink while the orphans were there busy taking a dustbath instead of going into the mud, due to the temperature.

08 March 2012

Having taken water at the Stockade trough, the orphans headed out to feed, led by Tumaren. En route Kandecha engaged Kilaguni in a brief Pushing Game, Kilaguni emerging the winner. At around l0 a.m. the Ex Orphans accompanied by wild elephants came to the Stockade to drink.

09 March 2012

Before leaving today, Kibo and Kandecha challenged one another to a strength testing exercise, in which Kibo emerged the victor. All concentrated on browsing until the mudbath hour, by which time it had turned hot, so all enjoyed the mud.

10 March 2012

At the Stockade compound, Suguta, Melia and Kilaguni scratched against the acacia tree while Chaimu chose the water trough and Kibo had a go at pushing Kandecha. At the mudbath the Orphans were joined by all the Ex Orphans and some wild friends with whom they interacted for half an hour before the orphans left, heading for the slopes of Ithumba hill, where they browsed for the rest of the day.

11 March 2012

Once at the feeding grounds, Kilaguni and Kandecha embarked on their usual Pushing Match, during which Kilaguni used every trick in the book to get topsides of Kandecha. At the mudbath only Chaimu, Kandecha and Kilaguni wallowed.

12 March 2012

The orphans browsed the Kanziku area seriously today without much play. On the way back in the evening they passed by the mudbath where they found Wendi’s splinter group of Ex Orphans, whom they happily joined for a dustbath, before returning to the Stockades in the late evening.

13 March 2012

Following the usual Stockade scratching activity – (Kilaguni using the acacia tree, Melia and Suguta the nearby rocks and Ololoo, Chemi Chemi and Naisula the water trough), Tumaren led the orphans out to browse, settling at the Kone area. Since it was a cool day, the orphans opted for a soil bath instead of the mud, but on the way back in the evening waded through the mudbath to cool off their legs.

14 March 2012

The Stockade activity today was a soil bath, Sabachi and Kandecha engaging in the usual Pushing Bout in which Sabachi emerged victorious. Shortly before 11 a.m. the Ex Orphans accompanied by wild elephant friends checked in at the mudbath, soon joined by the Juniors after they had taken their milk. Later Lualeni and Kora escorted the Juniors back to the browsing field, and an hour later withdrew from the Juniors to return for their fellow colleagues.

15 March 2012

Kilaguni and Kandecha began the day with the usual Pushing Match until Tumaren led the Juniors out to browse. At the noon mudbath, the Youngsters were joined by 3 wild bulls. They browsed the slopes of Ithumba hill later before returning in the evening.

16 March 2012

On the way out to browse Kilaguni and Sabachi were at it again, watched by Chaimu who was enjoying a dustbath. Later Kilaguni quit the game and Chaimu took his place briefly. At the mudbath the orphans were joined by more than l0 wild elephants who came with all the Ex Orphans. The Juniors had a wonderful time interacting with this large group until it was time to return to the feeding grounds.

17 March 2012

It was a quiet feeding day without any major disruption other than a dustbath after the mudbath, before resuming browsing again.

18 March 2012

Out in the field Tumaren and Sabachi had a disagreement over a log of wood which each wanted to use as a scratching aid. Tumaren got the upper hand, being much bigger than Sabachi, who simply had to await his turn. At the mudbath only Chaimu and Kandecha wallowed while the rest went back to feed after having taken water. Kandecha and Chaimu followed them once they had finished wallowing.

19 March 2012

It was another quiet feeding day, but for Kandecha and Kilaguni engaging one another in the usual Pushing Match. After taking their milk and water at noon, they had a brief dustbath and then returned to feeding.

20 March 2012

This morning Chaimu and Kandecha spent time chasing one another around the stockade compound as they waited for their Keepers to escort them out to browse. It was too cold for a mudbath today, so having taken water and their milk, the orphans resumed browsing.

21 March 2012

It was a lovely morning as the orphans headed out to browse, Kilaguni and Sabachi engaging one another again in the usual Pushing tussle. This ended abruptly when Sabachi tried to mount Kilaguni, forcing Kilaguni to run away. All had a lengthy wallow for about 30 minutes, until Kitirua exited the mudbath and headed off into the bush, followed by all the others.

22 March 2012

Sabachi and Kandecha were at it again as soon as they emerged from their Night Quarters, while Chemi Chemi, Olare, Naisula and Melia focused on scratching against various suitable places. At the mudbath the Juniors were joined again by the Ex Orphans and many wild elephant friends, amongst whom was a large tuskless female.

23 March 2012

The day turned exceedingly hot, forcing Chemi Chemi and Ololoo to resort to drawing water from their stomachs to spray over and under their ears. Due to the heat, all had a wonderful lengthy mudbath today.

24 March 2012

Kibo and Sabachi scratched themselves against the tree while Kilaguni and Kandecha were at their usual Pushing Game which was interrupted by Tumaren. Chaimu then led the orphans out, heading to the Kalovoto area, followed later by Suguta Naisula, Chemi Chemi and Olare, who had lagged behind. Kandecha, as usual, led the way to the mudbath and milk venue, but since the day turned cool, none of the elephants wallowed. Instead they returned to feed.

25 March 2012

It was an uneventful day after the orphans had completed their Stockade scratching activity. At noon only Kandecha, Chaimu and Kilaguni wallowed.

26 March 2012

At the noon mudbath the Juniors were joined by the Ex Orphans and their wild elephant friends with whom they interacted until it was time to return to the feeding area before returning in the evening.

27 March 2012

The orphans left the Stockade compound in a jovial mood, swinging their trunks from side to side. Olare led them to the Kalovoto area to browse along the banks of this seasonal river. After the mudbath, the Juniors returned to browse until time to return.

28 March 2012

As soon as the Stockade gates were opened in the morning, all the Ex Orphans and their wild friends emerged from the Eastern side of the Stockade and strode straight to the water trough, where they were joined briefly by the Juniors before they headed out, this time to Kone, where they settled down to browse. It was a quiet mudbath, because the Juniors returned to browse having taken their milk.

29 March 2012

Whilst browsing at the Kanziku area, the Juniors were joined by a large wild bull who browsed with them for quite some time, until it got the scent of the Keepers. Only Melia, Kandecha and Chaimu wallowed today, the rest opting for a dust bath.

30 March 2012

Murka led the Junior group out to browse today where they fed calmly until it was time for the noon mudbath. Only Ololoo decided to wallow, the rest opting for a soil dusting.

31 March 2012

It was an overcast day as the orphans emerged in the morning. After scratching themselves against suitable obstacles, Tumaren led the herd to the Kone area to feed. The weather was not favourable for a mudbath, so all had a soil dusting session instead. In the evening, on their way back to the Stockades, they decided to take a brief mudbath and another dusting session before returning for the night.