Keepers' Diaries, March 2020

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Ithumba Reintegration Unit

Up until the middle of the month we were blessed to see the ex-orphans a few times, including Mulika and her new little baby boy Mkuu. They visited the stockades and the main waterhole a few times to check in on the dependent-orphans and the Keepers, and show off all the delightful little wild born babies in their midst. Yatta these days is with her baby Yoyo, Loijuk, and baby Lili, Wendi and her baby Wema, Mwende, Vuria, Chyulu, Nasalot, baby Nusu, Kinna, baby Kama, Makireti, Kilabasi, Challa and Kasigau, and occasionally Mulika with baby Mkuu and Galana with her baby Gawa too, but it seems for the time being Mulika and Galana spend the most time together. Dependent orphans Roi and Naseku love to assign themselves they role of playing nanny to baby Lili, while Yoyo is a typical young bull and likes to keep himself busy by challenging Tusuja, Mundusi and Naseku.

On the 5th at around nine thirty at night, ex-orphans Tumaren, Melia, Naisula, Kalama, Chemi Chemi and Kibo showed up briefly at the stockade compound after being away for several months. Perhaps they had heard the news and came to meet the new baby too! We were very excited to see these graduate orphans that had been away for so long, but it was only a brief visit by them and we did not see them again for the rest of the month (apart from seeing Melia alone on the 13th when she joined the orphans at the mud bath). We were delighted to see Chemi Chemi out and evidently enjoying the wild again with his friends, having fully recovered from his lion attack almost exactly two years ago now.

Barsilinga, who turned eight years old this month, continued to have his bad foot cleaned alongside Enkikwe who has his leg-wound, inflicted by lions two years ago, cleaned every morning too. Barsilinga’s foot is certainly improving, which is also apparent by the fact that he started trying to dodge the Keepers and his younger friends in the afternoon, to avoid returning back to the stockades at night. The Keepers still search for him as they don’t want him to be out on his own, no matter how much he complains and is reluctant to go back to the stockades once he is found. Hopefully when his sore foot heals he will be able to move off again and join his friends like Kithaka still out in the wilds of Tsavo East.

Although we received a few days of rain this month which is a positive sign that the long rains are on their way, those days were interspersed with searing heat and the orphans really enjoyed the main mud bath at noon this month which is brimming full. As usual Wanjala, Tusuja and Mundusi were the little water-babies this month, but they were joined by Esampu as well who was clearly enjoying the water. One day she came running out of the waterhole swinging her trunk and trumpeting with excitement, which made all her friends come running out of the water charging around too! She has to make sure she keeps this confident personality in-check though so she does not over-step the mark, but she is pretty good at realizing when that is too. She received a warning from Kauro one day when she tried to reach for some leaves that he had his eye on too. Esampu knew not to argue or risk getting in trouble with Kauro who is older, bigger and stronger than her, so Esampu left and went to browse far away from Kauro to stress that she wasn’t looking for any trouble. Tusuja is another confident young baby who is very playful and bullish, typical of boys his age. He is also inquisitive, which we witnessed this month when one day he walked straight up to a visiting wild bull and was extremely at ease in his company.  

The orphans often choose to sensibly rest in the shade during the heat of the day, waiting it out before going back to browsing once things have cooled off. Siangiki continues to dote on and look after her favourite little boy Ambo and they are often spotted browsing with each other which suits them both.

Roi has been acting up again this month and showing off her naughty side. One day she picked up an empty bottle thinking that it had milk inside, but was disappointed when she found that it was finished, however she still walked off with the bottle and made the Keeper walk around after her for a good long time before finally dropping it! Another day Namalok was happily feeding on a tasty branch minding his own business when Roi wandered over and pulled the branch out of Namalok’s mouth; thereafter a pushing game ensued as Namelok was not best pleased. The pushing game went on for quite some time until Namalok decided that it was a waste of time and eventually went to look for another branch instead.

March 2020 day to day

01 Mar

The orphans went straight out to browse soon after leaving their stockades. A short while later, the ex-orphans and wild elephants passed by close to the stockade compound heading west, with little baby boy Mkuu tramping around their feet in that sweet way only baby elephants do. The ex-orphans returned back to the stockade compound later in the afternoon but this time without Galana, who arrived later in the evening with ex-orphan bull Challa. Just before dark, all the ex-orphans wandered off into the Park with their new little baby.

During the day the dependent orphans really enjoyed a mud bath after their 11am milk bottles. A few meters away stood a wild bull. Tusuja volunteered to go and find out more about the wild bull; he didn’t get too close and kept a safe distance, just holding his trunk in the air and sniffing. After appearing to find out all he wanted to know, brave Tusuja walked back to his friends. After mud bath, the orphans headed west of Ithumba Hill where they settled to browse until evening and it was time to return home.

Tusuja walking towards a wild bull

Malkia downing a milk bottle

Wild bull at mud bath