Keepers' Diaries, May 2006

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Ithumba Reintegration Unit

The Ithumba Unit appeared an incredibly happy group of young elephants this month. With good rain, and as a result lots of vegetation growth, every mud hole and water hole and river full it has transformed into a paradise.

The Ithumba Unit appeared an incredibly happy group of young elephants this month. With good rain, and as a result lots of vegetation growth, every mud hole and water hole and river full it has transformed into a paradise.

The Ithumba Camp has had a visit from a lone bull elephant, who seemed very unperturbed by the Camp staff and the buildings, and we wonder if this could be Imenti. Sadly there were none of the Keepers that know Imenti well enough in close proximately to confirm this. Sunyei is a real character in the group, and has this game that she loves to play. Whenever she thinks the time is right she comes flying out of the bushes trumpeting, ears out, and enjoys watching the chaos this creates amongst the others as they all get terrible frights, scream, and rush for the protection of the Keepers. It is something she is doing more and more frequently, and while it seems to get the desired effect from the younger orphans, the older ones like Yatta, Mulika and Nasalot , Kinna now know what she is up to and seldom react to it. However, should one of the other orphans behave in that way, trumpeting in alarm from baboons, dikdiks, snakes or any other thing while out in the grazing fields the older orphans are the first on the scene to ensure all is alright. They know now with Sunyei it is invariably a false alarm, and done purely for effect. Special friendships abound, with Yatta’s favorite calf being Olmalo. Galana has become extremely attached to Ndomot, as has Nasalot with Buchuma. Kinna remains the disciplinarian, and is very good at keeping the mischievous bulls in order, and that is quite some job with a number of naughty young bulls in the group. Tomboi, Taita, Buchuma, Ndomot, Rapsu, and Napasha most notably. Madiba opts for a quieter life and doesn’t often engage in the pushing games the others so love. Wendi continues to always gravitate to an audience, and once again we had BBC out with our Orphan’s at Ithumba filming for Elephant Diaries 2, and Wendi couldn’t resist showing off for them, hanging back while the others went about their browsing and daily routine, Wendi was always much more interested in what the BBC crew were doing. This month the work on a second stockade at Ithumba began in anticipation of Orok, Sidai and Challa being translocated from the Nairobi Nursery down to Tsavo in early June. With 17 elephants there already it was time to extend the night quarters to accommodate the latest arrivals and the others still in the Nairobi Nursery once they are old enough.

May 2006 day to day

01 May

Early in the morning, after the orphans enjoyed their drinking water at the stockade trough, young ones had a pushing game while the big orphans scratch the smooth nearby rocks as they waited for the Keepers to get organised to take them into the bush. There was a spectacular mudbath today due to beautiful weather conditions, lots of rolling around in the mud, climbing on each other, squashing the mud in their trunk, throwing it over themselves, each other, everywhere. In the evening Napasha and Yatta spent some time pushing and shoving in a playful way while the others concentrated on feeding on the beautiful bountiful vegetation everywhere.

The orphans mudbathing & having a lovely time

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