Keepers' Diaries, May 2009

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

The Ithumba Diary is very interesting this month, all the Keeper Independent orphans now regularly choosing to travel in two distinct groups, one led by Wendi and the other by Yatta. However, various members from either group swap from time to time, all the orphans obviously viewing one another as an extended bonded “family” who keep constantly in touch with all members, irrespective of where they happen to be. On many occasions Wendi’s group and that of Yatta join up to spend time as one large family with the Keeper Dependent youngsters who still return each night to their night stockades. When the youngsters are escorted back to the stockades in the evenings, either by Wendi’s group, or that of Yatta, or both, they are often accompanied by wild friends who make the journey back with them. Once the youngsters have settled into their stockades for the night, the independent group, or groups, leave with their wild friends. I would urge all our foster-parents to read the daily entries of the Ithumba Diary this month, for they give a fascinating example of elephant communication, elephant responsibility, caring and intelligence, of the special relationship the Ithumba orphans have with one another as well as their Keepers and of mysterious elephant communication, which is both fascinating, and wondrous.

01 May 2009

On a clear day Sian led the youngsters out to browse. At 8 a.m. Wendi’s group, comprised of Sunyei, Ndomot, Madiba, Napasha, Tomboi and Galana joined the youngsters at the Kanziku area and they all fed together for the rest of the day. However at 4 p.m. Challa and Rapsu went off together and failed to turn up at the Stockades in the evening, Wendi having escorted the remaining youngsters back for the night.

02 May 2009

At 9 a.m. it was Yatta and her group of Seniors who joined the babies at the Kanziku area, bringing with them Rapsu and Challa, who were happy to join their Junior group again. After the mudbath Yatta and her group of 8 orphans separated from the youngsters and headed south of the mudbath, but later returned to the Stockades, where they relaxed as they waited for the youngsters’ return. At 6.15 Wendi and her group turned up at the Stockades to a rapturous welcome from the others. A short while later they all left together for an unknown destination out in the bush.

03 May 2009

Sian led the youngsters out on what promised to be a very hot day this morning, all stopping first to take on water from the Stockade trough. At l0 a.m. the Juniors were joined by Nasalot, Taita, Wendi, Napasha, Sunyei, Ndomot, Madiba and Galana incorporating orphans from both Yatta’s group of Seniors and Wendi’s group of sub-Seniors. All enjoyed the mudbath together. Later Nasalot led the orphaned herd to the Eastern slopes of Ithumba Hill to browse for the remainder of the day, and then led the orphans back to the Stockades in the evening. Nasalot and those she had come with then left once the youngsters were settled for the night.

04 May 2009

Wendi’s group of sub Seniors met the Juniors as soon as they were let out of the Stockades in the morning, Nasalot and the Seniors who were with her the previous day being absent on this occasion. Sian and Lenana enjoyed a scratch against the unloading bay until Sian was ready to lead the entire group out, heading towards the Kone area where they browsed until time for the mudbath. Chyulu led the way to the mudbath where all enjoyed themselves before resting under shade until temperatures cooled.

05 May 2009

The Juniors left the Stockades early, joined by Wendi’s group who were waiting outside the Stockades for them. All had a wonderful mudbath.

06 May 2009

On a misty morning, the orphans took a drink having been let out, enjoyed scratching themselves and then headed out to browse. The older ex orphans never joined them today.

07 May 2009

The sky was clear today, promising a hot day. The Juniors browsed all morning and enjoyed their mudbath. Zurura and Kamboyo engaged one another in the usual test of strength, but were separated by Kora.

08 May 2009

Wendi’s group met up with the Juniors out in the bush today at l0 a.m. and spent all day with the Juniors, escorting them back to the Stockades in the evening.

09 May 2009

The orphans, led by Sian left the Stockades for the bush. It was a very hot day so Chyulu and Makena fed under shade, while Sidai, Rapsu and Naserian dug up cool soil from beneath some rocks, and threw it over their backs. They were soon joined by Chyulu. At the mudbath all the Juniors had a wonderful time, but Kora opted for a dustbath instead. Kora is not very keen on cold water on a very hot day!

10 May 2009

Having quenched their thirst and scratched their bodies against rocks, the orphans headed out into the bush where they divided themselves into 2 groups to browse, but joined up to go to the mudbath. They browsed calmly in the afternoon, returning to the Stockades in evening, without having encountered the ex orphans.

11 May 2009

It was an uneventful day for the orphans who followed the usual routine. Kora enjoyed a soil bath out in the bush which attracted Kamboyo. On the way back in the evening the orphans passed by the mudwallow and decided to go in again before heading home.

12 May 2009

The youngsters headed out in the morning in a very jovial mood, bumping playfully into one another as they went. Zurura and Kamboyo as usual opened up the field activities with a pushing match which was interrupted by Rapsu, who pushed them both away in different directions. All enjoyed the mudbath, Lualeni and Loijuk lingering long after the others had left.

13 May 2009

Wendi’s group met up with the Youngsters at the Kanziku area. All enjoyed a mudbath together and later found a large shady tree under which they rested, waiting for temperatures to drop. Zurura and Kamboyo initiated a pushing game, but Kora intervened to separate them. All then trekked back to the stockades, and once the Youngsters were settled in for the night, Wendi’s group departed.

14 May 2009

Wendi’s group was again waiting at the Stockades for the youngsters to emerge. Sunyei led the group to the feeding area today and they browsed calmly together until it was time for the mudbath. Later the orphans all headed to the Imenti waterhole where they met up with a wild group, amongst whom was Yatta’s group. Wendi’s group decided to remain behind with the wild elephants and Yatta’s group, as the Youngsters left for home.

15 May 2009

Wendi and her group were again waiting at the Stockades first thing in the morning. Sunyei led the orphans out, and they browsed calmly until time for the mudbath, where they had a lengthy wallow since it was a hot day. Later the orphans found loose soil on the roadside, and enjoyed a dustbath before heading off to feed for the rest of the day, and return to the Stockades in the evening.

16 May 2009

Wendi was again waiting outside the stockades in the morning with her group. It was a very hot day, so the orphans kept under shade whilst browsing, and enjoyed a lengthy mudbath at noon. Later they relaxed under shade until it was cooler when they resumed browsing for the remainder of the day.

17 May 2009

Wendi’s group were not at the Stockades this morning, so Naserian led the Youngsters out. At 9 a.m. Sunyei and Madiba appeared out of the thicket to join the Youngsters. After the mudbath, at 3 p.m. as the youngsters were feeding near the Imenti waterhole, Yatta and her group appeared and had with them a young bull the size of Napasha as well as Wendi’s group. Yatta’s group had not been seen for a couple of weeks, so there was a very joyful reunion. Having fed together for the afternoon, all the orphaned herd, along with their wild recruit walked back to the Stockades with the Youngsters, the Keepers following at a distance in order not to frighten the new recruit.

18 May 2009

Soon after Naserian’s group of youngsters had left the stockades in the morning, Sunyei appeared alone. She took water at the stockade trough and then fed close by. Meanwhile, after the mudbath the Juniors were joined by both Yatta’s group and that of Wendi (minus Sunyei who was still near the stockades). They met at the western side of Ithumba hill, the wild recruit still amongst them. At 5 p.m. the Keepers tried to call the youngsters from the herd, since it was time to head back to the stockades, but only 6 responded, namely Sian, Chyulu, Loijuk, Lenana, Makena and Zurura, the rest opting to remain with the ex orphans. At l0 p.m. during the night Yatta brought the Stockade group back, and once the Keepers had opened the Gates and let them in, the ex orphans left. However, Challa decided to have a night out with the others.

19 May 2009

Naserian’s group (minus Challa) headed out as usual, and en route encountered Sunyei who had spent the night nearby on her own. After a brief exchange the Youngsters carried on, and Sunyei returned to the Stockades for a drink before heading southwest. At 9 a.m. Yatta’s group as well as that of Wendi, led by Sunyei and the new bull recruit, checked in at the stockades for water and then headed in the direction taken by the Juniors. They met up with the Youngsters at the Kanziku area and accompanied them to the wallow, but since it was a cool day, they didn’t linger long but instead headed off to the Imenti waterhole to browse for the remainder of the day. At 6 p.m. the entire herd, plus the Juniors and the wild recruit returned with the Youngsters to the Stockades, and once the babies were in for the night, Yatta and Wendi left with their entourage.

20 May 2009

The ex orphans (both Yatta’s and Wendi’s group) met the Juniors at the Kanziku area, the wild recruit still very much part of the group. They spent the entire day with the Juniors. After the mudbath, they headed to the Imenti waterhole again, which is a favourite place for both the orphans and their wild friends. All returned with the Youngsters back to the Stockades in the evening and as usual, once the Youngsters were in for the night, the others all left.

21 May 2009

Wendi and her group were at the Stockades first thing in the morning to accompany the Youngsters out to the Kanziku area. At 9 a.m. Yatta’s group, plus the wild recruit, turned up at the stockades for a drink. Meanwhile Wendi’s group enjoyed a joint mudbath with the Youngsters and headed off to the Imenti waterhole, where they were joined by Yatta and the others. All fed together for the afternoon, and returned to the stockades in the evening to see the Youngsters in for the night, the wild recruit still with them.

22 May 2009

The Youngsters were in a rush to leave today, not waiting to even take a drink before departing. Led by Loijuk, Makena and Lenana, they went quickly to the Imenti waterhole where they met up with all the others. All the orphans enjoyed browsing as a herd until the evening, when they were joined by 4 large wild bulls. They all then walked back to the Stockades together, including the wild bulls, the Keepers trailing at a distance behind their charges. Having seen the Youngsters in, the ex orphans and their wild friends then left.

23 May 2009

Wendi, Sunyei, Madiba, Tomboi and Galana split from Yatta’s group during the night because they were at the stockades first things in the morning to accompany the Youngsters out to feed along the slopes of Ithumba hill today. Yatta’s group came to the mudbath at l0 a.m. and then headed out towards the Imenti waterhole. At 4.30 p.m. Selengai and Kinna came to the Stockades on their own ahead of others from Yatta’s group, who showed up a little later, the wild recruit amongst them but without Yatta, Mulika, Nasalot, Ol Malo and Orok. Having taken water Kinna and Selengai led the ex orphaned group off, obviously to join up with their missing five members.

24 May 2009

The entire orphaned herd met up at the noon mudbath today. First to appear were Wendi, Madiba and Sunyei who came ahead of the Keeper dependent Youngsters; then Yatta and the rest appeared, the wild recruit still with them. Having enjoyed a communal mudbath together, all then left, led by the wild recruit who is now getting used to the presence of the Keepers. In the evening Yatta returned the still dependent Youngsters to the stockades for the night.

25 May 2009

At around 7.20 a.m. after the Youngsters had left, 4 wild dogs passed by the stockade trough for a quick drink, before rushing off. Ol Malo appears to have got tired of traveling great distances with the older orphans. She returned alone to the stockades early in the morning and joined the Youngsters when they headed out to feed. After the mudbath, Challa joined Ol Malo and both refused to accompany the Youngsters for the afternoon browsing session, but instead slowly made their way to the stockades, arriving at 5 p.m. a short while ahead of the Youngsters who had been joined by all the ex orphans. The Keeper dependent orphans went into their stockades as usual, then Yatta took her group away, and Wendi took her group (Sunyei, Madiba, Tomboi, Galana, and Ndomot and including Ol Malo) heading in the opposite direction to Yatta.

26 May 2009

Wendi’s group were again at the stockades first thing in the morning to greet the Youngsters as they came out but Ol Malo was missing from the group, having gone off with them the previous night. At 8 a.m., after the others had left for the browsing area, Ol Malo came to the stockades on her own, and browsed close by all day. She returned to the Stockades shortly before 5 p.m. to wait for the Youngsters’ return. Once the Youngsters were in their stockades, and after taking water, Wendi and her group left, but Ol Malo remained behind. Yatta’s group then came and went, but Ol Malo still remained behind, so at l0 p.m. the Keepers ushered her into the Stockades, so that she would be safe during the night. During the night a lot of wild elephants came to drink at the stockade trough, since the natural waterholes are all beginning to dry out now.

27 May 2009

Naserian led the Youngsters to browse along the slopes of Ithumba hill where they were joined by Wendi’s group, who spent the morning with them. Soon after the orphans had left 3 wild dogs came to drink at the stockades. As the orphans were returning in the afternoon, they met up with Yatta’s group who were coming from the Imenti waterhole area, and who were accompanied by 3 wild bulls. The Keepers kept their distance as the herd moved back to the stockades. Once the Youngsters were inside for the night, Yatta’s group plus their wild male friends left.

28 May 2009

The Youngsters browsed calmly at the Kone area all morning and then headed to the mudbath venue, where they were met by all the other ex orphans, the wild recruit still amongst them as part of the group. Later Kora engaged Ndomot in a strength test, which was interrupted by Napasha’s intervention. Later all the orphans returned to the browsing fields, and then back to the stockades, for the Youngsters to go in for the night.

29 May 2009

Rapsu and Challa lingered at the stockade trough long after their colleagues had left, but caught up with the group later at the Kanziku browsing area. At 8 a.m. Yatta brought her group to the stockades for a drink, Ol Malo missing from the group. An hour later Wendi’s group came to drink, amongst whom was Ol Malo. Meanwhile Yatta’s group had passed by the mudbath and headed towards the Imenti waterhole area. The three groups fed separately during the afternoon, but met up back at the stockades in the evening. Once the Youngsters were in their stockades, the ex orphans all left together Shortly after 6 p.m. 3 wild elephants came to drink at the stockades.

30 May 2009

The Youngsters had to browse under shade throughout the morning because it was an extremely hot day. They were all flapping their ears constantly, trying to cool themselves. All enjoyed a lengthy mudbath, and then spent the rest of the afternoon along the slopes of Ithumba hill until it was time to return for the night.

31 May 2009

Wendi and her group were at the stockades first thing in the morning, waiting for the youngsters to emerge. Sidai led the group out, once they had all taken a drink. At 8.30 p.m. Yatta and her group arrived at the stockades for a drink, the wild recruit still amongst them. The wild boy led the group away, but they returned at 3 p.m. accompanied by 4 wild bulls, and having taken a drink, left, heading eastwards. At 5 p.m. Wendi brought the stockade dependent group back for the night and 30 minutes later 2 wild bulls joined them at the stockade trough. The wild bulls went off with Wendi’s group once they had taken a drink, all heading in the same direction as that taken by Yatta.