Keepers' Diaries, May 2012

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

Sadly, the rains have all but failed at Ithumba as well this year, just one heavy storm of some 2 inches greening the vegetation briefly, so the elephants face another very tough dry season bar un-seasonal rain. The next rains are not due until November.

01 May 2012

Chaimu led the orphans out to browse on a hot day while Kitirua was the leader to the mudbath at noon, where the Juniors were joined by all the Ex Orphans. They all bathed together, but separated later.

02 May 2012

After taking water at the Stockade trough, Naisula led the Juniors out today, settling at the Kone area. At the mudbath only Kilaguni Chaimu, Ololoo, Kitirua and Kandecha wallowed, while the rest opted for a dusting session instead.

03 May 2012

It was a cooler day so the orphans made the most of it, heading straight out to browse rather than waste time at the compound. Kilaguni challenged Olare to a brief test of strength which didn’t last long, because Olare was anxious to keep up with the others who were pacing to the browsing area.

04 May 2012

Just as the Juniors were preparing to head for their mudbath venue, Chyulu emerged from a thicket to join them. She lined up with the orphans as they took their noon milk ration, opening her mouth as a gesture that might prompt the Keepers to also give her a bottle. Instead, they sent her off to the water bins instead, so she reluctantly moved off. Later she led the Juniors to the slopes of Ithumba hill to browse and walked back with them to the Stockades, hurrying in to snatch some grewia branches before being ushered back out!

05 May 2012

The orphans left in a jovial mood today, swinging their trunks and bumping into one another on the way out which indicates joy. The KWS grader had been working on the road, so they relished the soft loose soil that had been dislodged, rolling in it and tossing it over their bodies. Suguta did a nose-dive into a large pile after which Melia led the group to the Kone area to browse. Just before 9 a.m. the Juniors were joined by Yatta, her calf “Yetu”, Kinna, Ithumbah, Selengai, Buchuma and Nasalot, all of whom browsed with them for about half an hour, before parting. At the mudbath Ololoo and Chaimu were the stars of the day in terms of bathing, later joining their colleagues for a soil dusting session.

06 May 2012

Kilaguni and Kandecha engaged one another in a Pushing Match this morning, until Tumaren led the group out to browse. They were joined at the mudbath by all the Ex Orphans. There was drama when little “Yetu” began running around and in the process gave Melia a shove which Melia thought out of bounds. She retaliated by driving Yetu away, something that went un-noticed by the Seniors who were all involved in a dusting session at the time. The two groups then separated.

07 May 2012

After taking water, Chaimu led the orphans out to browse the Kone area until it was mudbath time when Kandecha led the way. After the mud and dust bath Kibo led the herd to the slopes of Ithumba hill to browse for the rest of the day before returning to the Stockades in the evening.

08 May 2012

It was an uneventful day. The orphans merely concentrated on filling their stomachs. In the evening Kalama led them back home.

09 May 2012

Soon after entering the browsing area, Kilaguni and Sabachi engaged one another in the usual Pushing Bout, which was short lived, because two dikdiks disrupted the contest. Since it was a cooler day, the orphans opted for a dust-bath rather than the mud.

10 May 2012

Kandecha and Murka headed to the Lucerne pile as soon as they emerged today. They spotted four wild dogs rolling in red soil near the water trough, and charged them, but Kandecha lost his nerve when the dogs made a noise, running back to the Keepers. However, Murka was braver and continued the charge, scattering the dogs, after which all he orphans enjoyed their some Lucerne, Kilaguni and Kandecha engaging one another in the usual Pushing Match. Naisula led the herd out today. At the mudbath only Chaimu, Kitirua and Ololoo wallowed.

11 May 2012

Ex Orphans Galana, Sunyei, Lualeni, Sidai (all Ex Junior Matriarchs) along with boys Madiba, Challa, and Zurura joined the Juniors at the Stockade compound in the morning, sharing the Lucerne handout with them. Lualeni opted to remain with the Junior Group for the rest of the day after her peers had left. Galana and the rest of the group rejoined the Juniors and Lualeni at the noon mudbath after which Galana's group headed North,, while the Juniors went to the slopes of Ithumba Hill.

12 May 2012

Before leading the Juniors out today, Olare found a good rock against which to scratch herself, joined by Melia, Chaimu, Ololoo and Naisula who did the same, while Kilaguni and Kandecha were at their usual Pushing Game. The day was cool, so the orphans opted for a soil bath at noon, after which they headed for the slopes of Ithumba Hill to browse for the rest of the day.

13 May 2012

But for the usual Kilaguni and Kandecha morning Pushing Match, it was an uneventful day for the orphans, who just focused on browsing.

14 May 2012

After the usual Stockade scratching, the Orphans headed out to browse. It was another uneventful day, all the orphans feeding peacefully throughout.

15 May 2012

The Juniors enjoyed their Lucerne this morning and shortly after 8 a.m., were joined by Lualeni, Sunyei, Galana, Sidai as well as boys Challa, Madiba, Taita, , Kamboyo, Zurura and Rapsu who had what was left over and who took water before heading back out into the bush.

16 May 2012

At the mudbath, the Juniors were joined by Lualeni, who shared the mudbath with them and escorted them out to browse, remaining close to Ololoo, who has emerged a hot favourite of hers. Later Lualeni peeled off.

17 May 2012

The Ex Orphans, accompanied by Yatta’s wild recruits, bulls “Mgeni” and “Kijana” joined the Juniors as they were having their Lucerne handout this morning. Olare paid little “Yetu” (Yatta’s baby) a lot of attention while Yatta was busy feeding. Rapsu treated Kandecha to a lesson in Pushing tactics. After finishing the Lucerne handout, the two groups separated, the Juniors heading towards Kone while the Ex Orphans made their way to Kanziku. The two groups met up again at the mudbath, after which the Ex Orphans headed towards the Imenti Waterhole while the Juniors made their way back via the slopes of Ithumba hill.

18 May 2012

Kilaguni, Suguta, Melia, Chaimu and Kitirua lined up near the Lucerne Store, and as soon as it was loaded onto the wheelbarrow, escorted it to the feeding area. Once they had finished, Murka led the way out to browse. At the mudbath only Kilaguni, Chaimu and Kandecha braved the mud, because it was a cool day.

19 May 2012

Kilaguni and Kandecha opened the day’s activities as usual with a Pushing Match, but soon chaos reigned because 4 wild dogs began “yipping”, scaring all the orphans who ran to their Keepers for protection! The Keepers calmed them and they returned to feed on the Lucerne. The Ex Orphans joined the Juniors at their mudbath, Mulika and her baby “Mwende” missing from the group along with Chyulu, Naserian, Rapsu and wild boys Mgeni, Kijana. At the mudbath Kandecha enjoyed a Pushing Match with Meibai while Ithumbah warned off Chaimu, who wanted to challenge her, by pointing her trunk at her. The two groups parted after the mudbath.

20 May 2012

Mulika and her baby, Mwende, passed by the Stockades this morning, briefly interacting with the Juniors before proceeding on towards Kone. Mulika and the baby returned in the afternoon, and relaxed under the only Acacia tree in the compound, which was unusual, so the Keepers suspected that she had a problem which she was trying to communicate it to them. They then noticed that her right ear had been pierced, possibly by a poisoned arrow, and there was a little blood also on her shoulder. She was steered back into her old Stockade for the night so that she could be monitored and the matter was reported to Trust Headquarters in Nairobi.

21 May 2012

Mulika left the Stockade in the morning and shared the Lucerne with the Juniors.. She and the baby appeared well, so had it been an arrow that pierced her ear, very little poison had obviously entered the bloodstream. Lualeni then joined her and the Juniors to enjoy the Lucerne, when Melia lay down so that Suguta could climb on her. All had an active mudbath today.

22 May 2012

The Juniors enjoyed their morning Lucerne before heading out to feed, joined at the mudbath and soil bathing afterwards, by the Ex Orphans. Later, the Juniors headed to the Kanziku area while the Ex Orphans made their way to Ithumba Hill.

23 May 2012

It was another uneventful day, but for the usual Pushing Match between Kilaguni and Kandecha. All cooled off at the mudbath before taking a soil bath and later browsed for the rest of the afternoon, gradually making their way back to the Stockades.

24 May 2012

Having taken water and had their Lucerne, the orphans concentrated upon browsing today.

25 May 2012

The Ex Orphans, accompanied by wild boys “Mgeni” and “Kijana” came with the Ex Orphan herd to share the Juniors’ Lucerne this morning. Kilaguni and Kandecha had their usual Pushing Game, while Big Boys Mgeni and Kijana did the same. Later the Ex Orphans headed towards Kone while the Juniors went to the Kanziku area where they browsed until it was mudbath time.

26 May 2012

All the Ex Orphans, with some wild elephant friends joined the Juniors at their mudbath today, Ithumbah and Makena lining up with the Juniors hoping for milk and complaining bitterly when it was not forthcoming! Kandecha challenged Orok to a test of strength, which was won easily by Orok. Kandecha was forced to surrender, but then trailed Orok and the Ex Orphans when they left for a short distance before turning back. Mulika’s baby looked tired and dull, and did not want to play with little “Yetu” (Yatta’s calf) which was unusual. Chyulu opted to remain with the Juniors, sneaking into the stockade in the evening to snatch some Grewia branches!

27 May 2012

In the morning Mulika brought her baby back to the Stockades, accompanied by Lualeni and Galana. Mwende appeared weak, and we thought that she may be getting insufficient milk from her mother, which was reported to Nairobi. Supplements were flown down in the plane that brought the US Directors to Ithumba and now Mulika is being fed Dairy Cubes and Lucerne to try and aid her lactation. At 1 p.m. all the Ex Orphans came to the Stockade and spent time comforting Mulika and little Mwendi, who left with them for the bush, but returned soon later for a further handout of supplements. Having had her fill, Mulika and her baby left the compound.

28 May 2012

The Ex Orphans joined the Juniors at the Stockade compound in the morning when Kilaguni and Kandecha were embroiled in their usual Pushing Game. Kilaguni then broke away from Kandecha and advanced towards Wendi who taught him some Pushing techniques. Later the group headed towards Kone, meeting up with Mulika and Mwende who were making their way back to the Stockades. Galana and Wendi decided to escort Mulika and her baby back to the Stockades, where Mulika took her supplements and they also had a little themselves.

29 May 2012

Mulika came early to the Stockades with Mwende, and went straight into her Stockade to have her supplements. The baby looked much stronger compared to the other day at the mudbath. Once Mulika had taken her fill, she pushed the Gate open and went to join the Juniors to feed on Lucerne. She and the baby then headed towards Kone leaving the Juniors at Kanziku to browse. At 1 p.m. Mulika returned to the Stockades for more supplements, returning again in the evening when she went straight back into her Stockade this time accompanied by Makena. When Mulika and the baby left, Makena decided to stay on in the Stockade for the night, and enjoy what remained.

30 May 2012

Makena joined the Juniors at the Lucerne pile today, and followed them when they headed out to browse. Later Makena returned to the Stockade, meeting up with Mulika and her baby, who had also returned a little earlier. In the evening Makena returned again to the Stockades to wait for Mulika, knowing that she would come for her supplements and that she could share them with her! Mulika then left with her baby, but Makena decided again for a night inside to feast on what Mulika had left, and join the Juniors in the morning at their Lucerne handout!

31 May 2012

Makena joined the Juniors as soon as they emerged this morning, and was with them for the Lucerne handout. At around l0 a.m. Mulika and her baby turned up, this time accompanied by wild Boy “Mgeni” who remained at the water trough when Mulika and her baby entered the Stockade for Mulika’s extra supplements. Makena then joined Mgeni and the water trough, eager to join Mulika and Mwende in the Stockade, but found that Mulika had already finished the supplements. She then relaxed under the Stockade tree until the Juniors turned up at 11 a.m. for a Stockade mudbath when little Mwende intermingled with the Junior orphans briefly, before joining her mother. All then headed back to the bush to browse, departing in separate groups.