Keepers' Diaries, May 2013

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Ithumba Reintegration Unit

Ex Orphan Napasha (now 11 years old) who had been missing from the Ex Orphan herd for over a month, appeared again amongst all his Ex Orphan peers and accompanied by 7 wild male friends to join the Juniors at their noon mudbath on the 17th. It was a great relief to see him again, whole and well. Later that day he and his peers, as well as the wild hangers-on browsed with the Juniors during the afternoon until 3 p.m. when they parted, leaving faithful Lualeni and Kamboyo to escort the Juniors back to their Night Stockades. The next day Napasha came alone to the Stockades for a drink, and in the evening Tomboi also came to drink on his own, without his Ex Orphan peers.

Ex Orphan Napasha (now 11 years old) who had been missing from the Ex Orphan herd for over a month, appeared again amongst all his Ex Orphan peers and accompanied by 7 wild male friends to join the Juniors at their noon mudbath on the 17th. It was a great relief to see him again, whole and well. Later that day he and his peers, as well as the wild hangers-on browsed with the Juniors during the afternoon until 3 p.m. when they parted, leaving faithful Lualeni and Kamboyo to escort the Juniors back to their Night Stockades. The next day Napasha came alone to the Stockades for a drink, and in the evening Tomboi also came to drink on his own, without his Ex Orphan peers.

Wendi is a reluctant lover, who has been pursued relentlessly by wild Bull suitors this month, but has been very uncooperative!. She, Lualeni and Rapsu came to join the Juniors on the 11th, when they happened to be on a Park road heading out to browse. Wendi was so tired that she lay down to take a nap near the Keepers and a visiting tourist vehicle, obviously having had a hectic time the previous night. She, Lualeni and Rapsu then accompanied the Juniors to their noon mudbath that day and remained with them throughout the afternoon for Wendi to get respite, escorting them back to their Night Stockades in the evening. Not for long, however, because early the next morning she was spotted dashing past the Stockades with a wild bull in pursuit and later that day she showed up at the Juniors’ mudbath with the same Bull in tow, where she did her utmost to “lose” him in what the Keepers describe as a game of “hide and seek”! That evening Rafiki came to the Stockades in search of her as did 3 other wild Bulls, but Wendi made certain she was sheltered by being surrounded by all the Ex Orphan Big Females - Yatta, Mulika and their wild born calves, Lualeni, Nasalot, Sunyei, Galana, Sidai, Naserian, Chyulu,and Ithumbah as well as Ex Orphan bulls Rapsu, Taita, Tomboi, Buchuma, Challa, Orok, Kenze, Zurura, and Meibai, and the Keepers in attendance at the Stockade compound. However, the next day Rafiki caught up with her when she was again escorted by her friend, Rapsu and when they were again with the Juniors out in the bush. The moment Wendi spotted the approach of Rafiki, she ran off him in hot pursuit and a while later two other would-be Lovers also passed by the Juniors following her scent trail and the direction taken by her and Rafiki!

On the 14th she again came to join the Juniors at their mudbath, ahead of the other Ex Orphans who were following, and this time Kijana (Yatta’s wild teenaged recruit) was bent on trying his luck! The two disappeared into the bush followed later by the rest of the Ex Orphan herd. The next day she was again spotted being pursued by a wild Bull and at the Stockade compound on the 16th before dawn with yet another wild suitor, whom brave little Kanjoro tried to chase off several times as soon as he emerged from his Night Stockade at first light. Having obviously picked up the vibe that this wild Bull sanding at the Stockade water trough was not welcome, Kanjoro charged the Bull several times as he stood by the water trough eyeing Wendi. The Bull lost patience with Kanjoro (who is only rising 3 years old) and warned him off after which Kanjoro embarked on a spirited trumpeting and Bush-Bashing threat display until Wendi and the Juniors, escorted by the Keepers, left for the browsing area! The wild suitor then took himself off, much to Wendi’s relief, heading in the opposite direction!

The next time Wendi appeared in amongst the rest of the Ex Orphan herd was on the 23rd, when things seem to have settled down, so assuming that one of the wild suitors has had his way, she would have fallen pregnant as a result of a rape rather than a love match, and the father of her unborn calf could be one of many – perhaps even Rafiki, the orphans’ first wild friend! Whereas the father of Yatta’s and Mulika’s babies is well known to the Keepers, since both young females enjoyed a honeymoon of over a week with him, Wendi has obviously yet to fall in love. Due to the stress she has endured, which could inhibit pregnancy, the wild suitors may have to wait until next time round!

Rafiki has been a frequent visitor to the Juniors and the Stockade compound this month. He was there with all the Ex Orphans on the 1st and back with 4 wild male friends on the 4th and again on the 12th when he waited for the arrival of Yatta’s Ex Orphan group who had Wendi in amongst them, and who were accompanied by 3 large wild Bulls.

Like Napasha Ex Orphan bulls Buchuma, Rapsu and Challa, are becoming more independent of Yatta’s Ex Orphan herd. Rapsu often escorts Lualeni when she comes to join the Juniors and spend time with them and he was with Buchuma and Challa when they came as a trio to the Stockades on the 4th. Faithful Lualeni often meets up with the Juniors so spend time with them, and escort them back to their Stockades in the evenings, usually escorted by Rapsu. She and Rapsu were with exhausted Wendi when she snatched a nap on the Park road on the 11th. Nasalot came on her own to join the Juniors briefly on the 20th and waited with them until the main Ex Orphan herd passed by, when she rejoined them. Examples of Elephant infrasound communication happen on a daily basis at the Ithumba Unit, and also with the Voi Ex Orphans and the Youngsters still Keeper Dependent there as well. However, a lioness fortunately unnoticed by the elephants strolled past them at the mudbath venue on the 28th.
As always the Junior Boys are preoccupied by their favourite pastime of Pushing Bouts Kasigau frequently engaging Kilaguni, Sabachi or Ololoo while Chemi Chemi tried his luck against the Junior Matriarch Saguta and found himself trounced. Sabachi is another who tried his luck against a Junior Big Girl (Makireti) while Ololoo took on Mutara. Sities and Shukuru are both now so familiar with the Ithumba routine that they often take the lead to and from the noon mudbath, or back to the Stockades in the evening, with Chaimu as another frequent leader of the Juniors. Kainuk and Turkwel remain firmly together, as they have been all along during their Nursery time, and were possibly even known to one another when living wild. Both originate from the same remnant herd of wild elephants in the arid Turkana ecosystem.

The Juniors have also enjoyed the company of many wild elephants this month. On the 16th they were joined by 12 wild Bulls, who browsed in amongst them until 3 p.m. and a wild female herd have been coming to drink at the Stockade trough with their 6 month old calf, as obviously had little Tundani, a unique yearling orphan now in the Nursery, rescued from the Tundani area of the Tiva, who was already totally familiar with the Keepers the moment he was brought in! The Keepers were pleased top see the Big Wild Bull they have named “Big Kilaguni” again at the Stockade trough, after a full year’s absence. Like our Kilaguni, this Bull is devoid of a tail.

In all, it has been a very exciting month for our Ithumba Orphans, both those who have already made the transition to a wild status as well as those in the process of doing so, who remain Keeper and milk dependent and who are based at night in the Stockades.

May 2013 day to day

01 May

The orphans’ day followed the usual routine, emerging from their Night Stockades at dawn, and after taking water and enjoying their milk and supplements, heading out to browse, with a break at noon for the usual mudbath. Food and water remains plentiful following reasonable rains in the North, the mudbath transformed into a swimming pool which the orphans, and also the wild elephants, thoroughly enjoy. In the evening “Rafiki” (the Big wild bull who was the Orphans’ first wild friend) turned up along with the Ex Orphans. Still missing amongst Yatta’s group was Napasha.

Chaimu browsing among lush vegitation

Orphans at mudbath

Ex orphans coming to the stockade

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