The Month of May brought a combination of showers and sunshine to the Ithumba Unit. Between the 5th and 11th there was a great deal of drizzle providing the area with valuable millimetres of rain. It also provided cloud cover and coolness in the air, which alleviated the heat from the previous months. The orphans enjoyed the cool weather, browsing contently and peacefully during the day. However, they didn’t like the chilliness of the mud bath water and so on the cooler, wetter days many of the orphans opted out of wallowing. That said, further on in the month, the heat rose and the orphans participated in wallowing both in the morning and during the evening hour on the way back to the stockade. The usual suspects, Bongo, Narok and Laragai, especially enjoyed the sludgy water, they never seem too deterred by cold weather and love to roll around in the mud and splash behind their ears.
Mutara, Laragai and Kanjoro continued to be the ‘leaders of the gang’ and escorted the orphans on their daily jollies to the browsing fields, mudbath and later, at the end of the day back to the stockade. Whilst the orphans fed on lucerne in the early morning, Shukuru, as usual did not partake and instead reveled in scratching herself on nearby rocks.
This month a great deal of the ex-orphans reported at the stockade on various days. It was lovely to see Yatta, Mulika, Nasalot, Kinna, Taita, Galana, Sunyei, Buchuma, Naserian, Rapsu, Challa, Sidai, Orok, Kora, Loijuk, Ithumbah, Kilabasi, Lenana, Chyulu, Makena, Meibai, Mwende and Yetu. They visited with a number of wild elephants and it is pleasing to see that Mwende is now developing her tusks. Another group to visit were Galana, Sunyei, Wendi, Lenana and Rapsu. Of course Suguta's group, as always made regular trips to the stockade, on occasion feasting on the lucerne, ousting the young ones as they are bigger and a bit pushy! Tomboi and Madiba also made appearances.
On the 22nd Sabachi appeared out of the bush looking thin and unwell. It seemed he had come to seek treatment from his ‘keeper friends’. He was allowed to rest and stay at the stockade for a number of days, feeding up on dairy cubes and lucerne as well as getting some much needed TLC (tender loving care). Suguta and her group including; Melia, Tumaren, Sabachi, Kilaguni, Chaimu, Olare, Kibo, Naisula, Kalama, Kitirua and Murka were very concerned about his health. They checked on him constantly, often sleeping near the stockade to make sure they could keep a close eye on him during the evening, night and early morning. Once he was feeling better, they tried hard to take him off with them on their daily flurries, and once the keepers were content that he was well enough, he did indeed rejoin them. However, each night Suguta and her group would escort him back to the stockades to rest. On the 26th Shukuru also felt unwell so she was also monitored and observed.
There was a great deal of excitement towards the end of the month, when on the 28th Orwa, Teleki and Bomani made the move from the Nairobi Nursery to Ithumba. It was no doubt a long journey on the truck, but the new arrivals were welcomed with joy, by both the keepers and orphans. Interestingly enough, as we have often seen with moves, Suguta’s group seemed to know that something exciting was happening and they hung around to wait for the new babies to arrive. Teleki, Bomani and Orwa were so relaxed and have settled into the Ithumba Stockade routine with both ease and confidence. They certainly seem ready for their graduation from the Nairobi Nursery and Nasalot, who loves babies, visited the new arrivals the next morning and stayed with them all day!
All in all, the month of May was fairly eventful, with both rain and sunshine, new arrivals and a couple of orphans needing extra care. The stockade water trough was very sociable with visits from both the ex-orphans and wild elephants, the resident wild dogs were also sighted nearby. The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust team look forward to our three new babies continued growth, development and eventual reintegration into the wilds of Tsavo.