Keepers' Diaries, May 2018

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Ithumba Reintegration Unit

After a few solid weeks of rain the area around Ithumba is now very green and dense bush. The white impomea flower is everywhere and the creeper covers bushes and trees like a soft lace blanket; from above the ground looks as if it has little patches of snow melt it is so prevalent! Having moved six orphans to the Voi Reintegration Unit, Angela felt it was time for three of the more mischievous orphans in the Nursery to be moved to the Ithumba Unit. Not only was the timing perfect in light of the plentiful vegetation and abundant water since the rains, but Esampu, Mteto and Mundusi were particularly unruly in the Nursery without the older ones to keep them in check, and it was clear they needed guidance and some discipline all of which the older orphans at Ithumba would ensure they get.

They were moved on the 1st of June and their move was fascinating with the ex-orphans particularly exuberant about their arrival; more information about their transition will of course be revealed in due course to their foster parents and in the June diaries as well.

Despite so much vegetation around, unusually many of the ex-orphans chose to stick close to home. Kinna and her baby Kama with her nannies, Galana and Gawa as well as Yatta and Yoyo were all spotted at the beginning of the month, although Yatta seemed to move off towards the end of the month and we did not see them for a while. Big boy Tomboi stayed away this month but other ex-orphan bulls Zurura, Rapsu and Kenze were spotted sporadically, and usually together or with the other ex-orphan matriarchal herds.

It was Mutara’s herd though consisting of Orwa, Bomani, Vuria, as well as Suguta, Kainuk, Turkwel and Sities whose presence was most felt, often there waiting for the dependent orphans in the morning and escorting them home in the evening too. It was Mutara’s group who escorted Siangiki and Olsekki home when some odd wounds on Siangiki’s back were first noticed at the beginning of the month as well, after they had been missing for nine days since Sokotei’s attack. We think Mutara and her herd have taken it upon themselves to stay in the area and protect the other smaller orphans around. We also ensured that all of Laragai’s herd were placed back on milk to lure them into the stockades at night not wanting to take any chances. Enkikwe started to accompany his friends out into the bush this month now that his lion wounds are healing well, as being with his friends is so important for his general moral and well being. He is much slower than the herd and still with a severe limp but he seems to be doing so much better in the company of his friends; and his is an injury that will take a good long time before it has totally healed.

The keepers continued to try and keep Laragai and her herd at the stockades at night since Enkikwe and Siangiki’s brush with the lions and Sokotei’s unfortunate death. Sometimes she and Kithaka, Sirimon, Lemoyian, Garzi, Barsilinga would oblige and follow the keepers in at night now that they have the temptation of milk once again (and with a padlock on the gate Laragai could not let them out again), but on other nights they would downright refuse and turn tail towards the bush again. The keepers began to call them the ‘six rebels’, as they would usually turn up later in the night, just like a bunch of naughty teenagers, and choose to sleep just outside the stockades. Barsilinga, Sirimon and Lemoyian in particular, now having tasted freedom, did not want to follow the keepers or their directions and like to keep to themselves. It was Mutara again who took it upon herself to bring Sapalan back one night after he had absconded with Laragai’s group, understanding that although he was off milk and feeling like a ‘big bull’ now, he was perhaps still too young to be out in the bush.

On the 2nd some of Olare’s group showed up at the stockade after being away for a long time as well, and some, like Kilaguni, decided to stay in the area. Those who showed up were Melia, Tumaren, Kibo, Kandecha, Kitirua, Kalama, Chemi Chemi and Kilaguni who is usually in Chaimu’s group. Together the tail-less pair Kilaguni and Kanjoro often stole the show at mud bath time each day, and were still playing in the water long after the other orphans had left, dusted themselves and were already starting to wander off into the bush again to browse. Makireti’s group and Narok’s group have merged with some of the senior ex-orphans but their grouping is always changing! Narok seems to have joined Yatta’s herd and Bomani spent a lot of time with the dependent orphans as he floated between ex-orphan herds.

May 2018 day to day

01 May

When the gates opened, Lemoyian led the way out without taking his milk while Laragai tasted it then spat it out and left. Only Kithaka accepted to take the milk after he and his group were taken back to the stockade for the night following the attack and killing of one of their own by lions. Maramoja, who is the youngest female, teamed up with the older girls Kamok, Roi and Naseku and seemed to be listening to their stories. Barsilinga, Sirimon and Lemoyian who had been used to doing whatever they wanted for some weeks, found it very difficult to follow the keepers instructions and kept distancing themselves from the rest of the group. At mud bath time it wasn’t very hot and the orphans only had their milk then returned back to the browsing field. In the afternoon the orphans settled to browse and Namalok and Sapalan decided to sneak away from the keepers. Upon realizing the two were missing, the keepers started searching and found them browsing a short distance away. When the keepers tried to call them, Sapalan and Namalok realized that their plan had backfired and tried to escape from the keepers. At last the keepers managed to bring them under control and they followed them back to the stockade.

Lemoyian busy browsing

Roi, Naseku, Kamook and Maramoja browsing

Kithaka in the fields