Keepers' Diaries, May 2021

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

May was a rather sedate month for our Ithumba herd, but all that changed on the 26th, when Maisha and Nabulu arrived from Nairobi. Everyone was delighted to have two newcomers in their midst, but especially their old Nursery friends. Maisha and Nabulu’s reunion with Ambo, Musiara, Sattao, and Dololo was beautiful to behold, as they rumbled and entwined trunks in greeting. Undoubtedly, these time-tested friendships helped smooth the girls’ transition — and what a transition it is! While the Nursery is cold and green, Ithumba is hot and drying up, full of intriguing new sights and smells.

01 May 2021

The sky was clear in the morning as the orphans left the stockade to start another day. Led by Ndiwa, the orphans headed north east of the stockade. Dololo decided to start his day by rolling on the ground. Ambo joined Dololo and had a game of pushing each other for some time. Sapalan decided to play with Karisa but suddenly brought their game to an abrupt end when he realised that they were just wasting time and hadn’t started feeding yet. The two boys suddenly started concentrating on their browsing session because they didn't want the day to end without getting enough food.

 At mud bath time the orphans had their milk bottles but decided not to wallow. Ambo decided to team up with one of his big sisters Kamok, and they both walked a short distance away from the rest. 

Later the orphans enjoyed a roadside mud bath on their way back to the stockades. Kamok and Ambo deviated and took a different route from their friends, and as they were all walking back the Keepers realized Kamok and Ambo weren’t with them. Some of the Keepers turned back to look for them, but they met Kamok and Ambo on the way, as they were walking along the road to return to the stockades too. 

02 May 2021

The bulls were in a playful mood in the morning. It all started with Dololo challenging Karisa. Karisa couldn't understand why a small boy like Dololo would challenge him. Karisa took time to warm up by kicking bushes and running around before finally showing Dololo that he was a force to reckon with. After defeat, Dololo moved to play with Musiara who is his age-mate and therefore in his mind, more his equal. Enkikwe settled to play with Barsilinga while Wanjala played with Mapia. Mapia decided to quit their game however when Wanjala attempted to ride on him. 

Later, Barsilinga, Kauro, Siangiki, Galla and Sapalan came across some loose soil that they rolled on. At mud bath time, it was all quiet as the orphans had their milk and some water, before walking back out to browse without wallowing in the main mud bath. In the afternoon, the dependent orphans were joined by ex-orphans Kandecha, Melia, Kalama and Chemi Chemi. The weather changed as clouds gathered and gave way to rain later this evening. The ex-orphans Melia, Kandecha and Chemi Chemi parted ways with the orphans but Kalama decided to accompany the orphans back to the stockades. 

03 May 2021

It was a cool morning and the orphans briefly settled for lucerne before slowly heading out to browse. On the way, Musiara who was leading, came across a fallen tree. Musiara decided to stop and enjoy scratching his belly on the tree and as he was enjoying, Malima came from behind and pushed Musiara away to use the fallen tree herself. 

Out in the bush, the orphans were joined by Kalama who was slightly limping. Upon closer observation, she had hurt her toe nail probably by hitting a rock while running. Kalama kept the orphans company up to mud bath time and in the afternoon, she parted ways with the juniors to go and check on her friends. The orphans had a quiet afternoon as they concentrated only on browsing without any major distractions. 

04 May 2021

The sky was clear in the morning as the orphans strolled nonchalantly out from their stockades. The orphans didn't stay for long to have their lucerne and instead went to investigate whether there were any green shoots to browse on, which are their favourite. Barsilinga led the way and made a brief stop at a rock where he saw rainwater had collected. Barsilinga decided to suck the water up with his trunk before proceeding on with his journey. Kalama, who perhaps didn’t find her friends or perhaps she just wanted to see the dependent orphans again, came back and enjoyed the company of the juniors. 

On the way to the mud bath for their milk, Kamok and Ambo, who have seemingly crafted a way of dodging the Keepers anytime they feel like and when there is any slight opportunity, took a different route and hid as they waited for the Keepers to pass. When the Keepers walked by following the orphans in front and assuming that everyone was in the line heading for milk, the two continued to browse where they were instead. As the Keepers were arranging the orphans into smaller groups to head for their midday milk feed, they then realised that Ambo and Kamok weren’t with them. After mud bath time, the orphans returned back to Kanziku area where they found Ambo and Kamok still enjoying their browse and apparently okay with the fact that they had missed their milk feed!

05 May 2021

Kalama was there in the morning to welcome the orphans out for another day. When the orphans were out, Barsilinga, who is the oldest boy at the stockades at the moment, tackled Kalama in a strength testing exercise that lasted for quite some time. Their game put the other bulls in a playing mood as they also started emulating what the two elders were doing. 

First was Dololo who decided to challenge Jotto. When the going got tough for him, Dololo called upon Karisa who came to his rescue by coming in between them. Dololo got a chance to flee from Jotto when Karisa arrived. Musiara gauged himself against Mapia but he couldn't withstand Mapia's strength. Luckily for him Pare was close by and when Mapia saw him approaching, he smelled trouble and decided to quit the game before his arrival. Musiara stretched his trunk to reach out to Pare to say thank you for intervening because if it wasn’t for him, Musiara certainly wouldn’t have won the game and things might have got quite tough for him! Pare perhaps assured him not to worry as he will always be there for him, but perhaps suggested not to start fights or try to gauge his strength with anyone he comes across or that happens to pass by! Enkikwe settled to play with his long time friend Olsekki as Pare decided to have his own game of rolling on the ground. Kauro settled to play with Mundusi too. 

At mud bath time just before noon, the orphans had their milk and some water before Kalama escorted them to the western slopes of Ithumba Hill where they settled to browse for the remaining part of the day. 

In the evening, the orphans passed by the roadside mud bath and cooled their feet briefly before proceeding back home. 

06 May 2021

Kalama spent the night just outside the stockade compound and was happy to join the orphans in the morning again. To express her happiness, Kalama decided to roll on the ground while being watched by Olsekki and Barsilinga. Soon after feeding on lucerne, Ndiwa led the way out to browse. 

Karisa engaged Pare in a strength testing exercise that lasted for quite some time before Olsekki came in and interrupted their game. Ambo had a light strength testing exercise with Kuishi and later teamed up with her to browse. 

The rest of the morning was quiet as the orphans concentrated mostly on browsing. After having their midday milk bottles, the orphans headed south west where they came across a small water hole that they used to have a bush mud bath. Kalama, the elder sister of the group, led the orphans around while feeding and later in the evening, escorted them back to the stockades again.

07 May 2021

Kalama wasn’t there in the morning to greet the dependent orphans. The orphans settled for lucerne as they wondered where their big sister might have gone, as they had grown quite accustomed to her being there to greet them in the morning. With or without Kalama, the orphans had to continue with their daily activities hoping to meet her in the course of the day or some other time. 

Out in the bush, Ambo teamed up with his big sisters Kamok and Oltaiyoni and each time the rest of the herd moved forward, the three would always lag behind. This was an indication that they were planning something and the Keepers knew that if they were not careful then they might end up spending a lot of time looking for them if they succeeded in dodging them! They kept a keen eye on the three of them. Sapalan and Karisa took some time off from feeding to have a pushing game because they believe in the saying that ‘work without play made Jack a dull boy!’ 

At mud bath time, a few of the orphans led by Barsilinga participated fully in a wallowing session while others opted for a soil dusting exercise. In the afternoon Dololo, who wants to establish a position amongst the elder boys, tried to challenge Pare. Pare understood what the small boy wanted and handled him lightly, instead teaching him a few techniques. 

In the evening Ambo, Oltaiyoni, Kamok, Kuishi and Enkikwe almost succeeded in dodging the Keepers, but a quick intervention saved the day, although they arrived back at the stockades forty-five minutes later after the others in the dependent herd had already arrived and gone to their rooms; nevertheless the Keepers were happy to have all the orphans back and none missing out in the bush in the dark to worry about. 

08 May 2021

It was a beautiful morning today as the orphans came out of their stockades after having their milk bottles for some lucerne pellets, but they didn’t stay for long as they were eyeing up the green pasture and soft grass out in the bush which began to shoot out after the little rain we received last week; soon they started to walk out to begin their day of browsing.

Out in the bush all the orphans were very active, with some playing and some busy browsing on the soft grass. Mundusi and Pare were play fighting, while Karisa was busy rolling around on the sand. Maramoja was playing and digging at the ground with her tusks, while Oltaiyoni and Ambo were browsing together. Ex-orphan Kalama came to join the dependent orphans but she didn’t stay for long and disappeared off into the bush again. 

Enkikwe played with Naseku, digging at the soil and scooping it up with his trunk, to throw some in the air and some on his body. Then he started play fighting with Naseku. Wanjala played with Malima and climbed on her back, and then all the orphans walked to the mud bath for their noon milk feed. Some of the orphans enjoyed wallowing after the milk feed, while others walked straight back out to browse.

All the orphans were enjoying eating the green grass in the afternoon. Musiara stayed closed to Malima while browsing. The babies later came across a small pool of water which they enjoyed playing in as it was very hot. Some lesser kudus were watching them play in the mud. When they were done all the orphans walked back to the stockades for the night.

09 May 2021

Two wild elephants visited the stockade this morning for water, as the dependent orphans enjoyed their usual morning routine of enjoying their milk bottles and feeding on the lucerne supplements.

Out in the bush, Sities, Mutara, Kalama and Kanjoro came to join the babies while browsing. Jotto rolled on the ground while playing, while Musiara and Dololo were busy play fighting. Musiara later went to climb on Mapia’s back, as Jotto got up and started patting Sapalan with his trunk. The babies later walk to the mud bath for their noon milk bottles, with Sities, Kanjoro, Kalama and Mutara among them.

When the orphans went to the mud bath for their noon milk bottle, after finishing, a few of the orphans decided to go into the mud bath. Olsekki, Ndiwa, Malkia, Barsilinga and Kanjoro all went into the water but they didn't stay in the water for long, and came out to join their friends who were walking back out to the bush.

Two wild male elephants accompanied the orphans together with Mutara's herd. They found a small water pool and started playing in it. They really enjoyed their mud bath in the bush! Tusuja scratched his bottom after finishing his wallowing game. They later made their way back home in the evening for their milk bottles and to go to bed. There was no sign of rain today and we didn’t come across any other elephants besides the two wild bulls and Mutara’s herd.

10 May 2021

It was a wet and cold morning today as we awoke to drizzle this morning. The babies had their milk and rushed out to feed on lucerne. As it was drizzling they didn’t stay for long feeding on lucerne but walked straight to the bush to browse.

It was very muddy everywhere so it was quite slippery. Tusuja and Galla started play fighting as they patted each other with their trunks and they had to be careful not to slip over! Olsekki and Malkia were rolling in some mud while playing. Malkia always enjoys rolling on the wet soil after it rains! Mteto was scratching her bottom while Rapa scratched his head on the same tree. Some of the other orphans were playing in the wet soil too. Malkia and Mteto started play fighting and later the herd walked to the mud bath for their milk.

It was very cold so after having their milk bottles none of the orphans felt like mud bathing!

Out in the bush the orphans enjoyed browsing on green grass. Karisa started playing and then tried to climb on Dololo. Kauro was very busy playing and rolling on the ground and Mapia was playing with Musiara. The herd later walked back home in the evening. No ex-orphans were seen today. We recorded 10mm of rain today.

11 May 2021

It was another cold and quiet morning as we received another 15mm of rain last night. 

The orphans were very happy to enjoy playing around on the wet soil and in the mud today. Naseku was the first one to start rolling with Wanjala, then the rest came to join them. Sattao came later and he started to dig at the ground with his tusks to make more loose soil to play with. Malkia came to join them with Pare, but Pare started mounting on Mteto while Rapa climbed on Jotto. Olsekki climbed on Sana Sana as she rolled on the ground too – it was a pile of very happy babies.

After browsing throughout the morning the orphans then made their way to the mud bath for their noon milk feed. It was still cold so none of the orphans chose to play in the water. They had their milk and then walked back out to browse. Maramoja was guarding Musiara and was always with him. 

Out in the bush, Esampu, Sapalan and Rapa were browsing together while Ambo and Musiara also browsed together and strengthened their relationship. As the orphans prepared to return home for the evening, Barsilinga, Siangiki, Tusuja, Olsekki, Kauro and Oltaiyoni walked away as they weren’t ready to return yet, but they arrived back at the stockades half an hour after the others. 

12 May 2021

It was another quiet and chilly morning today as the orphans came out of their stockades. They walked out to feed on the lucerne supplements and when they were done they all walked out together to begin browsing. 

Out in the bush, Malkia was busy browsing together with Pare. Pare later broke away from Malkia and joined Mundusi in a play fight; later they decided to scratch their heads simultaneously against the same tree. Kamok went to join Malkia after being abandoned by Pare and both stretched high up in the tree with their trunks to reach the green leaves. Pare was still busy play fighting with Mundusi and when he was done he went on to fight Karisa; it seems he wanted to measure and test his strength today! Roi was busy playing on her own and rolling in the sand. Ambo and Mapia later started testing their strength too. It was a busy and active day today! Enkikwe and Olsekki weren’t left out of the play fights and started their own game. When they were done it was amazing to watch Enkikwe kneel down, despite his bad leg, to pull grass with his teeth. 

It was quite hot by the time the orphans went to the mud bath and all the babies decided to go wallowing after having their milk bottles. They enjoyed the water a lot and later walked out to the bush to browse again. Malkia was left behind as she was struggling to get out of the mud bath, and she ran in order to catch up with others.

Back out in the bush, all the orphans were happy and active and concentrating on browsing without playing any games. Barsilinga started playing with Olsekki and then the two bulls led the way home. There was no rain today and we didn’t see any other elephants today. 

13 May 2021

It was a lovely morning today as the orphans came out of their stockades after having their milk bottles. They had some Lucerne then started walking out to the bush to browse.

Out in the bush, Mapia started playing with Pare. A group of orphans walked to the nearby Kone dam and drank water there. Esampu and Enkikwe started playing in the sand alongside the dam. Enkikwe started digging down on the ground with his tusks while playing. Later Olsekki and Enkikwe started a play fighting game, and to take a break from the fight Olsekki backed off to a tree for a bit and pretended to push that, before heading back to push Enkikwe for a bit. Esampu was scratching on a tree stump while Malkia and Musiara were busy browsing on some green grass together. Galla and Ndiwa were both pushing against the same tree from opposite sides. The babies later walk to mud bath for their milk.

At the mud bath it was cold and no one bothered to swim after having their milk bottles, and instead they all walked back out to browse.

In the afternoon all the orphans were enjoying browsing on the fresh green shoots sprouting everywhere after the rain. These days they like to search for these shoots rather than looking for leaves, as the grass is so nice and soft. Ndiwa, Kuishi and Sapalan browsed together throughout the day today and it was so nice to see them spend all this time together. This evening Naseku led the herd back home for their milk. We didn’t see any other elephants again today.

14 May 2021

It was quite a cold morning today so the orphans didn’t spend long in the stockade compound and instead they rushed out to begin browsing. They find the fresh green grass so delicious that they can’t wait to get out to browse! 

They later met up with ex-orphans Melia, Kandecha and Chemi Chemi who they stayed with the whole day. Melia stayed with Musiara and mothered him the whole day! You could see her escorting Musiara into the shade when it was very hot. Maramoja and Malkia were two very good mini matriarchs and followed Melia and Musiara around as well. Later the babies walked to the mud bath for their noon milk feed. 

 At the mud bath they had their milk and walked straight back out to browse as no one felt like swimming with the cold weather about.

The three ex-orphans Melia, Kandecha and Chemi Chemi accompanied them back out to the bush and stayed with them the whole day. They were very friendly to the babies. Later in the afternoon the orphans found a puddle along the road to play in. Sattao and Karisa spent a short time greeting each other while the others played in the mud. When they were done they started slowly making their way back to the stockades for the night. We didn’t receive any more rain today and didn’t see any other orphans except Melia, Kandecha and Chemi Chemi who escorted the dependent orphans back to the stockade and hung around outside relaxing.

15 May 2021

Usually Barsilinga, Olsekki and Tusuja come out of their stockade in the morning and walk straight out to the bush, bypassing the lucerne supplements. However today was different and they actually came over to feed on lucerne, and were the last ones to leave the stockades as well when the others had already left. When they did leave, they walked in the opposite direction to the others. 

The rest of the dependent orphans enjoyed their morning of browsing. Wanjala and Karisa paused their browsing to engage in a play fight and when they were done, all the orphans slowly made their way for their noon milk feed.

It was hot today and after having their milk bottles all of the orphans decided to go wallowing. Sattao led the herd into the water and they all enjoyed splashing about there. Enkikwe and Kauro even started a play fight while in the mud hole. The babies came out of the water in an excitable mood and some of them trumpeted as they ran back out into the bush. Barsilinga, Olsekki and Tusuja did not appear at the mud bath today.

The orphans carried on browsing for the rest of the afternoon. Sapalan and Dololo started playing while the others walked to the small pool of water they all enjoy playing in; it helps to cool them down when they’re feeling hot as they browse. 

Eventually the orphans made their way back home in the evening. On the way they met with their three friends, Barsilinga, Olsekki and Tusuja, who joined them on the walk home. Shortly before reaching the compound however they diverted and walked away. The three bulls arrived 30 minutes later and were safely shut in their stockade for the night as well.

16 May 2021

We watched a beautiful sunrise over the compound today, which faces east. The orphans had their milk bottles as usual and then went to feed on the lucerne supplements. A wild elephant bull visited this morning but he wasn’t very friendly to the Keepers so he might have been a stranger to the area. Later the orphans and the Keepers walked out to the bush.

Pare and Dololo enjoyed browsing together this morning. Mutara's herd later arrived to join the babies along with Kithaka, Orwa, Turkwel and Kibo among them. 

Mutara, Sities, Suguta and Turkwel usually have one ambition when they join the dependent babies, and that is to steal their favourite Dololo and walk away to spend the day with him. This habit is well-known to the Keepers however and they always have an eye on them.

Just before 11am, all the orphans walked towards the mud bath so the dependent babies could have their milk bottles. Dololo was escorted there by Mutara’s group. Kalama joined in as well as the orphans walked to the mud bath, and when they arrived she started playing in the water with Kanjoro who they found already there, and Mutara. Kalama later came out and started playing on the soil mounds. The rest of the ex-orphans, led by Suguta, led the dependent orphans back out to browse. 

Back out in the bush all the orphans concentrated on browsing, but the Keepers remained very alert and kept an eye on Dololo as it only takes a moment for him to walk off with Mutara’s herd! Suguta watched over Dololo as he browsed, and as it turned out the Keepers didn’t need to worry today as Mutara and her herd were well behaved. 

17 May 2021

Mutara’s herd consisting of Suguta, Sities, Turkwel, Kibo, Kanjoro, Kithaka, Lemoyian, Garzi and Orwa joined the orphans as they browsed in the Kone area this morning. As always, Dololo was happy to have his big sisters around and this gave him courage to challenge the other boys too, as he knew he was under the protection of the older girls in Mutara’s herd! 

The orphans browsed calmly up to mud bath time when the ex-orphans escorted the dependent babies to the mud bath. It wasn’t very hot, so the orphans decided to boycott the wallowing exercise apart from Garzi, Kalama and Kanjoro who decided to have fun in the water.  

In the afternoon, the orphans settled to browse west of Ithumba Hill and in the evening they all returned back safely to the stockades. 

18 May 2021

The orphans started their day by scratching against the wall in the stockade compound. As soon as they were done, Sana Sana led the way out to browse. 

Out in the bush, the orphans were joined by Mutara and her herd again. The three girls Suguta, Sities and Turkwel walked up to Dololo to find out how he was doing and how his night was. To this day, we are not sure why Mutara and her herd are so infatuated with little Dololo as opposed to his age mates Musiara and Sattao, and we are just not sure why they give this little boy, who was quite naughty in the Nursery, quite so much attention over any of the others! We look forward to seeing how as Dololo grows up, how his relationship will develop with these females.  

Rapa and Ambo lagged behind drinking water and ran to catch up with their friends. As soon as they caught up with the herd, Rapa decided to challenge Wanjala to a pushing game, but it didn't last for long. Olsekki was feeding close by and for some reason, whether they were disturbing him or perhaps he was jealous of their game, he came over and disrupted them by pushing the two boys away. 

At mud bath time only Kanjoro decided to go for a swim. The rest of the herd left immediately after drinking water. The afternoon was a quiet one as the orphans and Mutara’s herd browsed peacefully throughout the rest of the day. 

Barsilinga, who sometimes has the tendency of arriving back early to the stockades to have a big share of the lucerne pellets inside, arrived five minutes early before the rest of the orphans. He started helping himself to the pellets before any of the others arrived!

19 May 2021

The orphans left the stockades early in the morning as usual. They headed east and settled to browse. Two buffaloes were feeding not far away, but the orphans decided to ignore them and browsed as if no one was around. Galla and Kuishi decided to take a break from feeding to have soil dusting exercise. Later, the two realized they should get back to browsing in order to fill their tummies, and abandoned their game to keep feeding. 

At eleven o'clock in the morning, the dependent orphans made their way to the mud bath and everyone was delighted to see ex-orphan Tomboi there with a wild friend. The orphans intermingled with them before Tomboi and the wild friend bull teamed up with Kanjoro to go wallowing in the mud bath. In the afternoon, all was quiet as the orphans concentrated mostly on browsing. 

20 May 2021

Chemi Chemi, Melia, Kilaguni and Kandecha joined Mutara’s herd in welcoming the orphans out in the morning. As soon as the orphans were out, Sities and Suguta whisked Dololo away to find out how he was doing and to ask about his night. The jovial Ambo decided to lead the group out soon after he had some water from the water troughs. Ambo headed north east rumbling in a low tone which was requesting everyone to follow him. The orphans responded by following Ambo and they settled to browse in the Kone area. 

Olsekki decided to test his strength by engaging 11 year old Chemi Chemi to a pushing game. Obviously seven year old Olsekki was no match for Chemi Chemi and he couldn’t keep up, so he ended up running away. Kauro, who was limping this the morning due to a sprained front leg, walked behind the rest of the herd but later his leg felt better and he was able to catch up with the rest. 

Again only Kanjoro decided to wallow in the mud bath when the orphans went there just before noon so the babies could have their milk feed. In the afternoon, the herd settled to browse west of the Ithumba Hill but later they chose to pass by the mud bath again as it suddenly warmed up. After cooling off, the orphans started to make their way home for the night. 

21 May 2021

Soon after leaving their stockade, Ndiwa and Musiara settled to scratch against some nearby rocks. Mundusi, Ambo and Wanjala spotted some guinea fowls ahead of them. Mundusi reacted first by charging and trumpeting at them. His two friends followed and in unison they ran up to the birds to frighten them and make them scatter – always a fun game for baby elephants! The guinea fowls were too quick for them though and flew away before the boys even made it close. Wanjala, Ambo and Mundusi were left confused at what to do when all the birds flew off, so instead they turned to the bushes to knock them down in frustration. 

At around nine o'clock in the morning, the orphans were joined by Mutara’s herd who were in the new company of Meibai. It was lovely to see Meibai who has been away for some time, and he must have linked up with Mutara’s herd during the night. Mundusi walked over to Meibai and exchanged greetings by entwining their trunks. Meibai appreciated the welcome shown by the small boy Mundusi. 

Members of what the Keepers call ‘class five’, including Barsilinga, Tusuja, Olsekki, Oltaiyoni, Siangiki, Kamok, Roi and Naseku, which is the ‘final’ class we have and whose members at any moment might decide to become wild, joined the ex-orphans and left with them, only to meet up with everyone again at the mud bath. 

Karisa and Wanjala participated in a strength testing exercise and later, Musiara challenged Mapia. After having some water at the mud bath, only a few of the ex-orphans decided to go wallowing while the others walked back out to browse. In the afternoon, the entire herd settled to browse west of Ithumba Hill and later in the evening returned back safely to the stockade compound.

22 May 2021

As soon as the orphans left the stockades, Barsilinga headed straight out to have a pushing game with Kithaka who had spent the night outside. The orphans settled to browse in the Kone area. It’s drying up now and the orphans wanted to concentrate on browsing so that they would have enough to eat. They all browsed right up to mud bath time when they were joined by Tomboi. 

Olsekki, who feels that he has grown up a lot recently, stood next to Tomboi as if he measuring his height, and later tried to push Tomboi from behind. Tomboi understood that Olsekki is just a young bull and he didn't react in anyway, as he is such a gentle bull. When Olsekki realized that Tomboi had no concern or wish to play with him, then he moved to engage Garzi in a pushing game. 

A wild bull checked in and went straight to the water trough. Later, the wild bull rumbled, calling Tomboi to join him. Tomboi left the orphans and joined the wild bull. Later, the two left and walked off into the bush. 

In the afternoon, the orphans settled to browse in the Kanziku area and had a quiet time. In the evening, Mutara and her herd escorted the orphans back to the stockades. 

23 May 2021

The orphans left the stockades early as usual. Musiara apparently woke up in a playful mood and started his day by challenging Rapa. Their game went on for quite some time before Olsekki stopped them by pushing the two out of his way. Dololo wanted to have a pushing game with Pare, but Pare wasn’t interested. Dololo kept on pushing him from the side but Pare had other important issues to attend to, the main one being filling his stomach and he wanted to concentrate on browsing. 

Later the orphans were joined by Mutara and her herd. Kithaka, who appears to be taking on the same character as Wendi and is sometimes rude to the Keepers, tried to charge at them. It’s not clear why these elephants from the Imenti area seem to be naughty when they grow up! 

At mud bath time, the herd was joined by three wild bulls. One of the bulls was quite aggressive and kept on charging at whoever he spotted, but later they walked away. The orphans had some water from the water trough, as Olsekki kept himself busy by playing with Lemoyian and later Dololo. 

It warmed up in the afternoon and the orphans decided to cool down in the roadside mud bath. On the way back to the stockades, Rapa and Ndiwa lagged behind and dodged the Keepers. The Keepers realized the two were missing when preparing the orphans to go into their rooms for their milk, but they turned up a little while later and were shut safely into their stockade for the night too.

24 May 2021

It was a cold and quiet morning. The orphans left the stockades soon after the morning milk feed and headed straight out to browse. Kamok settled to feed with Ambo and Musiara and perhaps was guiding them on how to be good babies, because although she is quite naughty she is very good with younger elephants! Ambo and Musiara have been chosen to keep the new babies, which will be coming from Nairobi soon, company. We are so excited to receive more babies from the Nursery, and they will remember Musiara, Ambo, Jotto, Sattao, Dololo and others from the Nursery too! 

Maramoja and Mundusi were engaged in a deep conversation; perhaps as Mundusi wanted to know from Maramoja why she and Enkikwe had been moved up to the next class. The Keepers know the move was both to make room for the new arrivals and also because Mundusi has been a trouble maker recently, and has been verbally warned by the Keepers several times! Maramoja didn’t want to stay talking with Mundusi for long as they were supposed to be seriously tucking into browsing to avoid going back home without enough to eat. Later, Musiara joined his friend Maramoja and they walked slowly together as they concentrated on browsing. 

Mutara, Kainuk, Suguta, Sities, Turkwel, Orwa, Kithaka, Garzi, Lemoyian, Kalama, Melia, Chemi Chemi and Kibo joined the dependent orphans shortly before mud bath time. The herd walked to the mud bath together where Lemoyian engaged Tusuja in a pushing game while Wanjala played with Kuishi. Garzi couldn’t stand seeing Wanjala pushing the little girl Kuishi. Garzi confronted Wanjala and demanded an explanation why he would pick on someone like Kuishi instead of someone his own size. Wanjala sensed trouble and decided the best thing to do was to turn and run away from Garzi. In the evening, two wild bulls joined Mutara’s herd at the stockade water troughs. Later, Kilaguni emerged from the south east and joined his friends. 

25 May 2021

The ex-orphans joined the orphans in the morning. Dololo as usual had his big sisters waiting to take him out. The orphans headed north east of the stockade. Barsilinga and Tusuja, who have become great friends these days, parted ways with the main herd and left to an undisclosed location, only to show up again at the mud bath when their friends were preparing to leave. 

Out in the bush, Esampu and Mapia had an argument that ended in a fight. Mapia and Esampu used to fight in their stockade at night so Mapia graduated to the next class. Something Esampu did seemed to anger Mapia so he decided to fight the naughty girl this morning, and when the going got tough for Esampu she surrendered and ran away. Enkikwe engaged Lemoyian in a pushing game to let Lemoyian know that despite his bad leg, he can handle any pushing game with any age mates. 

At mud bath time, Enkikwe decided to stay and stand in the spot where he had his milk bottles. This was so he could wait for the Keepers to leave so he could root through the crates to confirm that all the milk bottles really were finished, or perhaps the Keepers were hiding a few extra bottles. He was making a mess of the bottles so one of the Keepers went back to push him away from the crates to carry on and join his friends. 

Although the sun was shining there was a slight breeze, so all the orphans except for Kanjoro decided not to mud bath. Kanjoro is a little water boy these days and loves wallowing no matter the weather. In the afternoon, the herd headed to the slopes of the Ithumba Hill where they settled to browse. Olsekki had a strength testing exercise with Kilaguni but ended up losing the game. In the evening, Mutara and her herd escorted the dependent orphans back to the stockades. 

26 May 2021

The orphans stayed to feed close to stockade compound as today is the day Nabulu and Maisha are arriving from the Nairobi Nursery to come and start a new life at Ithumba. Shortly before eight o'clock in the morning, the truck carrying the two girls arrived. After being offloaded, Nabulu saw Musiara, Dololo, Ambo and Sattao approaching. These were the boys that had been sent by the Keepers to first welcome the girls. Nabulu took a bold move of walking to meet the boys and there was evident joy amongst them as Sattao, Dololo and Musiara reunited again with the two girls they remembered. The girls entwined their trunks with the boys in greetings and later walked to the water trough with them. The rest of the herd arrived later. Kilaguni was the only ex-orphan who came to witness the arrival of the new babies. Some of the boys like Mundusi, Galla and Enkikwe were a bit naughty and were pushing the girls around whenever they came close to them. Surprisingly little girl Esampu was being naughty and pushing them as well, but the two girls were clever and learned how to avoid the trouble makers. Nabulu didn't like the way Galla welcomed her either. Instead of welcoming the two girls nicely, Galla decided to climb on Nabulu and Nabulu wasn't happy about that. Since there was nothing she could do, Nabulu just moved on and avoided Galla.  

Maisha and Nabulu certainly felt the change in temperature and were feeling the heat of Ithumba, and so couldn't wait to get into the mud bath to cool themselves down after having their noon milk bottle. After swimming, Jotto came out and enjoyed whipping a tree stump using his tail as he waited for the decision to be made about which direction they were going to go in. 

In the afternoon, the orphans settled to browse south of the mud bath and Nabulu and Maisha continued to settle into their new surroundings and life at Ithumba. Having friends there certainly made it all easier. In the evening, Mutara and her team joined the orphans on their way back to the stockades. In their stockade, Nabulu and Maisha looked content and fed on the branches as if they had already been around for a long time. 

27 May 2021

Nabulu and Maisha awoke to their first morning at Ithumba. The two girls followed their friends out from the stockades and were ready and willing to learn the ways of their new environment. The girls settled for lucerne with rest of the group and later followed them out to browse. Mutara and her herd were present but funnily enough they didn't show much interest in Maisha and Nabulu really! Their true focus remains on their little boy Dololo.

After feeding on lucerne, Karisa and Musiara led the way to the browsing field where the orphans had a quiet day. Sities, Turkwel and Suguta concentrated on their Dololo. At mud bath time the orphans were hesitant to go into the water as it was quite chilly, but Maisha and Nabulu were happy and quick to go in and were later followed by Kanjoro, Ndiwa and Dololo. Suguta and Sities had no other option than to follow their Dololo to make sure that he was alright in the water. In the afternoon the orphans settled to browse in Kone area and browsed calmly throughout the rest of the day. 

28 May 2021

Maisha and Nabulu were the first ones to come out of their stockades this morning. The two wanted to head straight out to browse but the Keepers called and stopped them from doing so since they are still new in the area and don’t know much about the best ways to go yet! The two girls were directed to join their friends in feeding on lucerne. Later Sapalan, Kuishi and Mteto walked down to the water troughs to drink water. Ex-orphan Challa joined the orphan’s briefly to have some lucerne too, before wandering off. 

Out in the bush, Rapa engaged Wanjala in a pushing game that ended in a draw. Galla decided to show his dominance over Mapia by mounting him. Wanjala saw what Galla was doing and decided to ride on Musiara. Pare took a break from browsing to have some fun by rolling on the ground. 

At mud bath time the weather was chilly again and none of the orphans dared to step into the mud bathing water. Barsilinga, Olsekki and Tusuja, who walk on their own these days and choose to join the others at the mud bath or back at the stockades, arrived late to the mud bath and later walked off in a different direction to the other orphans. The afternoon was quiet and no ex-orphans showed up during the day. In the evening, the dependent orphans returned back safely to the stockades. 

29 May 2021

Mutara and her herd were waiting to receive the orphans outside the stockades in the morning. The ex-orphans shared lucerne with the dependent babies and later they all walked out together to browse. It was a quiet morning as Maisha and Nabulu acclimatize to the ways of the area. The orphans settled to browse north of the stockade where Nabulu teamed up with Malkia to browse. 

At mud bath time, Nabulu and Maisha were at the front of the group to head for their milk; they didn't want to be second but wanted to lead! At the word go, Nabulu set the pace and led the first group to the mud bath. The weather wasn't appealing and so only Esampu together with ex-orphans Kanjoro, Kalama and Garzi decided to wallow. Esampu headed straight to the piles of loose soil soon after wallowing, and there she joined the other orphans who had preferred soil bathing to wallowing. Siangiki and Enkikwe, who happen to be longtime friends, had their own private conversation.  

In the evening ex-orphan Rapsu and a wild friend showed up at the stockades and joined Mutara and her herd briefly before leaving.

30 May 2021

Mutara and her group spent the night just outside the stockades again. The group had been joined by a wild bull that usually accompanies Yatta’s herd, perhaps meaning that Yatta and her group are not far away! Soon after the orphans were let out, lucerne was served and the wild bull was happy to join in the party of a hearty breakfast. Naseku settled to feed with Garzi and had a long conversation with him. Naseku is in the 5th and final class and is perhaps curious about life out in the wild. Later Naseku teased the wild bull by standing in front of him and running about in a charging mood. The wild bull didn't react however as he understand the behaviour of young ones. 

Maisha and Nabulu opted to feed on grass other than the lucerne but with time, they will get used to it too. At mud bath time Nabulu and Maisha didn’t wait to be in the second group as they are still feeling the heat of Ithumba, and wanted to get there first for their milk and then into the mud bath to cool off. They are certainly adapting to the new rhythm and both Nabulu and Maisha led the way to the mud bath. In the afternoon, the orphans took a break from feeding to relax under a tree and resumed browsing later when the temperature dropped to a more favourable level. 

31 May 2021

Maisha and Nabulu didn't stop at the lucerne feeding venue when they left their stockade this morning. The two girls, with their trunks raised high in the air smelling something, walked off to the east of the stockade. Maisha and Nabulu had got wind of some elephants coming and wanted to find out who the elephants were. Soon, ex-orphan Zurura and a wild friend emerged, walking west. The Keepers tried to block Maisha and Nabulu from walking away further as they were scared that the two girls might run away with the bull! Zurura understood what the Keepers were worried about, and so turned to meet the girls and perhaps encourage them to go back to the Keepers. The girls were happy and excited to meet big Zurura and followed him to the water trough as the wild bull followed from a distance. Zurura didn't want to upset the girls by moving away quickly, but waited until all the other orphans had surrounded the water trough and then slowly slipped away with his wild friend. Maisha and Nabulu realized later that Zurura had left. All this time, Malkia had been watching intently and as she watched Zurura leave with his friend, she came close to the two girls to lead them out to the bush.

Out in the bush, Sapalan engaged Dololo in a strength testing exercise that lasted for quite some time and ended when Dololo couldn't take it anymore and ran away to seek protection from Suguta and Sities, who were around with the rest of Mutara’s herd. The rest of the morning was quiet. 

As the orphans were browsing in the afternoon, a wild elephant herd of ten members arrived at the mud bath and had some water. In the evening, the same wild herd turned up at the stockades and few of the members decided to feed on the leftover lucerne grass they found there. The number of wild elephants slowly grew to thirty after more groups arrived for water. It’s the first time this year that we have seen this many wild elephants visiting the stockade at the same time. Once they were satisfied the wild elephants left at their own pleasure and we couldn’t help but ponder how this dry season will go.