Keepers' Diaries, November 2010

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

The very sudden and unexpected death of Salaita on the 11th November stunned us all, having had no fore-warning of things going wrong. Salaita was over two years old when orphaned, and was flown directly to Ithumba on the 25th September from Tsavo West National Park to provide company in the Stockades for Ithumbah, who had been rescued from the mud of the Ithumba Dam the previous day. He and Ithumbah were allowed out and about with the other Keeper Dependent orphans to forage for themselves in the bush on the 6th October. The first sign of Salaita being unwell was when he began trembling on his way back to the Night Stockades on the l0th November, after which he collapsed and was put on life support. Tragically, he passed away the next morning. The postmortem undertaken by the Trust’s Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit revealed the dreaded pneumonia to have been the cause of his death.

01 November 2010

The orphans left their Night Stockades as usual, and led my Makena, headed out to browse at the Kanziku area where they were joined by the Ex Orphans at l0 a.m. Amongst the Ex Orphans were two wild elephants. Yatta chose to browse near Ithumbah while Nasalot chose Kilaguni, as usual. Yatta led the entire herd to the mudbath, where they had a wonderful time, since the day was very hot. Later, Yatta and her entourage separated from the Keeper Dependent babies, who browsed along the slopes of Ithumba Hill until it was time to return. On their way back, they enjoyed a second mud and dust bath.

02 November 2010

It was a sullen day, promising rain, which left the orphans very happy. Out in the browsing area, Kilaguni knelt down, pricking the ground with his tiny tusks, which attracted Sabachi and Meibai. By the mudbath hour, it was still overcast, so none of the orphans went in.

03 November 2010

There had been an overnight drizzle, which pleased the elephants. The day remained cloudy, and in the evening as the orphans were returning to their Night Stockades, there was a heavy downpour. They had a wonderful time playing in the rainwater puddles and rolling in the mud.

04 November 2010

The morning began threatening rain, which made the orphans very happy as they made their way out, charging around playfully. Once they reached the browsing field, the rain began, so they had a wonderful time in the mud and drinking the rain water from puddles. None of them was interested in the mudbath on this very joyful day.

05 November 2010

After yesterday’s rain, it was a chilly morning as the orphans headed out to browse. There they had a wonderful time playing in the mud and the rain pools. More rain fell at 9 a.m. so it was a very wet day all round, which the elephants greatly enjoyed.

06 November 2010

The orphans all gathered around the water trough, rumbling softly to each other. Meibai and Kilaguni scratched their bottoms against the Unloading Bay before heading out to feed. Again, there was little interest in the noon mudbath, since mudbaths were aplenty everywhere!

07 November 2010

After the Keeper Dependent orphans had left the Stockades, Lualeni and Challa turned up, took a drink of water at the trough, and then headed out in the direction taken by the Juniors, joining the Youngsters in the Kanziku area at l0 a.m. The Ex Orphans browsed alongside the Juniors, shared the noon mubdath with them, and then headed Northwards whilst the Juniors returned to the Kanziku area.

08 November 2010

At 10 a.m. Yatta and the Ex Orphans joined the Juniors, accompanied as usual by ‘Mgeni”, the wild recruit. All browsed happily together until Yatta led the way to the noon milk and mudbath venue. After the mudbath the entire group browsed along the slopes of Ithumba Hill until it was time to return in the evening, when Yatta led the Youngsters back home.

09 November 2010

On an overcast day, the orphans entered the browsing area, where Kilaguni and Meibai enjoyed a Pushing Game, which was easily won by Meibai who is stronger. At 8 a.m. Makena got a fright, and all the orphans ran off bellowing in fear. The Keepers called them to calm them, and went to investigate the cause, but could see nothing remiss. The day turned very hot, so the orphans thoroughly enjoyed their noon mudbath. Later another heavy downpour fell and the orphans enjoyed running up and down splashing the water of the running rivulets with their feet.

10 November 2010

It was the usual routine for the Keeper Dependent babies, but on the way back in the evening Salaita developed complications. He began trembling, took his milk only reluctantly and then lay down to sleep.

11 November 2010

It was a tragic day for all of us at Ithumba, because by morning Salaita was so ill that he was unable to get to his feet. We inserted a Dextrose drip into an ear vein, but to no avail, because he passed away before noon. The Trust’s Mobile Veterinary Unit arrived and undertook a post-mortem, which showed that pulmonary pneumonia was the cause of his death.

12 November 2010

It was a very wet and chilly morning following an overnight downpour so the orphans headed straight out without bothering about taking water from the Stockade trough. Out in the field they concentrated on browsing, all enjoying the fresh green shoots which were now appearing. They enjoyed bathing in a natural waterhole where Chaimu and Meibai put on a spectacular display. At the noon milk venue none of the elephants were interested in the usual mudbath, since they had been mud-bathing throughout the day!

13 November 2010

The orphaned herd left the compound in the morning and browsed westwards. At 9 a.m. some of the Ex Orphans, namely Napasha, Galana, Madiba, Ndomot and Sidai came to the Stockades and left shortly afterwards. The Juniors headed to the noon mudbath led by Kilaguni where the Juniors enjoyed their milk before heading back to the browsing area.

14 November 2010

The entire Ex Orphaned Herd was at the Stockade compound first thing in the morning. They greeted the babies before separating to head out towards the Kalovoto area whilst the Keeper Dependent group headed to the Kone area to feed. After the usual milk feed and mudbath at noon, the Juniors browsed along the slopes of Ithumba hill until it was time to return in the evening.

15 November 2010

The orphans left their Night Stockades in a very happy mood, charging around expressing their joy over the availability of rainfall and adequate pasture. After the mudbath there were light showers which the orphans greatly enjoyed rolling around happily in the mud and rain puddles. Chaimu, Kilaguni, Ithumbah, Sabachi and Meibai had a wonderful time playing in the mud, overseen by Makena.

16 November 2010

Chaimu and Ithumbah led the Juniors out today Makena and Meibai guarding the back of the line. All the elephants felt as though they were in paradise, with food and water at every turn, so there was no need to take a mudbath at the noon milk venue.

17 November 2010

Again Ithumbah and Chaimu led the orphans out to browse at the Kanziku area where the group indulged in different activities in between feeding. They enjoyed playing in the puddles, taking numerous mudbaths, and scratching their bodies against the trees. The orphans roamed far and wide enjoying different food plants, all of which are now in full leaf.

18 November 2010

Out in the field Kilaguni had a wonderful time rolling on the ground, watched over by Chaimu, while Meibai and Sabachi challenged each other to a Pushing Match overseen by Makena.

19 November 2010

After a heavy downpour, rivers and streams burst their banks. The orphans left the compound in a jovial mood, bumping playfully into one another. In the browsing field Kilaguni and Meibai enjoyed scratching themselves against an anthill, Meibai doing his best to pierce the anthill with his tusks. They wallowed in a natural depression, browsed happily throughout the afternoon, and returned as usual in the evening.

20 November 2010

Out in the browsing area Sabachi and Kilaguni enjoyed a pushing match. All played in a natural mudbath and had no reason to mudwallow at the usual venue, where they took their milk.

21 November 2010

Wendi brought a Splinter Group of Ex Orphans to the compound first thing in the morning and greeted the Juniors, escorting them to the water trough before heading out to browse. She was with them until 11 a.m. and then separated.

22 November 2010

There was a thunderstorm during the night, and the orphans enjoyed a rainy day as they went about their usual activity.

23 November 2010

Led by Makena the orphans settled into the Kone area to browse. They concentrated on feeding, without much other activity.

24 November 2010

Shortly after leaving the Stockades, the Juniors met up with Yatta’s herd, who had not been seen for several days. Nasalot, as usual, homed in on her favourite, “Kilaguni”. The Ex Orphans remained with the Youngsters until 10 a.m. when Yatta decided to separate, but leaving Nasalot with the Junior Group. Nasalot escorted them back in the evening, and only left once the Juniors were all settled in their Stockades for the night.

25 November 2010

Makena led the Juniors out. At l0 a.m. two warthogs who were chasing one another scared the orphans who all ran to their Keepers for protection. It took the Keepers about 4 minutes to calm them down. After this incident, the orphans resumed their feeding until mudbath time, after which Chaimu and Ithumbah led the group back to feed. Kilaguni took the lead back home in the evening.

26 November 2010

As the others quenched their thirst at the trough, Ithumbah scratched her body against the Unloading Bay. She and Chaimu led the Group out to browse. On the way home the Group enjoyed an evening mudbath before returning for the night.

27 November 2010

There was more rain last night, so the orphans headed out without taking water. and again simply concentrated upon feeding, with new fresh browse plentiful at every turn.

28 November 2010

Ithumbah led the Juniors out this morning, without passing by the water trough, confident about getting all the water they need in rain-filled pools. After their noon milk and mudbath, they browsed along the slopes of Ithumba Hill until it was time to return in the evening.

29 November 2010

Soon after the Juniors had left the Stockades, some of the Ex Orphans accompanied by a one-Tusker bull turned up at the Stockade Compound, but soon left to an undisclosed location. The Juniors settled down to browse around the Imenti Waterhole after their noon mudbath.

30 November 2010

The orphans left the Stockades at 9 a.m. and were soon joined by Yatta’s group, who, to the Keepers’ amazement took Makena and Meibai off with them. Yatta did not bring Makena and Meibai back at mudbath time, as expect, and nor did she return them in the evening. The Keepers hoped that she would return them in the coming days (which she did!).