Keepers' Diaries, November 2023

Select your unit:

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

As we often remark, the wild-born babies of Ithumba’s ex-orphans tend to be big for their britches. They know that they can antagonise the dependent herd to their hearts’ content, and that their mothers and nannies will always back them up! But at the debut of November, the orphans got their revenge.

Sidai’s son, Sita — who is shaping up to be quite a menace — was antagonising Naleku, no doubt anticipating a complete lack of repercussions. Much to his surprise, however, Sagateisa, Roho, and Naboishu ganged up against him to defend their friend. The four-year-old rascal had no option other than to run away whilst calling out to his mother.

The following day, there was more drama from Sidai’s kids. Roho and two-year-old Silas had an altercation which culminated in a rough pushing match. Silas’ big brother Sita — the antagonist from the day prior — came to his rescue by pushing Roho away. 

They might bring their fair share of drama, but the dependent orphans welcome visits from the ex-orphans. The junior girls relish any opportunity to flex their nannying skills, and with so many wild-born babies in the mix, there is no shortage of opportunities. One day, Naleku had the thrilling privilege of looking after tiny baby Tembo for a brief moment. Suguroi was watching and certainly couldn’t be left out. She quietly stole up to where Naleku and Tembo were greeting one another, so as not to draw attention from the older females and spoil the moment. 

Kithaka, Rapa, Sana Sana, Enkikwe, and Kauro are three of our most recent wild graduates. Always — but particularly during this formative time — we welcome visits from the juniors, so we can monitor their progress as they embrace an independent life. However, they apparently had ulterior motives in mind.

Early in the month, Kithaka, Rapa, Sana Sana, Enkikwe, and Kauro linked up with the dependent herd and accompanied them into the bush. Mid-afternoon, the cloudy weather gave way to light showers, and the Keepers sought shelter beneath some trees. The naughty junior ex-orphans took advantage of the distraction to convince Jotto, Naboishu, Sattao, Dololo and Ambo to go walkabout with them. The rain made it difficult to track the truants, and the Keepers decided to head back with the rest of the herd. They knew that the wayward members of Class Five were in good hands.

Sure enough, Ambo, Naboishu, Sattao, Dololo, and Jotto reported back the following morning. Kuishi, who had spent the night alone in Class Five, reunited with the boys — we imagine she was asking them where they had been all night, and we would love to know, too!

While the other boys need more convincing, Ambo seems thoroughly enamoured with the idea of a wild life. He is reluctant to return home in the evening and lags behind in the morning if any ex-orphans are present. On 8th November, he spent the night out with the junior ex-orphans and failed to link up with the dependent herd the following day. We wondered if this might be the beginning of Ambo’s wild life — but of course, he can always return home, if he so chooses.

A few days later, Rapa and Enkikwe emerged from the east. The Keepers knew that these junior ex-orphans had one mission in mind: to recruit friends to join their team! As they anticipated, Enkikwe and Rapa made away with Jotto. By all accounts, Jotto had a good night out in the wild, but the following day, he refused to peel off with Enkikwe and Rapa. He wanted to relax and mull over the events of the past few days, so he opted to return to the compound with the others that night.

Later in the month, we welcomed even more ex-orphans back home. Wendi, Wiva, Wema, Wimbi, Galana, Gawa, Naserian, Njema, Ithumba, Iman, Teleki, Karisa, Wanjala, Lenana, and Lapa showed up early in the morning, before the orphans had even had their milk bottles. Sagateisa had a brief interaction with Teleki while naughty Lapa tried to bully Esoit. Mukkoka, Roho, and Olorien came to the rescue, sending the rascal Lapa scampering towards his mother. The Keepers put out extra lucerne, so visitors and dependent orphans alike could enjoy their fair share, but prudent Musiara had other ideas. He rumbled, beckoning his friends to follow him, and left the ex-orphans to it.

Two weeks after Ambo’s departure, our beloved boy returned, accompanied by Kauro. Jotto and Sattao couldn’t wait to catch up with him and hear all about his adventures. As it turned out, this was another recruiting mission, for Ambo and Kauro took Jotto with them into the wild.

Rain puts everything into disarray. During one particularly heavy downpour, Esoit, Kuishi, and Larro wandered away from the herd, only to be found an hour later, happily engrossed in a bush mud bath and completely unaware that they were late to return home. We couldn’t believe that we received 70mm in a single hour of downpour! 

As we have learned, the most placid days can take an unexpectedly exciting turn. One morning, everyone was quietly browsing when Naleku caught sight of a jackal nearby. She started charging and trumpeting, which roused the attention of Dololo, Sattao, Bondeni, Suguroi, and Esoit. Everyone converged to help drive the poor jackal away, although he was only going about his business.

All our Ithumba youngsters are doing very well. Larro is the same age as Kindani and Kinyei, but she has become an excellent ‘auntie’ to the Kaluku trio. She fusses over Kindani, Kinyei, and Bondeni, making sure their every need is attended to. 

In Ithumba, this is typically the season of new wild-born babies — and this year was no different. On the morning of 28th November, just before the orphans emerged from their stockades, Yatta and her herd arrived at the compound. It quickly became clear that this was no ordinary visit: They were accompanying first-time mum Olare, who was debuting her newborn baby girl! We are delighted by this development for Olare; she has always been such a nurturing female, and we know she will be an excellent mother. We named her baby Ola.

As it turned out, the arrivals weren’t over yet. The following day, Chyulu arrived with her firstborn, three-year-old Cheka, and a newborn baby bull! This was a welcome surprise, as we had not even realised she was expecting again. 

Naleku, Suguroi, and Larro excitedly approached the new wild-born babies. Mwende and Mala, Ithumba’s second ‘great-grandbaby’ (a calf born to the offspring of an orphan we rescued, raised, and rewilded) were also within the ex-orphan group. We were quite surprised to see that Olare had recruited a tuskless wild nanny to help look after her baby. Both groups briefly indulged in some lucerne before parting ways. It was a most auspicious end to the month.

November 2023 day to day

01 Nov

Mukkoka decided to lead his friends out today after he was done feeding on lucerne and established the feeling that his friends were done, too. The sun was shining and the orphans were eager to begin their day. Mukkoka took everyone north of the stockades around and up the hill, and then browsed next to his young friend Bondeni, while Kinyei teamed up with Suguroi. Kuishi took her favourite Esoit and Larro too and walked away from the herd to browse on their own. Roho and Naboishu took a break from browsing to have a wrestling match but their game ended in a draw. The rest of the morning was quiet as most of the orphans wanted to concentrate on eating.

Olorien led the way to the mud bath for the noon milk feed. It was another warm day and all the orphans jumped into the mud bath in groups, as soon as they finished their milk bottles. They spent a long time in the water until wild bulls started arriving and as a show of respect to their seniors, and also partly because they were done swimming, the orphans came out of the water one by one. Only Jotto, Sattao, Dololo, Musiara and Ambo opted to stay behind and observe the older bulls, wishing to learn as much as possible from their elders.

Meanwhile the others met with Sidai, Silas, Sita, Loijuk, Lili, Teleki, and Vuria nearby. Feisty Sita threatened to push Naleku — but to his surprise, Sagateisa, Roho, and Naboishu ganged up against him! Sita had no option other than to run away whilst calling out to his mother.

While the orphans were browsing in the afternoon, they felt very hot and resorted to standing in the shade for a while. Suguroi took the lead home in the evening.

Kinyei and Mukkoka

Sidai Silas and Sita

Kuishi and Esoit