Keepers' Diaries, October 2005

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Ithumba Reintegration Unit

Although a year has passed since the rabid dog episode traumatised five of the Ithuma elephants, the sudden appearance of a domestic dog out in the bush as the elephants were feeding on the 11th left the group exceedingly nervous for a few days, exacerbated by a visit to the Stockade Watering trough the next night by some noisy hyaenas, and a few days later by a casual encounter with a jackal busy stalking a dikdik couple near the Stockades. Understandably, the orphans will forever remain extremely scared by the appearance of anything that resembles a member of the canine family, and such encounters this month left the entire group feeling very threatened for several days, prompting them to cluster around their Keepers for protection during the ensuing days. As usual, Napasha has found himself in trouble several times for bullying Yatta’s favourite, Olmalo. Having tried to mount Olmalo during the night of the 1st October, Yatta’s punishment left him limping the next morning, but as he nursed his injured limb, Mulika and Nasalot remained close by to console him, gently touching the sore leg with their trunks. However, a few days of deep heat treatment administered by the Keepers restored him to his usual boisterous self, and soon he was up to his old pranks all over again!. The month has alternated between being very hot, forcing Ndomot, Sunyei and Madiba to draw on reserves of stomach water in order to cool themselves, and cool period with intermittent light showers, culminating in a heavy rainstorm towards the end of the month. The orphans have loved playing in the puddles, and rolling in the damp earth, and during hot days have loved their noon mudbath. Galana is now happily settled in her new home, and the Ithumba ten are a very happy and close-knit unit, the only drawback being the inability to yet make contact with any wild elephants. Yatta led the group along a trail used by a wild elephant the previous night, but failed to make contact. The orphans would love to encounter other elephants, but the wild elephants’ fear of humans remains a serious drawback to the reintegration of the Ithumba set. Ndomot and Madiba are close friends, Ndomot also Galana’s best friend. Sunyei and Wendi are once again as close as during their time together in the Nursery and Taita and Tomboi are bound by bonds of friendship, albeit also competitive, being little boys. It is heartening to read that Ndomot is beginning to challenge them and hone his pushing skills. . Selengai still enjoys the privileged status of being Mulika’s chosen favourite, and, of course, Olmalo and Yatta are inseparable. Woe betide anyone who interferes with Olmalo, something that Napasha mischievously finds irresistible. Taita has also found himself punished and sent into Coventry for a time by Yatta for chasing Olmalo round and round a tree in an attempt to mount her.

Although a year has passed since the rabid dog episode traumatised five of the Ithuma elephants, the sudden appearance of a domestic dog out in the bush as the elephants were feeding on the 11th left the group exceedingly nervous for a few days, exacerbated by a visit to the Stockade Watering trough the next night by some noisy hyaenas, and a few days later by a casual encounter with a jackal busy stalking a dikdik couple near the Stockades. Understandably, the orphans will forever remain extremely scared by the appearance of anything that resembles a member of the canine family, and such encounters this month left the entire group feeling very threatened for several days, prompting them to cluster around their Keepers for protection during the ensuing days. As usual, Napasha has found himself in trouble several times for bullying Yatta’s favourite, Olmalo. Having tried to mount Olmalo during the night of the 1st October, Yatta’s punishment left him limping the next morning, but as he nursed his injured limb, Mulika and Nasalot remained close by to console him, gently touching the sore leg with their trunks. However, a few days of deep heat treatment administered by the Keepers restored him to his usual boisterous self, and soon he was up to his old pranks all over again!. The month has alternated between being very hot, forcing Ndomot, Sunyei and Madiba to draw on reserves of stomach water in order to cool themselves, and cool period with intermittent light showers, culminating in a heavy rainstorm towards the end of the month. The orphans have loved playing in the puddles, and rolling in the damp earth, and during hot days have loved their noon mudbath. Galana is now happily settled in her new home, and the Ithumba ten are a very happy and close-knit unit, the only drawback being the inability to yet make contact with any wild elephants. Yatta led the group along a trail used by a wild elephant the previous night, but failed to make contact. The orphans would love to encounter other elephants, but the wild elephants’ fear of humans remains a serious drawback to the reintegration of the Ithumba set. Ndomot and Madiba are close friends, Ndomot also Galana’s best friend. Sunyei and Wendi are once again as close as during their time together in the Nursery and Taita and Tomboi are bound by bonds of friendship, albeit also competitive, being little boys. It is heartening to read that Ndomot is beginning to challenge them and hone his pushing skills. . Selengai still enjoys the privileged status of being Mulika’s chosen favourite, and, of course, Olmalo and Yatta are inseparable. Woe betide anyone who interferes with Olmalo, something that Napasha mischievously finds irresistible. Taita has also found himself punished and sent into Coventry for a time by Yatta for chasing Olmalo round and round a tree in an attempt to mount her.

Apart from the dog, hyaena and jackal interludes, the orphans have come across warring baboons which sped right between them, scaring them witless, whilst Madiba suffered an adrenalin rush from a rock hyrax that let out a shriek as he approached to take a closer look, sending him bellowing back to the Keepers for protection. Dik dik chases are, however, fun for the babies, as was an encounter with a mother kudu and her baby who obligingly also ran off. All the Ithumba orphans have coped admirably with the dry season, none of them showing any signs of loss of condition.

October 2005 day to day

01 Oct

Whilst the orphans walked to take water from their trough this morning, we noticed that Napasha was limping, having been disciplined by Yatta after he tried to mount her favourite Olmalo during the night. We sprayed his leg with deep heat, and the orphans fed close by. Mulika and Nasalot, sensing that Napasha was slightly injured, empathized with him by feeding near him, and touching his affected leg with their trunks. Napasha spent most of the time under shade, and refused to walk far, although Mulika and Nasalot tried to persuade him to follow. However after 2 days of deep heat treatment, he was again in fine fettle, and up to racing for his bottle of milk again!

Napasha leaving the stockades in the morning

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