A highlight for the Ithumba group, was the arrival of Kora and Lualeni from the Nairobi Nursery on the 30th September, instantly recognized by Naserial, Sunyei, Wendi, Challa and Sidai, and also Buchuma, all of whom knew them in the Nairobi Nursery. Lualeni was Naserian’s Nursery favourite, and Kora Buchuma’s best Nursery friend. Kora settled in immediately, but Lualeni was a little displaced for a day or two, obviously feeling the absence of Makena, and also having to step down in rank. The older females, namely the Matriarch Yatta, Nasalot, Mulika and Kinna were delighted to welcome two more into their herd, with Kinna paying special attention to Kora.
Intermittent rain has dominated the orphans’ month, always very welcome in the hot, arid habitat of Northern Tsavo. Each shower brings relief from the heat, and is accompanied by immense joy and fun as the elephants romp in the puddles and roll in the dampened earth. To begin with Kora and Lualeni obviously felt the heat, and spent more time than the others in the mudbath, and were also anxious to keep close to the Keepers, but within just a day or two both had settled in like veterans, closely attended by their ex Nursery peers, and Kinna, who has shown a special affection for Kora.
Sunyei has been up to her usual pranks, scaring the others unnecessarily on the 6th and also on the 12th. But on the 13th and 18th they all had reason to be scared during encounters with the resident pack of wild African Hunting Dogs. They turned up to drink at the Stockade trough on the 13th and passed by the orphans as they headed out, causing fear and confusion. On the 18th they again encountered the orphans on their travels and spread panic, with Lualeni, Kora, Challa, Naserian, Wendi, Rapsu and Madiba fleeing back to the safety of the Stockades while Mulika and the rest headed off at speed in the opposite direction. Only the Matriarch, Yatta, and the Keepers stood their ground to deal with the intruders and having successfully seen off the dogs, Yatta immediately ran back to the Stockades to round up the babies, as did some of the Keepers, while other Keepers went in search of Mulika and her group. Soon all were joyfully reunited, but remained on edge for a while. The dogs again appeared to drink at the Stockade trough during the evening of the 24th when the orphans were already in their Night Stockades, their presence immediately detected by Nasalot, Orok, Ndomot and Wendi. Nasalot trumpeted shrilly, which sent the dogs off, but yet again their presence un-nerved the entire group, who are very fearful of any predator, and particularly those of the canine variety following the rabid dog episode several years back. Again on the 25th another wild dog encounter as the elephants were going out to the feeding area send them dashing back to the Stockade for safety! On the 11th it was a leopard that alarmed Yatta and Nasalot when it came to drink at the Stockade trough, both of whom trumpeted shrilly to send it off. Rain in the North has brought on a welcome green flush of vegetation, so the orphans of Ithumba are having a wonderful feast, in between whiles enjoying bush mudbaths in natural wallows, and generally having fun.
Napasha has been testing his strength unsuccessfully against Yatta, Nasalot and Kinna and as usual the boys have spent time challenging each other to pushing matches, Tomboi making himself unpopular with both Kinna and the Keepers by targeting Kora.
Orok remains firmly glued to Naserian, while Olmalo is still Yatta’s favourite, and Selengai the favourite of Mulika. The Keepers wonder whether Kinna will decide to also take Kora as her special baby, having shown him special attention throughout the month.
The rain has brought on bountiful green vegetation for the Ithumba elephants, and will again fill the large natural “Imenti Waterhole”, so the next few months will be a particularly pleasurable time for our growing Ithumba herd, which now numbers 22 ex Nursery orphans.