Keepers' Diaries, October 2007

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

A lively month can always be guaranteed for the Ithumba orphans and October has been no exception. They have had to chase off jackals drinking at their Stockade waterhole, expel flocks off guinea-fowl doing the same, target the warthog families coming to drink and also deal with the dreaded wild dogs who have appeared on 3 occasions. They have had to disperse warring baboons, been traumatized by dikdik chases and Galana and Sunyei enjoyed seeing of a family of warthogs who came to share the mudbath, remembering the warthog games of their Nursery days.

01 October 2007

After taking water, Nasalot led the orphans to Ithumba Hill where they browsed until it was mudbath hour. Afterwards Yatta led the orphans back to the feeding area. Once they returned to the Stockades Nasalot tried to entice Kenze from his usual Night Stockade, wanting him to be with her and the older elephants, but Kenze refused to budge.

02 October 2007

Kora and Rapsu engaged each other in a pushing game whilst waiting for their milk ration in the morning. Rapsu finished his first, and then tried to snatch Kora’s bottle, so he was warned by the Keepers and expelled from the Stockade as punishment. After the usual drink at the trough Olmalo, Napasha, Selengai and Mulika scratched their buttocks against the unloading bay whilst Tomboi and Ndomot had a pushing game and Lualeni, Naserian joined Kora in soil dusting. Sunyei was the leader out to feed today. The orphans browsed on the slopes of Ithumba hill, and enjoyed an extensive mudbath, since temperatures were high.

03 October 2007

As soon as the Stockade gates were opened in the morning, Nasalot went to the babies to see how they were faring, whilst Wendi went to inspect the new Stockade which will house the next intake from Nairobi. The orphans fed calmly throughout the morning until the mudbath hour when as usual Sian, Naserian, Challa and Rapsu formed the first group to head to the milk venue. The afternoon turned cool, which enabled the elephants to feed calmly for the rest of the day until around 4.30 p.m. when a light earthquake was experienced by both the elephants and their Keepers. The elephants were confused, all with their trunks up like periscopes trying to figure out the reason for such an unusual occurrence, but detecting nothing, they resumed feeding. The quake lasted only a few seconds.

04 October 2007

After taking water on being let out in the morning Yatta and Nasalot led the orphans in the direction of the Kanziku road. As they had settled down to feed, two fighting male baboons disrupted matters, so engrossed that they paid no heed to Yatta, Kinna and Mulika, who tried to chase them off. Yatta did her best, but the baboons were too engrossed, so Nasalot gathered all the young ones and led them back to the Keepers. The Keepers went to investigate and found Yatta still charging the warring baboons. Upon seeing the Keepers, she gained courage and became more serious. As soon as the baboons saw the Keepers with Yatta, they stared in disbelief, broke off contact and scurried away into the thicket.

05 October 2007

Kora and Madiba were first at the Stockade waterhole today, and had fun chasing away a flock of guineafowl who had also come to quench their thirst. Later Sunyei led the group out into the bush where they all fed peacefully until two male dikdiks interrupted the peace by running through the group, chasing one another. This terrified the elephants who rushed to their Keepers who had a difficult time calming them down! Later Naserian led the group to the milk venue and mudbath.

06 October 2007

On a cloudy morning the orphans enjoyed playing around the compound, the games initiated by Kora and Sian. Soon Challa and Kora were engrossed in a pushing game whilst Buchuma tried his luck trying to mount onto Lialeni. Kenze and Loijuk dusted their bodies with soil and Napasha, Rapsu and Olmalo scratched themselves against the acacias. Suddenly a family of warthogs arrived for a drink only to find themselves surrounded by Tomboi, Taita, Ndomot, Buchuma and Rapsu, who charged in unison, forcing the pigs to take off in different directions. Soon the whole compound was covered in dust as all the orphans joined in the chase. Eventually, the Keepers called the orphans to order and led them to the browsing area. All enjoyed the noon mudbath which lasted half an hour before they returned to the serious business of feeding.

07 October 2007

Kora and Challa raced to the waterhole for a drink upon being let out, where again the guineafowl were taking a drink. Buchuma, Madiba and Ndomot gamboled towards them forcing the birds to take to the air. Later Sian and Lualeni led the orphans to the bush where they fed calmly until it was mudbath time. Afterwards the elephants rested under shade before resuming feeding. In the evening Yatta and the older orphans decided to spend the night in the new Stockade.

08 October 2007

After the orphans had left the compound in the morning, three wild dogs showed up for a drink, and hung around the Stockade water trough all day, obviously waiting for a victim. At 6 p.m. a kudu showed up, and then the chase was on. The kudu escaped through the stockade wires near the concrete water tank with the dogs in hot pursuit. The Keepers saw only dust, and suspect that the kudu had been killed, because the dogs did not reappear.

09 October 2007

It was a cool morning, so none of the elephants took water before Kora, Sian and Lualeni led the group towards Kanziku road again. Whilst busy browsing Rapsu shoved Olmalo who bellowed for help. This immediately brought the Big Girls to the rescue. Yatta punished Rapsu by pushing him hard and expelling him. As the day turned hot, the orphans flapped their ears continuously, trying to cool their bodies, so all enjoyed the mudbath hour enormously.

10 October 2007

Yatta led the group out to feed today. Kora, Lualeni, Naserian and Sidai decided to take a different direction, but Nasalot hurried after them, and turned them round to join the others. Meanwhile Kenze found himself left behind at the Compound, so he bellowed, which prompted the entire herd to turn round and hurry back to see what was wrong with Kenze. All comforted him, touching him gently with their trunks, after which all left together. It was a hot day so the mudbath was greatly enjoyed, after which the elephants relaxed under trees. As they approached the Stockade in the evening, they were alarmed to find 3 wild dogs taking water at their Stockade waterhole. Yatta and Kinna immediately initiated the charge sending the dogs off rapidly disappearing into the bush. The Keepers had difficulty restoring order since all the elephants were highly charged.. At 8 p.m. 2 wild Elephant Bulls came to the Stockade to take a drink, so Nasalot, Yatta and their group lined up along the wire to exchange rumbles with their wild visitors. After sometime the Bulls departed.

11 October 2007

As the orphans gathered around the Stockade waterhole before leaving for the bush, the 3 wild dogs emerged again, also wanting a drink. They were immediately spotted, and routed, each running in a different direction with elephants hot on their heels. They returned later when the orphans had left. After the noon mudbath Nasalot led the group out to feed again, before returning to the Stockades for the night.

12 October 2007

This morning Sunyei and Selengai engaged each other in a pushing game, which lasted only a few minutes before Yatta intervened. Out in the feeding area Kora, Lualeni and Naserian split from the others to feed away from the rest. Kenze, Orok and Olmalo remained close to Nasalot and Yatta who pulled bark off trees for the babies. During the mudbath Sidai pushed Rapsu from behind making him fall down. When he stood up, he retaliated and she screamed, but surprisingly this cry drew no attention from the Big Girls who knew that she started it all! Meanwhile Kenze and Orok enjoyed a pushing match, closely supervised by Nasalot, who then led the group back to feed.

13 October 2007

First thing this morning Nasalot rushed to the babies’ Stockade to ensure that all was well entailing a joyous rumbling and trumpeting greeting.. After a drink, Napasha, Olmalo, Sunyei and Buchuma scratched their buttocks at the unloading bay whilst Tomboi and Ndomot initiated a pushing game prompting Wendi and Selengai to follow suit. After having fun at the compound for about an hour, Sunyei trumpeted that it was time to leave and led the herd out. Once at the designated browsing area the orphans split into two groups, one led by Mulika and the other b Nasalot. Each group secured a good place and settled down to feed for the better half of the morning. Naserian led the small babies for their milk ration and mudbath. They were joined by the older orphans at the mudbath later. As it was a very hot day, they thoroughly enjoyed the mudbath, after which they resumed feeding until it was time to return in the evening.

14 October 2007

After the morning drink, the orphans had fun before leaving for the bush. Sunyei and Selengai went to inspect the large Water Bowser parked at the Stockade compound, reaching their trunks to the top, whilst Kora, Madiba and Naserian went to the new Stockade where the older orphans had again spent their night. They went from one corner to the other, touching everything before leaving to indulge in a chasing game around the compound. Eventually Sian and Loijuk led the rest of the herd towards Kanziko road to feed where there are still some greens. As usual there was a lot of happiness at the mudbath, after which the orphans returned to the Kanziku seasonal river before Sunyei led the group back in the evening.

15 October 2007

The orphans were in a jovial mood this morning, immediately beginning to play. Taita and Napasha practiced serious charging techniques,, rushing towards one another at great speed with their ears out and trunks curled up under the mouth. This went on until Buchuma and Madiba inadvertently came between them, pushing one another which interrupted events. Napasha then broke away for a drink while Kora, Sunyei Lualeni and Rapsu were busy dust bathing until they spotted Selengai heading out, so they followed. En route to the browsing area, Olmalo picked up a piece of stick and scratched an itch behind her left ear with it, so engrossed in this task that she inadvertently bumped into a tree. Her bellow brought all the others back in a hurry to see what was wrong, and finding nothing, they then resumed heir journey to the field. The mudbath today lasted a long time due to high temperatures.

16 October 2007

Yatta led the orphans out today, and it was Naserian that led the first group to the mudbath at noon, where Sunyei, Olmalo and Taita exuberantly splashed and threw mud around. Later, once the orphans had left, Loijuk, who is greedy, noticed the Keepers taking their lunch and left the herd to come and see whether there was any more milk in the offing. That night at around 8 p.m. 4 wild elephant bulls turned up to drink water at the Stockade water hole. They were welcomed by the orphans with trumpets and rumbles which they answered with low rumbling. They remained at the compound for about an hour having taken water, exchanging notes with the orphans.

17 October 2007

Today Nasalot inspected the Water Bowser before leaving for the bush, while the others enjoyed the usual morning activities, Orok and Olmalo engaged in a playful pushing game, closely supervised by Yatta and Sunyei. After the mudbath, the orphans enjoyed playing with a football that had been given to them by a visitor staying at the Ithumba Camp. Wendi got top prize, remembering her football prowess at the Nursery. The afternoon browsing was interrupted by a group of warthogs who were dispatched by a charge from Galana and Sunyei.

18 October 2007

The orphans emerged in a jovial mood as usual, and having indulged in the usual Compound fun, were led out by Sunyei. They fed calmly throughout the morning, and enjoyed the mudbath hour, Olmalo, Buchuma and Kenze making sure that their entire bodies were completely covered in wet mud. Rapsu and Tomboi initiated the soil dusting afterwards. The mudbath lasted for a full hour.

19 October 2007

As soon as the Stockade Gates were opened, Kinna, Nasalot and Yatta rushed to the babies’ quarters to ensure that all were present and correct. Challa led the orphans out to feed today where Orok, Kenze and Loijuk remained close to the older elephants who plucked soft branches and leaves for them. Orok and Kenze had a fight over the soft branches, buyt Yatta quickly separated them. At the mudbath Naserian and Loijuk were first in the mud, attracting all the others to join them. First out was Kora, who has never much liked the mudbath. The afternoon feeding session took place at the Kanziku road.

20 October 2007

The orphans fed well throughout the morning, and then clustered around their Keepers, giving the Keepers the message that it was time to move to the mudbath. After the mudbath, where all had a lot of fun, Selengai and Tomboi led the group to feed for the afternoon session, where they spent the rest of the day until it was time to return in the evening.

21 October 2007

After the usual fun-filled morning activities at the Stockade Compound which involved Madiba and Ndomot chasing one another, Sian scratching herself against a tree and Tomboi and Olmalo engaged in a pushing game, it was Sian, Challa and Lualeni who led the way out today, with the rest filing behind them. Naserian, as usual, led the way to the noon mudbath after which the orphans took to shade, because it was very hot. Once temperatures dropped, Yatta led the orphans back to browse where they fed calmly until it was time to return after five. Sian led the first group back, followed by Challa\s group and then Yatta who brought the rest back home. At about 8.30 p.m. a wild bull isited the Stockade water trough for a drink and left later, leaving the orphans rumbling, longing for his company..

22 October 2007

The morning was cloudy as the orphans left the Compound. Out in the field Kenze and Kora spent time pushing each other but were interrupted by Rapsu, who attempted to mount onto Kora. Kenze then took cover for Nasalot was homing in on him as Kora tried to retaliate.

23 October 2007

After the usual compound activities, the orphans headed out to feed. During the morning Rapsu engaged Wendi in a pushing match, which annoyed her and resulted in her chasing Rapsu away as a punishment. After the mudbath Ndomot and Buchuma had a pushing match, but Wendi stepped in to separate them.

24 October 2007

It was a misty morning as the orphans left, heading for Ithumba Hill. Taita was disciplined by Kinna and Nasalot when he attempted to mount onto Naserian. He was sent into isolation or a while to feed on his own.

25 October 2007

Heavy clouds gathered as the orphans left this morning, promising rain, so the Keepers armed themselves with umbrellas and raincoats. However, the clouds cleared and a very hot day followed, so both the Keepers and their charges remained under shade during the morning. All enjoyed the mudbath.

26 October 2007

Another hot, clear day. Out in the field Ndomot, Sunyei Madiba, Buchuma and Nasalot split from the rest and headed off to feed in another direction. When it was time for the mudbath, the Keepers called Nasalot to bring her group back to join the rest and within 5 minutes she was there with all her charges, to begin the journey to the mudbath. At the mudbath she lay down and Tomboi enjoyed rubbing on against her.

27 October 2007

It promised to be another hot day, so at 9 a.m. Ndomot and Buchuma both wanted the same patch of shade. However, Tomboi arrived and pushed them both away so that he could enjoy it. Soon after the mudbath, the weather changed, and there was a short drizzle which only lasted about 20 minutes, which the elephants greatly enjoyed. In the evening, the smaller orphans met up with a wild herd which Kora, Lualeni and Kenze began to follow. However, Kenze soon changed his mind and returned to the Keepers, but Lualeni and Kora remained absent. The Keepers decided to take the rest of the orphans back home before coming to try and find the two, but they were spared the task, for not long after the others had settled into their Stockade, Kora and Lualeni emerged from the bush, walking very fast, eager for their milk.

28 October 2007

Yatta led the group out today. Once out in the field Kenze and Kora spent time playing with each other, but Nasalot began to approach in a slow, measured Stride. As soon as Kora saw Nasalot approaching, he broke off, because he knows that Kenze is one of Nasalot’s favourite babies.

29 October 2007

After taking water today, Yatta and Mulika steered the other orphans eastwards to a long rocky terrain not far from the Stockades. The orphans fed calmly until Kora, Lualeni, Tomboi and Rapsu initiated a game of running within the thickets, charging and trumpeting as they knocked down small bushes. At the mudbath, only the hardened few wanted to wallow because the weather was cool.

30 October 2007

Out in the field, tomboy and Taita engaged one another in a test of strength, which was watched keenly by Orok, until Napasha passed by and gave both boys a shove. At the mudbath the youngsters each had a donated Vitamin Pill in their milk, whilst the older elephants took theirs in the evening Copra hand-out.

31 October 2007

Yatta and Olmalo led the orphans out today, their progress interrupted by two running warthogs, which prompted a mass retreat back to the Keepers! After mudbath and milk for those that still had it, Mulika led the group out to feed for the rest of the day, and in the evening Naserian, Sunyei and Sian led them back to their Night Stockades.