Keepers' Diaries, October 2008

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

It has been extremely interesting to monitor how caring and responsible the older elephants (known as “Yatta’s Group”) are of the other still milk dependent Youngsters remaining with their Keepers, who are regarded as “close family” by the older group who are now free spirits, free to go where they like, when they like, and if they like. This endorses what happened at the Voi Unit when Emily’s group left, followed by that of Natumi, and lastly by Thoma’s youngsters.

01 October 2008

Kamboyo and Zurura enjoyed a pushing match to open up the early morning activities, whilst Kora enjoyed a roll of the ground. This attracted the attention of Challa, who came to try and mount on him, but Sunyei interrupted this procedure by Sunyei signaling that it was time to head out to the browsing area. Yatta and her group checked in at the Stockades a little later to allow Ol Malo and Orok to take their milk, and then followed Sunyei’s group, meeting up with them out in the field. All the orphans enjoyed the mudbath because it was a very hot day.

02 October 2008

Another hot day as Sunyei led the group out first thing in the morning. There Kamboyo enjoyed a pushing game with Kora but when Kenze arrived to join in, Kamboyo left Kora and Kenze to it. At l0 a.m. Yatta and the older orphans joined the Juniors at the Kanziku area and all the orphans fed together until Kamboyo led Loijuk, Chyulu and Sian (the first group of milk dependent youngsters) to the milk and mudbath venue. In the afternoon all the orphans spent time together, and returned together to the Stockades, and Yatta and the older orphans left once the youngsters were all ensconced in their Stockades.

03 October 2008

Early in the morning, all the orphans gathered around the Stockade water trough where Yatta and her group had assembled, after having been away all night. The orphans greeted each other with rumbles and by intertwining trunks. Kamboyo and Zurura enjoyed a brief pushing game before the group headed off to feed. Later on in the morning Orok and Kenze engaged one another, which deteriorated into a fight. Kinna, who was some distance away, noticed this and ran to separate the two warring parties! In the evening 4 wild bulls turned up at the Stockades, and waited for Yatta and the older elephants to leave along with them.

04 October 2008

Sunyei again led the Youngsters out in the morning, all swinging their trunks from side to side in a display of joy and happiness. By l0.30 a.m. it had turned scorchingly hot, so the youngsters had to take to the shade. Lualeni led the group to the mudbath today, all eager to cool themselves, after which they again rested under shade until the temperature dropped. Yatta turned up at the mudbath after the youngsters, and having enjoyed a wallow went to join them, returning with them to the Stockades in the evening.

05 October 2008

Just as the youngsters were about to leave the Stockades in the morning, a wild elephant joined them briefly, and after a drink at the trough, followed them out into the bush. The wild elephant spent about half an hour with them before disappearing to an unknown destination. At 8 a.m. 3 wild dogs visited the Stockade water trough, and wallowed briefly in the mudwallow before disappearing again. Before mudbath time Wendi and Tomboi turned up to join the youngsters at the mudbath. The rest of Yatta’s group joined the youngsters later shortly before they were due to return in the evening.

06 October 2008

Kora and Ndomot were do busy engaging one another in a test of strength that they found themselves way behind all the other Youngsters as they headed out. Noticing this, they hurried off to catch up with the others. Yatta’s group was absent throughout the day, but showed up at the Stockades in the evening when they joined up with the Juniors.

07 October 2008

The youngsters browsed calmly throughout the morning. Madiba and Kora took time off from feeding to engage one another in a strength test. After the mudbath, there was some light rain, which made the Youngsters very jubilant, all busy rolling around and playing in the damp soil. Yatta’s group turned up at the stockade without Ol Malo, which left the Keepers anxious. Thirty minutes after the Juniors had returned to the Stockades in the evening, Yatta’s group again turned up, again without Ol Malo. They didn’t stay long, leaving in a Westerly direction having taken their Copra handout.

08 October 2008

At 5.45 a.m., as the Keepers were preparing the Juniors’ milk, a wild bull brought Ol Malo back. She stood rumbling at the Stockade door while her wild male escort took water at the trough. As soon as the Stockade Gates were opened, Ol Malo rushed in to join the other Youngsters and have her milk. She then left along with the youngsters, but kept on rumbling throughout the morning, calling her group who had left the previous night and not been seen since. Ol Malo joined the youngsters at the mudbath, but at 4 p.m. she felt the need to go in search of Yatta, not being comfortable without her surrogate Mother. Her search ended back at the Stockades where she decided to wait for the youngsters. Meanwhile, they had connected with Yatta’s group at the Kanziku area on their way back home so the two groups walked back to the Stockades together where Ol Malo was overjoyed to be reunited with Yatta again. Just before 6 p.m. 3 wild bulls came to join Yatta’s group at the Stockades and having taken water, waited nearby for Yatta and her group to finish taking their Copra ration before leaving with the wild bulls. However, Wendi decided to remain behind with the Youngsters.

09 October 2008

Having remained behind last night, Wendi led the Youngsters out in the morning, settling down to browse at the Kanziku area. By l0 a.m. it had turned very hot, forcing the orphans to take to the shade. At 11 a.m. Makena led the first group to the milk and mudbath venue. Loijuk, Lualeni, Galana, Kamboyo and Sidai enjoyed a prolonged wallow with Kamboyo enjoying climbing on the girls as they lay in the water. After the mudbath Sunyei led the group to the Eastern slopes of Mazinga Hill where they browsed until time to return in the evening. Yatta and her group turned up back at the Stockades in the evening, greeted warmly by Wendi. Shortly afterwards 2 wild elephants came to join Yatta’s group at the Stockades. Meanwhile, the Keepers who were on top of a high rock trying to get a mobile phone signal noticed two lions approaching the Stockade trough, but when they noticed that the bull elephants were there, decided to change direction.

10 October 2008

Yatta’s group arrived very early at the Stockades before the youngsters were let out. A wild elephant then arrived to join them at the Stockade trough, and when the Youngsters were let out, they also all joined up with the wild elephant in their midst. The wild elephant spent about 20 minutes at the Stockades amongst our orphans, as Zurura played with Kamboyo and Kora tested his strength against Ndomot. The wild elephant led the entire herd off and when the orphans had reached the Kanziku area where they like to browse, the wild elephant left, heading North. All the orphans enjoyed the mudbath together today, and all spent the afternoon together, returning together to the Stockades in the evening. At 7 p.m. 3 wild bulls came to drink at the Stockade trough and shortly afterwards were joined by another 7 wild elephants, making l0 wild elephants within the Stockade compound at one time. At l0 p.m. the wild elephants all left along with Yatta’s group.

11 October 2008

Trumpets and rumbles filled the air as the orphans welcomed another lovely day. Sidai and Sunyei led the youngsters out to an open area to browse before the sun became too hot. Shortly before 11 a.m. Yatta’s group turned up to join the youngsters out in the bush, and all the orphans headed for the mudbath together.

12 October 2008

It was a cloudy morning, with mist covering Ithumba Hill and Yatta’s group at the compound to greet the youngsters. Sian enjoyed scratching herself against a tree while Galana played with Selengai, Tomboi with Kora and Lualeni with Zurura. Soon Mulika picked up a piece of stick, and led the entire group off to browse. Today Dame Daphne, Angela and Robert were at the mudbath to watch the orphans, so all participated fully, Kamboyo mounting onto the orphans who lay in the water. Loijuk also played her usual trick of trying to empty water from the drinking drums, but the Keepers were vigilant and prevented this from happening. In the evening, 4 wild bulls turned up to drink at the Stockades, and wait for Yatta’s group to join them, giving Daphne and Angela a nice surprise!

13 October 2008

Yatta’s group was waiting at the Stockades first thing in the morning with Orok and Ol Malo anxious for their milk. When the youngsters were let out, and the milk dependent babies had taken their milk ration, the usual Stockade activities commenced – Kora and Lualeni scratching themselves against the Unloading Bay, Ndomot and Tomboi involved in a test of strength and Kora playing with Buchuma. Out in the bush the two groups browsed together until time for the mudbath which they all enjoyed, thereafter spending the afternoon together. Shortly before 5 p.m. Yatta and her group split from the Youngsters, heading towards the Campsite, leaving Wendi and Tomboi behind with the babies. Chyulu led the group back to the Stockades in the evening and at 6.15 p.m. Yatta’s group turned up. As Yatta’s group was preparing to leave, 2 wild elephants came to join them and left along with them. At 8 p.m. 12 wild elephants came to the Stockades to drink, and spent quite some time within the compound.

14 October 2008

Yatta and her group arrived to join the orphans as they were playing around at the Compound before heading out. Orok and Ol Malo enjoyed their milk before all the orphans headed out together as one group. At 10 a.m. Yatta’s group split from the Youngsters, heading eastwards with their trunks up in the air, leaving the Youngsters with their Keepers. Yatta’s group returned to the Stockades late in the evening.

15 October 2008

First thing in the morning Yatta’s group was again waiting at the Stockades for Orok and Ol Malo to take their milk ration. Warm up exercises included Buchuma, Wendi, Lenana and Yatta opting for a scratch against rocks, while Kenze and Kamboyo pushed one another and Tomboi challenged Madiba to a test of strength and Zurura decided to play with Ol Malo. At the field Orok enjoyed a scratch against a large rock to rid himself of some ticks. The entire herd browsed together all morning, enjoyed the mudbath together and returned together in the evening.

16 October 2008

First thing in the morning Ol Malo and Orok were there with Yatta’s group to take their milk while Zurura and Kamboyo spent time chasing one another around the bushes. At 9 a.m. Orok and Kenze had a joyful pushing match which was interrupted by Nasalot who obviously thought they could be better occupied browsing rather than fooling around!

17 October 2008

All the orphans were again together first thing in the morning. Tomboi and Kora engaged one another in a test of strength which was broken up by Mulika who drove them in different directions. All the orphans enjoyed the mudbath today because it was very hot – even those who are not water friendly such as Challa, Tomboi, Kora, Taita and Rapsu.

18 October 2008

Another very clear morning, promising yet another very hot day. At 7 a.m., after the orphans had left for the bush 3 wild dogs turned up for a quick drink and then left. At the mudbath, all enjoyed wallowing because it was so hot. Loijuk, Kamboyo, Madiba, Galana, Sunyei, Chyulu, Lenana, Makena, Sidai, Lualeni and Kenze were reluctant to come out. In the evening all the orphans enjoyed a session at the Kalovoto seasonal river where they had fund sliding down the banks.

19 October 2008

In the morning, just as the orphans were about to leave, 2 wild bulls arrived for a drink from the Stockade trough. Shortly afterwards Sunyei led the Youngsters out leaving the wild bulls at the water trough. Yatta’s group joined up with the Youngsters at the Kanziku area, and all went to the mudbath together before heading to the dry Imenti waterhole. In the evening all the orphans returned to the Stockades together where Orok and Ol Malo had their milk. Shortly before 7 p.m. the wild bull named Rafiki came with many wild friends and hung around until Yatta and her group were ready to join them and leave for the night.

20 October 2008

After the usual Stockade compound games when Ndomot and Kora had a pushing match and Naserian scratched against a tree while Galana did the same against the trough, Galana led the group out today, heading to the Kone area, where they met up with Yatta’s group. The rest of the day was spend together, with Kamboyo leading the first milk dependent group to the mudbath and milk venue and Lualeni leading the second batch.

21 October 2008

Yatta and her group were again waiting at the Stockades, Orok and Ol Malo eager for their milk, as 2 wild bulls were enjoying a drink at the trough. Morning activities included Galana intertwining her trunk with that of Taita while Tomboi got rid of ticks against the unloading bay, followed by Lualeni and Nasalot. As the other orphans joined the wild bulls at the trough, Zurura had instruction from Kinna about pushing techniques until he left to scratch against the unloading bay. Kinna then joined him. The bulls then left, leaving the orphans behind. On the way out to the browsing area, Napasha engaged Kinna in a pushing bout, which didn’t last long The remainder of the day was spent peacefully, all together.

22 October 2008

A clear sky promised another hot day. Shortly before the youngsters were about to leave, Yatta and her group arrived so that Ol Malo and Orok could take their milk. The orphans then all joined up to move off to the browsing area. Before l0 a.m., the day turned scorchingly hot, forcing some of the orphans to draw stomach water to spray over their bodies. All thoroughly enjoyed cooling off in the mudbath, after which they relaxed under shade, waiting for temperatures to cool before resuming browsing.

23 October 2008

Early in the morning, at the Stockade compound, Zurura and Kamboyo enjoyed their usual chasing game around the bushes before the Youngsters headed out to feed. There Madiba and Rapsu engaged one another in a test of strength which was broken up by Galana. At 11 a.m. Yatta came to join the orphans at the mudbath, and all had fun together.

24 October 2008

Clear skies promised another hot day. By 11.30 a.m. when temperatures had risen dramatically, the orphans enjoyed a lengthy mudbath and when it was time to leave, Sunyei, Kamboyo, Loijuk, Lualeni, Madiba, Challa and Chyulu were reluctant to emerge. In the evenings the orphans went to the Kalovoto river where again they enjoyed sliding down the steep banks. Shortly before 5 p.m. the wild bull named Rafiki came to the Stockades with three wild friends. They remained there for almost 2 hours, and then the wild friends left, leaving Rafiki in the Stockade Compound. He was still there when Yatta and the older elephants returned for Ol Malo and Orok to take their milk and when Yatta left, Rafiki still remained behind in the yard.

25 October 2008

By the morning, Rafiki had left. The Youngsters headed out having enjoyed the usual Compound activity, led by Sunyei and Galana. Kamboyo and Zurura stopped feeding to have a pushing game which was interrupted when the Keepers herded them off to the noon mudbath. There Yatta and her group joined them, so all had fun, and fed together throughout the afternoon, returning together in the evening.

26 October 2008

The orphans awoke to Ithumba Hill shrouded in mist and 2 wild bulls at the Stockade trough, which had been emptied during the night by other wild elephants. The Keepers turned the water on for them before feeding the youngsters. As soon as the Junior group were allowed out of their Stockades, they all joined the two wild bulls at the water trough. The wild bulls then left, having taken their fill, leaving the Youngsters behind to engage in the usual Compound activities – Makena and Lenana scratched their bodies against the rocks, Naserian played with Ndomot while Madiba played with Kora and Kenze tested his strength with Kamboyo. Later Ndomot engaged Sunyei is a shoving match in which Sunyei emerged the victor. At l0 a.m. Yatta’s group joined the Youngsters out in the bush and went with them to the mudbath. After mudbath, Yatta’s group exchanged Wendi and Ol Malo for Challa and Sunyei, Wendi and Ol Malo remaining with the Junior Set and Sunyei and Challa going off with the Seniors. Kamboyo led the Juniors back in the evening, and Yatta’s group arrived an hour later, leaving once Orok had taken his milk, having returned Sunyei and Challa to the Junior group.

27 October 2008

After quenching their thirst, Galana led the Juniors to Ithumba Hill to browse where they remained feeding throughout the morning. Chyulu, Lenana and Makena led the group to the noon mudbath. After the mudbath, Galana ushered the group under shade because it was so hot. A few minutes before returning to the Stockades in the evening, Yatta’s group met up with the Juniors at the Kanziku area and after the usual enthusiastic greetings, all then returned to the Stockades, Kamboyo leading.

28 October 2008

The day began clear with all the Juniors in a good mood. Kamboyo and Zurura rushed to the water trough which was surrounded by guineafowl, so both young bulls, who were joined by Loijuk, enjoyed charging and chasing them away. Later Sidai and Lualeni led the group out to browse. After mudbath the orphans relaxed under shade and were joined by Yatta’s group at around 3 p.m. All then browsed together and returned as usual to the stockades in the evening. At 5 p.m. 5 wild bulls arrived at the Stockades to join Yatta’s group who then left with them.

29 October 2008

Sunyei led the orphans out today. Just 2 hours after they had all left, Yatta returned with Ol Malo and Orok who took their milk, after which Yatta took her group to the slopes of Ithumba Hill to join the Juniors. All enjoyed the noon mudbath, after which they fed along the Kalovoto watercourse before returning to the stockade in the evening.

30 October 2008

Early in the morning, 2 wild bulls were waiting at the Stockade Water trough for the Keepers to open up the Gate Valve for them. As soon as the Juniors had taken their milk, they joined the two wild bulls at the water trough. Shortly afterwards the wild bulls led the way, leaving the Youngsters at the Kanziku area to browse, while they headed westwards. At 8 a.m. Yatta and her group turned up at Kanziku area to join the Juniors, and walked with them to the mudbath. However, on the way to the mudbath Ol Malo left the group to go her own way, which surprised the Keepers. After the mudbath, some of the Keepers waited at the mudbath to see whether Ol Malo would turn up, which she did. She was then escorted to join the rest of the herd out in the bush. In the evening the entire orphaned group returned to the Stockades together.

31 October 2008

Another clear sky when the orphans woke up in a jovial mood, playful as they strolled out to the feeding grounds. At around 9 a.m. Yatta and her group arrived at the Stockades, with Ol Malo and Orok in front, anxious for their milk ration. Once the two had finished taking their milk, Kinna led the group to join up with the Juniors at the Kanziku area. They browsed together for the rest of the morning, went to the mudbath together, and returned together in the evening back to the Night Stockades.