Keepers' Diaries, October 2010

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

Loijuk, who has long been the Junior Matriarch of the Keeper Dependent babies recently upgraded herself to the Senior Set of Ex Orphans led by Yatta who has Splinter Groups peeling off from time to time to chaperone the Keeper dependent Babies either individually, or in pairs or small larger groups.. These Splinter Groups are usually led by orphans who have acted as Junior Matriarchs in their time and obviously separate from the main Ex Orphans Group with the agreement of Yatta and the other Senior Ex Orphans. The elevation of Loijuk to the Senior Set left Lenana, Chyulu and Makena overseeing the Keeper Dependent/Milk Dependent Youngsters still based at night in the Stockades, including two more recent new comers, “Ithumbah” and “Salaita” who were flown directly to Ithumba rather than come to the Nairobi Nursery, both calves being 2 years old. They joined Kilaguni, Chaimu, Meibai and Sabachi who were already in situ. “Ithumbah” was retrieved from the mud of the drying Ithumba dam and “Salaita” was a poaching victim from Tsavo West National Park.

01 October 2010

Another new month and the babies left their night Stockades without their usual Matriarch, Loijuk, who has been spending time out as an Ex Orphan. However, she arrived first thing in the morning, along with some wild friends, to escort the Youngsters to take a drink at the trough, and then out to browse, closely followed by Sabachi, who adores her. They enjoyed the noon mudbath, and took another in passing on the way back in the evening. Back at the Stockades, they encountered Yatta’s group drinking at the trough, and the Youngsters joined the Ex Orphans briefly before going back into their Stockades. Loijuk went off with Yatta’s group when they left later.

02 October 2010

The Youngsters were joined today by Galana and Mulika, who escorted them out to feed, Galana paying particular attention to Kilaguni, resting her trunk across his back in a loving gesture. All enjoyed the mudbath, because the day was hot, and later were led by Mulika to browse along the slopes of Ithumba hill before returning in the evening.

03 October 2010

Some of the Ex Orphans joined the Juniors today, this time led by Naserian, who steered them South. They moved to the mudbath at 11 a.m. and afterwards returned to the browsing area until it was time to return in the evening.

04 October 2010

After the Youngsters left their Night Stockades, they were joined by Yatta’s Ex Orphan group who were with some wild elephants. All then left for the browsing field, led by Yatta, the Keepers trailing at a distance due to the presence of so many wild elephants amongst the Ex Orphans. The entire herd browsed together, and enjoyed a joint mudbath, after which Yatta and her group plus their wild friends separated and went elsewhere.

05 October 2010

The Youngsters joined a wild elephant who was drinking at the trough when they emerged in the morning. Lenana then led them out into the bush, where, at l0 a.m. Yatta’s group who had 2 wild elephants joined them and led them to the mudbath, Nasalot walking close to her favourite, Kilaguni, whilst Loijuk focused on her special “baby”, Sabachi. After the mudbath Yatta’s group left the Youngsters with Loijuk, who took them to the slopes of Ithumba hill for the afternoon browsing session, and then escorted them back home in the evening.

06 October 2010

Today was the first day that the two new Ithumba babies, “Ithumbah” and “Salaita” were sufficiently settled to be allowed out with the others. Salaita followed the other orphans to the drinking trough, but Ithumbah was reluctant to leave the Stockade. The Keepers tried all the tricks possible to entice her out and eventually she obliged. Chyulu led the group out today, with Ithumbah lagging behind with the Keepers. At the noon mudbath the two new babies, Ithumbah and Salaita were confused, not knowing the usual routine, so the Keepers had to entice them to the mudbath carrying their milk bottles. On the way back to the Stockades in the evening, the Ex Orphans met up with the Youngsters, and Ithumbah walked with Kinna, whilst Salaita walked close to Galana.

07 October 2010

This was the second day out for Ithumbah and Salaita. Soon after the Juniors had left the compound, l0 wild elephant bulls turned up for a drink and a wallow, after which they departed again. Meanwhile Ithumbah and Salaita were more conversant with the routine, and took their cue from the others. At the mudbath Yatta’s group joined them, who escorted them out to browse during the afternoon, returning them to the Stockades in the evening.

08 October 2010

Chyulu led the Babies out this morning, Ithumbah and Salaita trailing behind, fearful of Kilaguni, Sabachi and Chaimu who are resentful of the attention they get from the Keepers, and tend to push them around. Today the group browsed at the Kanziku location before attending the mudbath.

09 October 2010

The day turned extremely hot, so the Juniors headed early to the mudbath. Kilaguni, Chaimu and Sabachi enjoyed a very lengthy wallow, reluctant to move from the cooling mudbath. In the evening they headed to a river valley, where the babies enjoyed sliding down the banks.

10 October 2010

The Juniors joined a wild bull who was drinking at the Stockade trough when they emerged in the morning. Having taken water, they left him, but later shared the Mudbath drinking trough with 4 other wild elephants. In the afternoon they browsed along the slopes of Ithumba hill until it was time to head back home.

11 October 2010

The orphans spent time relaxing around the Stockade compound this morning, Makena holding onto a Gruyere branch she took with her from the Stockade and peeling off the bark as she scratched her body against the only Acacia tree left within the compound. Later Lenana led the Youngsters out to browse where they kept to the shade since it turned very hot. All enjoyed the mudbath, Salaita playing with Sabachi in the water, but still without sufficient strength to compete. He decided to quit the game.

12 October 2010

It was another very hot day, so the Juniors enjoyed a lengthy wallowing session, joined at the mudbath by the Ex Orphans. Nasalot escorted Kilaguni to a nearby tree to scratch his body. Having not seen Nasalot for several days, Kilaguni was very happy to be with her again. Meanwhile Meibai played with Sabachi. The Ex Orphans led by Yatta spent the afternoon browsing with the Babies, and escorted them back to the Stockades in the evening.

13 October 2010

The Youngsters concentrated on browsing during the morning, with Sabachi leading the way to the mudbath at ll a.m. Upon arrival they found 4 wild elephants drinking at the mudbath trough. Shortly afterwards, Yatta’s group, accompanied by a wild friend, joined the Youngsters and the 4 wild elephants in the mudbath, after which Yatta’s group with 2 of the wild elephants headed East, while the Youngsters headed North, leaving the remaining wild bulls at the mudbath.

14 October 2010

Ever since Loijuk upgraded herself, the Youngsters have lacked a reliable strong leader. Chyulu, Makena and Lenana are not very proficient at taking care of the younger orphans, none of them stepping definitely into the Matriarchal role. Time will tell if this will change.

15 October 2010

During the morning, Wendi’s group turned up to join the Juniors, and later took Lenana and Chyulu off with them, leaving Makena with the Babies. They were joined at the mudbath by 4 wild bulls and later Yatta’s group, still with their wild friends with them. All enjoyed a lengthy mudbath together, after which Yatta’s group and their wild friends headed to the Kanziku Area while Makena led her little group to the slopes of Ithumba hill. Wendi’s group, who had Lenana and Chyulu with them, did not show up, so it was the first night outing for the two Juniors.

16 October 2010

An hour after Makena and the Juniors had left the Stockade, Lenana and Chyulu came back in amongst the Ex Orphans for a drink of water at the Stockade water trough, and left again with them later. Meanwhile, Makena’s little group settled into browsing at the Kanziku area. At the mudbath only Ithumbah, Meibai and Chaimu wallowed today, the rest preferring a soil dusting. Kilaguni led the small group back to the Stockades in the evening.

17 October 2010

Lenana and Chyulu again returned to drink at the Stockades at 9 a.m. in amongst Yatta’s group, and later left with them. Makena’s Junior’s attended the mudbath as usual and spent the afternoon browsing before returning in the evening.

18 October 2010

It was another very hot day forcing the Juniors to browse under shade and take a lengthy mudbath later. Meibai and Chaimu were stars of the day, remaining in the water as the others began heading out to feed again. Later they caught up with Makena and the others.

19 October 2010

Having left the Stockades in the morning, Chaimu spotted some guinea fowl who were drinking at the nearby wallow. She approached them with her ears out, and when they flew off, was left in charging mode! Today Ithumbah and Salaita led the others to the feeding area. After the mudbath, they fed quietly until it was time to return in the evening.

20 October 2010

Makena led the Babies out to feed, as usual, Ithumbah and Salaita leading the way to the mudbath at the appointed time. As the babies were taking their milk, the entire Ex Orphaned group arrived, accompanied by some wild elephants arrived. Yatta went straight to stand beside Ithumbah as she took her milk, and after Ithumbah had finished her milk, Chyulu and Sunyei joined Yatta to escort Ithumbah to the mudbath where she enjoyed bathing close to Yatta. All the Ex orphans remained with the babies for the rest of the day and escorted them back to the Stockades in the evening.

21 October 2010

Having taken water in the morning, Ithumbah followed by Salaita led the way to the browsing field. The two new orphans, who have only been with us just 1 month, are doing very well. Being a girl, Ithumbah will probably become the Junior Matriarch when Makena upgrades to the Senior set. Makena is the only older orphan left now that Chyulu and Lenana have joined the Seniors.

22 October 2010

Early in the morning Lualeni turned up to join the babies and escorted them out to browse. She led them to the mudbath at noon, spent the afternoon with them, and escorted them back in the evening, joined at the Stockades by all the Ex Orphans. Having seen the Youngsters safely in for the night, she left with the Ex Orphans.

23 October 2010

It was a cool, drizzly morning, so the Babies saw no need to visit the drinking trough before heading out, led by Makena. At noon only Chaimu went into the wallow and after a rest under the Acacias, the Juniors again headed out to feed, led again by Makena.

24 October 2010

Today, all the weavers returned, an indication that the rains are not far off. It was a drizzly morning, which the Juniors enjoyed. The Youngsters were joined by Yatta’s group at the noon mudbath who remained with them for the rest of the day and escorted them back in the evening.

25 October 2010

After taking a drink, Makena led the Youngsters out in single file towards the east, where they fed along the slopes of the hill until Kilaguni decided it was time to head for the mudbath. Later Makena led her small group to the Kanziku area to feed for the afternoon, before returning to the Stockades in the evening.

26 October 2010

Lualeni joined the Juniors at the Stockade compound in the morning and escorted them out to feed until it was mudbath time, when Yatta and a group of wild elephants joined the babies. After the mudbath Nasalot took control of the babies while Yatta and the wild elephants left. Nasalot spent the afternoon with the Youngsters and escorted them back in the evening.

27 October 2010

After the usual Stockade activities, Makena led the Youngsters out to feed for the morning, and later to the mudbath venue, where all enjoyed a cooling wallow, Chaimu and Meibai ensuring that their entire bodies were covered in mud. Ithumbah and Salaita then enjoyed a dustbath, and after an hour had passed, all head off to feed for the rest of the afternoon.

28 October 2010

Nasalot turned up early this morning to join the Juniors. Kilaguni was delighted to see her. Nasalot led the Babies out to browse, showing them what to eat. At the mudbath, the Juniors and Nasalot were joined by all the Ex Orphans, including some wild elephants. Later the Ex Orphans and their wild friends left, but Nasalot remained with the Babies, and having spent the afternoon feeding with them, escorted them back in the evening.

29 October 2010

Mist obscured Ithumba hill today, so the orphans began browsing close to home slowly making their way to the slopes of the hill. They went to the mudbath as usual at 11 a.m. and after spending the afternoon feeding, returned to the Stockades in the evening.

30 October 2010

All the Ex Orphans were waiting for the babies’ Stockade Gates to open this morning. Yatta, Nasalot and Kinna actually entered the babies’ Stockade to escort them out, Nasalot taking Kilaguni while Yatta went to Ithumbah. The Ex Orphans then led the Juniors out to the browsing area, but separated at about 9 a.m. leaving the Juniors with Makena to attend the mudbath as usual, feed for the rest of the afternoon and return in the evening.

31 October 2010

Having taken water, Makena led the Youngsters out. The day turned very hot, so Kilaguni led the way to the mudbath, which all enjoyed greatly and where they were joined by the Ex Orphans. All then spent the afternoon together, and the Ex Orphans escorted the Youngsters back in the evening.