The month began very hot at Ithumba, forcing the orphans under shade most days early in the day However, the first rain shower fell on the l0th, followed by a heavy downpour of 2 inches on the 29th, which greened the vegetation, put some water at least in the natural depressions and left the Ithumba orphans happy.
The Stockade based Youngsters have enjoyed a lot of interaction with both wild elephants who come to drink at the Stockade water trough, and also Ex Orphan Splinter Groups. Ithumbah spent time with 3 wild elephants who came to drink at the Stockade water trough on the 4th and had to catch up with the other members of her group later who had already left. Yatta came to drink at the trough with some wild elephant friends on the 7th, a wild bull joined the Juniors at their mudbath on the 8th, and two large bulls joined the Youngsters at the mudbath on the 9th. On the 16th a wild bull with suppurating arrow wounds came to drink at the Stockades – no doubt destined to be yet another tragic poaching casualty as was a huge Tusker, one of the very last few carrying ivory of l00 lbs. plus on each side who was found dead not far from the Northern Boundary fence – a huge tragedy for the Park and the country generally, not to mention a unique and valuable genetic loss to the elephant population.
Five buffaloes were unusual drinking visitors on the 22nd when another 6 wild elephants also came to drink at the Stockades as did the pack of 5 wild dogs. The dogs usually arrive in a pack of 5, but sometimes only three turn up. The pack of five ran past by the Orphans as they browsed in the field on the 3rd, paying the elephants and their Keepers no attention whatsoever and when charged aggressively by a wild elephant at the Stockade compound on the 22nd they merely stood their ground, obviously quite accustomed to Elephant Bluff, knowing how fearful the largest land mammal actually is!
On the 16th Wendi brought a Splinter Group comprised of Sunyei, Galana, Yatta’s wild recruit named Kimathena and 2 wild Youngsters to the Junior’s mudbath, after which all browsed together in the Kanziku area, the wild contingent peeling off on the way back to the Stockades in the evening. On the 16th Wendi’s Splinter group of the previous day again joined the Juniors at their noon mudbath and had Lualeni and Kora with them, along with Loijuk plus 2 wild friends and Yatta’s older recruit named “Mgeni” (the visitor). Wendi always pays Ololoo special attention whenever they happen to meet, having retrieved him from the wild herd that abducted him last month. On the 20th it was Naserian and Lualeni who brought a Splinter Group to join the Juniors at 9 a.m. With them were Ex Orphan Boys Madiba, Zurura, and Rapsu who spent time with the Juniors, joining up with a passing wild herd later in the afternoon. Then on the 21st Wendi and Lualeni came to the Youngsters’ mudbath with Ex Orphan boys - Buchuma, Big Boy Napasha, Kamboyo, Kenze and Rapsu, all of whom then browsed with the Juniors until the evening. And on the 22nd Wendi was back again at the Junior mudbath this time with Yatta, the wild recruit named “Kijana” and two wild Junior elephants, plus Big Girls Nasalot, and Mulika. Both Mulika and Yatta were obviously heavily pregnant, with babies that could arrive at any moment, since 22 months have past since both were mated by the same Bull.
On the 23rd it was Loijuk and Naserian who turned up alone at 8 a.m. to spend the day with the Juniors, returning them to the Stockades in the evening. And on the 24th Nasalot, Sidai and Lualeni brought Boys Challa, Rapsu, Madiba and Taita to join up with the Juniors and accompany them to their noon mudbath. Then on the 26th, as the Juniors were leaving the Stockade compound they were joined by a wild elephant who after taking water, then spent an hour browsing with them out in the bush. On that day Nasalot, Wendi and Sidai accompanied by Tomboi joined the Juniors as they headed to the mudbath and shared it with them. On the 28th it was Naserian and Lualeni who came to feed alongside the Junior group until suddenly they raised their trunks in the air, and hurried Eastwards, obviously answering a silent infrasound summons. But Lualeni was back on the 30th this time with Nasalot and Sidai.
Whenever Nasalot is with the Juniors, she lavishes special attention on her chosen favourite, Kilaguni, escorting him to have his milk ration, then to the mudbath, and watching over him like a Mother Hen as he wallows. Nasalot has always adored Kilaguni, longing for a calf of her very own!
Suguta is the main Junior Matriarch of the remaining Keeper and milk Dependent 16 Youngsters based at night at the Stockades. But since Ex Orphan Makena came back in a weakened condition, and has been getting steadily stronger after benefiting from nutritional help, she often leads the group, although greedy Kandecha is usually first at the mudbath milk venue each day, and also first back in the evening for his milk. On the way out to browse each morning, various Junior females usually lead – either Kalama, Tumaren, Kitirua, Murka, Olare or Naisula if not Makena or Suguta. Kandecha and Kibo are regular Pushing Partners while Chemi Chemi and Kandecha have invented a new “Charging Game” whereby they charge each other with outspread ears and the trunk curled beneath the chin before peeling off at the eleventh hour to avoid a collision!
And so, the month of October has been an eventful month for the Ithumba Orphans, who have enjoyed a lot of interaction with the Ex Orphans as well as wild visitors, delighting in dispersing the guinea fowl who are also regular Stockade visitors.