Keepers' Diaries, October 2012

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

The cruel poaching of precious 9 year old Ithumba Ex orphan“Selengai” has been another devastating blow that has left us extremely demoralized and anxious about the safety of all our orphans. Selengai was orphaned in 2003 when she was just one week old, and had been reared through the Nairobi Nursery from that tender age, so we knew her as one of our own. She was 9 years old when she died, her body found on the 6th just 500 metres from the Ithumba KWS Headquarters and the Stockades, with a deep wound in her back obviously caused by a Poisoned Spear dropped from one of the infamous Poaching Platforms erected by Wakamba poachers around watering places. She had obviously been trying to make her way back to the Ithumba Stockades and her human family for help, as have other wounded Ex Orphans in the past, but tragically she never made it, not that there could have been much we could have done for the wound was deep and a large amount of poison had already obviously been absorbed. On that same day the carcasses of another two poached wild elephants were spotted during an aerial survey by our Top Cub aircraft, one just below the Sheldrick Blind on the Yatta, and the other near the Tiva.

01 October 2012

On a cold morning following a drizzly night, the orphans left in a happy mood, swinging their trunks from side to side. Later Mulika, her baby “Mwende”, Yatta and her baby and Kinna showed up today. Because it was too cold for a mudbath, Melia, Kibo and Ishanga scratched their bodies against the trees.

02 October 2012

All the Ex Orphans accompanied by 12 wild bulls came to the Stockade compound, the bulls heading straight to the water trough while the Ex Orphans joined the Juniors at the Lucerne pile. Later the orphans parted ways, the Juniors heading to the Kanziku area to browse. The Ex Orphans joined the Juniors again at the mudbath, and because it was a hot day, all enjoyed a lengthy wallow, except Sabachi, who opted out.

03 October 2012

Today Wendi, Yatta and her baby, Mgeni (Yatta’s wild recruit) Kinna, Orok and Mulika and baby joined the Juniors at the Lucerne pile. The Juniors enjoyed a lengthy wallow because it was a hot day.

04 October 2012

Seven wild bulls came to drink at the stockade trough this morning as the Juniors were taking their Lucerne handout before heading out to the Kalovoto riverbed to browse. At the mudbath the Juniors were joined by Sidai, Rapsu and Meibai who remained at the mudbath after the Juniors left. At 1 p.m. Wendi, Yatta, Mulika, Orok, Nasalot, (Kijana and Mgeni – wild recruits) plus a few wild friends came to drink at the Stockades briefly.

05 October 2012

The Juniors had the Stockade compound to themselves today, without any wild visitors, so they were able to move freely between the Lucerne pile and the water trough. Once in the browsing area Kandecha engaged Kitirua in a Pushing Match, which was won by Kitirua, and a few metres away Kilaguni and Kibo also enjoyed a strength testing exercise. All enjoyed the mudbath, since it was hot. In the evening Yatta, Mulika, their babies, Wendi, Ithumbah, Buchuma, Naserian, Sunyei, Galana, Makena and Lualeni passed by the Stockades, along with Kijana and Mgeni, heading for the Kalovoto area.

06 October 2012

No wild elephants showed up at the Stockades this morning, so the Juniors had a quiet morning, enjoying their noon mudbath on a hot day. Whilst wallowing Sabachi mounted Kilaguni, and was pushed off by Kandecha. In the evening we received a report that the body of a young elephant had been found about 500 metres from the KWS Headquarters. It so happened that the Ex Orphans were feeding not far from the Stockades, and upon counting them, we discovered that Selengai and Buchuma were absent. We went to inspect the body of the dead elephant, only to discover that it was indeed our precious Selengai, who had obviously been with Sidai, Meibai and Rapsu, trying to return to the Stockades for help when she collapsed and died from the affects of the poison deep into her back. The three appeared at the mudbath that day, emerging from the direction that Selengai’s body was found and were quite obviously very subdued and sad We convinced that they were with her when she collapsed, and that she as at least surrounded by her friends when she breathed her last.

07 October 2012

In the morning we were very relieved to see Buchuma, who had been missing the day before, turn up with the other Ex Orphans, but without Selengai murdered by ruthless Poachers. Having taken Lucerne, the Ex Orphans accompanied the Juniors, filtering off, one by one, Ololoo challenging Kilaguni, which Kilaguni won. At the mudbath Ololoo tried to get his own back by blocking Kilaguni as he struggled to emerge. That evening a wild elephant with a day old calf came with Sidai and Wendi to take water at the Stockades, Sidai and Wendi obviously Nannies to the new baby, whom they escorted off along with its mother once the mother had taken water.

08 October 2012

The orphans were joined by the Ex Orphans in the morning, the wild elephant and her mother coming with some other wild elephant females. Later the Ex Orphans and Juniors separated, but met up again at the mudbath which all enjoyed, since it was a hot day. Later Kalama led the group off to browse and in the evening the wild Elephant bull “Mshale” came to the Stockades to drink along with Rapsu and Kamboyo.

09 October 2012

At dawn as many as 14 wild elephants were waiting at the stockade trough for it to be refilled, since it had been emptied during the night. By the time the trough was refilled with water brought by the Tanker, the Ex Orphans had joined the Juniors at the Lucerne pile, but joined the wild herd when the Juniors headed off to browse. All enjoyed the noon mudbath, because it was a hot day.

10 October 2012

A wild elephant with a calf joined the Juniors at the Stockade water trough today, and having taken her fill, left with her baby. the Juniors headed to the Kalovoto area to browse until it was time for the mudbath, which all enjoyed on a hot day. Later Chemi Chemi led the Juniors back to browse, and home in the evening.

11 October 2012

It was an uneventful day today. Having taken their Lucerne and water, the Juniors browsed the Kalovoto area again, enjoyed their mudbath at noon, and returned as usual in the evening.

12 October 2012

All the Ex Orphans, plus Yatta’s wild attachments, Kijana and Mgeni, joined the Juniors at the Lucerne pile this morning. Later the wild elephant and her baby came to drink. The Juniors then left the Ex Orphans at the Compound and at the mudbath hour only Kilaguni, Ololoo, Kitirua and Kalama went into the water, the others all opting for a dustbath instead.

13 October 2012

The Ex orphans joined the Keeper dependent Juniors at the Lucerne pile, until the Juniors headed out to browse the Kone area. Kandecha led the way to the mudbath venue, and after the mudbath, the afternoon was spent browsing until it was time to return in the evening.

14 October 2012

Having taken their Lucerne hand-out, the orphans headed out to browse where Kandecha engaged Ololoo in a strength testing exercise, which he won. Kilaguni then took over and the Pushing Match lasted a long time until Kilaguni decided to opt out and quit. Later on Kibo took on Sabachi, but lost to Sabachi. For the boys it was a day of contest. All enjoyed the mudbath and later returned to feed for the afternoon session.

15 October 2012

Ololoo engaged Kilaguni in a test of strength, but quit when Kilaguni bit his trunk! During the mudbath Murka mounted onto Kitirua who screamed for help. The Keepers shouted at Murka, who desisted instantly. After the mudbath Ololoo and Kilaguni were again involved in a Pushing Match.

16 October 2012

It was an uneventful day today, because the Juniors concentrated on browsing for the entire day, which was interrupted only by their noon milk feed and a mudbath.

17 October 2012

Soon after the Juniors had left the compound, a herd of wild elephants, amongst whom was a small calf turned up to drink at the stockade trough, and were joined by the Ex Orphans. At the mudbath our Junior Orphans were joined by 3 wild elephants. Ishanga went to scratch her body against a tree while Kilaguni and Sabachi enjoyed yet another Pushing Match, this time Kilaguni emerging the winner.

18 October 2012

The Ex Orphans, led by Mulika and her baby Mwende joined the Juniors at the Lucerne pile today, parting later. The Juniors browsed the Kanziku area and attended the mudbath at noon as usual.

19 October 2012

This morning a female with just one tusk and 2 large calves came to drink at the Stockades. The Juniors headed out to browse having taken their Lucerne supplement, attended the mudbath as usual, when Makireti and Kasigau enjoyed a rub against the trees.

20 October 2012

The Juniors left having taken their Lucerne and browsed all morning until Kandecha led the herd to the mudbath venue. After the mudbath Chaimu led the group back to feed for the rest of the afternoon.

21 October 2012

Having enjoyed their Lucerne, Tumaren led the Juniors to drink at the trough, but just before heading out to browse, the Ex Orphans turned up accompanied by a wild female friend and her calf. There was an enthusiastic greeting between the two groups, after which the Juniors headed out as usual. All the orphans enjoyed the mudbath today.

22 October 2012

The Ex Orphans joined the Juniors at the Lucerne pile today, and later all browsed the Kone area. Makireti led the Juniors to the mudbath today. It was a hot day so all enjoyed a wallow, after which they took water at the mudbath trough and returned to browse for the remainder of the afternoon.

23 October 2012

Due to the current very dry conditions, the Juniors wasted no time but concentrated on browsing, Kilaguni and Ololoo taking a short time out to have another Pushing match. After the mudbath Kalama led the group back to browse during the afternoon before returning to the Stockades in the evening.

24 October 2012

No Ex Orphans or wild elephants showed up at the Stockade compound today, so the Juniors had the yard to themselves. They browsed the Kalovoto area today and Kibo led the herd to the mudbath. Since the day was cool, the Juniors took only milk, and a drink of water from the trough before headed back to feed for the rest of the afternoon.

25 October 2012

The Ex Orphans, accompanied by some wild friends came early to the Stockade compound today, the Ex Orphans joining the Juniors at the Lucerne before parting and going their own way, while the Juniors headed to the Kanziku area to feed. Kandecha led the way to the mudbath at 11 a.m.

26 October 2012

Again the Ex Orphans joined the Juniors at the Lucerne. The day turned exceedingly hot, forcing Makireti, Kasigau and Ishanga to walk and feed under shade. All enjoyed a lengthy wallow to cool off.

27 October 2012

The Ex Orphans joined the Juniors at the Lucerne. Chaimu led the Juniors out when they had taken their fill. In the feeding area Ololoo engaged Kilaguni in a Pushing Match. Upon arrival at the mudbath venue, the Juniors found more than 20 wild elephants drinking at the trough. The Juniors mingled with the wild herd in the mudbath, before heading for a dustbath, when the Ex Orphans arrived, and immediately joined the wild herd as the Juniors were about to leave.

28 October 2012

Only Yatta, her baby “Yetu”, Mulika and her calf, Mwende, Wendi, Orok, Nasalot and Ithumbah came to the Stockades compound today, accompanied by Yatta’s wild recruit “Mgeni”. This Splinter group enjoyed the Lucerne until the Juniors headed out to browse the Kanziku area, and Yatta took her group towards the Kalovoto watercourse. At the mudbath the Juniors were joined by another Splinter Group of 6 Ex Orphans.

29 October 2012

At 3 a.m. in the morning, the Ex Orphans who were missing yesterday showed up at the Stockades and lay down to sleep within the compound until 6 a.m. when the Juniors emerged from their Night Stockades. All shared the Lucerne, after which the two groups parted. At the mudbath the Juniors were joined by some wild elephants, and having taken a soil bath after the wallow, they headed out to browse again for the remainder of the day.

30 October 2012

At the noon mudbath, the Juniors were joined by some wild bull elephants, whom Kasigau and Ololoo were quite comfortable joining the wild bulls, Ololoo sniffing each one in turn.

31 October 2012

An unusual visitor to the Stockade waterhole today was a hyaena who turned up to drink. Apart from that the day passed quietly, with no Ex Orphans or wild Elephants turning up to mingle with the Juniors.