Keepers' Diaries, October 2013

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Ithumba Reintegration Unit

Extremely dry conditions persisted throughout the month, with just one drizzle of rain at the very beginning when the Ex Orphans took all the Juniors from the Keepers who were sheltering from the rain, returning them to the Stockades that evening. The Ex Orphans and hordes of wild friends have again been regular daily visitors at both the Stockade compound and the Mudbath venue to drink from the troughs, frequently turning up in time to share the Juniors’ lucerne supplement and not always all together (on one occasion just Madiba on his own) but invariably always accompanied by a large entourage of wild friends, who, on occasions number as many as 30 and 40. The Diary records that on the l9th both the Stockade compound as well as the mudbath venue were flooded with wild elephants!

Extremely dry conditions persisted throughout the month, with just one drizzle of rain at the very beginning when the Ex Orphans took all the Juniors from the Keepers who were sheltering from the rain, returning them to the Stockades that evening. The Ex Orphans and hordes of wild friends have again been regular daily visitors at both the Stockade compound and the Mudbath venue to drink from the troughs, frequently turning up in time to share the Juniors’ lucerne supplement and not always all together (on one occasion just Madiba on his own) but invariably always accompanied by a large entourage of wild friends, who, on occasions number as many as 30 and 40. The Diary records that on the l9th both the Stockade compound as well as the mudbath venue were flooded with wild elephants!

Our Keeper Dependent Juniors are generally becoming more independent of their Keepers. On the 7th they separated into 2 groups out in the bush, Suguta taking with her bulls Kilaguni, Kandecha, Chemi Chemi, Ololoo, Sabachi and Kibo, along with just two of the females, Tumaren and Olare, leaving all the rest with Mutara and the Keepers. Thereafter Suguta’s group slipped away for the entire day, not even reappearing at the noon mudbath but instead returning to the Stockades in the late evening to meet up with their peers and go in for the night. Suguta did exactly the same again two days later on the 9th leaving girls Mutara, Shukuru, Kilabasi, Sities, Turkwel, Kainuk and only two of the young bulls Ololoo and Kanjoro with the Keepers and yet again she and those with her skipped the mudbath but were back at the stockades in the evening having spent another day away. It is probable that they went to join come of the Ex Orphans somewhere out in the bush because not all the Ex Orphan herd turned up at the mudbath that day.

Faithful Lualeni has again often opted to remain behind with the Juniors when the Ex Orphans separate from them, escorting them to and from the mudbath, (where they are almost always joined by Big Wild Bulls such as Mshale and his male escorts) and back to the Stockades in the evening. Sunyei has likewise peeled off from the main Ex Orphan herd on one occasion to do exactly the same, as has Nasalot and Lenana. Lenana was with Yatta’s wild attachment named “Mgeni” when she came to join the Juniors at the Stockades, remaining behind when Mgeni left after enjoying some of the Lucerne.

Lualeni and Kora were missing from the Ex Orphan group when they mingled with the Juniors on the l0th, Kora being Lualeni’s best friend. Both turned up at the mudbath the next day when Lualeni took Suguta, Tumaren, Kitirua, Melia, Chaimu, Kalama, Makireti, Murka and Ishanga as well as boys Ololoo, Sabachi, Kibo, Chemi Chemi, and Kilaguni off with her. In the evening all were back, save Ololoo (Lualeni’s favourite) who spent a night out and was returned to the Junior group the next morning. Kilaguni and Kandecha decided to join Yatta’s Senior main group on the 13th, and that evening Kilaguni returned to the Stockades alone, and Kandecha much later at 9 p.m. long after dark.

On the 14th Lualeni came to join the Juniors accompanied by Mulika and her calf, Mwende, and again remained with the Juniors when Mulika and her calf left. Lualeni escorted the Juniors to their mudbath and back to the Stockades that evening, but the next day she took Ololoo from the Junior group, and was away with him for the next two days and nights, turning up at the Stockades with him in amongst the main Ex Orphan herd on the l8th. By that time Ololoo had obviously been persuaded that he was now ready for promotion, because Ololoo showed no sign of wanting to rejoin his Junior peers, and went off happily as part of the Ex Orphan Senior herd. He and Lualeni returned in amongst the Ex Orphan herd again on the 20th, this time accompanied by Big wild Bulls “Rafiki”, Mshale, Half Trunk and 10 other wild Bulls.
That day at the mudbath a splinter group comprised of Nasalot, Mulika and her baby, Wendi, Makena and Naserian came to join the Juniors at their noon mudbath and snatched Kilaguni and Chaimu from the Junior group when they left. That evening Mulika returned both Juniors to the Stockades, after they had spent a “wild” afternoon away.

An interesting event took place on the 24th because a wild cow came to drink at the Stockade water trough with her brand newborn baby whom the Keepers estimated to be just hours old. Makireti and Murka were instantly obsessed by the tiny newborn anxious to hijack it, until the mother reclaimed it! This wild cow is obviously a friend of the Ex Orphans, because several days late (31st) she and her newborn were in amongst the Ex Orphan group when they called at the Stockades and the fact that she brought her newborn to the Stockade compound indicates that she was comfortable being there with it, having been “told” by our Orphans that it was a safe place to be!

Unusually just 1 Elephant and 3 wild dogs were the only visitors to the Stockade trough on the 27th, but the Ex Orphans were back the next day along with 30 wild elephant friends while on the 29th only a “Junior Wild Boy” cane alone to join the Juniors at their Lucerne pile.

Now anxiously we await the onset of some good rain at Ithumba to re-green the vegetation so that the Nursery Orphan Bull named “Bongo” (ex Mt. Kenya) can join the Juniors at the Ithumba Rehabilitation Centre, where he will have others of his age with whom to interact and instruct him about how to cope in a very different arid environment to the one into which he was born.

October 2013 day to day

01 Oct

As the Orphans were browsing the Kanziku area this morning, they were joined by the Ex Orphans. When it began to rain, and the Keepers sheltered under trees, the Ex Orphans took the Juniors away. When the rain stopped the Keepers began tracking the Elephants, and they found the Juniors at 5.30 in the evening, without the Senior Ex Orphans, and on their way back to the Stockades for the night.

Orphans mudbathing

Yatta followed by Mwende

Kasigau and Makireti

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