This month saw our Ex Orphans in the spotlight at Ithumba as three wild born babies were born first to Yatta, who had her second calf Yoyo on the 7th. Her entry into the stockade compound at dawn to show off her new baby to her human family was the cause of much excitement amongst the Ex Orphans and wild elephants present. Yetu, Yatta’s first born girl, couldn’t even get close to her baby brother as he was surrounded by all the females wanting to greet him. This was followed by Nasalot who had her first born on the 14th, a little bull called Nusu, and finally Sunyei who had a gorgeous girl called Siku on the 22nd, her name meaning ‘day’, as she was born just as dawn broke over Tsavo. Loijuk appeared to be Siku’s chief nanny and as Sunyei walked little Siku through the stockade compound the excitement from the other elephants seemed to prove a little too much for the new mum, and she decided to steer her baby to the western side of the stockade so she could introduce her baby to the keepers there.
With the area being so dry there were a great number of Ex Orphans and wild elephants around to welcome these new babies into the world. There is nothing quite like witnessing the sheer joy and excitement as loud trumpets reverberate through the air with exhilaration at seeing a new baby. Yoyo's main nannies include Sidai, Loijuk, Lenana, a wild female, Chyulu and Ithumbah but when Nusu was born Chyulu and Lenana escorted Nasalot with Olare too, leaving the other females to help Yatta with Yoyo. Finally when Siku was born it appeared that Loijuk was her main nanny and went everywhere with Sunyei. There is great need for these nannies as the little ones are inquisitive from day one and get themselves into all kinds of situations. Within a few days both Yoyo and Siku had found themselves in watery trouble. Yoyo trotted into the mud hole which sent all the nannies and mum into a blind panic as they tried to guide him out to avoid him slipping and drowning and at last Yatta backed by Kinna, Chyulu, Makena, Sidai, Lenana, Ithumbah, Mwende and Mulika managed to guide him out. The water trough proved an area where they mothers and their nannies had to be on their guard as in the searing temperatures both Yoyo and Siku fell in the trough and required extraction. The trough posed no threat to them given how shallow it is but nevertheless their mothers were quick to react. This is a great learning curve for our new mothers, as they are the only guiding force for their calves, and after the water experiences we watched as the mothers and nannies steered the young babies away from steep edges of the mud bath and water trough for the time being.
Nusu has also taken a shine to water, however unlike Siku and Yoyo, he is very intentional in his mission to climb in and submerge himself. This is seemingly a lot of fun for Nusu, however less so for his new mum Nasalot and on a couple of occasions in the month Ithumba Head Keeper Benjamin has stepped in to retrieve a goggling Nusu from the water trough.
There are some shifting dynamics amongst the dependent orphans at the moment. Laragai left the stockades to join her friends in the wild, but has recently been accompanying the dependent orphans back at night, although she apparently still considers herself more mature and feeds by herself a short distance away. She, Barsilinga, Kithaka and Garzi are all no longer having milk bottles and we think it is only a matter of time before they join the Ex Orphans in the wild and stop returning to the stockades at night. Perhaps she returned to help these three with the transition, but only time will tell. Lemoyian currently shares a stockade with these four but is still milk dependent, so he is fed somewhere else in the morning to avoid being pushed around by his older friends.
The keepers have been likening Siangiki to Laragai recently. They are only one year apart and both girls don’t tolerate any nonsense from their male counterparts; they are both feared and respected by the other orphans and are very quick to fight back should anyone think about pushing them around! Siangiki’s friend Oltaiyoni remains one of the most quiet and polite orphans at the Ithumba stockades. This character trait is most obvious at milk feedings times when she politely stands to the side to wait her turn before being beckoned by the keeper feeding her; this is very unlike her friends who are more likely to try and barge past and get their bottles as quickly as possible! Naseku loves her milk and always makes sure she is at the front of the line in her group when heading for milk. She is also the fastest and lives a happy life without confrontation with anyone.
The boys in the Nursery continue their shenanigans as usual and push and wrestle with each other at any given opportunity. Boromoko is always trying to challenge his male friends and sometimes provokes a pushing game by blocking a pathway or stockade entrance to entice those like Galla and Olsekki to play. Lemoyian loves these pushing games too! One day Karisa was taken by surprise when Lemoyian walked behind him and pushed him into the water trough! On the warm days this month the orphans have been indulging in visiting the watering hole twice; once in the morning for their usual midday milk feed and in the evening as well, to cool off whilst en route back to the stockades for the night.