Keepers' Diaries, September 2004

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Ithumba Reintegration Unit

This month, the Ithumba unit’s adventures involve chasing dikdik, encounters with baboons and encountering the spoor of two wild elephants, who visited the mudbath, but had already left by the time the orphans arrived. Reinforced again is the role of Yatta as the main Matriarch of the group, with Mulika as the runner-up. Yatta is the one who has to reassure little Olmalo, (the baby of the group) who is obviously also close to Nasalot, but appears to have been suffering some attention deficit – sneaking off to conceal herself in thickets; failing to respond to the call of the Keepers and instead waiting until Yatta or another of the older elephants, comes to retrieve her. Yatta has also had to escort her to the mudbath. Kinna seems more settled now, taking on more of a leadership role, running alongside Yatta to see what had upset Taita, who on one occasion he found himself way behind the others. However, there is evidence also of jealousy on her part, shoving Wendi out of the mudbath and biting Mulika’s tail.

This month, the Ithumba unit’s adventures involve chasing dikdik, encounters with baboons and encountering the spoor of two wild elephants, who visited the mudbath, but had already left by the time the orphans arrived. Reinforced again is the role of Yatta as the main Matriarch of the group, with Mulika as the runner-up. Yatta is the one who has to reassure little Olmalo, (the baby of the group) who is obviously also close to Nasalot, but appears to have been suffering some attention deficit – sneaking off to conceal herself in thickets; failing to respond to the call of the Keepers and instead waiting until Yatta or another of the older elephants, comes to retrieve her. Yatta has also had to escort her to the mudbath. Kinna seems more settled now, taking on more of a leadership role, running alongside Yatta to see what had upset Taita, who on one occasion he found himself way behind the others. However, there is evidence also of jealousy on her part, shoving Wendi out of the mudbath and biting Mulika’s tail.

As always, it is Napasha who dominates the Diary and who is the main player of the Ithumba group, the would-be Protector, now sufficiently brave to charge and tree baboons, but failing to chase warthogs out of the mudbath, so in order not to lose face, shared it with them! Tomboi has also managed to pluck up sufficient courage to charge the baboons having previously been so nervous of them that he had to hang onto Wendi’s back leg. Sadly his charge on the baboons did not have the desired affect. They merely sat on their haunches and watched!

Wendi’s mischievousness and sense of humour is illustrated, playing tricks on the others, sneaking off to hide in the bushes, and then rustling the vegetation to scare them. Napasha took a cue from her and did the same, breaking branches in his thicket which sent the entire group racing to their Keepers! However, what scared all of them most, including the four older elephants, was a large log. Mulika spotted this and obviously thought it was a lion. She bellowed and fled to the Keepers, terrifying all the others in the process so that they followed suit. The Keepers had to escort all the orphans up to the log so that they could see for themselves that it posed no risk. A strong wind scared the youngsters, and prompted action from the four bigger elephants, who rushed around breaking branches in retaliation!

The boys of the group, namely Napasha, Taita and Tomboi, as usual, are competitive, enjoying sparring with one another, as well as racing each other to the mudbath, when Napasha is always the winner, leaving the others far behind in his dust! No sign of the leg injury in this Diary!

It is the height of the dry season now, but all the Ithumba elephants are thriving, and none have lost any condition. Olmalo does not much enjoy the salinity of the drinking water, but the others don’t seem to mind it, and so far it has had no ill affects on any of the elephants. The Northern Area of Tsavo, before the poaching holocaust, held Tuskers that carried the largest ivory in Africa, so the bulls that grow up on the saline water of the North certainly benefit from the minerals in both vegetation and water! Napasha, Tomboi and Taita may one day once again duplicate the majesty of those huge lost bulls, the teeth of which are now carved trinkets in the West or hankos in the far East.

September 2004 day to day

01 Sep

In the evening, the wind blew from the South, shaking the trees violently. Olmalo and Taita ran for the protection of the Keepers, whilst Yatta, Kinna, Nasalot and Mulika charged around breaking down branches. Only after the wind subsided, did the orphans settle down to feed again.

Kinna and Yatta charging around

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