Keepers' Diaries, September 2004

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.

01 September 2004

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.

02 September 2004

Selengai led the orphans out today, taking them first to drink water before going into the bush. At mudbath Napasha and Tomboi lay on their tummies in the water.

03 September 2004

Napasha and Tomboi raced each other for their milk at noon, whilst the others walked slowly.

04 September 2004

After the mudbath, the orphans were taken to a new area to browse. Olmalo and Selengai were nervous of the new environment and kept close to the Keepers until it was time to return to the Stockades.

05 September 2004

The day was cloudy and cool, so Napasha and Yatta warmed themselves by rubbing up against each other until Kinna came and pushed Napasha aside. In the afternoon Napasha and Wendi tried to sneak back to the Stockade ahead of time, but the Keepers spotted them, and returned them to the others.

06 September 2004

Tomboi and Napasha raced each other back to the Stockade in the evening. Napasha arrived first, and Tomboi found himself overtaken by cool Olmalo.

07 September 2004

At around 9 a.m. Napasha hid in some thick bush and after about half an hour, began breaking vegetation which scared the others. Yatta and Kinna, with raised ears, charged the direction from which the sound came, when Napasha appeared. All the orphans were very glad to welcome him, touching him with their trunks.

08 September 2004

On the way to the mudbath there were 3 baboons in a tree, who, upon seeing the orphans, began shouting. This scared Tomboi, who held onto Wendi’s hind leg for security, until the Keepers send the baboons away. Then Tomboi was very happy and ran forward to be the leader of the others.

09 September 2004

Having taken her milk, Olmalo decided she did not want to wallow, heading for shade, swinging her trunk sideways. Yatta came to fetch her and lead her to the mudbath, and also to drink the saline water, which she doesn’t much like.

10 September 2004

During the mudbath Wendi fell onto Olmalo, prompting Olmalo to bellow. The Keepers came to the rescue calling Wendi to stand up.

11 September 2004

Early in the morning when the Gate was opened, Napasha remained in the Stockade, hoping for more milk. He emerged only when the others were almost out of sight.

12 September 2004

It was very cold today, so there was no mudbath. The orphans just kept on feeding.

13 September 2004

On the way out to the bush today Yatta and Mulika lagged behind to keep the babies company. At midday Napasha browsed close to the Keepers.

14 September 2004

At mudbath Tomboi charged some baboons, but the baboons were not intimidated, and just sat down to watch.

15 September 2004

The day was extremely hot, so the orphans flapped their ears to cool themselves. At the mudbath, they all wallowed extensively.

16 September 2004

Napasha led the group out to feed today. Olmalo kept very close to Nasalot all day.

17 September 2004

Napasha fed some distance from the others today, whilst Taita and Tomboi enjoyed a game chasing each other around. The game ended when Taita collided head on with Wendi, who was angry and pushed him hard.

18 September 2004

At around 1 p.m. Mulika spotted a log of wood and thought it was something dangerous, so ran screaming to the Keepers, followed by all the others. The Keepers calmed the orphans, leading them to the log to show them that it was harmless.

19 September 2004

Olmalo, the baby of the group, spent most of the morning feeding alone. After mudbath, she gave her Keepers a hectic time searching for her in the thick bush. On the way back to the Stockade she again sneaked off into the thicket and would not respond to the Keepers’ call. We went to find her, and Yatta was the first to see her and went to fetch her. All the others came to touch her in a happy reunion which made her feel better, and all returned to the Stockade happily.

20 September 2004

At mudbath only Napasha and Kinna went straight into the water whilst the others stood by and watched. The mudbath ended when Kinna pushed Napasha out.

21 September 2004

Selengai had a stomach upset today, so we gave her Silver. She stabilized. On the way to the mudbath we came across the spoor of two wild elephants who had visited the mudbath, but already left by the time we arrived.

22 September 2004

At around l0 a.m. Kinna tried to take some vegetation from Wendi’s mouth, which annoyed Wendi. A fierce fight ensued so the Keepers intervened to return Wendi’s morsel to her.

23 September 2004

At around l0.30 a.m. Olmalo went to feed on her own. When it was time to head for the mudbath, Yatta would not go until she had collected Olmalo, after which the journey began.

24 September 2004

On the way to the bush the orphans spotted two dikdiks, which they all enjoyed charging. Then Yatta spotted a warthog and went after that, backed up by Napasha and Taita whilst the others began breaking branches and trumpeting.

25 September 2004

Before leaving the Stockades, the orphans were disturbed by noise made by baboons, so they started trumpeting. Once the Gates were opened, Napasha was the first out to charge the baboons, sending them all up a tree.

26 September 2004

During the mudbath Kinna bit Mulika’s tail making Mulika scream. This ended the mudbath prematurely. In the evening the orphans chased an antelope, trumpeting, leaving Yatta behind, who tracked them and caught up with them all.

27 September 2004

At mudbath it was cold, so only Napasha went in. the others just stared at the water watching Napasha.

28 September 2004

The day was cold, so there was no mudbath, and not much action – just feeding.

29 September 2004

Selengai tried to race Napasha to the mudbath today, but was soon left with only his dust.

30 September 2004

At midday Selengai and Tomboi had an altercation, the reason for which we did not know. Nasalot intervened to separate them.