Keepers' Diaries, September 2010

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

A very exciting event for the Ithumba Elephant Keepers, as well as the orphans and Ex Orphans based there, had been the arrival of two more orphans old enough to have been taken directly to Ithumba rather than being flown to the Nursery. Little “Ithumbah” was found bogged in the Black Cotton mud of Ithumba dam on the 24th and the very next day another orphan from Ziwani, in Tsavo West National Park was flown directly to Ithumba, to be hand-reared alongside newcomer “Ithumbah”. The Ziwani calf is a 2 year old bull who has been named “Salaita” – the name of a hill within the area in which he was found, famous as the site of an important battle between the Germans and the British in World War l. By month end both orphans were doing well thanks to the expertise of Head Keeper Benjamin and his team who phone us in Nairobi thrice daily with updates about their charges. In the beginning Kilaguni was not too happy to have to share the Stockade with some newcomers, and was a bit pushy towards them.

01 September 2010

After taking on water from the Stockade trough, Loijuk shepherded her little group out into the bush to feed near a rocky kopje where they all enjoyed scratching themselves against the rocks. Again Kilaguni and Sabachi engaged one another, but this time Meibai disrupted the game by trying to join in. After the mudbath Makena led the herd to the east and a valley that has green trees suitable for shading them from the sun’s heat until it was time to return in the evening, when Kilaguni led them home.

02 September 2010

The day began extremely hot. At 8 a.m Kilaguni, Chaimu, Loijuk and Sabachi enjoyed a soft soil bath before feeding seriously. In the evening Lenana and Chyulu enjoyed a gentle Pushing Game, which was won by Lenana, who is larger and stronger than Chyulu.

03 September 2010

Loijuk led her satellites deep into the bush to begin the day’s browsing until l0 a.m. when Loijuk and the three babies stood aside to allow the others to pass and venture deeper into the bush. As the sun became hotter, the orphans sought shelter under trees until it was time for the mudbath. After the mudbath, at 3 p.m., the Youngsters were joined by the Ex Orphans who browsed along with them and then escorted them back to the Stockades in the evening.

04 September 2010

The orphans rumbled to one another, and touched one another with their trunks as soon as they were united outside the Stockades in the morning. Loijuk, Kilaguni, Sabachi and Chaimu led the others to their preferred feeding grounds, where they all settled down to browse. Later in the evening Chaimu and Sabachi had fun charging around, knocking down bushes, and finally came head on, challenging one another. Chaimu bellowed for help, which brought Loijuk at the run, who warned Sabachi off pushing Chaimu.

05 September 2010

The day began as usual. At 11 a.m. Sabachi, Kilaguni, Chaimu and Loijuk grazed apart from the others and came across an Aardvaark burrow, where they enjoyed dusting themselves with the loose soil. They had a wonderful mudbath, because it was a very hot day.

06 September 2010

Nasalot joined the Keeper Dependent orphans early at the Stockade compound, immediately joined by her favourite, Kilaguni. Together they led the others out to browse. At l0 a.m. the other Ex Orphans met up with them and having spent a little time with them, went off with Chyulu, Lenana and Makena, leaving Nasalot to take care of Loijuk, Meibai, Chaimu, Kilaguni and Sabachi. The Juniors enjoyed the mudbath without the three that had left with the ex orphans, but Lenana, Chyulu and Makena clocked in at the Stockades in the evening, having spent most of the day with the Big Elephants.

07 September 2010

It was a hot day, so the orphans took a long drink at the Stockade trough before heading out, Kilaguni and Sabachi enjoying their usual Pushing Match before heading out. They had a wonderful mudbath, and later spent the afternoon slowly browsing their way back to the Stockades.

08 September 2010

The orphans enjoyed their usual Stockade activities before Loijuk rumbled that it was time to head out to browse. They fed seriously throughout the morning, enjoyed the noon mudbath, and spent the afternoon browsing before returning in the evening.

09 September 2010

It was another very hot day, leaving the young elephants flapping their ears and seeking to browse under shade whenever possible. They headed off early to the mudbath, and were joined en route by Yatta’s group, including the wild recruit, “Mgeni” who is still with them. All then had a wonderful joint mudbath. The Ex orphans browsed with the babies during the afternoon, and brought them back for an evening mudbath before escorting them back home.

10 September 2010

Another very hot day, so the Youngsters all took a long drink at the Stockade trough before heading out. Today they chose to browse up Ithumba hill until it was time for the mudbath, which they thoroughly enjoyed, returning back in the evening.

11 September 2010

Loijuk led the orphans out, with Chyulu and Makena who were scratching their bodies against the trees, running to catch up with the others later. At the mudbath Kilaguni waited back to see whether there was any milk left in the bottles, but when he was satisfired that there was none, he joined the others in the mudbath.

12 September 2010

Nasalot and Kenze came to the Stockade to join the Juniors first thing in the morning, Nasalot heading directly to little Kilaguni, her favourite. Nasalot led the Juniors out into the bush where they were joined by the rest of the Ex Orphan Seniors. They spent the day together, and the Seniors escorted the Juniors back in the evening.

13 September 2010

At the noon mudbath the Juniors were joined by the Ex Orphans and 3 wild elephants. Yatta and her group spent the afternoon with the Juniors browsing along the slopes of Ithumba hill, and escorted the Youngsters back in the evening.

14 September 2010

Today, Loijuk led the Juniors to the Kone area to browse. At noon the babies downed their milk rapidly before rushing to join their older colleagues in the mudbath. The Juniors browsed calmly until it was time to return in the evening, not having met up with the Seniors today.

15 September 2010

After Chaimu had spent time scratching her body against a rock, the Youngsters headed out to browse. At noon all participated fully in the mudbath and after an afternoon’s browsing session, headed back to the Stockades for the night.

16 September 2010

Just before dawn, all the Ex orphans plus some wild elephants came to the Stockades to take water from the trough, but found it drained by other wild elephants who had passed by during the night. The herd waited patiently for the Keepers to turn on the water, which they did at 6 a.m. Meibai tried to approach the wild herd, but was seen off by an impatient cow, while Chaimu scratched herself against the rocks and kept her distance. Later, once the Youngsters had taken water, Loijuk led them and the Ex Orphans out to browse. The Ex Orphans spent the entire day with the Youngsters.

17 September 2010

The day was cool, so none of the Juniors saw the need to drink before leaving. Loijuk led them to the eastern side of Ithumba hill to feed. Later the day turned hot, so all enjoyed a cooling mudbath before returning to the browsing fields for the afternoon, and heading back in the evening.

18 September 2010

The Juniors were joined out in the bush by Nasalot, Kinna and Wendi. As usual Nasalot went to Kilaguni, while Meibai opted to attach himself to Wendi. All had a lovely time at the mudbath and soon after were joined Yatta and the rest of the Ex Orphans joined them and all headed back to the mudbath.

19 September 2010

At dawn, the Stockade compound was filled with wild elephants, as well as all the Ex Orphans. The Junior Group joined them once they emerged, and all headed out to browse until Kilaguni led the way to the mudbath. All enjoyed the mudbath, and afterwards Yatta left with her group, leaving Nasalot to escort the Juniors back to the Stockades in the evening.

20 September 2010

The orphans had a quiet morning at the Compound before heading out, with no other elephants nearby. Loijuk led them to the Kone area to feed today. All then returned for the mudbath, and having browsed during the afternoon headed back, not having met up with the Seniors.

21 September 2010

Yatta and all the Ex orphans joined the Juniors at the Stockade compound in the morning, and all headed out to feed together. It turned very hot, so they fed under shade until it was time for the mudbath. As the Keepers were feeding the youngsters, Napasha managed to snatch one of the bottles and ran off with it, the Keepers shouting for him to drop it but he refused to do so until they cornered him, and took it from him!

22 September 2010

The orphans were joined by the Ex orphans and some wild elephants at the Stockade compound at about 7.30 a.m. All spent a long time at the compound, taking water from the trough, after which the Ex orphans headed off with their wild friends, while Loijuk led her group up Ithumba hill to feed.

23 September 2010

Loijuk led her group to Kanziku area to browse today, where they were joined by Yatta’s group. Nasalot was busy taking care of Kilaguni and Chaimu. All went to the mudbath together, and also spent the afternoon browsing as one herd. The Seniors led the Youngsters back to the Stockades in the evening.

24 September 2010

The day was very hot by the time the Youngsters reached their noon mudbath venue where they were joined by Yatta and wild bulls. Later all headed off to browse. As Benjamin was taking rocks to the site of the new borehole, he spotted a calf bogged in the black cotton soil of the dam. The calf was very exhausted, and had obviously been stuck for about 24 hours, and without its mother for a longer period. The Keepers managed to extract the youngster from the mud. She was aged about 2 years and was driven to the Stockades lying in the back of the tractor. Kilaguni and Chaimu were surprised to find a new baby back in the Stockades when they returned. The newcomer was very traumatized and pushed Chaimu away when she tried to approach it. Loijuk then opened up the Gate herself and came to comfort the new baby as the Keepers were trying to do the same. Meanwhile The Ex orphans and some wild elephants arrived to drink at the Stockades. Loijuk ran to join the Ex orphans and spent the night out with them.

25 September 2010

Shortly after the Juniors had been led out to the field by their Keepers, Loijuk and the Ex Orphans turned up at the Stockades to check on the new baby, named “Ithumbah”. Having ascertained that the newcomer was alright, Loijuk headed off to search for her group and when she met up with them, Sabachi was delighted to welcome her back. At the noon mudbath the Juniors were joined by some wild elephants. At 4 p.m. another orphan, this time from Ziwani in Tsavo West, was flown to Ithumba to join our little Ithumbah. This calf, a male, was also about 2 years old and had been named “Salaita”. In the evening the Ex orphans again turned up to drink at the Stockade trough and were joined by Loijuk, who again spent the night out with them.

26 September 2010

Loijuk returned to the Stockade compound early to join her group the moment they emerged from their night stockades. At 11 a.m. Makena led the Youngsters to the mudbath. Loijuk decided to spend the night with the babies in the Stockade tonight, unlike the previous two days when she joined Yatta’s group for nights out.

27 September 2010

The day was very hot, so all had a wonderfully cooling mudbath today, later led back to the browsing field by Lenana.

28 September 2010

Kinna, Nasalot and Yatta came to the Stockades to greet the two new babies inside. After the greetings, they returned to join the Juniors, who were waiting for them at the Stockade water trough. They all then headed out to browse together.

29 September 2010

Today Ithumbah was allowed out of her Mini Stockade within the Big One and spent the night in amongst Kilaguni, Chaimu and Sabachi. Kilaguni was rude to Ithumbah, trying to push her away. The Youngsters were joined by the Ex Orphans in the evening, who escorted them back.

30 September 2010

The Youngsters left the Stockades as usual, the two newcomers still remaining inside being tamed down. A l0 a.m. the Youngsters were joined by Lualeni, Ndomot, Kora, Challa and Naserian. At 11 a.m. Kilaguni led the group to the mudbath, where all participated fully. Later Naserian led the group to feed along the slopes of Ithumba hill and all returned to the Stockades together in the evening where Kilaguni, Sabachi and Chaimu enjoyed sharing the browse the Keepers had cut for the two new orphans.