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.
It has been a hot month for the Keeper Dependent Ithumba orphans, who have enjoyed a lot of interaction with members of Yatta’s Ex Orphan Group. On the 6th Nasalot came alone to the Stockades, and headed straight for her favourite calf, Kilaguni, escorting the youngsters out to feed where they met up with Yattas group, who then spent time with them before Yatta heading off taking with her Chyulu, Makena and Lenana for a walk on the wild side. Nasalot remained with the Youngsters all day, and Chyulu, Makena and Lenana came back to the Stockades that same evening on their own.
On the 9th the Juniors were again joined by Yatta’s group as they were heading to the mudbath, the wild recruit “Mgeni”still amongst them. All spent the afternoon browsing together, deciding to enjoy a second evening mudbath before returning with the Juniors to the Stockades. On the 12th only Nasalot and Kenze joined the Juniors for the day and on the l8th Kinna, Nasalot and Wendi turned up to be with the Youngsters, as usual Nasalot focusing on Kilaguni, whilst Meibai attached himself to Kinna. Later on that day Yatta’s main group joined them at the mudbath, accompanied by 2 wild bulls. On the 30th it was Ndomot, Kora, Challa and Naserian who met up with the Youngsters out in the bush, when Naserian led the group, taking over Matriarchship from Loijuk for a short time.
The Ex Orphans have been accompanied by wild friends on several occasions during the month – on the 16th when they came to drink during the night and having found the stockade trough empthy, had to patiently wait until the Keepers turned the water back on in the morning. The Ex orphans brought 3 wild friends to join the Juniors at their noon mudbath on the 13th, and on the l9th the entire Stockade compound was filled with wild elephants, plus all the Ex Orphans, who later spent the morning with the Youngsters, joining them also at their mudbath. Yatta then took her group off, leaving Nasalot to escort the Youngsters back to the Stockades in the evening.
The Ex orphans again brought wild friends to drink at the Stockades on the 23rd and spent all day with the Junior group, escorting them back in the evening and on the 28th only Kinna, Nasalot and Yatta came to spend time with the Youngsters and meet the two new orphans who were still in the Stockade, not yet sufficiently calm to risk being let out.
There was drama on the 19th when Big Boy Napasha, from Yatta’s group, snatched a bottle of milk at the Noon mudbath, hotly pursued by the Keepers who eventually managed to corner him and retrieve it! Elephants never forget, and obviously Napasha hasn’t forgotten about his milk dependent time!
On the 26th, having brought her group back to the Stockades and checked on the two new orphans inside, Loijuk opened the gate and went to join Yatta’s group who were in the compound for the first time spending a night out with them. The next day she returned to the compound only to find that the Youngsters had already left with their Keepers, but she joined them out in the bush, warmly welcomed by little Sabachi, who adores her. That night she again spent the night out with the other Ex Orphans, but was back first thing in the morning to escort the Babies out. Obviously Loijuk is beginning to respond to the call of the wild, but is very torn, having been the Matriarch of the Younger Keeper Dependent orphans for so long. However, when she decides to upgrade herself, no doubt either Lenana, Makena or Chyulu will take over Leadership of the Junior set.