Keepers' Diaries, September 2011

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

There was drama on the 2nd when Ololoo (a newcomer to Ithumba) joined up with 4 wild bulls whilst browsing at the Kalovoto watercourse, and went off with them, despite attempts by the Keepers to persuade him to return, roundly rebuffed by the wild Protectors. The next morning the Keepers who set off in search, found him “under the tight security” of Ex Orphan Wendi and her Splinter group who had obviously come across him in amongst the wild bulls, and taken him over. Knowing that Wendi would bring him back home, the Keepers left him with her, and sure enough she brought him to the noon mudbath, still under “tight security” where they were joined by Yatta’s Ex orphan group and their wild friends. All the elephants then enjoyed the mudbath together with the Juniors, after which Ololoo was returned to his Junior group, sandwiched still between Wendi and her followers who saw them all safely back to the Stockades in the evening, Yatta’s group having peeled off after the mudbath. Ololoo was again tempted to join a group of 8 wild bulls who joined the Juniors at the mudbath on the 6th but this time he responded to being called back by the Keepers. Since then Senior Ex Orphans, including Yatta herself, have been taking a special interest in Ololoo, obviously believing that he will soon be ready to be promoted.

01 September 2011

Ithumbah led the Keeper Dependent group out to browse this morning, the wild elephants who were drinking at the Stockade trough stepping aside to let the orphans drink and allow them and their Keepers to pass, before coming forward again. It was a hot day, so the Juniors enjoyed their mudbath, although Chemi Chemi, Suguta, Melia and Tumaren decided to take a soil bath instead.

02 September 2011

Since it is so dry, the Juniors concentrated on feeding today, without much other activity during the morning. All enjoyed their noon mudbath, since it was a hot day. Later they went to browse along the Kalovoto river. At 4 p.m. 4 wild bulls passed by, and Ololoo, who feels very comfortable amongst wild elephants, decided to follow them, ignoring the call of the Keepers. Whenever the Keepers tried to intervene, the wild bulls charged them, so there was nothing they could do to get Ololoo back..

03 September 2011

At daybreak some Keepers left in search of Ololoo while others remained to escort the Juniors out to browse. At around 8.30 a.m. Ololoo was found in Wendi’s Ex Orphan group, the Ex Orphans keeping him under tight security. The Keepers decided to leave him with Wendi’s group, sure that she would bring him to the noon mudbath, which, indeed they did, Yatta’s group having joined Wendi’s group, still keeping Ololoo in their midst. The Keepers went to retrieve him and reunite him with the Youngsters, and all the Ex Orphans came with them back to the Stockades to see Ololoo safely back home!

04 September 2011

After a brief stopover at the water trough, the Juniors left for the field to browse, Ololoo feeling the heat and sheltering under shade. All participated fully in the mudbath and then resumed browsing until it was time to return in the evening.

05 September 2011

Olare led the orphans out, overtaken on the way to the water trough by Kandecha. Today they went to the Kone area to feed, and at the mudbath, since temperatures were moderate, only Ithumbah, Kandecha, Naisula and Kitirua wallowed.

06 September 2011

Shortly after the orphans had left in the morning, 4 wild dogs came to drink at the Stockade water trough. The orphans settled into browsing the Kanziku area, and at 11 a.m. Kalama led the 1st sitting to the milk and mudbath area. As the Juniors were taking their milk 4 wild bulls appeared and went to drink at the water trough where they were joined by the Juniors. After the mudbath Ololoo went to join the wild bulls, but the Keepers managed to call him back to join his Junior colleagues.

07 September 2011

Challa, Lualeni and Kora joined the Juniors in the morning and browsed amongst them all morning. At the noon mudbath, the Juniors and their Ex orphan colleagues were joined by all the other Ex orphans and their wild friends. All wallowed together, but Kora, Lualeni and Challa remained with the Junior group, and escorted them back to the Stockades in the evening.

08 September 2011

Challa, Lualeni and Kora joined the Juniors in the morning and browsed amongst them all morning. At the noon mudbath, the Juniors and their Ex orphan colleagues were joined by all the other Ex orphans and their wild friends. All wallowed together, but Kora, Lualeni and Challa remained with the Junior group, and escorted them back to the Stockades in the evening.

09 September 2011

It was another hot day, so the orphans dallied at the water trough before heading out. Kibo, Kitirua, Naisula and Kandecha left ahead of the others, thinking the rest would follow their lead, which didn’t happen. When Kitirua noticed that the rest of the herd had not joined them, she screamed and ran back to the Stockades, met on the way by Suguta and the others, who had heard her scream and rushed to find out what troubled her! All had a wonderful mudbath because the temperature was so hot.

10 September 2011

Today Kilaguni had a constipation problem, and by noon the Keepers had to help him ease himself. The Juniors settled down to browse the Kone area where they were joined by Lualeni, who seems very interested in Ololoo, immediately going to feed close to him. At the mudbath she escorted Ololoo to take his milk, and then led him to the mudbath. She spent the afternoon with the Juniors, escorting them back to the Stockades in the evening.

11 September 2011

At the water trough the Juniors put their heads together, discussing which direction to take. Kalama then led them towards Kone where Chaimu and Ithumbah enjoyed a soil dusting session, joined by Kitirua. At the noon mudbath only Ithumbah, Kilaguni, Kitirua, Murka and Ololoo wallowed. Suguta then steered them back to the Kone area to browse for the afternoon. Before heading home, the Juniors came across a buffalo hiding in a thicket, which caused commotion, all retreating to their Keepers for protection. The buffalo fled when it spotted the Keepers.

12 September 2011

On a chilly morning, the Juniors headed out to the Kanziku area to feed where they were joined by Lualeni and Kora, who remained with them throughout the day. At the mudbath all the orphans opted for a dustbath instead of the mud, since it was still a cool day.

13 September 2011

It was another overcast day as the orphans made their way out to browse. A light shower then fell, which they all enjoyed, rolling in the damp soil and drinking from puddles before returning to feed. Since it was a cool day, the orphans opted for a soil bath instead of the mud.

14 September 2011

Today the Juniors settled to feed at the slopes of Ithumba hill until it was time to head for the mudbath. There different activities took place – Kandecha, Kibo and Sabachi chased one another while Ithumbah, Olare and Ololoo scratched against the nearby trees. Kilaguni and Tumaren enjoyed a friendly Pushing Game while the rest, led by Kalama, rolled in the mud. In the evening two warthogs scared the elephants, Kalama led one group towards the Keepers for protection while Suguta, Sabachi and Kandecha charged the warthogs.

15 September 2011

The orphans took plenty of water at the Stockade trough, since it promised to be a very hot day. They decided to feed up Ithumba Hill until it was time for the milk and mudbath.

16 September 2011

Suguta and Tumaren led the Juniors again up Ithumba hill to feed during the morning session, heading for the mudbath at 11 a.m. All enjoyed a lengthy wallow before returning to browse for the afternoon.

17 September 2011

The Juniors were joined by Yatta’s Ex Orphan group, amongst whom was “Mgeni” (Yatta’s wild recruit) and a wild friend. They browsed together until it was time for the mudbath, Kandecha leading the herd. They enjoyed a joint mudbath together, before the Ex Orphans separated soon after, leaving the Juniors to browse the Kanziku area. There the Keepers heard people talking, and having investigated were surprised to come across poachers, who fled, leaving their meat behind. The Keepers collected the meat and handed it to the KWS authorities.

18 September 2011

It was another hot day, so the orphans took their time at the Stockade water trough before heading up Ithumba hill again until it was time for the noon milk and mudbath, which all enjoyed.

19 September 2011

The orphans left the Stockade in a cheerful mood, led by playful Ithumbah. It was very hot so the Juniors browsed under shade during the morning before heading to the mudbath where Kandecha climbed onto Naisula prompting her to exit the mudbath. All then enjoyed a red soil bath.

20 September 2011

Suguta led the Juniors out on a beautiful morning. The orphans soon had to take to shade, because it turned hot. All enjoyed a prolonged mudbath because it was so hot.

21 September 2011

Kora and Lualeni again joined the Junior group soon after they had come out of their Night Stockades. All enjoyed the mudbath because it was so hot, after which they went to the Imenti waterhole to browse. There Lualeni and Kora remained behind when the Juniors began to head back to the Stockades for the night.

22 September 2011

Soon after the Juniors had left in the morning, Zurura and Makena, accompanied by wild bulls, came to drink at the Stockades. Both did not look healthy, Makena appearing in worse condition than Zurura. At the water trough Makena was pushed down by a wild bull, and when she got up, she was limping. That evening the Keepers took both Makena and Zurura back into the Stockades so that they could benefit from Lucerne, coconut and cut browse to help them regain their health. That evening the wild dogs showed up again at the Stockade, but a wild elephant kept chasing them off.

23 September 2011

The orphans greeted one another fondly before moving to the water trough. Out in the field they came across Acacia pods, which had fallen from a tree, and feasted on them. In the process Chemi Chemi provoked Kandecha by trying to block him from picking up the pods, so Kandecha pushed Chemi Chemi. Shortly before the mudbath Kora and Lualeni joined the Juniors, and spent the afternoon browsing with them.

24 September 2011

Today the Juniors browsed the Eastern side of Ithumba hill where there is more food for them. Ithumbah and Chaimu led the group to the mudbath, where all took their milk, water and enjoyed a protracted mudbath.

25 September 2011

Soon after entering the browsing area, Kandecha and Sabachi engaged one another in a strength testing exercise. At the mudbath Kalama showed signs of stomach ache, lying down every now and then, so the Keepers walked them, hoping that her problem would solve itself. By the time they reached the Stockades in the evening, she seemed much better, having lain down three times on the way.

26 September 2011

It was a cloudy morning. Weaverbirds arrived to build their nests on the only surviving acacia tree around the Stockades, which is usually a sign that rain is on its way. At the mudbath, since the weather was still chilly, only Chaimu, Ithumbah, Kilaguni and Tumaren wallowed, while the rest opted for a dust bath instead.

27 September 2011

Today Ithumbah, Kandecha, Kilaguni and Naisula scratched themselves against trees before taking water while Kalama and the Keepers led the way to the browsing area. At the mudwallow the orphans enjoyed a fabulous soil dusting session before returning to browse for the remainder of the afternoon.

28 September 2011

The sky was clear as the orphans left their Night Stockades. Suguta led the Juniors out to browse, Ololoo, Chemi Chemi and Kalama remaining close to the Keepers. Kandecha and Kibo led the Juniors to their milk and mudbath venue later.

29 September 2011

Today, led by Ithumbah, the Juniors joined their big bull friend called “Rafiki” and his wild friends at the Stockade water trough, By l0 a.m., it was so hot that Kalama and Chemi Chemi had to draw water from their stomachs to spray under their ears and over their body. Upon arrival at the mudbath, the orphans found l0 wild bulls taking water, who were joined by all the Ex Orphans. All then spent a long time with the Juniors in the mudbath. Eventually, the Juniors left, but the Ex Orphans and wild elephants remained still enjoying themselves in the mud.

30 September 2011

Makena joined the Juniors briefly, before leaving again to go in search of her Senior colleagues. At around 7 a.m. the orphans were joined by Wendi, who chose to feed close to Ololoo. She left 30 minutes later and at the noon mudbath the Juniors were joined by Yatta, Mulika, Selengai, Taita, Galana, Meibai, Sunyei, “Mgeni” and 6 wild elephants. Later the Juniors returned back to the browsing field, leaving the Ex Orphans and the wild elephants at the mudbath.