Keepers' Diaries, September 2012

Ithumba Reintegration Unit

:- September has been one of the driest months on record over the entire Tsavo region, the Park having received just one rainstorm during the April/May rains, until a very light shower towards the end of the month created a few puddles to tempt our Ex Orphans further afield for a few days, rather than being a permanent presence at the Stockade compound every morning to partake of the Lucerne supplementary hand-out provided for the Younger Keeper Dependent orphans based at night at the Ithumba Stockades. Our Ex Orphans were not seen only on the 12th, 15th, 16th, 20th, 23rd, 24th, 27th, 29th and 30th. On every other day of the month they came to the Stockades each morning for both water and Lucerne, and we were relieved that they did and to be able to check on them, because the poaching of elephants throughout the country has now reached unprecedented levels. At least the drought conditions have kept our Ex Ithumba Orphans closer to home.

01 September 2012

Sabachi and Kibo enjoyed their usual Strength Testing Match after the orphans had taken their Lucerne supplement in the morning. At the noon mudbath 10 wild elephants came to drink from the mudbath water trough and enjoy a wallow, while 2 other wild elephants came to drink at the Stockade trough in the evening.

02 September 2012

Having left their Stockades in the morning, the Junior Orphans were joined by the Ex Orphans at the Lucerne pile, where they intermingled for about one hour until at 7 a.m. Murka decided that it was time to lead the Junior Keeper Dependent orphans out to browse.

03 September 2012

Unusually, the Stockade water trough was free when the Juniors left their night Stockades this morning, so they could drink uninhibited. Chaimu led the orphans out to browse the Kanziko area today until it was time for the mudbath when Makireti and Ishanga led the Juniors. At the mudbath the Juniors were joined by 4 wild elephants, who remained behind enjoying themselves long after the orphans had departed.

04 September 2012

When the Juniors arrived at the mudbath today, they met 25 wild elephants, some of whom were taking water from the trough while others were already wallowing. At 2 p.m. the Ex Orphans with 15 wild friends came to the Stockade to drink. In the evening it was Ishanga who led the Juniors back.

05 September 2012

The Ex Orphans joined the Juniors at the Lucerne pile, where all intermingled happily until it was time for the Juniors to leave, this time led out by Tumaren who headed towards the Kalovoto riverbed. At the compound Kinna played with Wendi until the Ex Orphans began heading south. Since it was a cool day, none of the Orphans wanted to wallow, but enjoyed a dustbath instead.

06 September 2012

Again the Ex Orphans joined the Juniors at the Lucerne this morning before parting, the Juniors deciding to go towards Kone while the Ex Orphans headed to the Kalovoto. Makireti led the Juniors to the milk and mudbath venue.

07 September 2012

This morning the Stockade compound was filled with both wild elephants and all the Ex Orphans. When the Ex Orphans headed to the Lucerne, the wild friends wanted to come as well, but the Keepers kept them away. Suguta led the Juniors out having finished the Lucerne, and today Kandecha led them to the mudbath.

08 September 2012

A clear sky promised a very hot day. As the Juniors were about to leave the compound, the Ex Orphans appeared from the eastern side of the Stockades to join them. They intermingled for sometime before the Juniors left for the field, leaving the Ex Orphans finishing off the Lucerne. By 10 a.m. it was very hot, making Ishanga, Makireti and Kasigau (relative newcomers to Ithumba) to take to shade. All enjoyed the mudbath today where they were joined by 3 wild elephants, whom the orphans left still enjoying the mudbath.

09 September 2012

The Ex Orphans joined the Juniors for Lucerne as usual. Suguta then led the Juniors to browse the Kanziku area. At the mudbath the Juniors were joined by 12 wild bulls, and later enjoyed a dustbath before heading back to browse for the remainder of the day.

10 September 2012

Before the Juniors were let out of their Night Stockade this morning, the Ex Orphans showed up accompanied by some wild friends. The wild elephants went to drink while the Ex Orphans waited patiently for the Stockade Gates to be opened. Having all enjoyed the Lucerne, Kitirua engaged Chaimu in a Pushing Game and when Kitirua withdrew, Kasigau challenged Chaimu. This game was interrupted by Sabachi, who ran in to push Chaimu away and take on Kasigau, who decided to quit when Sabachi was proving the winner. Kalama led the group out today.

11 September 2012

The compound was filled with Ex Orphans and wild elephants again this morning when the Juniors emerged. All the orphans then enjoyed the Lucerne until it was time for the Juniors to head out to browse, choosing the Kalovoto area. On arrival at the mudbath venue, the Juniors found all the Ex Orphans and their wild friends enjoying themselves. All intermingled, Chaimu paying particular interest in little Yetu, touching the baby’s mouth and following her everywhere. Kilaguni and Ololoo engaged one another in a Shoving Test which ended with Ololoo surrendering and running off. When the Juniors moved off for the afternoon browsing session, they left the Ex Orphans and wild elephants at the mudbath.

12 September 2012

Mist covered Ithumba hill today, Murka leading the Juniors out once they had taken their Lucerne supplement. At the noon mudbath 2 wild bulls joined the Juniors. Suguta led the group out for the afternoon browsing session.

13 September 2012

As the orphans took their Lucerne today only Mshale (the wild bull who had a poisoned arrow removed by our Mobile Veterinary Unit) was at the water trough and once he had left, the orphans went for a drink. Kilaguni and Kandecha engaged one another in the usual Pushing Test, which ended when Kandecha surrendered. As the Juniors were leaving the Ex Orphans turned up, but the Juniors were not distracted. At the mudbath they were joined by 15 wild elephants, some of whom were drinking at the trough. Brave Ishanga marched in amongst them to help herself to water while the rest of the group went to the mudbath first, where one of the wild elephants joined them. As the Juniors were leaving, the met up with the Ex Orphans who were just arriving. Sabachi opted to try his luck against Sunyei, but she brushed him aside!

14 September 2012

The Ex Orphans joined the Juniors at the Lucerne pile and remained at the compound when the Juniors headed out towards Kone. All the Juniors enjoyed the mudbath today. Six wild elephants appeared at the western side of the wallow and relaxed under a tree, one attempting to scare the Keepers by charging them. When the Juniors saw this, they all left the mudbath and left with the Keepers.

15 September 2012

It was a quiet day for a change, with neither Ex Orphans or wild Elephants showing up either at the Stockade compound or the mudbath venue, so the Juniors had both places all to themselves!

16 September 2012

Only 6 wild elephants came to drink at the Compound today as the Juniors were taking their Lucerne. They browsed the Kanziku area today until the mudbath hour, when all bathed happily.

17 September 2012

Ten wild visitors to the Stockade water trough this morning until Melia led the Juniors out towards Kone. At the mudbath only Ololoo, (who loves water), Kilaguni, Kitirua, Kasigau and Ishanga participated fully, while the rest stood at the edge, splashing water over themselves. Just as the Juniors were leaving, 6 wild elephants checked in.

18 September 2012

Only 2 wild visitors to the stockade water trough this morning. As the orphans were busy feeding on Lucerne, 3 wild dogs turned up who were spotted and chased by Naisula. The dogs just kept dodging Naisula until Suguta, Sabachi and Kilaguni provided reinforcement to expel the intruders. The dogs ran a short distance and then barked, which scared the elephants, Suguta running faster than all the others, her running creating tension amongst all the others, who then also ran to their Keepers for protection!

19 September 2012

The morning passed as usual. At the mudbath the Juniors were joined by Mulika and her baby, Mwende, Sunyei, Sidai, Lenana and Chyulu. Only Sunyei tested the temperature of the water, deciding that it was too cool for a wallow. Meanwhile Kandecha and Kilaguni were engaged in the usual Pushing Match. Later Kalama followed by Makireti signaled that it was time for the Juniors to depart.

20 September 2012

The Ex Orphans joined the Juniors at the Lucerne pile today. Melia then led the Juniors out to browse the Kanziku area. Kandecha led the way to the mudbath, where all enjoyed a wallow since it was a hot day, followed by a dust bath.

21 September 2012

As the Juniors were taking their Lucerne, 7 wild bulls came to drink at the Stockade trough. Naisula led the Juniors out today. By l0 a.m. it was so hot that the orphans all took to the shade where they relaxed until it cooled down. All enjoyed the mudbath, before resuming feeding until it was time to return.

22 September 2012

It was a clear day when the Orphans headed out. Kilaguni engaged Kibo in a Test of Strength, but Sabachi, who was a short distance away, then came to Kilaguni aid, and together they took turns in taking on Kibo until he decided to withdraw. All enjoyed the noon mudbath, it being a hot day.

23 September 2012

It was a quiet but hot day, without much outside interaction other than all the Juniors enjoying their mudbath. Ishanga led the group out to browse during the afternoon until it was time to return in the evening.

24 September 2012

Another quiet day without much excitement. At the mudbath only Ishanga and Olare did not go into the mud.

25 September 2012

The Ex Orphans joined the Juniors at the Lucerne this morning. Suguta played with Kibo while Kilaguni tested his strength with Sabachi and Kandecha learned Pushing Tactics from Kora. Out in the field Ololoo tried his luck against Sabachi, but was soon forced to surrender. Two wild elephants joined the Juniors at their noon mudbath.

26 September 2012

The Ex Orphans were already at the compound when the Juniors were let out and all intermingled at the Lucerne pile. It was hot today, so all the Juniors enjoyed the mudbath, and spent a long time in it before returning to feed during the afternoon.

27 September 2012

It was a cloudy and quiet day when none of the orphans were eager to mudbath, but went in reluctantly at the urging of the Keepers. After the mudbath all had a wonderful dust bath.

28 September 2012

The Ex Orphans joined the Juniors for the Lucerne feed, later parting ways. The Juniors went towards the east while the Ex Orphans headed west. At the mudbath the Juniors were joined by 3 wild elephants, and later the Ex Orphan group. They separated after the mudbath, the Juniors settling down to browse the Kanziku area before returning in the evening.

29 September 2012

Before 6 a.m. 16 wild elephants were patiently waiting for water at the Stockade trough for the Bowser to refill it. Having taken their Lucerne, the Juniors headed out to browse until mudbath time. Later they took a dust bath before heading back to browse for the rest of the afternoon.

30 September 2012

Just one slim Acacia tree remains in the Stockade compound and today the weavers were back, busy rebuilding their nests – hopefully a sign of the coming rains. Before heading out to the bush Makireti, Kitirua and Kandecha joined some wild elephants who were drinking at the stockade trough while Suguta played with Kibo and Kasigau scratched himself against a rock. Kalama led the group out when it was time to leave. Since the day was cool, none of the Juniors wanted to bathe today.