The month of September at Ithumba has been a very sad month with an incident on the 10th leaving keepers and elephants stunned and heartbroken. Precious Sabachi who has been struggling with weak health in recent months despite undergoing medical treatment and having extra supplements was tragically attacked by hyenas in the early hours of the morning within earshot of the stockades. The elephant trumpets that woke the keepers at 4.00am were blood curdling and they knew full well something dramatic was happening. When they went to investigate, which was challenging in itself given that it was still dark, and a good distance from the stockades, they discovered Sabachi being chewed by five hyenas. Between them and the elephants they managed to get the hyenas away from Sabachi and remained guarding him until day break, but it was obvious the situation was dire. More details can be read in the keepers daily entries on the 10th.
Ziwa has been growing weaker too and this culminated with him finally collapsing and requiring an IV drip in order to get to his feet again. Angela made the decision to fly Ziwa back to Nairobi on the 17th so that he could have closer supervision, and be under intensive care. His departure so soon after Sabachi’s tragic tale was sorely felt by the Ithumba community, two footed and four. Ziwa was much loved by the dependent orphans, and the independent orphans too, and his departure took them days to get over.
There has been a steady presence of wild elephants visiting the orphans both at the stockade water trough, and also at their midday mudbath a number of kilometers away. Many have names and Half Trunk is a very conspicuous wild friend with half his trunk missing due to a terrible old snare injury. This must have happened many years ago when he was much younger, and he copes incredibly well with this disability, even in the dry seasons. This month wild elephant herds have brought tiny babies to the stockade water trough and all our orphans, independent, and dependent alike have loved the company of these wild friends. This all culminated with a special day on the 16th when over 60 elephants (mostly ex-orphans) visited the dependent babies who were simply thrilled.
Suguta’s group which consists of Suguta, Chemi Chemi, Melia, Chaimu, Kalama, Kandecha, Tumaren, Olare, Makireti, Kilabasi, Murka, Kilo, Kitirua, Kasigau and Kilaguni are semi-independent, straddling the wild life yet still with frequent visits back to their keepers and their dependent orphan friends. They report back very often as a group, but sometimes in splinter groups, and they have remained in the orbit of the Ithumba relocation unit this whole dry season. It has been an exceptionally dry season and challenging for them all with even little Mwende looking a little thinner than usual. Their supplementary Lucerne has been much needed and most welcomed by all the orphans.
Thankfully there was a much welcomed down pour of over an inch of rain on the 15th which brought about a flush of green and mud puddles which were enjoyed for days afterwards. Suddenly the orphans were able to feast on a huge variety of food and tastes that they had long missed. Hot days, cloud build ups and nesting weavers suggest more rain is on the way soon.
For much more detailed accounts for September please view the keepers daily entries.