Keepers' Diaries, September 2015
Ithumba Reintegration Unit
September is an extremely hot and dry time of the year, so emphasis for the orphans this month is spending the hottest hours under welcome shade, complimented by mud bathing and red soil dusting. Since natural browse is in short supply, it is challenging for both the young dependent elephant orphans and for the ex-orphans now living wild. Lessons taught by the older elephants become extremely important at such times. These include how to access rich nutrients from the bark of dry trees and shrubs, plants to avoid that exude poisonous tannin in the peak of the dry season, and where reliable dry season watering points are, to name just a few. For many wild elephants Ithumba has become a dry season refuge, and this message seems to be getting out far and wide as each year we have seen an increase in wild elephants basing themselves there throughout the dry season. Not only do they find a reliable water source for this time of year, but have access to all our orphans as well, which include those dependent (Barsilinga, Bomani, Bongo, Garzi, Kainuk, Kanjoro, Kithaka, Laragai, Lemoyian, Mutara, Narok, Orwa, Shukuru, Sities, Teleki, Turkwel and Vuria), as well as the semi independent (Chaimu, Chemi Chemi, Ishanga, Kalama, Kandecha, Kasigau, Kibo, Kilaguni, Kilibasi, Kitirua, Makireti, Melia, Murka, Naisula, Olare, Suguta and Tumaren) and ex-orphans (Buchuma, Challa, Chyulu, Galana, Ithumbah, Kamboyo, Kenze, Kinna, Kora, Lenana, Loijuk, Lualeni, Madiba, Makena, Meibei, Mulika, Napasha, Nasalot, Naserian, Ololoo, Orok, Rapsu, Sidai, Sunyei, Taita, Tomboi, Wendi, Yatta and Zurura). All this makes for very interesting interaction.
01 September 2015
Eight wild elephants were at the stockade compound when the orphans were let out. As soon as the juniors settled for lucerne, the ex-orphans that appeared to have been hiding somewhere waiting for lucerne, emerged running from the bushes. The feeding turned chaotic as each one tried to get more lucerne than the other. The juniors withdrew from the feeding and left with bits of lucerne in their trunks, heading to the water trough. Kithaka tried to take some lucerne from Orwa's mouth but he soon regretted it. Orwa took this as a lack of respect for a boy that only arrived recently and, angrily, Orwa dropped the remainder of his lucerne to teach Kithaka a lesson. Kithaka tried to defend himself but he was overpowered by Orwa and he ran away bellowing. On returning to collect the lucerne he had dropped, Orwa found that it had been taken. Vuria, who was close by, collected the lucerne and left the scene knowing that Orwa would eventually come looking for it. Vuria watched from afar as he enjoyed the lucerne whilst Orwa tried to see if there was anyone hiding lucerne nearby. There was none and Orwa walked away cursing Kithaka who had made him drop the lucerne. Lenana heard Kithaka's bellowing and so ran to meet him to find out what had happened. Lenana placed her trunk on him for comfort and assurance.
Once in the bush Garzi browsed with Sities while Vuria spent much of his time feeding with Suguta. At 11am, the temperature was moderate and only Kanjoro, Teleki, Bongo, Vuria and Laragai participated in any wallowing. During the mudbath Kithaka and Shukuru raised their trunks in the air which meant someone was coming and a few minutes later, Kilaguni emerged from north of the mud bath. Amazingly, Kilaguni was on his own. He didn't interact with the juniors but walked straight to drink water and then left again.
The juniors headed for soil dusting where Shukuru took advantage of scratching on those who were rolling in the soil. On the way to the browsing field, Sities collected a branch that appeared to have been broken and dropped by a wild elephant. To her it was a blessing since the wild elephant hadn't eaten much of it and so as she walked she peeled the bark off from the branch. Back in the browsing field Bomani decided to spend much of his time feeding with Suguta, something that Suguta welcomed. Later in the evening, the orphans converged under a tree to cool down before heading back to the stockade.
02 September 2015
Fifteen wild bulls were at the stockade compound in the morning. Soon after the juniors left the stockade and settled for lucerne, the partially independent group emerged from the south and joined them. After some time, Bomani as usual started tossing the lucerne in the air. Luckily the wild elephant that cautioned him against wastage the previous time wasn't present to discipline him. In the browsing field, Bomani and Kithaka had a strength testing game that lasted for some time. Sities was browsing close by and decided to intervene and separate the boys, but they refused to separate and continued to play. Sities decided to mind her own business and not get in the way of the two fighting boys. Instead she walked to play with Narok who had taken some time to roll on the ground. Sities scratched her belly against Narok for some time then left for browsing.
When Turkwel saw that Narok was taking a long time rolling on the ground, she walked over to her and tried to lift her up, as if reminding her how dry it is at the moment and they should be concentrating on browsing. Bomani quit playing with Kithaka and went to play with Barsilinga. After Barsilinga was defeated by Bomani, he went to try his hand on Vuria but he couldn't believe it when he was floored by Vuria.
At mud bath time, Kithaka was the first one to get into the mud and enjoyed a cooling mud bath before the others joined him. When his friends joined him, Kithaka withdrew from the mud bath and headed for dusting. Before his friends could join him there, Kithaka had already had enough and was on his way to the browsing field. Kithaka appears to like the lead of every activity. Back in the browsing field, Lemoyian browsed with Turkwel while Kainuk fed with Bomani. In the evening only three wild elephants showed up at the stockade for water.
03 September 2015
In the morning, the stockade was flooded with wild elephants and ex-orphans. Among them were two new wild bulls with arrow injuries that arrangements were made for them to be attended to by the DSWT funded Veterinary Unit. The stockade compound was full of activities as four wild dogs came for water as well but they were chased away by Tomboi. Kenze played with Zurura as two wild bulls were engaged in a strength testing exercise. Shukuru and Orwa entwined their trunks in greetings and later Orwa engaged Ololoo in a pushing game. When Orwa surrendered and turned to leave, Ololoo held his tail to stop him from leaving and then mounted him. A war erupted between Lualeni and Taita when Taita attempted to mount Lualeni without seeking her permission.
In the browsing field, Bomani tried to invite Garzi in a pushing game by placing his trunk on Garzi's head. Garzi refused and walked past Bomani as he headed east. At mud bath, the juniors were joined by six wild bulls. Soon after mud bathing, Barsilinga went to scratch against a tree stump a few metres away. Laragai wanted to use the same tree stump that was being used by Barsilinga. Barsilinga hesitated in giving Laragai access to the tree stump. The small rough Laragai took this as lack of respect from Barsilinga. She raised her ears and moved a few steps backwards so as to gain momentum. Upon seeing this Barsilinga slowly started retreating, but before he could move away, Laragai, who punches like a wasp, sprang and pushed Barsilinga. Barsilinga increased the speed of his retreat, because he didn't want to be pushed again. Laragai then used the tree stump for as long as she wished. The angry Barsilinga left to join his friends and the first orphan he met was Bomani. Barsilinga decided to vent his anger on Bomani by pushing him. Bomani appeared to have been anticipating this from Barsilinga and so he didn't hesitate in retaliating.
As the mud bathing was coming to a close, Kilaguni, who for the last two days has turned himself into a lone ranger, reported for mud bath. As the juniors headed north of the mud bath, Kilaguni headed south. The orphans had a quiet afternoon and in the evening only four wild bulls reported for water at the stockade.
04 September 2015
The partially independent group with eleven wild bulls was at stockade compound early before the juniors were let out. When they were let out, Olare welcomed them in style. She lay down at the entrance with her trunk raised. The orphans went past Olare one by one. Orwa decided not to pass without having a word with Olare and he did this by entwining his trunk with Olare's. The partially independent group joined the juniors in feeding of lucerne as the bulls concentrated in drinking water. A wild dog visited the water hole to drink, but due to disturbance from the wild elephants, the wild dog ran away. Bomani tackled Kibo in a strength testing exercise but Kibo was too strong for him and so he surrendered. After Bomani surrendered, Orwa, who had been warming up to fight with Kibo, hurriedly stepped forward and started dueling with Kibo. Again, Kibo won and this made Orwa walk away in search of another fellow to tackle. Orwa came across Kitirua and hoped to defeat her but unfortunately he ended losing the battle. Kibo walked with his head high after defeating Orwa and Bomani and his next target was another junior, but he made a wrong calculation when he landed on Suguta. Suguta turned and faced Kibo. Kibo hesitated in making another step forward as Suguta charged to show Kibo that although she is stockade dependent, she still remains the boss. Kibo withdrew and left to play with his fellow boys.
An hour later, the juniors parted ways with the partially independent group. The orphans settled to browse in the Kone area where Bomani enjoyed sharing feed with Teleki. At 9.30 in the morning, the sun was getting hot and Orwa, Turkwel, Lemoyian and Shukuru settled under a tree that had good shade as they fed on the leaves of the tree. Kainuk spread her ears out to trap enough air to cool her down as she continued to browse. Shortly before mud bath time, Turkwel and Orwa who were feeding close to one another disagreed over what only the two of them can explain. The disagreement led to a fight that ended soon when Orwa surrendered.
At mud bath time, Kithaka was the first one to get into the mud but only briefly and after getting out, he headed for soil dusting. Only two wild bulls reported for water and were joined by Kanjoro and Laragai. On their way to the browsing field, the orphans did soil bathing and led by Mutara, the juniors headed to Kalovoto. Kithaka at first settled to browse with Barsilinga but changed his mind afterwards. He walked and joined Laragai in browsing instead. Laragai decided to humiliate Kithaka in style. Every food Kithaka was putting in his mouth, Laragai would stretch her trunk and take it from him. After some time, Kithaka could not take it anymore; plucking grass then someone else feeding on it. This was unacceptable to Kithaka but he left without a word because by complaining, it would earn him a serious push from Laragai. In the evening, ten wild bulls reported for water at the stockade.
05 September 2015
The wild elephants, the ex-orphans and the partially independent group totaling eighty elephants flooded the stockade compound in the morning. It was so difficult for the juniors to get lucerne as they faced stiff competition from their seniors. Orwa, who is thrilled whenever the seniors are around, picked Kibo for a strength testing exercise. Orwa lost the game to Kibo and since Orwa doesn't lose hope, he quit the game hoping to try again the next day. Kithaka tried his hand in playing with Kibo but one push sent him packing since he didn't have the stamina and experience to handle Kibo.
In the browsing field, Garzi and Bomani that were feeding together disagreed over how to share a branch that they had come across. Their disagreement led to a tussle. As the two boys were dueling, Lemoyian happened to pass by and spotted the branch. He proceeded to pick it and leave as he happily peeled its bark. When Bomani and Garzi stopped fighting and went to take the branch, it wasn't there and they were left with no other option than to go and look for another one on their own. At mud bath time, the juniors were joined by Half Trunk with other two wild friends. After mud bathing with the juniors, Half Trunk walked up to the water trough to
to drink water. He was joined by Orwa that was hesitant at first. Orwa stretched his trunk sniffing at Half Trunk as he requested for permission to join in drinking water. It appears the permission was granted as Orwa stepped forward and started sharing water with Half Trunk.
Garzi almost got stuck in the mud when he used the wrong way in accessing the mud bath. But he realised when he felt his front legs sinking into the mud and he managed to pull them out and turn back. The experience scared him and Garzi lost the appetite for mud bathing and went for soil dusting where he could not get stuck. Teleki and Vuria were the last ones to leave the mud bath. In the afternoon, the sun was hot and the orphans converged under trees waiting for the temperature to drop to a favourable level.
06 September 2015
Four wild elephants were taking water at the stockade water trough in the morning as the orphans settled for lucerne. It was quite peaceful for the juniors in the absence of their seniors since there wasn't any competition in feeding of lucerne. In the browsing field, Orwa and Bomani had a strength testing exercise when Bomani failed to give way to Orwa who was passing. Bomani surrendered and eventually gave way to Orwa. Sities and Kanjoro spent some time browsing together and later, Sities shifted and joined Kainuk in soil dusting.
At mud bath time, Barsilinga and Garzi were at loggerheads which resulted in a fight. Had it not been for Kanjoro that was passing by and saw the boys in a serious fight, the battle could have gone on for a long time. Kanjoro went in between and separated them. Three wild elephants joined the juniors in drinking water. Shortly after, the juniors left one by one as they headed back to the browsing field. On the way, Orwa came across a fallen tree that he used to scratch his belly. In the browsing field, the sun was getting hot. Sities and Kainuk walked to a tree that had a good shade and relaxed under it for quite some time. Kithaka went to a different tree where he leaned against it as he enjoyed the cool shade. In the evening three wild bulls came for water at the stockade compound and one of them had received treatment a few days ago, so he was doing well.
07 September 2015
The ex-orphans joined the juniors in the morning soon after the juniors left the stockade. After sharing the lucerne, the ex-orphans left to an unknown location. Garzi pushed Barsilinga when Barsilinga stepped on the grass Garzi was trying to pick. Soon after arriving at the browsing field, Bomani and Barsilinga engaged one another in a pushing game that lasted for only a few minutes as Kithaka found a suitable rock that he used to scratch his buttocks.
On the way to the mud bath, Suguta picked a branch probably dropped by a wild elephant at night. She fed on whatever was left then dropped it down. Teleki that was following close behind picked it up thinking that there was a lot left in it. Teleki was disappointed when he found out that nothing was there to feed on. He threw the stick away and overtook Suguta in anger thinking that by going a head of Suguta, he might get a branch dropped down by a wild elephant first.
At mud bath, the weather was chilly and juniors were joined by only one bull in drinking water. None of the juniors dared to step into the mud bathing water. Turkwel and Orwa due to idleness resulted to pushing one another. Sities tried to intervene and separate the two but she didn't succeeded as Orwa and Turkwel waited until Sities was out of sight then continued with their pushing. Later, Mutara led her herd back to the browsing field. In the afternoon, the clouds cleared giving way to sun shine. The orphans browsed calmly as they continuously flapped their ears until evening when they returned back to the stockade for the night.
08 September 2015
Twenty wild bulls were taking water at the stockade water trough when the orphans settled for lucerne in the morning. It was a peaceful morning since the wild elephants didn't try to disrupt the feeding of orphans as their main mission was only to get water. In the browsing field, it is getting very dry and this made Garzi use his feet to kick and collect the dry, withered grass. Due to the hot sun, the orphans remained inactive and moved from shade to shade while feeding. At one time, the entire group converged under a tree and relaxed for some time, before Kithaka led the first group to the mud bath. Laragai was the first one to get into the mud. After getting out of mud, Laragai found Kithaka standing close to the edge of the mud bath. Since Kithaka hadn't stepped into the water, Laragai forced him by trying to push him to the mud. Kithaka refused totally and ran to soil dusting where he was joined by Barsilinga. Kanjoro, Mutara, Kainuk and Narok were using the hard way of getting out of the mud bath. Each time they were almost on top, they would slip back into the mud, until they opted for a different and easier way out.
Lemoyian joined Barsilinga and Kithaka in soil bathing game where Kithaka bullied Lemoyian by mounting him. Vuria and Teleki were the last to leave the wallow. Soon when Vuria was out, he spotted warthogs coming for mud bath. Vuria decided to harass them and deny them their right to mud bath. Vuria is the warthog chaser and the fastest runner in the orphan group. Trumpeting and raising his ears he ran at the warthogs. As soon as Vuria started advancing with full speed, the warthogs turned with their tails raised and showed him that they can also run fast. Within no time, the warthogs had disappeared out of sight. When the warthogs were out of sight, Vuria had no option other than to return back to join his friends. The orphans settled to browse at upper Kalovoto area without any major events. In the evening twelve wild bulls reported for water at the stockade.
09 September 2015
The ex-orphans and the partially independent group with sixteen wild elephants were at the stockade compound in the morning. Olare stood at the exit gate of the orphans and welcomed the orphans outside as they left the stockade. The orphans didn't stay for long at the stockade compound due to competition from the ex-orphans. Mutara rumbled in gathering her group. The orphans heeded Mutara's call and so followed her. The orphans had a quiet morning and concentrated on browsing without any major events. At mud bath time, the juniors were joined by Rapsu. Rapsu, who acted as their head teacher, opted to teach the orphans how to wallow. He got into the water and started performing, as Lemoyian who sat in the front seat watched. Soon, after Rapsu was done with the practical, he allowed the juniors to get into the mud to put to practice what they had learned from him. Rapsu stood at edge of the mud bath watching the juniors. When he was satisfied that half of the group were doing it in the right way, Rapsu then left to unknown location. Kithaka and Barsilinga headed to a nearby tree where they relaxed as they awaited their friends to windup the wallowing exercise. After wallowing the orphans did a bit of soil dusting before returning back to the browsing field.
In the afternoon the sun was suntil hot. Lemoyian joined Shukuru in relaxing under a tree that had good shade. Vuria teamed up with Barsilinga in feeding as Sities paired with her friend Garzi. In the evening the stockade was flooded with close to eighty six elephants, including the ex-orphans and partially independent group. The elephants took water until dark when they started leaving one by one.
10 September 2015
Buchuma, Chaimu and Ishanga in the company of thirty five wild elephants were at the stockade compound early before six o’clock in the morning. When the juniors settled for lucerne Chaimu, Ishanga, Buchuma and a female wild elephant joined them whilst the rest of the wild elephants concentrated on drinking water. Noticeable were two wild elephants with only one tusk. One of them was a female that had a baby and the other one was a bull that was last seen last year. Shortly later two bulls that started to fight one another, which brought all the activities to a standstill. All eyes were turned on them as a loud noise emanated from their tusks knocking against each other. At last one bull surrendered and ran away with the other bull in hot pursuit. The orphans had a sigh of relief when the bulls disappeared out of sight and everything once again settled down to normal.
In the browsing field, Kanjoro wanted to put into practice what he had seen in the morning with the two wild bulls. He walked towards Orwa and started pushing him. Orwa didn't defend himself for he knew that Kanjoro wanted to use him as testing machine. Orwa walked away to another place leaving Kanjoro disappointed. Lemoyian tried to pull some vegetation with his trunk but he couldn't manage and so knelt down to use his mouth to cut it.
At mud bath time, Kithaka who does things in his own way, was the first one to get into the mud and thereafter headed to drink water before finally winding up his mud bath activities with soil dusting. He later went to relax under a tree waiting for his friends to go through what he had already finished. Bomani engaged Barsilinga in a pushing game that saw Barsilinga surrender and walk away. A few metres away, Barsilinga met with Garzi who tried to block his way. Barsilinga tried to fight for his right of way but Garzi wouldn't let him pass. Barsilinga turned and took another route to avoid conflict with Garzi. In the afternoon, the juniors settled to browse at Kanziku area. Kithaka spend most of his time browsing close to Turkwel. In the evening only two wild bulls plus ex orphans Madiba, Rapsu and Ololoo showed up at the stockade.
11 September 2015
Twenty minutes after the juniors had settled for lucerne in the morning, Rapsu, Ololoo and Madiba joined them. The three former orphans shared the lucerne peacefully with the juniors. Later, Ololoo invited Orwa to a strength testing game in which Orwa obliged to join him. On the way to the browsing field, Garzi blocked the way for Bomani thinking that it was the Barsilinga that he usually pushes. Bomani wasn't in the mood to entertain such nonsense and so pushed Garzi out of the way. In the browsing field, Teleki spend some time challenging Ololoo and finally surrendered after Ololoo proved to be too strong for him. Vuria teamed up with Bomani in feeding while Turkwel and Sities shared food from the same tree.
At mud bath time, the juniors were joined by Loijuk, Galana, Meibai, Madiba, Lualeni, Ololoo and Rapsu. Only the ex-orphans participated in wallowing. Ololoo engaged Orwa in a pushing game and later tackled Kanjoro. Meibai played with Suguta while Rapsu got a free ride from Lualeni. After mud bath, the ex-orphans headed towards Imenti while the juniors headed to lower Kalovoto area where they settled to browse. The orphans had a quiet afternoon and in the evening, Narok and Orwa spend some time in soil dusting. Kilaguni, Chaimu and Ishanga visited the stockade in the evening and left at dark after taking enough water.
12 September 2015
Thirty wild elephants were at the stockade compound in the morning. The partially independent group that was accompanying the wild elephants, joined the juniors in feeding of lucerne as they waited for the jam to clear at the water trough. Murka and Sities entwined their trunks in greetings. After feeding on lucerne, the herd passed by the water trough to get water after the wild elephants had cleared the compound. The herd settled to browse at Kone area. At the browsing field, Turkwel spent some time scratching her belly against a fallen tree. Mutara browsed close to Kithaka as Garzi felt comfortable feeding with Sities.
At mud bath time, the orphans and the partially independent group were joined by Napasha. There were less activities at mud bath as the herd wallowed, soil dusted and were later led away by Napasha, leaving the juniors browsing at upper Kalovoto area. Barsilinga and Kithaka separated from the main herd and went to browse far away. Half an hour later, the two boys returned back at a high speed screaming. This brought the browsing activities to a standstill as everyone scrambled for safety. The orphan herd ran towards the keepers. The keepers calmed them down and thereafter walked carefully towards the direction the two boys had come from. The keepers found out that it was only dikdiks that scared the two naive boys! The orphans browsed close to their keepers until five o'clock in the evening before going back to the stockades.
13 September 2015
The juniors settled for lucerne soon after leaving the stockade. Ten wild bulls were busy taking water at the stockade water trough. One of the bulls got curious when he saw the juniors converging in one place with minimal movement. The bull approached the juniors in a slow, measured walk. Vuria who was at the far end was the first to meet the wild bull. Vuria didn't understand why the bull was walking so slowly as if tip toeing. Vuria, for fear of the unknown, retreated. The bull came to stand at where Vuria was standing and started sniffing at what Vuria was feeding on. He picked the lucerne and put it in his mouth and discovered the delicious treat. The bull forgot about the water and instead bolding intermingled with juniors close to the stockades, savoring the treat the dependent orphans patiently shared with him.
After, the orphans settled to browse at Kone area and had a quiet morning as they scattered far and wide in search of better pastures. They came together at the time of going to the mud bath where Teleki and Vuria briefly entwined their trunks in greetings as they had been feeding apart for a very long time. At mud bath time although the sun was hot only Bongo, Vuria, Teleki, Laragai and Mutara participated in wallowing. In the afternoon, the orphans settled to browse at the western side of the Ithumba hill. As temperatures continued skyrocketing, Sities, Kanjoro, Shukuru and Mutara sought refuge under trees that had a good shade as the rest of the group continued to browse unbothered by the heat from the sun.
14 September 2015
Half Trunk with twelve wild bulls reported at the stockade early before six o'clock in the morning. Tomboi, Makireti, Kasigau and Kilabasi accompanied the wild bulls. Since the former orphans were not strong enough to compete for water with the bulls, they opted to join the juniors in feeding of lucerne as they waited for the bulls to clear away from the water trough. In the browsing field, Barsilinga came across a bent tree that he used to scratch his buttocks. Soon after Barsilinga was through with scratching, Garzi came to use the same tree in scratching his neck. Garzi left when Orwa came to push him away. Later, the juniors were joined by the partially independent group; Teleki engaged Kasigau in a pushing game that lasted for quite some time.
At mud bath time, the orphans and the partially independent group were joined by Half Trunk and other ten wild friends. Sities had a strength testing exercise with Kasigau but unfortunately lost while Orwa, who was playing with Kitirua, lost his game too. In the afternoon the orphans and the partially independent group settled to browse at the upper Kalovoto area. An hour later, the partially independent group managed to snatch eleven orphans away from the keepers. The keepers realised the orphans were missing when they heard Sities and Garzi rumbling loudly. The partially independent group with their catch had decided to pass by the stockade to drink water before proceeding to an unknown location, when someone spotted them and alerted the keepers. The keepers then came quickly and collected their lost sheep.
15 September 2015
Makireti spent her night just outside the stockade then joined the juniors in the morning for lucerne soon after they left the stockade. As the juniors settled for lucerne, three wild bulls came for water. Makireti joined the bulls in drinking then returned for more lucerne. Laragai, Barsilinga and Lemoyian gathered up the courage and walked towards the bulls where they joined them in drinking water. Bongo and Turkwel had a brief moment of strength testing that ended quickly when Bongo surrendered. Afterwards, Makireti led the juniors to the browsing field. Shukuru had an itchy mouth and looked for a good dry tree that she used to scratch her mouth with, while Suguta had her own game of digging soil with her tusks then dusting herself. Kithaka led the first group to the mud bath while Barsilinga followed in the second group with Vuria, Teleki and Narok. When the second group drew close to the mud bath, they engaged one another in a race that saw Barsilinga overtake Vuria, the fastest runner, close to the finish line. After drinking milk, the juniors headed for mud bath and later soil dusting. As the juniors were busy dusting, Vuria the warthog chaser, spotted a warthog that was approaching the mud bath. He stepped lightly while approaching the warthog, but the warthog read Vuria’s intentions long before he could get close and the warthog turned to escape. This prompted Vuria to engage all his gears to catch the warthog, but it ran as fast as its legs could carry it and disappeared into the thicket. Vuria lay in wait for over ten minutes to see if the warthog would turn back for a mud bath. Finally, he gave up and left to join his friends.
On the way to the browsing field, Bongo made a stop and for some time scratched his buttocks against a tree. The orphans had a quiet afternoon as they browsed along the lower Kalovoto seasonal river. In the evening, Yatta and Mulika’s groups reported for water at the stockade and left shortly after drinking enough water.
16 September 2015
It was a bright morning with a clear sky that predicted a hot day a head. The orphans settled for lucerne soon after leaving the stockade. It was peaceful and quiet as the orphans fed without any disturbance from outsiders. Later, Kanjoro led the way to the browsing field. Turkwel and Teleki had a strength testing exercise that ended soon after Teleki surrendered. Garzi browsed close to Sities as Barsilinga browsed with Kithaka. Shortly before mud bath time, the juniors were joined by Kilabasi, Kibo and Kasigau. This happens to be Makireti’s group, and it’s not clear why Makireti would have swapped with Kibo. Only time will tell if it’s another group in the making which would see Kibo take over the group, or Makireti had just gone away for awhile.
At mud bath time, the sun was really hot but amazingly enough, only Kithaka, Shukuru, Laragai, Kibo, Kasigau and Bongo participated in wallowing. Bomani and Garzi had scores to settle and they did this through pushing one another. The rest of the group opted for a red soil bath. In the afternoon the juniors settled to browse at Kanziku area. Kithaka came across a green tree whose leaves he wished to feed on. He stretched his trunk high to reach the leaves but he couldn't reach. He went around the tree as he tried to devise a method that he can use to get the leaves. Luckily, Kithaka saw a rock beneath the tree and since he needed just a slight increase in height so as to reach the leaves, Kithaka happily stepped on the rock with his front legs. Sure enough, Kithaka was able to get the height he needed to get the leaves. In the evening, Laragai decided to take a break from feeding and relax under a tree before he resumed browsing.
17 September 2015
Another bright morning with a clear sky. Present at the lucerne area this morning were Buchuma, Kilabasi and Kasigau. The three former orphans shared the lucerne peacefully with their juniors. Barsilinga got cross with Orwa when he tried to pick a piece of lucerne that was close to Orwa. Orwa had considered the lucerne around him to be his and Barsilinga dropped the lucerne he had when he saw Orwa running after him.
Four wild bulls with the ex orphans were taking water when Mutara and her group made their way to the browsing field. The former orphans accompanied the juniors to the browsing field too. Due to the persisting drought, the juniors scattered far and wide in search of better pastures. Towards mud bath time, the sun was getting hot and so Narok decided to relax under a tree waiting for her friends to get ready for mud bath. At mud bath, Kithaka did his mud bath quickly; soil dusted briefly then went to relax under a tree waiting for his friends to complete what they were doing. The afternoon was still hot and the juniors converged under a tree until the temperatures dropped to a favourable level. In the evening, Lemoyian came across a suitable rock that he spent some time scratching his belly on. Bomani had a word with Orwa when Orwa was passing and suddenly stopped close to him, he did this by inserting his trunk in Orwa’s mouth.
18 September 2015
Twenty five wild elephants in the company of the ex-orphans were at the stockade in the morning and the ex-orphans joined the juniors for lucerne. The juniors scrambled for it and each left with a branch because the wild elephants were unknown to them. The orphans grouped into small groups feeding and discussing what to do with their seniors. Since their seniors were big and strong, there was nothing they could do to push them away. The juniors resolved that the only way out is to just pick up the lucerne and walk away. Rapsu spent some time playing with a wild boy while Sunyei played with Tomboi and later with Taita. Shortly before heading for browsing, Orwa and Turkwel had strength testing exercise.
In the browsing field, the juniors were joined by the partially independent group. Shukuru, who saw the group coming, rumbled and started walking towards them. Shukuru welcomed the group by entwining trunks with some of them. The partially independent group were pleased with Shukuru's welcoming mood and so decided to settled and browse with the juniors.
At mud bath time Kalama had scores to settle with Vuria and so engaged each other in a strength testing exercise that lasted until Kibo passed by and pushed the two away. Shukuru took advantage of Teleki who was rolling on a red soil and used him as a scratching rock. Teleki complained loudly because of Shukuru's weight but by then Shukuru had done enough scratching and so she left without a word. In the afternoon, the juniors settled to browse at Kanziku area. Bongo browsed with Orwa while Garzi and Shukuru opted to relax under a tree waiting for the temperatures to drop to a favourable level. The evening was quiet with no wild elephants visiting the stockade.
19 September 2015
For the juniors, it was all peaceful in the morning as they settled for lucerne without any disturbances. The sky was clear which predicted a hot day a head. The orphans fed on the lucerne without hurry as Kithaka, Turkwel and Barsilinga scratched themselves on the nearby rocks. An hour later, Mutara rumbled, signaling her friends that it was time to leave. Sities led the way as the rest of the orphans snaked their way behind her. The sun started getting hot early and the orphans didn't have time to waste as they concentrated on browsing.
Later, the juniors were joined by the partially independent group. Kasigau had a word with Suguta as he put his trunk in Suguta's mouth. This is the second consecutive day the partially independent group are joining the juniors. It appears that their mission is to convince Suguta to return and join them in the wild since she has already healed. Kasigau was the one that had been sent to deliver the message to Suguta.
On the way to the mud bath, the juniors were joined by Lualeni, Ololoo, Kenze, Zurura, Tomboi, Napasha, Rapsu and three wild elephants. After mud bath Ololoo had a strength testing exercise with Orwa. Kainuk picked a piece of stick that she used to scratch in between her front legs while Kithaka went to play with red soil. Teleki joined Rapsu in soil bathing and later Kanjoro picked a fight with Ololoo after Ololoo had finished playing with Orwa.
Back in the browsing field, the sun was still hot. Barsilinga and Lemoyian stood under a tree but after some time, the two realized that the tree wasn't providing sufficient shade and so shifted to another tree. Bongo relaxed under a tree that had a good shade as he enjoyed scratching against it too. Later in the evening, Mutara teamed up with Teleki in browsing. Teleki kept on putting his trunk in Mutara's mouth, probably seeking advice about certain issues that were not clear to him.
20 September 2015
Kilaguni, Chaimu and Ishanga were at the stockade compound early before the juniors were let out. Twenty five bulls were standing by waiting for water. As soon as the water was turned on, the wild bulls started drinking. Ishanga, Kilaguni and Chaimu, all initially rescued from Tsavo West, stood at the entrance waiting for the juniors. Once the juniors were out, the three from the partially independent group happily joined them and settled for lucerne.
Later, Kithaka and Narok wound up the feeding of lucerne by scratching on the nearby rocks. The juniors then passed by the water trough to arm themselves with enough water to take them through the entire morning. Before leading the group to the browsing field, Mutara stood head to head with Orwa, having a quiet conversation. The orphans had a quiet morning as they carried on with browsing without any major events.
At mud bath time, Vuria opted to relax under a tree instead of joining his friends in mud bathing. Bongo and Teleki had a light pushing game while they were wallowing. In the afternoon, the juniors settled to browse at Kanziku area and since the temperatures were still high, Mutara stood under a tree and took a nap as she waited for the temperatures to go down.
In the evening, Garzi couldn't locate Sities and so rumbled loudly. Sities responded quickly by rushing to check what was the problem. Sities arrived at where Garzi was feeding and calmed him down by touching his mouth. Sities apologized to him for not paying attention and browsed by his side until five in the evening, time for going back to the stockade.
21 September 2015
The partially independent group was at the stockade compound early in the morning. Orwa was happy to have the group around since it meant strength testing exercises were inevitable. Orwa started his games with Kibo but soon after he was defeated. He decided to go and relax, thinking of which technique to apply so as to overpower Kibo another time. Meanwhile, Kibo, after flooring Orwa, met with Suguta that he tried to fight. Suguta showed Orwa that he was only a boy and he was supposed to show respect; he pushed Orwa away. Kibo walked further away and met with Vuria where he tried to take the lucerne that Vuria was eating. Vuria wasn't happy about it and so carried his lucerne and ran away. Kibo didn't know what to do next but after turning, he met with Sities and decided to vent his anger on her. Sities tried to defend herself but she was overpowered. Kibo even went to the extent of attempting to mount Sities too.
Kasigau had a light pushing game with Kitirua and a short while later, the ex-orphans showed up. The first thing that came to Orwa's mind was to get one of the ex-orphans for further training. Orwa settled on Meibai who taught him some new pushing tactics. After finishing his lessons with Orwa, Meibai met with Suguta and had a brief strength testing exercise before moving on to drink water. Orwa met with Melia and opted to put into practice what he had learned from her earlier. Melia didn't give Orwa a chance to play with her for long though. She pushed Orwa away so as to attend to more important things, such as feeding.
At the time of leaving for browsing, the herd split into four groups. The orphans led by Mutara headed to Kone; the ex orphans led by Yatta headed west towards mud bath, while the partially independent group split into two. One group of ten was led by Olare whilst Chaimu led the orphans originally rescued from Tsavo West. These included Makireti, Kasigau, Kilabasi, Kilaguni and Ishanga. Only time will tell if this is another alliance in the making since Makireti leads a group of three while Chaimu leads another group of three. In the field Lemoyian, Bomani and Vuria teamed up together in browsing while Sities browsed with her Garzi as the rest of the herd scattered across the field. Prior to the arrival of the orphans at mud bath, baboons were ruling the area. As soon as Kithaka, Lemoyian and Barsilinga arrived at mud bath, they spotted the baboons and walked towards them with their ears raised. The baboons saw the orphans approaching and slowly started to leave to avoid a confrontation. Orwa, turkwel, Barsilinga and Lemoyian boycotted the wallowing exercise. Orwa stood under a nearby acacia tree waiting for his friends to finish whatever they were doing so as to go back to the browsing field. After mud bath, Shukuru and Sities participated in soil dusting and on their way to the browsing field, Sities found a suitable tree that she used to scratch her buttocks.
In the afternoon, the sun was still hot and Teleki decided to relax under a tree that had a good shade while Bomani and Barsilinga shared shade under a different tree. In the evening, Olare’s group in the company of four wild bulls reported at the stockade for water. Later the herd of the Tsavo West orphans, Makireti and Chaimu groups, showed up at the stockade and joined up with Olare’s.
22 September 2015
Fifteen wild elephants were at the stockade water trough in the morning. The orphans settled for lucerne soon after leaving the stockade. Shukuru and Kithaka started the day's activities by scratching on nearby rocks. An hour later, the orphans left for browsing. The juniors settled to browse at Kone area where they were joined by Lualeni and Ololoo. Lualeni's group had reduced from four to two. With the presence of Lualeni, the keepers were on high alert since Lualeni is known for her habit of taking the babies off to unknown locations. Ololoo interacted with the fellow boys, Kanjoro, Orwa and Vuria in playing pushing games. Shortly before mud bath time, Yatta and Mulika’s groups joined the young dependent orphans and the Keepers found themselves swamped in elephants. Lenana and Chyulu went for Lemoyian and escorted him to the mud bath, and he is enjoying still being their special cosseted little boy.
After taking their milk, Lemoyian, Barsilinga and Kithaka walked to join seven wild bulls that were taking water at the mud bath. On arrival at the water trough, the three juniors didn't get any space to squeeze through, and so gave up and walked away. It was encouraging to see their confidence grow. Vuria didn't participate in wallowing and stood under a tree. When he saw some warthogs approaching he immediately charged and ran towards them. The warthogs didn't wait for him to reach them but turned tail and took off and disappeared into the bushes rapidly. Bomani and Orwa didn't participate in wallowing and so decided to cool themselves by standing under a tree that had a good shade and rested their peacefully together.
On the way back to the browsing field, Barsilinga tried to block Laragai. Laragai didn't take this lightly as she wondered how could such a boy, who only arrived the other day, behave in such a manner. Laragai took this as an act of being degraded because of her small size and she was quick to tackle Barsilinga. Barsilinga had no option other than to escape to avoid further humiliation from Laragai who despite being a small elephant does not take nonsense from any one. The juniors had a quiet afternoon and concentrated on browsing until evening, time for returning back to the stockade.
23 September 2015
Twenty wild bulls were drinking water at the stockade water trough in the morning. Soon after leaving the stockade, the juniors settled for their lucerne. One of the wild bulls that appeared to be familiar with what goes on in the morning, slowly approached the juniors in a slow measured walk. Vuria, Teleki and Garzi that were feeding on the lucerne at the edge of the stockade compound, started retreating towards the keepers when they saw the wild bull approaching. The keepers shouted at the wild bull but the bull couldn't leave empty handed as it picked a bunch of lucerne before rejoining the other bulls.
In the browsing field, Sities came across a tree that had been knocked down, probably by a wild bull. She then stopped and started breaking its branches as she enjoyed peeling the bark off. She then rumbled to Garzi her friend. Garzi came immediately and both settled down to feed on the fallen tree. Orwa browsed close to Vuria while Kithaka teamed up with Suguta for browsing. At mud bath time Kithaka, who always tries to do things differently from the others, was the first one to attend the mud bathing exercise. After mud bathing, Kithaka went to stand on the heap of red soil close to the mud bath. As Kithaka was thinking about his next move, two warthogs emerged from the nearby bushes. This gave Kithaka something to do as he charged them trumpeting. The warthogs kept on dodging him and were clearly not frightened by his demonstrations so finally Kithaka gave up. He seems not to have successfully developed the charging tactics Vuria has mastered as he manages to frighten the warthogs away successfully,
Mutara was scratching on Suguta as the two were having a mud bath together. A short while later, eighteen wild elephants reported for mud bath. Noticeable were Half Trunk and one tusker. The orphans watched the magnificent wild bulls for awhile and then moved on their their way to browse, the orphans participated in soil dusting and later Shukuru and Teleki used a nearby tree to scratch their itching bellies. In the afternoon, the orphans settled to browse at upper Kalovoto River and in the evening the herd passed by the mud bath for a second cool off since the temperatures were still high.
24 September 2015
Twenty wild bulls were at the stockade compound again this morning. Also present were the partially independent orphans group. Since it was hard to get water at the troughs due to the wild bulls occupying them, the partially independent group waited until the stockade gates were opened. The group knew very well that in the stockade, there were water troughs that contained water too. As soon as the juniors were let out, Olare led her group to drink water in the stockade. Orwa met with Olare and entwined trunks in greeting. Kalama met with Kithaka and disagreed over what only the two of them can tell, but Kalama knocked Kithaka to the ground. When Kithaka stood up, he just ran away from Kalama. A little later the compound was swamped with elephants when the ex-orphans reported to the stockades and at this point the dependent orphans decided it was time to vacate the scene leaving it to the big elephants.
In the bush the orphans had a quiet morning and only concentrated on browsing. At mud bath time, twelve wild bulls joined the juniors in drinking water and only one joined the juniors in mud bathing. Soon after bathing, the juniors headed for soil dusting where Orwa and Bomani had a pushing game as Bomani lay on the ground. Awhile later four warthogs emerged from the bushes, but as soon as they spotted Vuria who was standing close to mud bath, they turned back and ran away since they knew what Vuria would do to them. In the afternoon, the juniors settled to browse at Kanziku area. It was a quiet afternoon and evening as the orphans concentrated on browsing.
25 September 2015
It was a very wonderful morning when we woke up and found the stockade area full of wild elephants, amazingly without any ex-orphans among them. We later noticed that a wounded wild elephant was among the group. The vet was in the area and in few minutes, he darted him and treated him and later let him go free after the treatment. His friends were so excited to see him as they had wondered where he had been and what had happened. Later the whole group left the stockade and went to check on their friend who had been treated. The orphans also left after eating their lucerne, and headed to the bush for browsing. Today all the elephants were busy struggling in the heat. Sities, Bongo, Teleki and Mutara were browsing on one tree and later the whole group left for the mudbath unable to handle the soaring temperatures and needing a cool off. This month is hard going for the Keepers too with the incredibly hot temperatures.
In the mudbath, most of them played vigorously and later Vuria started scooping and tossing some soil chunks into the air with some thrown on his body. Kanjoro and Orwa started play fighting while Teleki, while Garzi and Turkwel sheltered under a tree before they all returned to the stockade. In the stockades we had a group of ex-orphans together with wild elephant friends come to the stockades and today Wendi was with the group. They drunk water and left at the same time the orphans were coming back to the stockade for their evening milk.
26 September 2015
It was a quiet morning today after Mutara, the matriarch of the orphans, opened their gate at 5am and let her friends out. They stayed in the lucerne area as they waited for their milk. We gave them lucerne to keep them busy in the meantime. Bongo and Kanjoro tried to escape and walk away from the others but they remained in ear shot of the group.
After their morning milk breakfast, they all joined together in the lucerne area for feasting. Mutara’s group had the intention of leaving earlier than the other dependent orphans because they had seemingly had their fill. They later all left to the bush for browsing. Orwa started play fighting with Vuria while Bongo tried to scoop and throw some soil in the air. Later Kanjoro and Bongo started play fighting too. It was very interesting to watch Bongo playing as he opens both his ears with strong muscles together. The whole group later left to the mudbath for their milk.
During the mudbath, some of the young orphans played vigorously while Orwa and Garzi concentrated on some games together. Vuria later enjoyed a lengthy dust bath, rolling in the dust several times and later the group left for further afield to find food. Four wild bulls arrived just after they left, they drank water and left. Back in the bush, Shukuru was playing with the dust as she threw some on her back, and Sities was trying to play with Narok. Later they all walked back home with Kithaka leading them. In the stockade only 6 wild bulls came to drink water; they stayed until dark and then they started leaving one by one back slipping silently back into the undergrowth.
27 September 2015
Very early in the morning, we woke up and found a large group of ex-orphans and wild elephants mixed together in the stockade area. Mulika with her baby Mwende, and Yatta with her baby Yetu were among them. It is good to see the little calves have weathered the dry season well, as have their mothers. The dependent orphans joined the group. We also had the younger ex-orphans among them: Melia, Tumaren, Kalama, Kandecha, Kibo, Chemi chemi, Ishanga, Olare, Kilaguni and Chaimi. Tumaren started playing with Orwa and Olare was very active and jovial delighted to have her company and then began to coax Murka into the games by trying to sit on her back and roll down to the ground. Orwa later started play fighting with Kandecha, who is bigger and stronger but patiently obliged without being overly rough on Orwa, and later that group followed the older ex orphans orphans into the bush for browsing with with their Keepers faithfully watching and looking on surveying the scene.
During mudbath, a group of orphans were playing together; Shukuru, Laragai, Narok, Sities, Vuria, Garzi, Kithaka, Bongo and Bomani. Vuria, Narok and Sities were later enjoying a dust bath after their mudbath, tossing chunks of soil in the air. After the orphans had returned back into the bush, two strong and spectacular wild bulls came in, drank water and left. Back at the stockades, a big group of ex-orphans and wild elephants arrived late in the evening; they rested, had their fill of water, communicated amongst each other and then quietly left.
28 September 2015
It was a bright morning when we woke up and found a big group of around 25 wild bulls around the water trough. We immediately released the flow of water down to the two water troughs while the babies were having their morning milk. The filled troughs had been emptied of water overnight. The orphans went down to the lucerne area, and they ate without being disturbed by the wild bulls. Garzi started scratching on the rough stone. The wild bulls were startled by the activity of some warthogs behind them. They decided it was time to move on.
In the bush, Barsilinga and Kithaka were browsing together while Orwa and Teleki were rubbing-shoulders and pushing each other. Vuria started scratching on Lemoyian's ear and took off some ticks. He also waved to Barsilinga with his trunk. The group later walked to the mudbath. Here they played peacefully with Bongo leading them. They played vigorously and later went to the dust bath. Kithaka was rolling around in the soil while Barsilinga was playing by digging in the soil pile. He later led the group back to the bush for browsing. Turkwel was kissing Orwa and having a good conversation with him and later Barsilinga led the group back to the stockades for the evening.
29 September 2015
This morning, we had about 30 elephants in the stockade area, 8 of them were wild and the rest comprised of ex-orphans. The dependent orphans came out of their respective staples in morning after their milk feed and joined some of the ex-orphans for lucerne. Mwende, Mulika’s baby, started playing with Laragai and creating a friendship because they are of the same age and same size. Laragai’s group later left for the bush while the ex orphans moved off in a different direction.
During mud bath time, the orphans lined up at the water trough to drink water, and later they all went down to the mud hole and started playing. Bongo was the most playful with Kanjoro and Kithaka. Mutara, like a naughty sibling, was trying to push Kithaka back into the mud bath after he had tried to come out. Later they all moved to te dust bath where Bomani, Kithaka, Bongo and Kanjoro were actively scooping and tossing some soil chunks in the air. When they left for browsing it was very hot and all the elephants were flapping their ears continuously. Kanjoro led the group back home. Very late in the evening, we had a group of wild elephants who came to drink water and then left. There are some signs of rainfall in the area, and the parched landscape is poised ready to receive it.
30 September 2015
It was a very cool and quiet morning today when we woke up and found a big group of wild elephants with our ex-orphans outside the stockade waiting for water. We immediately opened the valve and water started flowing down to the two troughs simultaneously. Among the group we had the immediate ex-orphans Kibo, Kandecha, Olare, Chemi chemi, Kilaguni, Chaimu, Makireti, Kasigau, Kilabasi, Ishanga, Kitirua and Naisula with Wendi's group. They drank water and left.
The orphans on the other side politely ate their lucerne and near to them were Olare’s group, who joined them later for water. We left with the orphans to the bush for browsing but we were followed by a group of ex-orphans with Lualeni and Ololoo among them. Ololoo was browsing next to Bongo and was enjoying a ‘rubbing shoulders’ game. Kanjoro later join them and the whole group started walking towards the mudbath.
By midday and mud bath time it had become very hot and the babies all ran into the mudhole and started thrashing around enjoying themselves. No one came out without mud covering their entire body. Later they all ran towards the trough to drink water, and then ambled away to concentrate on feeding. Later we had big 5 big bulls come to the mudbath to drink water, after which they left. Back in the stockade, we also had a big group of ex-orphans and wild elephants come late in the evening, with Wendi among them.