Published on the 15th of July, 2016
On Sunday the 10th of July it was time again to move three more naughty Nursery boys, namely Sokotei, Boromoko and Sirimon, to the Ithumba Relocation Unit where they immediately met up with their Nursery friends who had preceded them - Siangiki, Olsekki and Enkikwe who made the journey the month before and who were completely settled and thriving in their new home.
This move was one of the smoothest we have ever undertaken, the loading procedure taking just a few minutes before the convoy was heading off on its way at 3.40am which saw them arriving safely at Ithumba by 10.30 am. With the departure of the other boisterous boys from the Nursery who had accompanied Siangiki, these previously mild little bulls had morphed into the “naughty boy” category without the dominance of the others. The Nairobi Keepers had been struggling to keep Sokotei under control who had been prone to “throwing his weight around” during meal times, pushing out other weaker elephants when he should not. Some of his bad behavior has been rubbing off on Boromoko and Sirimon as well, so it was clearly now time for them to be moved to join their dear friends and older elephants, and to also free up Nursery space given the spate of new Nursery arrivals during the month of July. They will now embark on the progression to living a normal wild elephant life once again, but that said will remain our responsibility for a long time yet, as long as ten years. However with the company and example of older orphans, as well as that of the Ex Orphans and their wild friends, they will learn very valuable lessons at Ithumba, which is an elephant paradise, with abundant nutritious browse despite aridity, since Nature compensates in areas of low rainfall which are not subjected to leaching of minerals through heavy rainfall.
Upon arrival at Ithumba the doors of the custom built Elephant Moving Truck were lowered and the three elephants disembarked. Somewhat bewildered at first by their new surroundings, but soon focused on the beloved milk bottles and their familiar Nursery Keepers clad in the usual Nursery green coats. Once they had been fed and watered, old friends such as Siangiki, Olsekki and Enkikwe arrived for their share of milk greeting the newcomers warmly. After that, the dependent orphans came through in threes until all had taken their milk. They circled around the newcomers still covered with Nursery red dust which made them extremely distinguishable.
It was a cool day, so none of the orphans opted for a mudbath, instead gradually peeling off to browse, taking the newcomers with them. Boromoko was incredibly chilled throughout much less perturbed than Sirimon and Sokotei, who at times appeared a little unnerved! However, by evening they led the group back to their Night Stockades as though they had been there forever, where all mingled together comfortably feeding on the cut browse as well as being introduced to delicious acacia pods that fall off the Acacia tortilis trees at this time of the year, providing a dry season nutritious treat for all the animals of Tsavo. At first Boromoko seemed disinterested in the pods, but Sokotei and Sirimon devoured them eagerly savoring every delicious mouthful.
Throughout the day, a steady stream of Ex Orphans arrived at the Stockades to greet the new babies, beginning with Mutara’s recently independent herd comprised of herself, Suguta, Kanjoro, Turkwel, Kainuk and Sites together with Makireti, Kilabasi and Kasigau. Then, later in the afternoon, Wiva made an appearance with her Mum, Wendi along with their entourage consisting of Yatta, her calf, Yetu, Kinna, Nasalot, Ithumbah, Lenana, Sidai, Chyulu, Lualeni, Rapsu, Tomboi, and Ololoo. By this stage the new little boys eyes were “on storks” as they encountered these towering giants, and absorbed the fact that they were now the novel babies in the mix rather than the big Nursery boys!
Telepathic news travels fast in the Elephant World, and by wee hours of the next morning all the Ithumba Ex Orphans were lining up ready to meet and embrace the newcomers, with the exception of Ex Orphan big bulls, namely Kora, Napasha, Madiba, Kamboyo and Buchuma only. The compound was literally heaving with Elephants and it was to this warm reception from their new adoring expectant family members, that the new babies faced their first full day at Ithumba. Sidai became totally protective over them, ushering and guiding them whilst showering them with loving rumbles of reassurance, but all had their turn in greeting and meeting the new arrivals.