The Northern Area of Tsavo East is a vast ecosystem (3,000 square miles) with dense vegetation, excellent for sustaining elephants in the dry months, but it is the lack of water that becomes challenging in the dry season, with vast swathes waterless at this time of year. The Tiva River carves through the centre of the Northern Area of Tsavo East, but this is a seasonal sand river flowing for around eight months a year, and in the very dry months there are only pools fed by springs that remain, and in other sections along the river the elephants dig in the sand for water which then provides precious life for numerous other species.
Further north of the Tiva River, around Ithumba mountain home to our Ithumba orphans, the natural waterholes and dams dry up altogether, and the water we provide for the orphans during the peak of the dry season is from two boreholes, and the Tiva river spring fed pools, bowsered in a special water tanker truck every day for a couple of months of the year. Due to the demand from the orphans and their wild friends the borehole yields are not enough to sustain requirements. The times the water bowser arrives is noted by our orphans and the ex-orphans, who time their arrival to the noon midday mud bathing area to coincide with the arrival of the fresh water. They know the sound of the all too familiar Mercedes truck, as do the wild elephants, and then they converge. Here at this time they share water with the young dependent orphans, and in the ex-orphans case, catch up with their human family, their Keepers. The wild elephants have learnt the routine and very often join the fold, and in the peak of the dry season around the Ithumba area the wild herds can number over 300 elephants dependent on our water supply. Between the orphans and their wild friends their water requirements exceed a minimum of 60,000 litres each day.