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The Safari Talk Six go on an Elephant Adventure.


penolva

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penolva

I posted an invitation to ST members almost two years ago inviting others to join us on a return visit to the DSWT reintegration sites for orphaned elephants rescued by the trust. After much discussion and planning  @Pamshelton3932, @optig and @blindbumpy and his partner joined us with four nights at Ithumba Hills Camp for four of us and four nights at Umani Springs for the six. We were driven by George and Julius who entered into the fun and we all got to meet and spend time with the amazing orphans and their dedicated keepers. 

 

At the Ithumba waterhole.

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Wild dogs as we returned for breafast at Ithumba. A group of 7 adults and 8 pups.

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Baby elephant Lili only 21 days old born to ex orphan Loijuk. Proof of the success of the DSWT project to return the orphans they rescue to the wild. We had watched them during our stay but they seemed to come to say goodbye just as we were leaving Ithumba. 

 

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Collecting Acacia Tree pods to feed to the orphans at Umani Springs. 

 

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Our group at Umani Springs waterhole with our drivers, some of the keepers and a very happy elephant.

 

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I posted an invitation to ST members almost two years ago inviting others to join us on a return visit to the DSWT reintegration sites for orphaned elephants rescued by the trust. After much discussio

Onto the most important reason for our trip, the elephants.   Morning at Ithumba. A very early wake up call as the elephants rise at 6am for the morning in the bush with their keepers. They

As @Pamshelton3932 explains the trip reloved around the elephants and anything else is a bonus. Our days at Ithumba Hills followed the same pattern. Up for coffee and leave for the stockades and the o

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@penolva As you know all too well despite my illness I simply loved my time on safari.  I am looking forward to seeing you when you return to Nairobi. As you know all to well Triza and I will be more than happy to assist you in very way,shape and form. I regret missing the wild dogs,however, I have seen them in so many other places and will see them again in so many others. I so enjoyed the elephant interaction, as well as you @Pamshelton3932 ,John, @speedbumby and of course his partner. I will always cherish my memories of our time together. 

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penolva

@optigwe know you were not well but were delighted you could spend time with your beloved elephants 🐘🐘

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@penolva as you know these magnificent animals, especially the babies reduce me to tears. How could anyone want to cull them in the 

name of "conservation" ? 

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Pamshelton3932

I certainly had a wonderful time watching the elephants, whether they were orphans, ex-orphans, or wild.  It was also very special to be able to speak at length with the keepers and see their love for their charges.  The experiences at Ithumba Hill and Umani Springs were entirely different and I was glad I was able to go to both of them. 

 

All of us added at least another stop to our itineraries since these camps aren't noted for a lot of wildlife.  We met in Nairobi for grocery shopping and drove down the next morning.  All parts of the trip went smoothly.  I think @penolva captured the highlights perfectly for our little group.  Wild dogs were a bonus each morning at the stockade and the last morning when we thought they'd left the area, we were surprised by an excellent sighting on the way back to camp.  That, and the sight of Lily, the brand new baby elephant born to an ex-orphan, along with the "usual" elephant experiences, really left a lasting impression with me. 

 

 

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penolva

As @Pamshelton3932 explains the trip reloved around the elephants and anything else is a bonus. Our days at Ithumba Hills followed the same pattern. Up for coffee and leave for the stockades and the orphans at 5.45, back for breakfast. 11.00 go to the waterhole to watch the orphans interact with the wild bulls. Back for lunch. 17.00 return to the stockades to watch the orphans return and interact with the wild elephants and any ex orphans that came by. Benjamin the head keeper told us that some ex orphans return after three or four years in the wild. Wild elephants come for help when they have been attacked by poachers and the DSWT veterinary team treat them. Benjamin explained the elephants communicate with each other and the orphans and ex orphans tell the wild elephants it is safe to approach the humans. It is almost beyond belief . During our down time we swam in the lovely pool, downloaded photographs and generally chilled in the beautiful lodge. 

 

Pam and I shopping in Nairobi for our 8 night trip.

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Some photographs of Ithumba Hills lodge for anyone thinking of going there.

 

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Rick - Gamewatchers

Thank you for sharing. Always love seeing wild dogs!! And who doesn't love elephants! Look forward to hearing more.

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what a great looking trip, this is on our list for sure.  I am so excited to see that you saw wild dogs, I didn't know there were healthy populations in tsavo!

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penolva

Onto the most important reason for our trip, the elephants.

 

Morning at Ithumba. A very early wake up call as the elephants rise at 6am for the morning in the bush with their keepers. They are given Lucern as a food supplement and the ex orphans and wild elephants take the opportunity to enjoy a free breakfast. We are allowed to interact with the elephants after Benjamin checks which elephant is 'friendly' and who is 'naughty'! The morning light is very beautiful. We see Lili with her mother and aunty and are very excited to see wild dogs in the distance. The elephants were keen to chase them away. 1X1A1556.jpg.776b5a145b024bbbd28df9e943c19170.jpgIMG_0665.jpg.074c91409c37f2d0d1439a4a894b404a.jpgIMG_0664.jpg.739811b366d2fcbeddba98c85cd0cea6.jpgIMG_5454.jpg.0858e4849fa9f0715a5da323aef6de88.jpg1X1A1603.jpg.115d4d163789ec40203c65ac2c969340.jpg

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Pamshelton3932

Just as I remember!  I was so enjoying being in close proximity to the elephants.  Then someone called out "wild dogs" and I was shocked since I never expected wild dogs in Tsavo.  There is the raised area at the stockade to ensure safety, but you will see later that there is nothing between you and the orphans and wild elephants at the mud bath area.  That was my absolute favorite time of the day. 

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penolva
1 hour ago, Pamshelton3932 said:

Just as I remember!  I was so enjoying being in close proximity to the elephants.  Then someone called out "wild dogs" and I was shocked since I never expected wild dogs in Tsavo.  There is the raised area at the stockade to ensure safety, but you will see later that there is nothing between you and the orphans and wild elephants at the mud bath area.  That was my absolute favorite time of the day. 

Hope to see some of your photographs included in this TR @Pamshelton3932 :)

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mtanenbaum

I can't wait until the 2021 trip! I am so excited to witness these remarkable places and meet the people who care for these amazing animals.

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penolva
3 hours ago, mtanenbaum said:

I can't wait until the 2021 trip! I am so excited to witness these remarkable places and meet the people who care for these amazing animals.

We are going to have the best time 😁 I am looking forward to Galdessa as that’s a new one for us and longing to see our orphans at Ithumba and Umami again. 

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penolva

Mid day at the Ithumba waterhole. As @Pamshelton3932 mentioned this is an incredible experience. Everything that happens is natural. We are not in a zoo or in a fenced area. Tsavo is a success story where elephants are thriving after years of poaching. The orphans and ex orphans are learning how to be wild elephants from scratch. Their mothers and often their whole herd have been killed in areas far from Tsavo so they have no matriarch to teach them. Many are drought victims and with the poor rainfall for the past two years in Kenya everyone is worried for the future. As each orphan graduates from the Nairobi nursery they enter a new world. They are always sent with friends they have made in the nursery to help them settle. Many are from Samburu, Meru, Amboselli, Masai Mara etc. They would never had met each other in the natural world. 

 

When you adopt an orphan you can follow their story from the moment they are rescued, when they transfer to the reintingration sites and in recent years to the point where the females give birth to wild born babies. Lili is the 31st wild born baby to an ex orphan. The commitment lasts for years. The money we pay to stay at Ithumba Hill etc is used to benefit the elephants and the local community. 

 

The orphans run in from the bush for their mid day milk which is brought to the waterhole area by the keepers. Some hold their bottles themselves, some want help from the keepers and one will only drink from a bucket. Jotto one of the orphans recently transferred from the Nairobi orphanage really wanted to make friends with us all. He walked over of his own accord and just stood beside us. Such a lovely gentle soul. Of course he was adopted as soon as we returned home!

 

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mtanenbaum

The pictures and stories get better and better!

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Atravelynn

Loved seeing all of you with the eles.  The colors at Ithumba just jump out they are so vivid, and when they are combined with the many elephants, the photos are truly works of art. 

 

I'm sure there was a lot of thought that went into the shopping list for your 8 days of supplies!

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What secrets are you whispering to Jotto? What a lovely series of images.  Poor boyo, without a mum, but lots of surrogates around!

 

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penolva
12 hours ago, Atravelynn said:

Loved seeing all of you with the eles.  The colors at Ithumba just jump out they are so vivid, and when they are combined with the many elephants, the photos are truly works of art. 

 

I'm sure there was a lot of thought that went into the shopping list for your 8 days of supplies!

Hi Lynn thank you for the compliments. Having been on a lot of self drive trips in Africa we had a pretty comprehensive list to work with. The extras included flour and yeast as I heard the DSWT chefs made excellent bread, they did! I also read each camp has an ice cream maker. We took plenty of milk, cream etc and had wonderful freshly made ice cream the best being banana ice cream made by Benton at Ithumba Hill. Pen

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penolva
5 hours ago, AmyT said:

What secrets are you whispering to Jotto? What a lovely series of images.  Poor boyo, without a mum, but lots of surrogates around!

 

Hi Amy. Ah me the elephant whisperer :) I was telling him how loved he is and that he is going to grow big and strong just like those big bulls right behind us at the waterhole. I hope I get to see that one day. He is such a darling and came to us each time we went to the waterhole. Pen

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penolva

After they had finished their milk the orphans go over to the big waterhole. Here the wild elephants gather waiting for it to be filled by DSWT. They stand back while the lorry unloads making no attempt to attack it or the driver. Benjamin told us the orphans communicate with the wild ones and all is usually calm. There is one wild elephant that always challenges Benjamin. I had brought a photograph of their encounter from 2017 for him and Benjamin was astonished to see it was the same bull that challenged him today. Benjamin always wins by whistling at the bull and telling him not to be naughty!

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Beside the waterhole there is a stone seat. Benjamin would tell us when we were allowd to sit on it. We are just a few feet from the mudbath and waterhole and just a few more from where the wild bulls are drinking. The orphans would walk past us and make a deliberate detour to try and touch us or have a look at our camera equipment and bags. We were also made to move when one orphan wanted to use the seat to scratch. Another day a big bull want ownership of the seat and we didn't argue with that.

 

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penolva

As @Pamshelton3932 commented being in the presence of these giants was mind blowing. They were so close and very aware of us and nothing between them and us only Benjamin with his whistling and talking. Huge tuskers and as we sat there more and more appeared. One time we counted over 30. The orphans interact with them and begin to learn the etiquette of being a wild elephant. 

 

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The orphans enjoyed having a swim in the water on the first day. The other days they decided it was too cold!  They use their trunks as snorkles and after they go and have a good dust bath. 

 

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That night it was very clear so we took some night sky photographs. Not the best but it does show the view from our tent.

 

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Atravelynn

Ice cream and elephants.  Can't go wrong with that combo!

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Pamshelton3932

I was glad Benjamin had us move from the concrete bench before the bull arrived to scratch himself.  Benjamin was so in tune with each of the elephants, whether they were wild or orphans.  It was almost uncanny. 

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penolva
1 hour ago, Pamshelton3932 said:

I was glad Benjamin had us move from the concrete bench before the bull arrived to scratch himself.  Benjamin was so in tune with each of the elephants, whether they were wild or orphans.  It was almost uncanny. 

I think he is the true elephant whisperer. A great man. It was an absolute pleasure to spend time with him. 

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penolva

The evening visit to the orphans is rather different. In the evening they come running into the stockades for their milk. They are then kept safe for the night. The graduate from one stockade to the next with the final one having the gate left open at times so they can choose to stay within the safety of camp or go out into the wild for a night or two. The orphans make the decision to return to the wild. No one pushes them to go it is just when they are ready they leave, often with a friend. 

 

Outside the stockades are wild elephants and ex orphans. We sit on a bench and watch them. Coming over to us and laying their trunks on the top of the wall is very popular. We see a group of elephants approaching and Lili is amongst them. 21 days old that day she is so small beside the big bulls. She seems so confident and mingles with the wild elephants before walking up to our wall with her mother. One of those bulls could well be her father.

 

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If an elephant offers you its trunk in greeting you should blow down the trunk and the elephant will blow back at you. When that happens you feel you have been truly welcomed into their world.

 

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