Keepers' Diaries, April 2006

Nairobi Nursery Unit

Kora’s jaw wound is now causing us great concern, because the damaged bone now seems to have developed osteomyilitis, which is a serious bone infection which is difficult to heal. Having consulted South African Veterinarian experts in this field, and our own Vets, Drs. Rottcher and Sanjay, it would appear that a major operation is needed to insert a device into the bone slow releasing antibiotic into the marrow, which would involve being under anesthesia for some 2 hours – a long time for a baby elephant. However, Kora is very healthy and strong in every other respect, and it would appear that we have no other option, if the homeopathic remedies which he is currently taking do not work. This will involve bringing the South African expert up with all the necessary medication to do the actual insertion, but we would like the expertise of Dr. Rottcher as the anaesthetist.

01 April 2006

All the Nursery females, except Sidai, assembled at little Kamboyo’s stable door. Makena and Loijuk greeted the newcomer, who felt quite comfortable. The Keepers opened up his door, and without hesitation, he followed the females, ignoring the Nursery bulls.

02 April 2006

After each milk feed, Kamboyo clung to the Keepers, wanting to suck their hands. Meanwhile Zurura and Kora had a play pushing match, a sign that little Zurura is growing up and wanting to practice these skills.

03 April 2006

Today, Kamboyo did not want to be with the other orphans, but remained close to the Keepers all day while the others fed apart.

04 April 2006

Heavy rain fell during the night, so every orphan left the stable covered with their raincoat – all, except Orok, who still refuses to have anything over his back, not even the blanket. Lualeni and Makena, who love water the most, kept touching all the puddles with their trunks, and wanted to roll in them, but the Keepers did not want them to get cold, fearing pneumonia.

05 April 2006

Kora’s jaw is still exuding small quantities of pus. During the afternoon he lay down, and his friend, Challa came to lie on top of him, causing him to scream with pain, when more pus appeared. The Keepers are cleaning the wound every day with silver and Calendula, and he is having homeopathic remedies as well, but the wound is very persistent.

06 April 2006

During the 2 p.m. milk feed, one of the Keepers crept up to Orok and tried to place the blanket over his back, but he immediately ran away, scraping the blanket off by going through the bushes. He is still very fearful of a blanket, following the rough capture at the hands of KWS Rangers in Amboseli.

07 April 2006

Zurura and Makena entertained the mudbath visitors when Zurura tried to mount onto Makena who was in the mud. She got up and shoved Zurura, whose hind legs slipped in the mud so that he fell down. All the visitors laughed a lot.

08 April 2006

It rained again heavily during the night, so during the morning all the orphans had fun rolling in the puddles and mud. After several hours, it started drizzling again, and because the small babies were shivering with cold, they were returned to the stables.

09 April 2006

It was a cold and drizzling day, and again the little ones, Zurura, Makena, Loijuk and Kamboyo began shivering, so they were returned to their warm stables.

10 April 2006

All the elephants were very playful today. Lualeni played with Loijuk while Sidai kept pushing Zurura, until Kora intervened, and slapped Sidai with his trunk. Kora loves Zurura, and does not like any of the others pushing him around.

11 April 2006

Zurura has a small swelling on his head. The Keepers squeezed it to see whether pus would come out, but there was no sign of sepsis, although it seemed quite painful. Zurura picked up some mud and dabbed it on his sore

12 April 2006

Just before the 9 a.m. milk feed, Zurura headed off back towards the house. Thinking that he was just taking a stroll, the Keepers left him to it, when suddenly there was an excited trumpet. He had met up with the Mixer bringing the bottles. He had heard the wheelbarrow and went to meet the milk!

13 April 2006

While the Keepers were taking their morning tea, all the elephants crowded around, except Challa, who was some way off. When Challa realised he was alone, he screamed and came running towards the Keepers, who comforted him.

14 April 2006

Today, the hole in Kora’s jaw, which weeps pus, seemed to have closed, but the jaw looked more swollen. Since it was the day when the orphans are anointed with Coconut oil, he played a great deal and the jaw did not seem to be worrying him.

15 April 2006

It was a hot day, and the orphans were very playful in the mudbath, entertaining all the visitors. As usual Zurura targeted Makena, placing his head on her body and pressing down, which prompted her to retaliate, starting a shoving battle.

16 April 2006

Sidai is still very pushy, especially when there is milk around. At the 9 a.m. feed, when the milk arrived in the wheelbarrow, she even pushed the Keeper, but Lualeni came between them, protecting the Keeper from Sidai.

17 April 2006

Zurura’s swelling has ripened and opened. The Keepers have been trying to clean it with Calendular, which he does not like, and resists.

18 April 2006

During the mudbath, all the orphans played joyfully, although Orok still shows signs of being nervous around humans. Sian wanted to play with him, but he pushed her away with his toothpick tusks. Kora was wallowing peacefully when Challa pressed against his fractured jaw, which caused him to scream with pain.

19 April 2006

Kora and Zurura enjoy playing a trick on all the others, pretending to play all the time enticing them towards the Stockade. Then when the Mixer arrives with the milk out in the bush, they rush to meet him, leaving all the others behind, who follow trumpeting and screaming because Kora and Zurura are there first.

20 April 2006

Today, the orphaned rhino Shida refused to follow the Keepers back to the Stockade in the evening, instead running off into the bush. The Keepers left him to it, and he returned later, showing signs of fatigue having run for a long way.

21 April 2006

There was another drama with Shida today, who came peacefully to the Stockade, but refused to go inside, wanting to fraternise with the evening foster-parent visitors. The Keeper had to push him in, which he did not like, turning and banging the door.

22 April 2006

Kora loves his milk. He secretly made his way through the bushes to meet the milk wheelbarrow. In the evening the wound on his jaw seemed worse today, several other openings appearing, and more pus than before.

23 April 2006

Each early morning, Kora likes to go to Shida’s stockade to finish off the remains of the Copra. Zurura loves chasing the warthogs and also playing football.

24 April 2006

Lualeni allows Makena to suck her ears, and as they are next door to one another in adjoining stables during the night, Lualeni frequently passes her trunk through the separating bars to touch Makena. She and Makena are very close.

25 April 2006

Now that Makena is 9 months old, she will take her milk without having to have the blanket hung up for her trunk to rest against, although in her stable she likes to have the hung blanket to fondle during the night. There has been a plague of black caterpillars since the rain, which keep the Keepers busy, pulling them off their dust-coats. The caterpillars also drop onto the orphans, so they are kept busy as well, flapping their ears to dislodge them. The caterpillars are everywhere, on the ground, and in the trees so it is impossible to walk anywhere without stepping on them.

26 April 2006

Makena and Zurura are very competitive, especially at feeding times. Zurura is a comedian, showing off to the visitors during the mudbath every day. He picks up the greens provided for the elephants, and places some on top of his head moving to the line of visitors to greet them. He then reverses against one of the Keepers, forcing him backwards, and making all the visitors laugh!

27 April 2006

The caterpillars are a continuing problem. They are eating all the leaves off the Croton trees and bushes, and causing the Keepers and elephants a problem as well.

28 April 2006

This morning the orphans were in a very jovial mood, running here and there, swinging their trunks from side to side, and trumpeting as they knocked down small shrubs along their route.

29 April 2006

Kamboyo is a very loving little elephant, always wanting to suck the Keepers’ hands. Zurura was walking along the line of visitors at the mudbath, as usual, also trying to get their hand, so Kamboyo came and jealously pushed him away. Zurura took the hint, and then targeted Makena, as usual.