Keepers' Diaries, April 2007

Nairobi Nursery Unit

This month, the tiny babies have been interacted more with the older elephants, and it has been very interesting to see all the older females vying with each other to “adopt” a baby for themselves. Chyulu, even though still a baby herself, is extremely motherly, especially towards little Shimba, whilst Sian, Loijuk and Makena all want tiny Lempaute and Lesanju. However, Lesanju doesn’t want to be “possessed” by anyone other than the Keepers, and sticks close to them when the older elephants are trying to win her affection. Even Lenana has joined the competition, showing great interest in Shimba, who actually loves all the attention, and happily sucks on whoever’s ear he can latch on to.

01 April 2007

Little Lempaute was very excited to see young children along the rope during the mudbath hour. She ran in amongst them, causing confusion, which made her feel very important and very good! Lempaute ran after them when they dispersed, before strolling back importantly. Lempaute loves an audience, and is always very animated when there are onlookers.

02 April 2007

Shimba pushed Lempaute today, and immediately Lesanju, who views herself as the “Matriarch” of the junior infants, came and gave Shimba a shove to punish him for bullying little Lempaute. This impressed the Keepers very much, illustrating that Lesanju is already a Mini Minor Matriarch.

03 April 2007

This morning, Shimba emerged from his stable, and chased the young warthogs. He was soon joined by Lempaute, and it was very funny to see the two tiny elephants charging the warthogs in such a determined fashion. After about l0 minutes, the warthogs reappeared, and this time it was the turn of Lesanju to give them a chase. They took the hint and disappeared into the bush.

04 April 2007

Makena enjoys the role of practicing her Matriarchal duties. She often leads the older group out in the mornings, taking a different route, followed by Sian, who is the Nursery Matriarch. Perhaps Sian is teaching Makena.

05 April 2007

Kamboyo and Zurura had a pushing match early in the morning, which was broken up by Sian, who separated the two boys. Kamboyo was annoyed, and wanted to start another fight with Sian, but Loijuk came to her rescue, and together the two girls punished Kamboyo for such rude behaviour!

06 April 2007

Today Zurura wanted to bully Chyulu, so Makena became very protective of Chyulu, who takes her milk much more slowly than Zurura. When Zurura has finished his ration, he would like to take Chyulu’s, but Makena keeps a close eye on him and will not allow it.

07 April 2007

Lenana and Makena have been having some differences of late, Lenana not wanting to feed close to Makena, pushing her away. However, Sian intervenes to prevent any fight, pushing Lenana away from Makena.

08 April 2007

Early this morning, Shimba tried to mount onto Lempaute. Lesanju was some distance away, but she came rushing to help Lempaute, and when she arrived she pushed Shimba away forcefully.

09 April 2007

Kenze is now strong, and puts up with no nonsense from Kamboyo, who used to enjoy overpowering him in pushing matches. Now the tables are turned, and Kamboyo has to watch his step with Kenze.

10 April 2007

The small babies joined the older babies today, and it was interesting to see how Chyulu paid great attention to little Lempaute. Chyulu was the first to run up to Lempaute and caress her with the trunk, trying to prevent Lempaute from moving to any of the others. Loijuk, Sian and Makena were vying for Shimba and Lesanju, but Lesanju ran to the Keepers rather than be monopolized by the bigger girls.

11 April 2007

Today Shida came back to his Stockade during the day, and watched Max from outside. Max became very excited, running up and down inside his Stockade. Having given Max “the once over” Shida went into his Stockade for his handout of cubes, but Max remained in a state of high excitement until Shida had left, after which he calmed down.

12 April 2007

Sian led the orphans out this morning, followed by Makena. When the orphans arrived at their destination in the forest, they found a troupe of baboons making a lot of noise up a tree. Kenze and Lenana teamed up to investigate the cause of the commotion, whilst Sian stood guard as all the others ran back to the Keepers. Only when all the elephants were back with the Keepers, did Sian follow. It was as though she was protecting them.

13 April 2007

Chyulu put on a good display at the mudbath today, running up and down the rope so that all the tourists could touch her. She then went under the rope and joined them, which caused quite a commotion, some people running away screaming. Immediately Loijuk came to retrieve Chyulu and escort her back to the mudbath.

14 April 2007

Kenze and Lenana are very close friends, both having arrived in an enfeebled condition, and suffered some bullying from Kamboyo when they were so weak. Today, they remained behind together to feed close to the Stockades, not bothering about following the others. The Keepers returned to retrieve them, and take them out to join the others.

15 April 2007

Today, Kenze noticed that the 9 a.m. milk feed was a bit late in coming, so he went alone back to the Stockades to see where it was, and having located the Mixer, walked back with him to the others to enjoy his bottle. Kenze, having been a starvation case, is now very greedy and time conscious about his milk feeding times.

16 April 2007

Today it was very hot and sunny, so little Max enjoyed a mudbath in his Stockade. Although he is blind, and cannot see, he knows exactly where his Keeper is all the time.

17 April 2007

Lempaute was very restless tonight, refusing to sleep, and walking up and down the partition between her stable and that of Lesanju. We thought that perhaps she did not like the Keeper she was with, but even a change did not solve the problem. In the end, we put her in with Lesanju, and then she settled down.

18 April 2007

It was fun to watch Loijuk playing with little Shimba when the two groups met up in the afternoon. Chyulu went to monopolize Lempaute, leaving Sian and Makena again vying for Lesanju, who yet again went to the Keepers instead. Shimba tried to suckle Loijuk, and Lempaute ran from Chyulu to Sian and Makena, who enjoyed her company immensely.

19 April 2007

Lempaute is quite happy now that she is with Lesanju during the night. Putting her in with Lesanju has solved her sleepless problem.

20 April 2007

We were short of Keepers today at the 9 a.m. milk feeding time. Kamboyo was very honourable, because after some persuasion, he merely went and stood beside his bottles of milk until a Keeper was available to hold them for him. The Keepers were very impressed because usually Kamboyo is very greedy, and pushy to be at his milk before all the others!

21 April 2007

This morning, the Keepers were leading the orphans out into the forest, when suddenly the elephants refused to follow. Sian came forward, pointing her trunk in the direction the Keepers were going, and then went in an opposite direction. Shortly afterwards, as we were all sitting down, we were shocked to see a lion coming from the bush. We were amazed that Sian had warned us of the danger.

22 April 2007

Kenze behaved badly towards his best friend, Lenana, today, pushing her down at the mudbath. Afterwards Kenze tried to make friends by touching Lenana with his trunk, but she was fearful and ran away.

23 April 2007

Lempaute put on a good display at the mudbath, running up and down with her trunk in the air, which made all the visitors laugh. They could also touch her, and then she lay down under the rope for them.

24 April 2007

Lesanju seemed a little unwell today, with a loose stool, so a sample was sent to the Laboratory for testing. Lempaute had a wonderful evening, playing with some small children who came with the foster-parent group to see the orphans.

25 April 2007

Max had a lovely day. He was very playful all the time. Shida came back into his Stockade at 3 p.m. and sprayed every corner with his urine, which scared Max, who began to run back and forth. However, apart from spraying urine, Shida did not appear aggressive. When the elephants returned in the evening, Zurura wanted to investigate Max through the separating bars of the two Stockades, but Max wasn’t keen on being touched by his trunk.

26 April 2007

It was a very happy mudbath today because the older orphans enjoyed chasing the warthogs around, which amused all the visitors. The orphans tried to capture the piglets who managed to escape through their feet, causing confusion! The visitors were highly entertained by all the fun and games.

27 April 2007

It was an amusing day, because when there was a private visit at 3 p.m. we brought both groups together for the visitors. Today, it was Lenana who paid Shimba a great deal of attention. All the bigger females did their utmost to “adopt” one of the babies, and when it was time to leave, and the two groups were to separate, since the older elephants travel further, Chyulu decided to remain with the tiny babies, and came running back to be with them. She remained with the babies for the next l0 minutes, but then had second thoughts, and rushed back into the bush to find the bigger elephants.

28 April 2007

As soon as Shimba was let out of his stable in the morning, instead of following the Keeper as usual, he ran to Lempaute door, which had not yet been opened. Lempaute immediately sensed that he was there, and barged the Keeper to prompt him to open up, which he did. Once the door was ajar, she rushed out, and she and Shimba entwined trunks in an elephant “kiss”.

29 April 2007

At daybreak, Sian and her group went out into the forest following the Keepers. Suddenly, all the elephants halted, and raised their trunks. Pointing with their trunks towards a thicket. The Keepers observed that there was very fresh buffalo droppings ahead, and following the warning of the elephants, changed direction.

30 April 2007

Today some young warthogs squeezed through the bars into Max’s Stockade. He sensed their presence, although he couldn’t see them, and charged, before running back to the Keeper. The warthogs rapidly retreated!