Keepers' Diaries, April 2008

Nairobi Nursery Unit

On the 3rd, the Nursery welcomed its l0th occupant, an l8 month old bull calf, whose mother had to be euthenazed in the Mara Conservancy area of the Masai Mara. An old spear wound in her foot, which had previously been treated twice by our Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit had become progressively worse, until her entire body was infected and riddled with scepticaemia, rendering her incapable of movement and facing a slow and agonizing death. Her l8 month old calf remained with her, trying desperately to suckle, but the milk bar had long dried up, and the calf, deprived of milk, was also becoming progressively thinner and weaker. (No elephant under 3 years of age can live without milk, a statistic proven scientifically by a d0 year monitoring study of the Amboseli population.). Having immobilized the mother for the third time on the 3rd April, the Vet decided that she had no possibility of recovery, and made the decision to humanely end her suffering, the calf having already been physically captured and removed from his doomed mother. The calf was flown to the Nursery that afternoon, arriving in the late evening. He was named Siria, the name of the nearby escarpment, and the location for the burial scene in the famous film “Out of Africa”. The Masai people know this escarpment by the name “Olololoo” meaning “the end of the world”.

01 April 2008

Shimba and Kenia became involved in their usual pushing match at the mudbath, which distracted Lesanju, who had to keep on having to separate them. Kenia has always targeted Shimba, seemingly bearing a grudge against little boys!

02 April 2008

It was a peaceful and uneventful day for the Nursery Orphans, who spent the day involved in the usual activities.

03 April 2008

Early in the morning, we were alerted about the possible rescue of an l8 month old calf in the Masai Mara, whose mother was suffering from severe septicemia resulting from a spear wound in her foot. It was feared that she would have to be euthenazed, leaving her young still milk dependent calf at the mercy of the hyaenas that hunt in packs in the Masai Mara. The cow had been treated by our Mara Veterinary Unit some months ago, but her condition had progressively worsened, until she was all but totally incapacitated. Following a further assessment by our Mara Veterinary Unit, the cow was euthenazed, and the calf rescued and flown to the Nairobi Nursery in the evening. It was a bull, and was named “Siria”, the name of the escarpment near where his mother died. He was thin, but still quite strong, and, understandably, very wild, but he calmed down a great deal during the night.

04 April 2008

During the mudbath there were five giraffes on the rocks near the forest. Makena was very curious about these strangers and kept on trying to persuade the other two Big Girls to come with her and investigate them. Lenana was having none of it, but kept her trunk up pointing towards the giraffes. Makena, backed up by Chyulu, kept running a short distance towards the giraffe, which eventually scared them off.

05 April 2008

Today, Siria began taking milk from a bottle instead of the bucket for the first time, but in the evening had a bloated stomach, so had to have an injection of Buscopan. Two Keepers were with him throughout the night, ensuring that he was warm and alright. It was a warm and sunny day for the mudbath and only dida, Kenia and Shimba did not go into the wallow. Instead Dida kept the visitors entertained by walking along the line of the rope with her football and enjoyed giving some children a gentle shove, criss-crossing the rope to do so. Shimba and Kenia were involved in the usual tussle, Shimba emerging victorious.

06 April 2008

Following the morning feed, the new baby, “Siria” was let out of the Stockade for the first time, immediately joining the 3 Big Girls, who instantly began mothering him, all concentrating on him. Lenana was especially caring of him, and once out in the bush, kept her trunk hooked over him to hold him close whenever he began wandering off.

07 April 2008

There was drama at the mudbath, when having taken his milk, Siria became scared by some rowdy visitors, and ran back into the bush. The Keepers ran after him, unsuccessfully trying to restrain him, but then the 3 Big Girls arrived in a high state of excitement, trumpeting and rumbling. They surrounded him and gently escorted him back to the mudbath, meanwhile the visitors having been told to please remain quiet in order not to scare him again.

08 April 2008

Shida arrived back to find a group of warthogs in his Stockade, enjoying the leftovers of the Copra cake. To begin with they faced Shida as a group, refusing to leave, but when he paid no notice of them, and moved towards them, they flew out!

09 April 2008

After the mudbath, Lesanju’s group joined the three Big Girls for a short time, which made the Big Girls very happy. When the youngsters were moved away, the Big Girls kept rushing around knocking down small shrubs to show their displeasure before going in search of the youngsters, the Keepers following. The two groups joined up again.

10 April 2008

As the elephants got into the mudbath, the visitors became very noisy, which scared Siria who ran through the rope and the crowd, sending all the visitors off screaming. Immediately Lenana trumpeted and went after him, soon joined by Makena and Chyulu, which sent the crowd scampering off screaming. The Keepers had a tough time trying to control both the elephants and the crowd!

11 April 2008

The 3 Big Girls enjoyed the mudbath today, because it was very hot. Chyulu and Makena emerged together, but Lenana had difficulty getting out. She bellowed for help, and the Keepers had to go in with their boots on to help her up.

12 April 2008

Today, it was drizzling with rain during the mudbath. The youngsters were covered in their rainwear, which had to be removed when they began going into the pool. They were very excited, and enjoyed running around slipping in the mud which entertained the visitors, who laughed at their antics.

13 April 2008

Sinya was the last to be let out this morning. Lesanju and Lempaute ran to her stable, pushing at the door, while Sinya was pushing from the inside and screaming to be allowed out. Once the Keepers managed to open her door, she rushed out, and the youngsters enjoyed happily playing around the Stockades in a very jovial mood.

14 April 2008

Dida was the star of the mudbath today. She ran along the rope playing with the visitors’ shoes before putting on a brilliant display of football for them. They were all enchanted.

15 April 2008

In the evening, Kenia began the journey back to the Stockades ahead of the others, obviously feeling hungry because she had not finished her 3 p.m. milk feed. Her stomach appeared bloated at 3 p.m. but by evening had returned to normal. Mrs. Sheldrick told the Keepers to offer her garlic essential oil, which we did for the next 5 days.

16 April 2008

Quite heavy rain fell during the night, so the morning was wet and muddy and the babies clad in their rainwear. They had a wonderful time at the mudbath when the Keepers had to remove the rainwear because they all wanted to wallow in the mud. The visitors were very happy.

17 April 2008

Shimba and Kenia were at it again today, Shimba was not taking things seriously until Kenia gathered all her strength and managed to push him down from the side.

18 April 2008

Lempaute was the star of the mudbath today. She went along the line, playing with the visitors’ feet, and lying down in front of them so that they could touch her. Eventually she spotted a push-chair with a baby in it. She took hold of the handle and began pushing it along, which made all the visitors laugh!

19 April 2008

Siria ran to the mudbath today, eager for his milk. When he had finished, he held onto the nipple, not wanting to release it, and when the Keeper managed to extract it from his mouth, he held onto the Keeper’s arm and followed him to the wheelbarrow where all the empty bottles were put.

20 April 2008

Maxwell had loose stools today, suggesting diarrheoa. However, he fed well and played happily, so we thought that it could be because the vegetation was soft and greener than usual. Also, he is now on a Replacer Milk rather than the Lactogen.

21 April 2008

For the second day, Maxwell’s stools have changed. Mrs. Sheldrick told us to reduce the amount of milk and increase the porridge. However, apart from the loose stools, he played well and seemed happy enough.

22 April 2008

Maxwell’s problem seems a lot better today, having decreased the milk and increased the porridge.

23 April 2008

Lesanju’s group met up with Lenana, Chyulu and Makena at the mudbath and immediately Siria showed great interest in Kenia, while Lenana held onto Shimba, who is still her favourite baby and Lesanju and Lempaute kept on resisting being “adopted” by Makena and held onto baby Dida. Chyulu kept on moving around, showing great interest in all the babies, rather than one in particular.

24 April 2008

For 3 nights, a lion has been roaring close by. Today, out in the bush, we noticed that the 3 Big Girls were very nervous and kept raising their trunks. When they ran back to the Keepers, we went forward to investigate and saw the male lion walking by. He did not stop, but proceeded on.

25 April 2008

Siria still has a strong affection for the Big Girls often smelling them at a distance and moving towards them, Lenana meanwhile rumbling to him to come. When the Keepers turned him back to return to Lesanju’s group, he screamed loudly.

26 April 2008

Suddenly, Lesanju’s group began trumpeting, running about knocking down small shrubs and generally behaving in a very excited manner. The Keepers went to investigate, only to find that the older elephants, Lenana, Chyulu and Makena and found the location of the youngsters and had joined them.

27 April 2008

During the mudbath, Lempaute spotted a mother and small baby in amongst the guests, and kept on gently feeling the baby’s head with her trunk. The baby was holding a toy which Lempaute grabbed and ran off with, leaving the baby crying, but the Keepers were handy to retrieve the toy and return it to its rightful owner!

28 April 2008

As usual, Kenia and Shimba engaged one another in the usual tussle. Shimba pushed Kenia down onto some stumps, which made her scream loudly.

29 April 2008

Maxwell’s stools were still runny today, and he looked weak. We took the milk out of his diet and kept him just on porridge, because Mrs. Sheldrick thought that perhaps the Milk Replacer did not suit him.

30 April 2008

Maxwell is not happy having just porridge without milk, so Mrs. Sheldrick purchased more Lactogen for him, and we put him back on that. He enjoyed this and fed well throughout the day on his greens, but still appeared slightly under the weather.