Keepers' Diaries, April 2011

Nairobi Nursery Unit

Of mounting concern has been the progressive decline in the health of orphan Kudup, now aged two, who is showing similar symptoms to other drought and well victims that we have lost. That seems to be the common denominator but the actual nature of the disease has defeated all the Vets to date, who seem to believe that it is heart related. South African specialists are expected shortly hoping that they will be able to shed some light on this mysterious ailment which has taken the lives of several of our elephants, all about the age of 2 years and all who seemed to be thriving during early infancy. The Nursery main Matriarch, Olare and her deputy, Mutara, are both very caring of Kudup, singling her out to give her special comfort and loving, obviously empathizing with her suffering.

01 April 2011

Orphaned Rhino Solio welcomed the new morning in a very jovial mood, after a night of drizzling rain. Her jubilant mood lasted throughout the day shared by the Nursery Elephants who also enjoyed the damp earth and small puddles. All decided against the mudbath.

02 April 2011

Ishanga remains very jealous of Kainuk’s love of Mutara. Today as usual Kainuk, who was out of her stable first, immediately went to Mutara’s door, waiting for her exit when Ishanga ran and squashed her against the door. She screamed, and Mutara began banging her door to be let out to deal with Ishanga. However, the Keepers ran to Kainuk’s assistance.

03 April 2011

There seems to have been a little improvement in Kudup’s condition, since she was more active, both within her stable and also outside. At the mudbath she enjoyed a dust bath and even splashed herself with mud.

04 April 2011

Olare has proved to be a very caring and capable Nursery Matriarch, always taking care of the younger elephants, and then handing them into the care of Sub Matriarch’s when she has to accompany the older group. Initially all consuming over Sities, when Naipoki came along she had to share time with her, even when Naipoki clung more to the Keepers. Now that Kainuk has joined the fold, Olare has three babies to shower with care and affection, and has willingly shared Sities and Naipoki with Murka although she still spends time with all three babies, lying in the long grass so that they can all play on top of her. Today was an unusually quiet evening at the Nursery with no Evening visiting Foster-Parents.

05 April 2011

Rhinos are very brave. Our little Solio is not scared even of the lions! Today at about 4 a.m. four came to her Stockade from the direction of the mudbath, roaring loudly and paused just outside her stockade only feet away from her. She was unafraid, instead anxious to get out and deal with them, banging at the door! Meanwhile blind Maxwell was running up and down his enclosure also wanting to get at them! The Keepers had a hard time calming the two rhinos down after the lions had left.

06 April 2011

Two local film crews arrived too late to see the elephants leave their Night Quarters, but joined them out in the bush, and got some good material. The Film Unit had been apparently been dispatched by the Kenya Tourist Board and were very enthralled to be so close to the elephants.

07 April 2011

For the first time Naisula and Kitirua are taking a great interest in little Kainuk and Naipoki, both babies having formed a strong bond of friendship with one another. The two older elephants, who have previously been grieving for their lost elephant family, spending quiet time together away from the others when out in the field, today made a point of interacting with the babies and spent most of the day with them, fondling them gently and rumbling reassurance to them.

08 April 2011

Mutara who has all the potential of a very caring Matriarch, like Olare is also concerned about ailing Kudup, spending time close to her with her trunk lying over Kudup’s back in a gesture of love and concern. Today Tano bellowed when she got stuck in the mud at the mudbath. This drew the attention of all but Mutara was first on the scene, desperately doing her best to extract Tano. However, it entailed the input of the Keepers to get her out. Another scream followed, this time from Naipoki when Kainuk accidentally stepped on her foot! Once again Mutara was first by Naipoki’s side.

09 April 2011

It turned hot today and when the elephants arrived for their noon mudbath they found that the warthogs were there before them. Makireti took it upon herself to drive the pigs out but they didn’t go far, instead waiting in the wings for the elephants to leave! When the older elephants left the warthogs were already back and were reluctant to be driven out by Kalama. Murka then took over chasing them off deep into the bush trumpeting and cheered on by the mudbath visitors! Having succeeded, she then embarked on the usual bush-bashing threat display until the Keepers called her back.

10 April 2011

Kalama is a very intelligent elephant who knows how to stand up on her back legs with her forelegs resting against low branches in order to pluck green shoots off the trees.

11 April 2011

This morning early as the Keepers were taking tea out in the forest, a lion passed close by chasing a warthog scaring Naipoki who inadvertently knocked down the thermos of tea! The Canteen Cook had to prepare a fresh brew!

12 April 2011

Kainuk spent about half an hour playing with Turkwel, her night neighbour this morning. Both these elephants come from the Turkana area and could even be from the same wild herd and be known to one another, since only very few elephant herds remain in that area. From the start the two have been very close.

13 April 2011

Today, whilst doing the rounds of the dungpiles and urinals so that Solio can add her own dung and urine and in this way become known to the resident wild rhino community, through scent she obviously detected the presence of a newcomer at one of the middens. This made her so nervous that she would not settle, sensing instinctively that she was a risk, so the Keepers had to move her to a different area.

14 April 2011

On a hot day, the orphans entertained the mudbath guests well, Chemi Chemi and Kibo (two naughty boys). They waited until the girls were all in the mudbath so that they could mount onto them, but Olare and Mutara kept a close eye on Naipoki and Kainuk to ensure that they were not targeted.

15 April 2011

After the 3 p.m. feed when the orphans were browsing out in the forest, suddenly Makireti and Ishanga ran to the Keepers. At first the Keepers were puzzled as to what had scared them, but then noticed that they were being bitten on their backs by tsetse flies, so the Keepers plucked some shrubbery to brush the flies off.

16 April 2011

Little Naipoki seems jealous of Shukuru, wanting to push her away whenever Shukuru wants to be near Olare. Shukuru objects to this and tries to retaliate against Naipoki, so the Keepers have to be vigilant to ensure that she does not knock Naipoki down. At the mudbath Naipoki wants for Sities to test the depth before going in herself.

17 April 2011

At about 6.45 p.m. as the Keepers were taking their supper, Naisula and Kitirua began trumpeting when they noticed lions walking behind their Stockade. However, the lions proceeded on their way and took no notice of the elephants.

18 April 2011

On a hot day Kalama and Makireti opened up the mudbath activity by plunging in and submersing their bodies completely. Meanwhile Naipoki was entertaining the visitors by trying to chase off some baby warthogs, Olare keeping close by to ensure that she came to no harm.

19 April 2011

The early mornings can be misty and cold. Kudup was obviously feeling the cold so she was moved from her usual Stockade to a stable so that she could keep warmer. With Ishanga in the stable next door, Kudup has settled quickly into her new Night Quarters.

20 April 2011

Elephants have a mysterious ability to predict events even before they come about. We have also noticed this with the Nursery elephant babies. Today, the older elephants all left the mudbath sooner than usual and ran happily into the bush where they met up with the Youngsters who had been brought down earlier than usual. The Keepers with the older group were unaware of this, but somehow the elephants knew.

21 April 2011

Kudup has taken a turn for the worse again, now refusing some of her milk feeds and not lying down at night to sleep with swelling on her legs and abdomen. The Keepers keep her away from the mudbath now, something that she does not like, but which the Keepers feel is necessary due to her poor health.

22 April 2011

Kalama has still not accepted that she should be promoted to the Bigger Group, but instead prefers to return and spend time with the Youngsters, enjoying the extra attention and care that the Younger elephants enjoy.

23 April 2011

Easter Holiday crowds came to enjoy the elephants’ mudbath, so much so that the Keepers had a difficult time trying to keep the noise level down for the elephants. The noise so excited Sities that she became uncontrollable, running up and down the cordon, soon to be joined by all the others, cheered on by a somewhat unruly audience. The situation became too fraught that the Keepers decided to remove the elephants ahead of time!

24 April 2011

Today when the orphans returned to their Night Stables, Turkwel went ahead of Kainuk who then ran back to the bush rumbling and screaming to look for her. The Keepers tried to entice Kainuk back with a bottle of milk but even this didn’t work, so in the end they had to let Turkwel out again. Kainuk instantly ran to her warmly embraced by a loving trunk as Turkwel escorted the baby back to her stable, thereafter rumbling to her at intervals throughout the night.

25 April 2011

Olare has never been overly fond of rowdy human children. Today we had some who kept shouting at the elephants until Olare could stand it no longer and ran to the Gate to give the child a slap with her trunk missing by a few inches. It was a good lesson to both the parents and the children, who would not heed the instructions of the Keepers.

26 April 2011

Kainuk is becoming very greedy for her milk, running ahead of all the others and bellowing if it is not there for her on arrival, often displaying anger by going down on her knees. This happened today at the mudbath and she amazed the audience with her style!

27 April 2011

Kudup’s condition is deteriorating despite having been on homeopathic drugs. The fluid swellings on her legs and abdomen are getting more pronounced and none of the Vets are able to identify the problem despite sending blood samples to different laboratories which initially showed a while blood cell count. Most believe that a major organ such as the heart is defective. Now, we have stopped all medication, because all the medication and injections she has received have not helped and merely distress her further. No one knows what to do now and believe that it is in the lap of the Gods because only God can save her now.

28 April 2011

Olare senses that Kudup is sick and comes to her stable every morning to give her comfort and hope. The Keepers also do all they can to comfort her, rubbing her behind her ears, which she seems to enjoy. However, her condition is worsening day by day and everyone is at a loss as to what can be done to help her.

30 April 2011

There was a light drizzle of rain this morning, so the small babies such as Naipoki and Kainuk were not allowed out with the Older Group and nor was ailing Kudup. Naipoki was very restless so we brought Mutara back to be in with her and calm her down until the rain stopped and she could be let out to join the others.