Keepers' Diaries, April 2015

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

Doldol whose sight was compromised on arrival when he came to us last month can now see thanks to the aggressive medication he received. This has been a huge relief. This month he has gone through teething and with it has predictably lost significant condition. He has been receiving love and attention from Mwashoti who is a constant companion of the babies, because Mwashoti, with his terrible snare wound, cannot keep up with the older orphans. The more sedate pace of the little ones suits him better. This has made him a firm favorite with them all, particularly Ngilai and Lasayen. Kamok has been ensuring they get their fair share of loving and pampering and on occasion lies down with them with her trunk over them in a comforting way. Lasayen at times seems very concerned by Mwashoti’s terrible wound, even taking it upon himself to spray soft earth with his trunk onto the wound to help his friend. These gentle acts are common place with elephants, and one can see over and over again just how like us they are but with the best traits and few of the bad.

Doldol whose sight was compromised on arrival when he came to us last month can now see thanks to the aggressive medication he received. This has been a huge relief. This month he has gone through teething and with it has predictably lost significant condition. He has been receiving love and attention from Mwashoti who is a constant companion of the babies, because Mwashoti, with his terrible snare wound, cannot keep up with the older orphans. The more sedate pace of the little ones suits him better. This has made him a firm favorite with them all, particularly Ngilai and Lasayen. Kamok has been ensuring they get their fair share of loving and pampering and on occasion lies down with them with her trunk over them in a comforting way. Lasayen at times seems very concerned by Mwashoti’s terrible wound, even taking it upon himself to spray soft earth with his trunk onto the wound to help his friend. These gentle acts are common place with elephants, and one can see over and over again just how like us they are but with the best traits and few of the bad.

This month’s heartbreak was the loss of two of our special orphans, Hamsini and Ashaka. Hamsini we never got on top of as we simply could not seem to hold his stomach and he just got thinner and thinner and with it his reserves less. His injuries on arrival coupled with the teething had taken its toll, and despite us believing that his fighting spirit would carry him through despite his challenges this was not the case. We lost our little Hamsini on the 4th of April despite our best efforts spanning three months.

We have been receiving some torrential rain here in Nairobi which has helped make the place a garden of Eden once more with water and mud in abundance, which for elephants is a heavenly scenario as they love to play in the puddles and slip and slide in the mud. During this time we have to take care of the little babies, who in a wild situation would be stronger and better able to cope, with the added protection of a mindful elephant family protecting them from the elements. Here in the Nursery, with the milk formula far from perfect, we take special care to ensure they do not catch a chill because baby elephants are very susceptible to pneumonia.

The rain has been embraced by Maxwell who charges around huffing and puffing, rolling in the mud and savoring it making his boma quite the quagmire. His boma extension was completed this month giving Maxwell double the space which he is enjoying, but he does seem to still favor his old haunt, not entirely comfortable with the new surroundings. Being blind it will take time for Maxwell to completely work out this new environment.

Solio paid us a visit on the 9th of April, even choosing to spend time with the orphans. It is lovely to see her doing so well, so happily integrated into the rhino community of Nairobi National Park, but still remembering her home and her dear friend Maxwell who senses her presence always when she is close.

Mid month saw Ziwa and Balguda make their journey to Umani Springs our latest rehabilitation unit in the Kibwezi Forest, still part of the larger Tsavo Conservation Area but a veritable paradise, and an ideal environment for some of our orphans who are compromised by their injuries, where a life in Tsavo would be challenging for them. Ziwa experienced troubles at Ithumba when he was first relocated, so second time round we felt he should have a gentler environment, having miraculously healed once flown back to Nairobi for intensive care. Balguda has been sensitive over a couple of years, not absolutely right, but nothing obvious revealed. An environment with such abundant food and water should suit them both, and they are reuniting with old Nursery friends, bulls Faraja and Jasiri who headed down there in January this year. Their journey and transition was a good one, and while Balguda has taken longer to settle, clinging to his Keepers initially, Ziwa has morphed into the most active member of the now ten strong Umani herd, but both have settled and are clearly happy with their new surroundings. The journey to their new home took place on the 15th of April, and that afternoon another tiny calf arrived into the fold from Naibosho Conservancy in the Masai Mara after her mother had been discovered dead. More details about Ziwa and Balguda can be enjoyed in the Umani Springs Keepers Diary.

On the 17th of April heartbreak as we lost our little Ashaka who had been with us for nearly a year. We along with the Vets were somewhat baffled by Ashaka’s problems and we immediately undertook an extensive autopsy which revealed her liver was compromised completely. Kamok, her dearest friend, missed her terribly but has turned the page and concentrates her attentions on her many other friends and the little babies, but she has missed Ashaka tremendously, but now understands she will not be returning. We are so thankful in these times to have the balm of all the other orphans to impart love and attention.

On the 21st we received a tiny baby giraffe, sadly the baby was in a weakened state, absolutely newborn and before being rescued had been without its mother for a good long time, we think as long as two days. We were unable to save him and he died nearly 24 hours after arrival.

On the 22nd of April it was time for our sweet gentle older boys Tundani, Nelion with little girl Lentili to head to Voi. It was time they experienced the stimulation of the Tsavo environment becoming exposed to all things essential for their eventual wild lives. This is a long process just like one’s own kids, and so while they might be moving location, they are very much still part of our dependent orphan family just based at our Voi Unit now. The food and environment is so much more conducive for older orphans, better browse with the added advantage of the older orphans to help guide the way.

The convoy got going early so that they could travel in the cool of the morning and were safely in Voi by 10.30am. Their transition has been a smooth one, and Voi has been blessed with some lovely rains rolling in across the plains so the area has bountiful greens, with plentiful grass which the orphans love. The new food, interaction of the older orphans, ex orphans and wild friends has been a steep learning curve for the newcomers but all three of them seem extremely happy. More details about these three can be enjoyed in the Voi Keepers diaries.

Pea and Pod, our tame ostriches, who are very much part of the elephant orphans herd, enjoy their antics with the elephants and have had a torrid time, providing endless hours of entertainment dashing away from charging and trumpeting baby elephants with outstretched trunks trying to pluck at their feathers or grab their necks. They seem to love this interaction and have developed little games that they enjoy, even tempting the elephants to continue with their chasing games. One who can never resist is little Roi who is an incredibly strong calf, and despite her terribly sad beginning, losing her Mum to poaching, she has found true happiness again and her days are filled with mischievous play. Ndotto and Lasayen, despite being miniatures amuse themselves chasing the ostriches around at any given opportunity, ears out, with tiny squeaks coming from little trunks as they attempt to trumpet.

More fun and games can be read about in the Keepers daily entries.

April 2015 day to day

01 Apr

It was a morning of fun and games as Dupotto and Kauro played hide and seek before engaging each other in pushing games, they were extremely playful. Kithaka, Tundani, Lemoyian and Nelion all enjoyed strength testing games which is typical of these little bulls. When Lemoyian had enough he set off to browse which disappointed Kithaka who was not ready to stop and charged after him ears spread, knocking all the small bushes aside, in an effort to get Lemoyian to continue their game. Tundani decided to have a quick dust bath and lay down to roll in the dust whereby Nelion and Barsilinga started to mount him which he did not seem to mind, Sokotei, Enkikwe and Roi were all busy running around with their ears raised and trumpeting while charging through the bushes. All seemed to be enjoying themselves immensely. At 4pm it was found that Tundani, Nelion, Kithaka, Barsilinga, Ziwa, Mashariki, Arruba and Rorogoi had separated from the rest and a search was mounted. At 5pm the rest of the Nursery orphans returned to the stockades while some of the keepers continued their search. A few minutes before six the keepers with the missing orphans in tow returned. The group had been found heading towards the Kisembe forest section of the park.

Dupotto and Kauro

Lemoyian browsing

Barsilinga browsing

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