Keepers' Diaries, April 2015

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.

01 April 2015

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.

02 April 2015

Lasayen and Ndotto have been forming friendships with Mwashoti who is our little arrival who suffered so severely from a cable snare injury. They want to stay with him and keep him company. Today Lasayen decided to have a close look at Mwashoti’s snare wound, smelling it and touching it gently with his trunk before spraying it with dust in an effort to help in his own little way. Mwashoti was very protective towards the younger orphans and chased away some warthogs who he felt were being too aggressive to his little friends. This relationship is so beautiful to observe, and it is so indicative of just how like us elephants are with most of the best traits and few of the bad. Doldol who arrived with us blind has regained his sight thanks to aggressive medication and seems to enjoy having a nap after his milk feed and today was no exception. Soon after his 11am bottle he lay down, while watched over by a keeper, before Kamok and the other babies came up from the public visiting hour. The group found Doldol asleep and Kamok went up to check on him before lying down next to him and placing her trunk on him in a comforting way, showing her mothering skills at an early age.

03 April 2015

This morning soon after the 9am feed Kamok was busy enjoying some greens when Enkikwe head butted her knocking her to the ground. Knowing that he had done something terribly wrong Enkikwe ran away quickly while Kamok struggled to get back to her feet after which she ran to her keepers who consoled her. After things had quietened down Oltaiyoni went to discipline Enkikwe who was standing next to Embu who was quick to get in the middle and prevent Oltaiyoni from scolding Enkikwe. It was not till later in the day when Enkikwe was on his own that Oltaiyoni was able to discipline him for his earlier actions and did so by preventing him from playing or interacting with the rest of the group by driving him away each time he approached them. It was interesting to see she bided her time until the time was right, and had not forgotten Enkikwe’s harsh act on Kamok earlier in the day and waited until the score could be settled.

04 April 2015

It rained heavily last night and it was very wet as the older orphans headed out to the park in the morning. As it was so slippery it was decided that the five little babies, Ndotto, Lasayen, Hamsini, Doldol and Ngilai all remained in their stockades until it was warmer. At the 11am visiting hour Tundani and Lemoyian had a lovely time in the mudbath playing and rolling around while splashing all the visitors. They were having so much fun that neither one wanted to leave the mudwallow and had to be coaxed out by the keepers so that they could return to the bush with the rest of the group. At about 3pm after the orphans had their afternoon milk bottle, Hamsini collapsed and was placed on a dextrose drip after which he got back to his feet. At 8pm after being on his feet for the rest of the afternoon and seeming to be better he lay down to sleep when he suddenly started to breath fast and heavily. The keepers were quick to tend to him and do what they could to help by sadly he died a little while later. Hamsini will be missed most by Ngilai with whom he had formed a strong bond.

05 April 2015

It again rained for most of the night from about 8pm. Most of the babies were very scared of the thunderstorm and the lightning. Kauro, Siangiki, Ashaka, Kamok and Lasayen were the ones most affected by this and their keepers had a hard time keeping them calm. Maxwell on the other hand loved the rain and was running up and down and around his stockade playing and wallowing in all the mud, huffing and puffing, tossing his head and doing galloping skips. Come morning the new extension to his stockade was officially opened and after the keepers had spread some of his dung around so that there would be a familiar scent for him he walked in and spent the rest of the day exploring his new space, spraying his urine to mark his new territory, and browsing on the vegetation that had been placed in there for him. He was still not entirely comfortable however with his new environment.

06 April 2015

Since the time that Ashaka was accidentally hurt by Roi she was moved to the baby herd where there is less chance of her being injured by the older more exuberant orphans. Kamok has missed Ashaka’s company but even though the two always meet in the evening when they return to their stockades this has not been enough for Kamok who has taken to sneaking off from her group to find and join Ashaka. Today was no exception and even though the two groups were far apart Kamok tracked Ashaka down as the youngsters were returning to the stockade compound Kamok came running up trumpeting and knocking down bushes in her excitement to see her friend. Mwashoti has become a little naughty and has taken to pushing the younger orphans from time to time. Today he kept pushing Doldol and Ngilai who both love him and want to be around him. We think this naughty streak is due to the fact that he is feeling better, has gained weight and is becoming more confident as he finds his place in the group.

07 April 2015

It has been several days since the babies of the group have had a mudbath as the weather has been somewhat chilly when they attend the public visiting hour. Today however it was warmer and they had a lovely time entertaining the visitors. Mbegu who loves the mudbath was the first to jump in and after enjoying rolling around on her own Dupotto and Roi joined her for a wallow. Their antics got the attention of the others. Ndotto and Lasayen opted for a dustbath while Kauro who does not really like the mudbath chose to walk along the line of visitors who were happy to reach out and touch him. Alamaya also stayed out of the water and remained close to the keepers enjoying the browse that is always at the mudbath. Pea and Pod the ostriches that are now a permanent fixture had the visiting school children laughing as they danced around in circles.

08 April 2015

The orphans headed out to the forest at about 6:30 this morning. Balguda, Ziwa and Nelion were busy browsing while Tundani, Kithaka, Lemoyian and Barsilinga charged off in different directions chasing each other, rumbling, trumpeting and flattening bushes as they ran around, watched by a herd of Impalas. Later in the day Ndotto and Lasayen separated themselves from the rest of the group and browsed together for a while on soft leaves and grass before enjoying some strength testing games of their own.

09 April 2015

Roi is proving to be a naughty and cheeky girl. Today she decided to pay the baby group and Mwashoti a visit. She went to each orphan, smelling them before settling on Mwashoti, spending the rest of her time with him. The two played together and Roi was in the beginning very gentle seeming knowing that he is at a disadvantage due to his snare wound. She enjoyed the company of the youngsters for a while before heading back to her group when suddenly she turned and charged Mwashoti knocking him after which she ran off into the bush anticipating repercussions for her actions. Mwashoti was surprised by this and cried out in pain. The keepers were quick to come and help him to his feet, and comfort and reassure him. At around 8am Solio came to the stockade compound for a visit. She was on the rocks near the mudbath where she enjoyed the salt lick before heading off to join the babies who were browsing in the nearby bushes. Upon seeing Solio the orphans ran to their keepers. Kithaka, Barsilinga and Balguda realized who it was and tried to approach her but were prevented from doing so by the keepers. Solio stood watching the group for a while before heading back to the thickets. The keepers were very happy to have seen her and to know that she is ok and doing well.

10 April 2015

It will not be long before Balguda, Ziwa leave the nursery for one of the rehabilitation units and as such have now begun to take their milk at the moving truck in order to get used to the truck and being inside it. At 9am the older group returned to the stockade so that the two could begin their training. They were very good, entering the truck without any problems. They will now continue to have all their feeds at the truck to ensure that they are completely comfortable which will make things much easier on moving day. After the public visiting hour Alamaya pulled a vanishing act and by 3pm she had still not been found and had not even come for her milk feed. The keepers continued to look for her and it was not until it was time to return to the stockades for the night that she appeared, walking out of the bushes as if nothing was wrong. This means that she knows when it is time to return to the stockades as well as where to find the rest of the orphans. Despite being relatively new at the Nursery it is amazing how quickly they learn the ropes, and in Alamaya’s case she knew exactly what she was doing. We are careful however as this behaviour could land her in trouble with the Nairobi park lions and hyenas so we will have to keep a close eye on her.

11 April 2015

Mbegu has taken to running out of her stable as soon as she has had her evening feed and refusing to return. The keepers are confounded by this behaviour as it is something she has only been doing lately and never done before. This evening she returned in the company of Boromoko and Kamok and each orphan went to their respective stable. Once again Mbegu ran out and back to the forest as soon as she had finished her milk. The keepers tried to coax her back with some extra milk as well as with having Kamok and Ashaka escort her but she would only come close and back away rumbling. In the end the keepers had no choice but to push her into her stable.

12 April 2015

This morning the orphans stopped to greet Maxwell on their way out and enjoy some of his Lucerne. Embu, Dupotto, Mashariki, Rorogoi and Olsekki engaged Maxwell in a game whereby they would go to the other side of the stockade and trumpet which got him excited and running up and down chasing them. The game went on for a while before the group headed out to the bush. Oltaiyoni seems to be quite strict and disciplines the members of her group whenever one of them does something wring. During the public visit today she was kept busy first by Kauro and Roi who were pushing each other while in close proximity to babies Ndotto and Lasayen so she drove them away in order to make sure the babies did not get hurt. A few minutes later she had to chase of Enkikwe who was trying to mount Kamok. From a very young age Oltaiyoni has shown incredible nurturing skills and despite by no means being one of the oldest females she takes it upon herself to keep order in the ranks, and does a very able job.

13 April 2015

Nowadays Kauro and Boromoko are the best of friends and enjoy playing together, whereas before Kauro used to bully Boromoko. It seems that now that Boromoko has found his place in the group the two have become close and are often found engaging each other in strength testing games in the morning as soon as they exit their respective stockades. Today the game continued out in the bush where Boromoko held Kauro’s forelegs with his trunk so that he could head butt him and challenge him to a game. Watching this friendship emerge has been interesting indeed, they are two little bulls similar in age and now strength now that Boromoko’s condition has improved.

14 April 2015

Doldol has been suffering with teething problems and now has his fourth tooth which is a huge hurdle for him. Ngilai on the other hand does not have any teeth yet and we hope that when the teething process starts it will go smoothly for him. Both Doldol and Ngilai are enjoying their milk feeds and are sweet happy little elephants. Doldol’s skinny condition is a concern, but something we always have to face through teething on formula milk. Poor Ashaka is still recovering from the injuries to her leg and continues to limp. As such she is still kept with the baby group to avoid being hurt further. On top of her sore leg she is still not doing as well as we hoped and is not feeding well. Blood tests once again revealed a bacterial infection. As a result she has been put on a course of antibiotics which we hope will clear the infection. Over the months we have noticed Ashaka is not thriving like her friends Kamok and Mbegu, her folder ears, skin texture and lack of growth always indicators in elephants have had us watching Ashaka closely. She does not help herself by simply refusing any supplements we try to boost her condition with in her food. She is extremely fussy with her milk, and the slightest change causes her to miss her feeds.

15 April 2015

This morning saw the beginning of the journey to Umani for Ziwa and Balguda who were loaded into the moving truck with only a few troubles, as Ziwa was a little hesitant at first. The two were in the truck and on their way by 4am. Soon after their departure Lemoyian Sokotei and Sirimon, who had witnessed their friends leave the stockades, started to cause a bit of a fuss and had to be consoled by the keepers. Alamaya had a bit of a rough night, due to having loose stool, and was a little dull and quiet when she woke. As a result the keepers thought it best that she join Mwashoti and Ashaka with the babies until she was feeling better and medicated her milk which she took well. At about 3pm we received a call from the Naibosho conservancy in the Masai Mara of a young orphan in need of rescue. A rescue team was quickly put together and on its way to Wilson. The young calf whose mother had died at around 8am from natural causes was still with its herd. The baby was only about 3 weeks old and the females in the herd were very protective making it difficult for Damian from the Naibosho conservancy and his team to get the calf to take it to the airstrip. The calf arrived at the Nursery at about 8pm. He is been named Esilale.

16 April 2015

Esilale had a restless night and was understandably very upset about being separated from his herd and mother. He has quickly become attached to his human family and loves to be in their company. Today he joined the rest of the group in the bush where he was welcomed by Mbegu and Oltaiyoni who sandwiched him between them as they touched and hugged him showing him lots of love and affection. Esilale spent the day following Mbegu around, while Oltaiyoni was seen in the company of Doldol who loved sucking her ears.

17 April 2015

Ashaka is still not doing well and had to be put on a drip last night as she did not want to eat any greens or drink her milk which meant that she was very weak this morning and unable to stand. The keepers tried to help her to her feet but all she wanted to do was lie down. She remained in her stockade with her keepers watching over her and doing all they could while the rest of the orphans headed out to the bush for the day. Sadly as the day progressed she got worse and Ashaka died peacefully surrounded by her loving human family. Her death was heartbreaking for the keepers who had nurtured her for such a long time. An autopsy was performed on Ashaka so that we could find out what it was that had ailed her and the cause of her death.

18 April 2015

This morning Kamok, who was Ashaka’s best friend returned to the stockades and to her stable to look for her when she could not find her among the group of orphans heading out to the bush for the day. When she could not find Ashaka she slowly made her way to the rest of the orphans in the company of a keeper. Mwashoti and Ngilai seem to have become attached to each other and enjoy each other’s company. Ngilai loves to be close to Mwashoti and the two are often seen standing shoulder to shoulder as they browse in the fields.

19 April 2015

This morning after the orphans had downed their 9am feed they went back to the browsing fields where Mbegu, Dupotto, Roi, Enkikwe and Sirimon had a mudbath in a mudwallow that they found in the field. They had a lovely time sliding around in the mud bumping into one another. Their game was brought to a halt when Sokotei, Olsekki and Lemoyian joined them under the pretense of wanting to have a mudbath, when all the boys wanted to do was mount them. The girls were quick to leave the mudbath and headed to the trees where they scratched the mud off their bodies. Sokotei and Olsekki engaged each other in a pushing and strength testing game which lasted for a few minutes before Lemoyian joined the two and separated them, bringing their game to a halt, after which they all settled into a browsing session.

20 April 2015

The translocation training is in progress for the next move which will take place. Those in training are Arruba, Mashariki, Rorogoi, Nelion, Tundani, Lentili, Lemoyian, Barsilinga and Kithaka. Lately Suswa has not wanted to return to her stockade following her evening feed in the moving truck and runs off to the park. The keepers have to tempt her back to her stockade with a milk bottle. We think that the reason for her actions could be fear. She could be afraid of returning to her stockade and then leaving when it is still dark and this could come from Balguda and Ziwa leaving following milk feeds in the truck.

21 April 2015

The orphans were in a jovial mood as they exited the stockades this morning and engaged one another in pushing games. As they neared the browsing field Mbegu, Dupotto, Roi, Kamok, Kauro, Boromoko and Murit all suddenly started charging around bush bashing, trumpeting joyfully. Their games and glee came to an abrupt halt when Kauro bumped into Murit knocking him down. Murit cried out with brought the rest of the group running to see what had happened. Kauro does not realize that he is still young and often tries to test his strength with the older elephants. We think in the future Kauro will be a dominant bull in the wild as he is also quite big for his age and extremely robust. At around 10am we received a call from the Meru Mobile Vet unit alerting us to the fact that they had rescued a baby giraffe that had been found by community members in Isiolo. The baby was found on its own in the Tinge area with no other giraffes in sight and it is thought the baby’s mother was snared for bush meat. The baby arrived at the nursery a few minutes after 8pm. It was very weak and unable to stand as it had been without its mother for a couple of days. With help from the keepers it took some milk and rehydration salts which gave it some strength enabling it to get to its feet and walk around the stockade. The tiny giraffe who has been without its mother for 2 days is approximately 3 days old and has been named Tinge.

22 April 2015

At around 4am the moving truck once again left the Nairobi Nursery with Tundani, Nelion and Lentili on board. This time the orphans were headed to the Voi rehabilitation Unit to begin the next step towards their eventual reintegration back to the wild. The loading of the orphans was quick and without incidence. The other older orphans, Kithaka, Barsilinga, Lemoyian, Arruba, Mashariki, Rorogoi and Suswa did not seem to react negatively to the departure of their nursery friends. Tinge woke stronger than he was following his arrival the previous night. He took his milk well and enjoyed short walks around the stockade compound. He seems to like the presence of his keepers and is quite an affectionate little giraffe who loves being touched and stroked. Sadly however, despite our efforts Tingle collapsed and died at 4pm following his afternoon milk feed. Despite him only being with us for less than 24 hours, we were still very upset by his death. However, even though his strength appeared to be returning, his passing was not much of a surprise when you factor in how young he was, how long he had been without milk and the fact that he had probably not had his mother’s colostrum.

23 April 2015

Lovely Enkikwe is looking strong and happy. He loves to spend time in the forest where he enjoys playing and running around bush bashing. This morning, soon after 9am, he had great fun chasing the ostriches Pea and Pod both of whom are very quick and had him running all over the bush. Despite having gone through the teething process, Doldol is showing some signs of weakness and has lost some more condition. He is fighting with low blood sugar levels which necessitated us putting him drips to raise his energy levels and keep him strong.

24 April 2015

Since Ashaka’s death Kamok has been a little lost and keeps looking for her friend. She has been seen spending time with Murit but often also leaves the older group to join the baby group where Ashaka had been. New arrival Alamaya has settled in better now and no longer pushes the babies. She has become very close to the little ones especially Doldol and the two are often seen in each other’s company. Alamaya’s hyena wound is healing well and does not seem to bother her much anymore.

25 April 2015

The training for a third translocation is in progress with Arruba, Mashariki and Rorogoi being the main trainees for their eventual move to the Voi Rehabilitation Unit. They all enter the moving truck easily and take their milk before rejoining their group in the bush. This is scheduled for May, as is a move for Kithaka, Barsilinga and Lemoyian to Ithumba. At around 4pm Siangiki who was browsing near Oltaiyoni, Dupotto, Roi and Embu was given a fright by a bush buck that ran past her. She screamed in surprise which caught the attention of the other orphans and they all charged around trumpeting. It took a long while for the keeps to find them all, calm them down and for order to resume.

26 April 2015

Due to heavy rains last night the orphans were reluctant to leave the stockades this morning. Kithaka, Barsilinga, Lemoyian and Sokotei were the first to exit their stockade acting as an example to the others who then followed them out to the bush. As it was very wet and slippery everywhere the older group all enjoyed a morning mudbath. Their fun was brought to an end when Kithaka, Barsilinga and Lemoyian started to mount Oltaiyoni, Embu, Mbegu, Dupotto, Kamok and Roi. The keepers were not happy with their antics and had to discipline the boys and get them to stop their games and have a browsing session instead before the 11am mudbath.

27 April 2015

It was very cold this morning as the orphans exited their stockades greeted by light rainfall which persisted for most of the day which meant that the babies as well as Alamaya and Mwashoti had to be kept indoors while the rest of the orphans enjoyed the slippery mud. Kauro, Mbegu, Siangiki, Kamok, Enkikwe, Sirimon and Boromoko all enjoyed splashing about in the many rain puddles as well as wallowing in a little stream that they came across in the browsing field. The orphans were not very active during the public visiting hour and just seemed to enjoy being in one another’s company as they entwined their trunks affectionately with each other. Roi on the other hand was in a mischievous mood and spent the majority of her time chasing pea and pod who seemed to enjoy challenging her and teasing her so that she would spread her ears and run at them as quick as she could in an effort to catch them, but they always managed to evade her.

28 April 2015

All signs show that Suswa is going to make a good Matriarch. She is a very gentle elephant who interacts with the youngsters with a lot of tenderness and caring. Today while in the field after the 9am feed, she enjoyed some special time with Kauro, Dupotto and Mbegu. She rolled on the ground while the three little ones climbed all over her. Dupotto and Mbegu then took to mimicking her actions and rolled in the mud. Kauro took this opportunity to try and climb on the two little girls but was stopped by doing so by Suswa who got up and pulled him to the ground with her where they were rejoined by Dupotto and Mbegu. Their games went on for a while before they rejoined the rest of the group who were busy browsing.

29 April 2015

Esilale is the youngest orphan in the nursery at the moment and he has taken to running around bush bashing, and chasing the warthog piglets, as soon as she finishes her early morning feed. This morning she decided to chase Pea and Pod. The two ostriches would run ahead of him before stopping running in a circle and lying down with their long necks stretched out. Esilale would then run back to the keepers and Pea and Pod would get up and come towards him and the game would begin again. Once done with his fun and games he normally goes straight to Doldol to keep him company. Due to their wounds Alamaya and Mwashoti can always be found in the company of the babies. Mwashoti is close to Ngilai and follows him around. Alamaya likes to be in Mwashoti’s company but for some reason does not seem very settled around the babies and often pushes them away. Today she seemed to be annoyed with the youngsters and spent most of the morning charging at them chasing them away. Ndotto and Lasayen are the best of friends and the two are often found together as Ndotto does not like to stray far from Lasayen.

30 April 2015

It was a cold and chilly morning with continuous light rain and as such the babies were kept in the stockades whilst the older orphans enjoyed running around, slipping and sliding in the mud. When they eventually came out, Ndotto’s group had a lovely time playing in all the rain puddles as they headed to the browsing fields. Pea and Pod were also having lots of fun running around in the car park and out to the bush with the orphans. Ndotto took to charging at them with his ears spread wide. Lasayen saw the fun that Ndotto was having with the two Ostriches and joined him, making it a competition between the four of them. The ostriches were the winners however as they are very quick and the two orphans were never able to catch them. At around 4pm Mwashoti was being a bit mean to Ngilai and kept pushing him away. This surprised the keepers a little as the two are considered close friends and are usually found together. At about 4:30 Dupotto and Suswa sneaked off to join the babies for a little while before returning to their group for the walk back to the stockades.