Keepers' Diaries, April 2016

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

This year the April/May long rains have hit Nairobi with full meteorological might, causing flooding in some parts of the city. Nor have we been spared here at the Nursery after days of non-stop continuous rain leaving the orphanage under water, with Daphne’s veranda collapsing under the weight of so much water after a storm of more than five inches overnight. However, this has not deterred the visitors who have been as keen as ever to catch a glimpse of the orphans during our one open public hour between 11 -12 noon. The orphans have understandably not always been willing mudbath candidates, and sometimes have been eager to return to the forest under the cover of the trees. Our new orphan, Galla, has seemed unperturbed by all the rain, instead apparently relishing so much mud and water, rolling around in the mudbath even during storms. Despite taking a while to tame and settle down, he has really now adapted to Nursery life and trusts his Keepers implicitly, finding a new-found friendship with little Murit.

This year the April/May long rains have hit Nairobi with full meteorological might, causing flooding in some parts of the city. Nor have we been spared here at the Nursery after days of non-stop continuous rain leaving the orphanage under water, with Daphne’s veranda collapsing under the weight of so much water after a storm of more than five inches overnight. However, this has not deterred the visitors who have been as keen as ever to catch a glimpse of the orphans during our one open public hour between 11 -12 noon. The orphans have understandably not always been willing mudbath candidates, and sometimes have been eager to return to the forest under the cover of the trees. Our new orphan, Galla, has seemed unperturbed by all the rain, instead apparently relishing so much mud and water, rolling around in the mudbath even during storms. Despite taking a while to tame and settle down, he has really now adapted to Nursery life and trusts his Keepers implicitly, finding a new-found friendship with little Murit.

During the afternoon of the 4th, rain led to pandemonium when the babies ran back to their Stockades much earlier than usual, arriving drenched at the slippery compound! The keepers were overwhelmed with thirsty babies all wanting to be fed, with some managing to nick the bottles of their neighbours having downed their own! Blind rhino, Maxwell, is one orphan who seems to enjoy the thunder storms, running up and down his Stockade savouring the wet and muddy conditions, and jumping around in response to the sensation of heavy rain falling on his back!

Naseku continues her mischievous missions, having last month devised ways of gaining access to extra milk. This month her new trick is to entice the others away just before feeding times! Ngilai is a very happy baby here at the Nursery. When not playing with his orphaned friends, he enjoys playing with his Keepers, Kamok being his new favourite adopted mother since the departure of Elkerama to Tsavo. Their relationship continues to grow and is as complex as that of Mbegu and Dupotto, who are of a similar age and size. Mbegu seems to be a born natural mini-matriarchal Leader and it is perhaps because of rivalry that they seem to quarrel from time to time. Ndotto is a clever little boy, picking up on some of the tricks that his older counterparts have shown him. On the 7th he followed in the footsteps of Sirimon whose sneaky tactics find him turning up at feeding time with the next sitting of elephants, pretending that he has not yet been! Unfortunately for him, the Keepers have not been fooled, so he has been caught out!

Kauro remains the most disciplined young boy during milk feeding times. Once he finishes his share, he simply walks away to make space for the others, something that cannot be said of some of the others! Sirimon and Olsekki especially are totally obsessed with their milk bottles and continue to explore the boundaries! Roi is one of the greedier little girls who keeps on fighting to steal additional bottles from the wheelbarrow with Enkikwe another who has to be monitored carefully by the Keepers as well as his orphaned peers! These naughty boys are destined to head to either the Ithumba or Voi Rehabilitation venues to embark on their next phase of growing up. Kamok and Kauro who have grown up in the Nursery together, choose to stick together when out browsing rather than become embroiled in the antics of the older boys such as Enkikwe, Sokotei and Olsekki. The duo had a fun time together during a rainstorm on the 25th rolling in the mud and bumping into members of the visiting public. Cheeky Kamok even tried to hide her head under a guest’s umbrella!

Murit remains a docile little baby, completely hooked on his Keepers. Because the baby group tends to remain closer to their Keepers, Murit likes to spend time with the babies, raising his trunk in the air to detect their whereabouts before wandering off to join them. Alternatively he hides in the bushes until his group has gone further afield so that he can join the baby group instead, preferring more quiet ways rather than the boisterous behaviour of the boys in his own little herd!

Orphan giraffe, Kiko, still beats to his own drum and does whatever he feels like, taking himself back to the Stockade area to feed on the acacia tree by Edwin’s office, after which he has to be escorted back out tempted with the irresistible milk bottle! Sometimes when he is particularly obstinate, the Keepers just leave him to himself and let him follow the older orphans should he feel like doing so. On the 5th he had an exciting day when he met a wild giraffe and her young baby much smaller than himself. The wild mother giraffe was very interested in Kiko and kept trying to approach him, but he kept running away whenever she got close. Her little baby boy managed to get much closer to Kiko before he fled, but eventually returned to his mother. On the 18th Kiko had another chance encounter with a nursery herd of giraffes in amongst whom were three young ones whom Kiko approached and even interacted with one of the youngsters. Kiko’s friends, ostriches Pea and Pod, continue to bait and play with the older elephant orphans. Tusuja, Mwashoti, Alamaya and Rapa enjoy teasing and chasing them around when the ostriches respond by sprinting and spinning around, something that invariably frightens the younger orphans who run to seek comfort from the Matriarchs leaving the likes of Mwashoti and Alamaya to continue trying to prove their dominance. The presence of the Nairobi Park lions closer to home this month has resulted in Kiko, Pea and Pod being shut in the Stockades until it is safe for them to come out. Balguda’s health issues continue to cause us concern. Whilst he appears happy enough, he is obviously not quite right with low energy levels and lean body condition. Skin texture and body condition are always indicators that something is remiss. Sadly numerous tests have not thrown up obvious answers so he is being treated again for blood parasites.

April 2016 day to day

01 Apr

Finally there was a heavy downpour last night after a long, dry wait. Due to the heavy rain some of the babies had a sleepless night. Kauro, Rapa, Lasayen, Ngilai and Kamok all had a pretty rough night. With all the noise on the roof together with the lighting and the thunderstorms was quite unsettling for them. The rain went on throughout the whole night and only stopped in the early morning. These five orphans were happy to see the light of day! As each one of them came out they walked straight out to the forest. It was Galla’s third time to try and join the orphans out in the forest too. The first few times were not successful because he was quite aggressive and just ran away from the herd. On both occasions he was brought back home early after spending less than 2 hours out with his new friends! At 9am Dupotto, Mbegu and Roi were brought back to the stockades to escort him out to the bush. He did not show much excitement at being allowed out of his stockade; his gate was opened wide but he did not want to come out. After waiting for him for quite a long time, Dupotto decided to enter his pen to help try and push him out. He immediately stepped out of his pen as Dupotto was about to try and push him. He started running into the forest as the other orphans followed behind him. When Oltaiyoni, who had been left behind in the forest, saw him running in the wrong direction she went after him. We all thought the ‘mother’ of the herd was running after him in an effort to control him but instead she surprised us; she started poking him in the back pushing him further into the bushes. The keepers had to intervene and shout at her to stop it. In the end it was the boys Enkikwe, Boromoko, Kauro and Sokotei who spent the most time with him, protecting him from the others. He even managed to attend the private visit at 3pm where he behaved very well. He was later escorted back to the stockades a few minutes before 5pm by Boromoko and Kauro.

Galla hiding in the bushes

Oltiayoni browsing

Kauro having milk at the mudbath

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