Keepers' Diaries, August 2004

Nairobi Nursery Unit

Overview Nursery Elephants:- The main Nursery event has been the arrival of 14 month old “Galana”, a female orphan very lucky to have survived the lions, found all alone in dense salt-bush abutting the Galana river. One small foot protruding from a hole in the salt-bush thicket tempted some Park visitors to take a closer look, and sure enough, there she was, all alone, a pride of 15 lions not far off. The visitors alerted the KWS authorities at Sala Gate who in turn called in the Trust’s Mobile Veterinary Unit and some manpower to enact the rescue on Sunday 15th August. The elephant was large for her age, but without tusks, so her age was estimated to be about 14 months. She was captured without sedation, being considered too weak to withstand the drug. Having been manhandled into the back of the Veterinary Unit’s Van she was driven 50 miles to the Voi Stockades, where the other orphans were waiting to comfort and calm her until such time as an aircraft that was in the process of being mobilised in Nairobi arrived to take her back to the Nairobi Nursery.

12 August 2004

Sunyei spent most of the day alone, whilst Madiba and Ndomot tussled with one another for most of the day. Naserian kept on feeding but made several attempts to join Sunyei. After the tussling, Sunyei, Madiba and Naserian fed close to one another whilst Ndomot was next to a Keeper, sucking on his dust-coat. Shida was very scared after we came across a buffalo on the way to the mudbath. In fact, that delayed us for the mudbath by 7 minutes, because Shida refused to come where the buffalo had been.

13 August 2004

At 6.30 a.m. a buffalo charged towards us, so we all started to run together with the elephants. Sunyei bellowed loudly which scared the buffalo and turned him to run in the opposite direction, falling to the ground in the process! Shida has calmed down after his dramatic encounter with the buffalo.

14 August 2004

Madiba kept on chasing the warthogs, occasionally joined by Ndomot. The entire day Makosa who was trying to look for Shida so it was a very long day for us, who had to keep moving.

15 August 2004

Today saw another tussle between Ndomot and Madiba, which turned serious, so the Keepers had to intervene. At 2.30 p.m. Sunyei chased the warthogs.

16 August 2004

Ndomot was first to move close to the new elephant, “Galana” in the morning, followed by Naserian. Sunyei did not want to interact, but greeted the new elephant when we came to see her in the evening.

17 August 2004

Sunyei tried to communicate with Galana by inserting her trunk into the newcomer’s mouth. Galana was very happy to see the other elephants, and was friendly, so all the Nursery babies interacted with her.

18 August 2004

Today, for the first time, Galana left the stockade along with the others. She was calm, but desperate for food and milk. She did not interact fully with the others during the morning, but did so in the evening. Ndomot began following her immediately.

19 August 2004

This was Galana’s second day out. She was bent on searching for greens, and Ndomot wanted to follow her, but then turns back towards Sunyei, as though deciding who should be the leader. Madiba and Naserian browsed close together. Ndomot chased the warthogs in the direction of Galana, who flapped her ears and scared them away.

20 August 2004

Another tussle developed between Ndomot and Madiba. Galana concentrated on feeding alone, with Sunyei and Naserian keeping close together for most of the day. Galana chased the warthogs and appears more active today.

21 August 2004

Today Galana refused to come back home and Sunyei also refused to get into her stable, remaining outside for almost 20 minutes until we decided to push her in. We don’t know the reason that she refused to go in today.

22 August 2004

For the second day Sunyei refused to go into her stable, but we manage to coax her in. Galana interacted fully with the other elephants today, following them everywhere. She even came for the mudbath for the first time, but left early to return to the bush.

23 August 2004

Shida was very interested in playing with the baby warthogs, but they were scared of his advances and ran away. Naserian wanted to push Galana, but Galana did not respond, and just kept on feeding.

24 August 2004

Early in the morning, Makosa happened to meet the Yard Man named Peterson, and chased him all the way to the gate. Peterson was bare foot, but he had to run for his dear life. In the afternoon, a group of giraffe with babies appeared, which scared the elephants, who ran helter skelter. Galana was lost in the bushes, but we soon found her.

25 August 2004

We routinely meet buffaloes out in the bush almost every day. Today we came across a small herd, which ran away. Ndomot enjoyed another warthog chase, but the warthogs have got used to him, and now refuse to run away, which makes him back down. Again, Sunyei did not want to go into her stable and had to be coaxed in.

26 August 2004

Another dramatic day for Shida, who spotted a buffalo, but this time the buffalo just walked off. At 11 a.m. on the way to the mudbath, we came across him taking water, so had to take a detour. Sunyei again was reluctant to enter her stable, but we don’t understand why.

27 August 2004

It was a fun afternoon, because all the elephants were surrounded by jumping and running impalas, whilst two males engaged in a fight. The weaker of the two began to run, and all the elephants and Keepers were hoping he would escape injury.

28 August 2004

Galana had a bad day, trying to push everyone down, and we had difficulty controlling her at the mudbath. In the afternoon she calmed down. Madiba and Ndomot had a play tussle.

29 August 2004

Galana fed close to Ndomot all day, whilst Madiba remained with Naserian, and Sunyei fed apart, not wanting to interact with the others even after we moved to a new area. We think she was jealous of Galana.

30 August 2004

Makosa came rushing towards us, as though being chased by something, so we all ran here and there, fearing that he was being pursued by a wild rhino. We decided to change location.

31 August 2004

Ndomot and Madiba had a play fight early in the morning, and Sunyei went in to separate them, which caused another fight between her and Ndomot. It was funny to see Naserian charging Galana, but Galana did not respond