The 30th August saw another elephant rescue, this time a 3 week old baby bull calf who became stuck down a waterhole dug by Masai tribesmen for their cattle near the Amboseli Tanzanian border. The previous morning, a passing Warrior, curious about the disturbed soil and elephant footprints around this watering point, went to take a closer look, and spotted the calf at the bottom of the hole, its tiny trunk waving frantically, the end of which had been bitten off by hyaenas during the night. The Warrior then walked l0 miles on foot to the Amboseli Headquarters to report the presence of the baby at the watering point called “Narripi”, which is a Maa word meaning “Male Guide”. This man must be commended for having the compassion to walk that distance, when it would have been much easier to simply continue his journey.
The Researchers along with some Rangers set off to rescue the baby, and managed to pull it free, but decided to wait there hoping that the elephant family would return and collect it. However, as there was no sign of the herd returning as darkness approached, the calf was taken back to the Amboseli Park Headquarters, and we were alerted by phone that an air rescue was needed. However, by now it was far too late for the plane to leave Nairobi, so we advised them how to proceed, and to alert us first thing in the morning if the calf had survived the night. It did, so the rescue plane was airborn at dawn, and by 9.30 a.m. little “Narripi” was with us in the Nairobi Nursery, though in a pitiful state, missing part of his trunk, with deep bite wounds further up, and eyes caked with mud.
However, he had taken water during the night at Amboseli, and been fed a bottle of milk by our Keepers before flying back. Being a mud victim, he will be at risk from both pneumonia, and diarrheoa, having ingested copious quantities of mud and dirty water, and his trunk will need a lot of attention, possibly involving cutting away dead tissue under anaesthesia later. And so, yet again, we face the emotional roller-coaster of trying to heal and save this tiny 3 week old “Male Guide”, saved by a Warrior Guide and at the request of the Amboseli personnel, named “Narripi”.
For the other Nursery five, it has been a very happy month that has seen Naserian relishing her leadership role, and enjoying having little Lualeni and Kora all to herself and both Lualeni and Kora now happy, plump and playful. Naserian adores them both.
She was shown little “Narripi” during the afternoon of his arrival, but obviously the hyaena scent still with him, and the fact that he was underneath a blanket, sleeping, startled her. However, as the day wore on, it began to dawn on her that the little bundle she had seen, might, in fact, be a baby elephant, and that night she was restless and didn’t sleep a wink. After the noon mudbath on the 31st, once out in the bush, she suddenly ran off, heading back to Narripi’s stable, whilst the Keepers, who had not noticed where she had gone, went in search of her out in the bush! As she neared the stable, she trumpeted, scaring the visitors who were looking over the stable door at Narripi, and opening the door herself, she went straight in, and spent a long time with him, welcoming him to the fold, and fussing over him. Naserian, the traumatised baby that was rejected by the wild herds and almost drowned in the Uaso Nyiro River in Elephant Diaries is, indeed, now the mini Matriarch of the Nursery group, and a very conscientious and loving one at that despite her tender age!
The “bad” boy of the Nursery group this month has been Buchuma, who is obviously missing his previous sparring partners, Ndomot and Madiba. Being a very competitive little bull, he is forever eager to try and assert dominance over the others, and his attention now focuses on poor Rapsu. Whilst Rapsu has the distinct advantage of small tusks, and is a older than Buchuma, he is a very peaceloving and affectionate elephant, bent on dreamingly sucking a Keepers’ hand, something that gives him tremendous pleasure, but obviously fuels jealousy in Buchuma making him even more determined to shove Rapsu around. Naserian takes action to reprimand him whenever he pushes her favourites, Lualeni or Kora, but tends to feel that Rapsu should be able to take care of himself, and he does so when pushed too far, but would rather not have to! Whilst Buchuma is pushy with his elephant peers, he is very affectionate and gentle to all our human visitors, reserving any aggression tendencies for poor Rapsu. It was cause for celebration when Kora decided to take him on, since this was indication that his broken jaw was up to a shoving match! However, he soon realised that he was no match for Buchuma, and tends to avoid him, as does Lualeni.
Kora’s jaw has all but healed completely now, with just the odd droplet of pus seen very occasionally from what is now a tiny hole closing fast. The fact that Kora is now so carefree and playful, and also nice and plump, means that his recovery from the terrible bullet wound that left his lower jaw shattered, is almost complete. The pain he endured so stalwartly for so long, thankfully is now fast becoming a distant memory. It is also wonderful to see little Lualeni now a happy and playful baby, and Rapsu, who arrived in such an emaciated condition and aggressive state of mine, plump, contented, playful and happy. Only Buchuma is a disruptive factor to an otherwise peaceful Nursery group. However, Buchuma, is another who has endured a great deal of suffering for many months, so each and every one of our Nursery elephants have been through the mill, as it were. Enjoying them as they are today gives us a tremendous feeling of satisfaction for healing each from both physical and psychological wounds has been an enormous challenge and caused a great deal of anxiety.
The Nursery elephants have enjoyed chasing impalas this month, as well as the usual warthog charges, whilst little Lualeni one day enjoyed a game trying to follow some circling kites. At the noon mudbath, they all entertain the visitors royally, romping in their huge tractor tube, expertly playing football with the Keepers amidst squeaky trumpets and rushing round bushes. Lualeni has a special trick. She reverses up to the rope that separates the guests from the mudbath, and waggles her bottom in a little dance, which never ceases to delight the audience!
The BBC spent two days filming for the proposed “Elephant Diaries Update” scheduled for Christmas. At first Naserian was wary of their intentions towards Lualeni, possibly suspecting another “move”, and Rapsu was also somewhat alarmed by the presence of so many people, probably suspecting another “capture”, but Naserian soon remembered them all, and enjoyed playing with Simon Nash.
The Rhinos:- For sometime Shida has shown reluctance returning to his Night Stockade, obviously wanting to be out and about during the hours of darkness, when most wild rhino activity now takes place. On the 18th, he had his way, running back into the bush, and evading detection from a search party of all the Keepers who gave up at after 9 p.m. for fear of encountering the wild buffalo or Makosa! However, Shida brought himself back home in the early hours of the morning, very contrite, and since then has decided that his comfortable Night Quarters at home are preferable to a scarey night out in the bush on his own!
Makosa, has been as feisty as ever, choosing to give chase to members of the staff who are overtly scared of him and whom he views as fair game! He is definitely the most feisty rhino orphan we have ever reared! On the 23rd, he chased Shida’s Keeper up a tree, and then stood guard underneath, refusing to allow the man to come down. He managed to summon reinforcements in the form of the two experienced Rhino Keepers but they too were seen off as they approached and eventually it took a coalition of four to Eventually, only a coalition of four stalwarts managed to chase Makosa from the foot of the tree and free Shida’s unfortunate Keeper from his perch!
Magnum, on the other hand, is very quiet and peace loving, friendly to whoever feels like rewarding him with a banana whenever he appears at Daphne’s front steps, and willingly sharing his food with the resident warthogs, who trail him and the wheelbarrow of “goodies”. However, on the 24th he appeared unexpectedly from behind a bush near the orphans’ mudbath, which scared both the elephants and the visitors alike! Their reaction in turn scared Magnum himself, so there was a general stampede of bellowing elephants, a snorting 8 year old rhino bull, and squealing humans until the Keepers could re-establish control. Magnum was escorted off with a wheelbarrow of offerings, (trailed by the pigs), the elephants returned to the mudbath as did the visitors, who seemed to enjoy the extra curricular activity!
For several days towards the end of the month, Makosa had been taking a great interest in where Magnum had been, trailing his footsteps, and adding his contribution to the urinals normally frequented by Magnum. On the 30th, as we awaited the arrival of little “Narripi”, Magnum turned up and a confrontation ensued, which began in a civilized fashion, horn to horn with Magnum successfully pushing Makosa backwards. However, the tables soon turned when Makosa retaliated strongly, and soon it was Magnum who was losing the contest, as an anxious human audience rooted for him to teach Makosa a good lesson! The punch-up became more intense, amidst clouds of dust in Daphne’s front yard, and Angela pleading with Robert to “do something about it”! However, both Robert and Daphne know that to become involved in a rhino fight is not a wise move! Soon Magnum was running down the hill, with Makosa in full pursuit, his horn inches from Magnum’s rear end, but it didn’t end there, because both turned up again, and the battle resumed in the front yard. However, it ended with Makosa running back towards his stamping ground at the back, and Magnum taking off down the hill where he normally resides, trailed by the ever-hopeful warthogs. When the Vet came to attend to “Narripi” we warned him that there could be two more candidates in need of attention once we had had the opportunity to assess the damage!