Keepers' Diaries, August 2005

Nairobi Nursery Unit

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.

01 August 2005

The month began on a very jubilant note. At the mudbath the orphans put on a spectacular show for the visitors, kicking the football around, trumpeting with happiness and excitement, rolling around in the huge tube, and chasing each other around the bushes in a game of hide and seek, hoping to come across a warthog to charge. It was very amusing to see them all, head held eye, ears out like sails, as they frolicked around, and wonderful to see them all being so playful.

02 August 2005

It was a very cold day, with all the elephants in their blankets. At mudbath, none of them wanted to wallow, but Shida the rhino entertained the visitors, by running around and jumping up and down.

03 August 2005

Naserian, Lualeni and Kora fed together whilst Rapsu and Buchuma were slightly separate. Buchuma initiated a pushing fight with Rapsu and Naserian left the babies to come and separate them. However, Buchuma kept on coming after Rapsu, who was trying to escape, and this made Naserian very angry with Buchuma. She pushed him very hard, and then followed him for some time to see that he did not misbehave again.

04 August 2005

After the 9 a.m. milk feed, Lualeni noticed some warthogs nearby, and began to chase them. They ran away very fast, which pleased Lualeni, who managed a squeaky trumpet! Naserian came running to Lualeni, whom she met midway, as Lualeni was returning from the chase.

05 August 2005

All the elephants were very happy as the Coconut Oil was applied to their skin. Buchuma lay down, and Rapsu climbed on him, whilst Naserian lay down and allowed Lualeni and Kora to climb on her. They were all very playful today.

06 August 2005

Lualeni and Kora had a wonderfully playful time, Lualeni lying down and Kora climbing on her, each taking turns to be the one lying down. Naserian then came and lay down so that both Kora and Lualeni could climb on her. It was a lovely motherly morning for her!

07 August 2005

Kora decided to test his strength by trying to push Buchuma today, but Buchuma did not respond. In the evening Kora chased the warthogs.

08 August 2005

Today was the first warm day we had had for a long time, so all the elephants really enjoyed their mudbath, with Lualeni leading all the others playfully.

09 August 2005

A family of warthogs came close to where the elephants were feeding in the forest, so Kora put out his big ears and chased them. All the other elephants watched closely in case he needed some back-up, but he managed to see them off all alone, which made him very happy.

10 August 2005

Lualeni and Naserian were feeding close together, when Buchuma arrived and pushed Lualeni, who bellowed. This alerted Naserian who retaliated by pushing Buchuma very hard, after which she shielded Lualeni from Buchuma’s bullying.

11 August 2005

It was a very wet morning, which made the orphans reluctant to venture into the bush. Kora and Lualeni enjoyed a gentle pushing game. Lualeni ran away, pursued by Kora, which took them into the wet bushes.

12 August 2005

Kora tried to climb on Naserian, who was lying on the ground, but Buchuma came and disrupted the game. Kora and Buchuma then had a pushing match, but upon realising he was no match for Buchuma, Kora gave up and ran off, leaving Buchuma without a partner.

13 August 2005

In the morning “tricky” Buchuma pulls one of his pranks, pretending to have seen something scarey, and running to the Keepers. All the others followed, running very fast, so the Keepers went to investigate, but found nothing untoward, so Buchumas trick on his mates worked!

14 August 2005

Rapsu ventured away into the bushes, away from the others, to feed, but came rushing back screaming, having been scared by something in the bush, but we didn’t find anything untoward.

15 August 2005

Naserian and Rapsu fed close to one another, occasionally playing together pushing each other. Rapsu was very gentle when it was his turn to push Naserian.

16 August 2005

The elephants all started playing happily having been released from their night stables. It began to drizzle with rain, which excited them very much. They all began trumpeting and running through low shrubs. On our way to the forest we encountered a large herd of impala which excited the orphans even further. Kora and Lualeni led the charge, which made all the impala jump and leap over bushes.

17 August 2005

Having been fed, Rapsu decided to put up a brave fight against Buchuma, who has been molesting him. Buchuma realised that Rapsu was serious and ran off, pursued by Rapsu. Rapsu was very happy, and came back trumpeting with satisfaction.

18 August 2005

It was a memorable day for all the Keepers, because at about 5 p.m., when Shida, the rhino, was being brought back for the night, he started running back into the bush. The Keepers tried to follow, but could not find him. At 7 p.m. all the Keepers went in search of him, but gave up at around 8.45 p.m. At 2.30 a.m. Shida returned on his own to his Stockade, much to everyone’s relief. It was a worrying day.

19 August 2005

Some Black Kites were circling low over the elephants, so Lualeni raised her trunk and tried to follow them. She was joined by Buchuma in this game. At 2 p.m. Kora gave chase to a group of warthogs who had come to feed nearby. He chased them for about half an hour until they left.

20 August 2005

During the mudbath, Rapsu was very playful, lying on the large tractor tube and then jumping up with his ears out to play with the football. Kora and Buchuma also joined in the game of football, trumpeting happily, and rushing back and forth after the ball. Naserian joined the others in the game just before it was time to leave. All the visitors were very happy to see the elephants having such fun.

21 August 2005

The day began on a very jubilant note, with all the elephants rushing around with outspread ears, and trumpeting happily. This game was started by Naserian but all the orphans joined in, Buchuma playing a leading role.

22 August 2005

Soon after leaving in the morning, the elephants came across the herd of impala again, and enjoyed chasing them, each going in a different direction after the leaping antelopes. Lualeni and Kora keeping together.

23 August 2005

Makosa proved a problem today when he happened upon the Rhino Keepers with Shida. He kept following them. Eventually, they managed to shout for help, so the two Rhino Keepers, who looked after Makosa when young, came and chased him away.

24 August 2005

Today, Magnum unexpectedly appeared at the Orphans mudbath, scaring all the visitors, as well as the elephants. The elephants ran off pursued by their Keepers and Magnum, (who was also scared by everyone’s reaction), but everything calmed down when the Rhino Keepers appeared and escorted him off down the hill with a barrowful of Copra, allowing the elephants to return to the mudbath.

25 August 2005

The BBC arrived early to film for an “Elephant Diaries” update, scheduled to be screened before Christmas. They were filming at Lualeni’s stable door, so as soon as Naserian was let out, she went to Lualeni to make sure she was still there! The BBC crew then went ahead to set up the camera and Naserian rushed ahead with outspread ears to protect her little family. However, she soon realised that no harm was meant them, so she calmed down, and was happy for the team to be with her group all day.

26 August 2005

Rapsu found the presence of the BBC team rather puzzling today. He kept on raising his trunk to scent them, trumpeting and putting his ears out. However, Naserian remembered them and enjoyed playing with one of their number.

27 August 2005

Upon leaving his Night Quarters, Rapsu stumbled on the warthogs, and gave them “a good morning chase”. He was joined by little Lualeni, which forced Naserian to become involved, because Naserian is extremely protective of Lualeni, viewed as her special baby. Buchuma is still extremely pushy, even towards Lualeni and Kora, but they do not want to take him on. Nor does Rapsu, but Buchuma is determined to engage someone all day long!

28 August 2005

Kora became very excited when he spotted some warthogs running towards him. He charged, backed up by Lualeni, and then Naserian.

29 August 2005

Determined to prove his strength, Kora stood his ground with his ears outspread after Buchuma had given him a hard shove.

30 August 2005

At about 12.30 p.m. the orphans were brought close to the stable of the new baby, little Narripi. Naserian was a little disturbed when she touched the wounded trunk of the sleeping baby and Lualeni, who also took a quick look, was likewise upset.

31 August 2005

At 12 p.m., after the mudbath, Naserian went running back to the stable of Narripi, whilst the Keepers searched for her in the forest, not knowing where she had gone. Upon arrival at the stable, she trumpeted, scaring away the visitors who were looking over the stable door, and forced the door open. She spent some time with the new baby, not wanting to leave him, until we forced her out and back to the others.