A huge disappointment, and concern this month has been the jaw wound of Kora, which everyone hoped had healed following the long course of penicillin injections to which he was subjected last month. Having closed, and appeared healed for 2 weeks, the wound opened again, exuding a lot of watery pus, followed by small quantities of thick pus on a daily basis. This leaves us at a loss as to what to try next, the Vets adamant that it would be unwise to operate and risk further complications. Their advice is just to get him down to Tsavo as soon as possible, where he will have access to a variety of natural browse rich in minerals and vitamins, continue the homeopathic medication, and give it more time.
The arrival of a new baby in the Nursery on the 19th has been a highlight for the Nursery inmates. This little female calf, named “Chyulu”, was rescued by the Trust’s Chyulu Hills De-Snaring team, and held overnight at the Voi Stockades before being airlifted to Nairobi. She is about 6 months old, and already very friendly by the time she arrived, settling in instantly, and fussed over by Loijuk, Lualeni and, rather surprisingly, Makena, whom we suspected might be somewhat jealous of being usurped by a smaller competitor for Lualeni’s affection. However, instead Makena also wants to be a little “Mummy” to the new baby, who has the attention of all three young females, but especially Loijuk, who has embraced her as “her” special baby. Strangely, Sian, whom the Keepers believe will take over the Mini Matriarch-ship of the Nursery entourage seems disinterested, and lets the other young females monopolize the newcomer. It has been a very busy and happy month for the Nursery inmates, who have enjoyed entertaining the huge crowds of fans that turn up to see them on a daily basis during their mudbath hour following the BBC’s “Elephant Diaries” series, and the American 60 Minutes Programme. They enjoy playing football with the Keepers and showing off to the hordes of tourist admirers and local school children, who often turn up in batches of l00 plus. Makena is the “Beckham” of the Nursery football games, whereas Zurura, who could be a front-runner, is easily diverted by the laughter of the crowds.
Lualeni’s affection for Makena is steadfast and endures, as does the competition between Zurura and Makena. However, emulating Kora, who likes feeding apart from the other orphans, Zurura does the same in between teasing Makena and challenging Kamboyo, who enjoys a good tussle with his male Nursery peers. Kora is very gentle with both Zurura and Kamboyo when challenged by them, allowing them to appear to be winners, which pleases them immensely and boosts their confidence.
The Rhinos:- Shida features prominently in this month’s Diary, for he has taken to frequently and escaping from, and deliberately evading, his Keepers, having obviously decided that he is now sufficiently confident on his own to qualify as a“wild” and solitary rhino, having been walked around the dungpiles and urinals of the wild rhino inhabitants of the area for the past three years. He has befriended a family of warthogs who are always in the vicinity of the Stockades to enjoy any left-overs from the Staff Canteen and who also usually join him out in the bush to benefit from the protection of him and his Keepers. Shida enjoys playing with them, challenging them to a butting bout, where he is always the victor, and even lying down to allow them to clamber all over him pulling ticks off his body. (Rhinos are very sensuous animals, and any rubbing or scratching of their body prompts them to collapse in a blissful torpor! He often also enjoys chasing the giraffe around, or, in fact, any other animal that will run from him, but wary of the resident buffalo bulls! On many occasions this month he has been absent all day, turning up unattended at the mudbath at unexpected times, and bringing himself back to his Night Stockade long after dark. When he returned at 10 p.m. on the night of the 31st, he was accompanied by another adult wild rhino friend, who lacked the confidence to actually enter the Stockade with him, but was seen by the Keepers who were with Kora and Lualeni in their Night Stockade. It is very gratifying to know that Shida has an adult wild rhino friend, and that his reintegration back into the wild community has been successfully accomplished. This is always a challenge when hand-rearing the orphaned rhinos.
Meanwhile, Magnum has been extremely well behaved, and is now truly established within the wild rhino community of Nairobi Park, holding a territory on the plains below the Trust Headquarters. Only occasionally does he turn up back at base to enjoy a mudbath and monitor the scent trails around the mudbath and salt lick before heading off back down the hill again.