Keepers' Diaries, August 2007

Nairobi Nursery Unit

There was great excitement in the Nursery when an orphan from the Mount Elgon population was brought in during the evening of the 4th August, having fallen down a dis-used Pit Latrine just outside the Western boundary of the Park. The Mount Elgon population of elephants is unique for the caves and tunnels they have chiseled out of that ancient extinct volcano in their search for minerals and it is, in fact, the one elephant population in Kenya that is not represented amongst our orphans.

01 August 2007

A slight morning drizzle delayed the exit of the smaller elephants in the morning, something that was not appreciated by Lempaute and Lesanju, but Shimba didn’t mind. He simply kept on feeding on the grass placed in his stable.

02 August 2007

At the noon mudbath, a warthog decided to join the orphans, to which Makena objected strongly. Immediately she charged the warthog, who ran towards, and then through, the crowd of visitors, sending them shrieking, screaming and laughing in retreat. Everyone enjoyed the show.

03 August 2007

For no apparent reason, today, early in the morning, Lempaute and Lesanju decided to pick a quarrel with Shimba, and ganged up against him. The Keepers had to intervene, not understanding why the two girls should target him, since he had just emerged from his Night Stable, which is adjoining to that shared by the two girls.

04 August 2007

Today, Kamboyo, who is bigger than Lenana, with longer tusks, decided to push Lenana away, even though she is the Matriarch of the Orphaned Unit. She could not stand her ground against Kamboyo. The Keepers could not decide whey Kamboyo targeted her in this way. In the evening, we received a new orphan, named “Elgon” from the Mount Elgon National Park boundary. She had been orphaned by falling down a 28 ft. dis-used Pit Latrine the previous night.

05 August 2007

Makena and Chyulu are close friends, who always feed alongside one another. We brought all the elephants to greet the new baby, “Elgon”, and Makena and Chyulu were the first to go and comfort her. The new calf has two damaged limbs on one side of her body, and is very stiff and sore from her ordeal, so is being kept quiet in one of the Stockades until she is tamer and has recovered enough to be allowed out.

06 August 2007

The three small babies were brought into Elgon’s Stockade to keep her company and comfort her. Lempaute was very friendly and immediately went up to her, whilst Lesanju stood apart and Shimba seemed preoccupied with his own agenda!

07 August 2007

Today was different to yesterday in that Lesanju embraced the new baby, putting her trunk into the newcomer’s mouth, and remaining very close to her throughout the morning. Shimba and Lempaute were happy to allow Lesanju priority today.

08 August 2007

After the mudbath, the older orphans were brought to see little Elgon, and the females were very excited and welcoming towards her. Zurura and Kamboyo did not seem interested. When it was time to leave in order to return to the forest to browse, Chyulu did not want to leave little Elgon.

09 August 2007

Out in the field today, some warthogs approached the three small elephants. Lempaute, Shimba and Lesanju began to charge them, but the warthogs continued approaching, until the elephants lost their nerve, and ran to the Keepers for protection.

10 August 2007

A troupe of baboons, all walking in a line, was split when Chyulu and Makena charged them. However, a big male baboon refused to run, which unphased the elephants who began to retreat towards the Keepers. Later, the entire group decided to run from where the baboons were walking.

11 August 2007

Again, the older elephants were brought to see little Elgon, who is much better, and can now walk, putting more weight on her damaged front and back legs. She was surrounded by Lenana, Makena and Chyulu who were touching and smelling her all over. Kamboyo and Zurura meet Elgon every evening and night, since they are next door to her Stockade. She spends a long time reaching through the bars to greet and touch them whenever they come home.

12 August 2007

After a long spell of chilly weather, it was sunny and bright today, so the elephants were very happy, running up and down, Kamboyo and Zurura trumpeting and breaking small bushes, which is always a sign of excitement.

13 August 2007

Lesanju has decided to assume full responsibility for Elgon, wanting to remain close to her throughout the day, even lying down close to her whenever Elgon chooses to lie down and rest, so that the new baby does not feel lonely.

14 August 2007

Today Elgon seemed in pain, and was breathing heavily. We decided to take her back to her Stockade so that she would not be disturbed, because the three babies want to play with her As we took Elgon back, Lesanju ran back to be alongside her. The Keepers tried to return Lesanju to the bush, but she refused to go, running up and down and very distressed, passing a lot of stools, so in the end the Keepers relented, and allowed all three small elephants to accompany Elgon back to the Stockade. They spent the day in the Stockade with Elgon, and all calmed down and were relaxed.

15 August 2007

Lempaute was up to her usual tricks at the mudbath, running up and down the cordon of tourists, and focusing on children by going under and then lying at their feet. Today she took a particular interest in a small boy visitor, who screamed and ran away. This excited Lempaute very much, and it was difficult to control her, because she wanted to follow the small boy and play with him, but he was too scared.

16 August 2007

Because Elgon has to have her own Night Stockade, the two boys, Kamboyo and Zurura, who are good friends, have been put in together. But tonight they did not have a good sleep, instead pushing each other and arguing, the first time they have behaved like this since being put back in together.

17 August 2007

At about 2 p.m. today, Zurura seemed very hungry and decided to go back to the Stockades looking for more milk. As the Keepers came behind him, he simply ran faster until he reached the Stockade, and refused to return for an hour until he was convinced that there was no milk forthcoming until 3 p.m.

18 August 2007

Elgon is having further complications now, with blood coming from the trunk and the mouth, which is not a good sign. We called the Vet, who instructed us to keep her on injectable antibiotics (the 3rd course she has had in two weeks). She has not improved despite all the medication, so only God will decide her fate.

19 August 2007

Just before returning to the Stockades in the evening, Zurura and Kamboyo were in a jovial mood and decided to embark on a strength testing match. This was won by Kamboyo, who has the advantage of longer tusks. It was interesting to watch them play together.

20 August 2007

At 11 a.m., when it was time for the small babies to head to the mudbath, Lesanju did not want to leave Elgon. She remained behind with Elgon, so in the end we took only Lempaute and Shimba.

21 August 2007

It was a very sad day for us all, because our little Elgon died during the night, just when we all thought that she was becoming stronger, and had noticed some improvement in her condition. The three small elephants who were used to keeping her company looked very dejected and sad all day long, especially Lesanju, who loved her very much.

22 August 2007

The young group were still very dejected today. Early in the morning Lesanju rushed out of the stable as usual to meet Elgon, but found the door closed. She forced the door open with her foreleg, but couldn’t find Elgon. Eventually, the Keepers managed to move her away to meet all the others out in the bush, and then she seemed to accept that her little friend was missing, but obviously still expected her to return.

23 August 2007

As like yesterday, Lesanju was eager to rush out of her Night Stable first thing in the morning to meet Elgon, but this time she noticed that something was wrong because she spent a long time smelling all around, but could not find Elgon’s scent, since the Stockade and been cleaned and kept vacant. Once out in the bush, Lesanju tried to persuade Lempaute to accompany her back to the Stockade. After the mudbath, instead of heading out to the bush as usual, she did a detour to Elgon’s Stockade, and then went searching for her in the bush where they used to feed during the day.

24 August 2007

Normally at the mudwallow, Lenana is last to take the plunge, but surprisingly, today, although it was not a hot day, she was first in, and in fact the only one to take a mudbath at the public visiting hour. Also out in the bush she took advantage of a puddle left by last night’s light drizzle to lie down and roll, leaving Makena and Chyulu to monopolize little Shimba for a change.

25 August 2007

Shimba always enjoys being in the midst of the older group, usually very close to Lenana. Today Kamboyo knocked down a tree which was rotten, which fell with a crash, scaring Shimba, who ran as fast as his legs could carry him to the Keepers, trumpeting and with his temporal glands running because he was so scared. Lenana raced behind him, also trumpeting.

26 August 2007

Lesanju is still very stressed over the death of little Elgon. Every morning she rushes to the Stockade once occupied by Elgon, and finding her absent, turns back, walking slowly and looking depressed. Shimba is a very calm little boy. The visitors like him very much because he not pushy and everyone wants a picture alongside him. He is a favourite amongst all the elephants as well as the visitors.

27 August 2007

Lesanju will make a very caring and loving Matriarch in the fullness of time. She is very responsible, still concerned about the absence of Elgon. Every day she looks for her still.

28 August 2007

The elephants all charged out of their Night Stockade very early in the morning, all in a joyous mood to greet a new day which was a lot warmer. Kamboyo likes to demonstrate his strength and rank to Zurura by pushing down small trees. He looks upon himself as the boss of the group, since he has the advantage of the longest tusks and is bigger in body than the girls. Zurura is the same body size, but with shorter tusks.