Keepers' Diaries, August 2008

Nairobi Nursery Unit

It has been a busy month at the Nursery with the arrival of two newcomers, both victims of poaching. A 9 month old baby bull, whose mother was the victim of poisoned arrow poaching came into the Nursery from the Taita Hills Sanctuary on the 10th and has been named “Taveta”. He was malnourished, with sunken cheeks, so had obviously been without his mother for some time. However, he settled immediately, displaying practically no aggression, and was calm enough to be out and about with the others the very next. All the Nursery elephants crowded around him, welcoming him into the fold, but he is an independent little elephant, prone to wandering off on his own, so Lesanju and Lempaute keep a close eye on him, and steer him back each time. He rapidly mastered the feeding hours, and leaves the others to turn up looking for his milk ahead of time, leaving the Keepers marveling at his intelligence! But, he has thrived from the start, and is gaining weight rapidly.

01 August 2008

On a rainy morning, the older elephants were happy to come out of their night stables and play in the puddles. They ran up and down, breaking bushes and rolling in the mud. The babies did not come out until 9 a.m. because of the rain and the fear of them contracting pneumonia.

02 August 2008

This morning Dida was ambushed by a warthog, and was scared to emerge from the stable, until Lesanju and Lempaute came along and dispatched the warthog.

03 August 2008

As we were sitting on the rocks out in the bush Lempaute came close and began kicking over the rocks. Under one of the rocks was a snake, which slid towards the Keepers, scaring us all, while Lempaute ran away towards the other elephants who were browsing nearby.

04 August 2008

We took the orphans to a huge dust pile out in the Park, where they enjoyed playing. Even little Kimana had a wonderful time rolling around in the dust.

05 August 2008

Lempaute was up to her usual trick today, scaring the school kids that came to see the orphans at the mudbath. Some of the kids left screaming, and were too scared to return. Meanwhile Lempaute looked visibly pleased with herself.

06 August 2008

Little Kimana is getting stronger every day and likes to push Dida. Today he pushed Dida so hard that she ran to Lesanju for help!

07 August 2008

Shimba got involved in a fight with Kenia today, in which Kenia emerged victorious. This disappointed Shimba and he tried to feel better by trying to mount Dida, but the Keepers prevented him.

08 August 2008

Sinya is very possessive of Lesanju and resents any of the other babies coming close to Lesanju. Today she pushed Kimana away.

09 August 2008

Wasessa is now fully integrated into the group of the older Nursery elephants, but does not like the babies, probably because they have blankets over them. Wasessa has always refused to have anything to do with a blanket, and even tries to pull the blankets off the backs of the babies. However, she is now quiet and turning into a very nice elephant.

10 August 2008

Today saw the arrival of a new baby to the Nursery, this time a little bull estimated to be about 9 months old, who has been named “Taveta”. He looked very malnourished, with sunken cheeks, indicating that he has been without his mother for some time. When the other elephants returned in the evening, Dida and Shimba were very anxious to talk to him and continually exchanged trunks through the partition that separated their stable from that occupied by the newcomer.

11 August 2008

At 8 a.m. today all the orphans came to meet little Taveta. They crowded around him when he was let out to join them, all wanting to touch him with their trunks. Lesanju and Lempaute were particularly anxious to welcome him.

12 August 2008

Today it was very touching to see how Lesanju followed Taveta’s every step, wanting to care for him, and bring him back into the fold whenever he wandered away from the main group.

13 August 2008

Today out in the bush Lesanju suddenly came running to the Keepers, rumbling in an anxious way, which was unusual. We went to see what had troubled her and found little Taveta lying down. We woke him up, and he seemed alright because he began browsing. Obviously Lesanju was anxious about him lying down and came to alert us.

14 August 2008

Today Taveta did not want to come to the mudbath during the visiting hour. He rushed off into the bush. All the others followed him and rounded him up, so that all then returned together.

15 August 2008

Today it was Lempaute who wanted to care for little Taveta. He kept walking away from the main group, and she continually followed him and turned him back again.

16 August 2008

Sinya, who used to be very caring of all the babies, is now focused only on Dida, and pushes Kimana, Kenia and Taveta away whenever they come close to Dida.

17 August 2008

Shimba and Kenia play-fought throughout the visiting hour at the mudbath, which interested all the visitors. The Keepers tried to stop them, but they were determined to continue, Kenia constantly seeking out Shimba to start the fight all over again. She is always the winner.

18 August 2008

A herd of impalas came running past the elephants whilst they were feeding out in the bush today. All ran to the Keepers for protection, except Kimana who ran towards the impalas. We think he was confused. In the late evening we were alerted about the need for an elephant rescue. A very small calf had been found at around 9 a.m. on its own having entered a Samburu manyatta. It had been captured by the owners of the homestead and taken to the KWS camp at Saguta for the night, near Maralal town, where it was given water.

19 August 2008

Having communicated with Angela Sheldrick, who was in Tsavo, permission was obtained from the KWS Maralal Warden to move the calf to the airstrip on Mugie Ranch where it could be collected and flown by air to the Nursery. Having been told that the calf was very thin and very weak, having been without its mother for some time, the rescue team went equipped with a Dextrose and Hartman’s drip to insert into an ear vein during the flight, which they managed to do, when the calf descended into a comatose condition. Meanwhile, Angela had arranged that a Vet be waiting at the Nursery.

20 August 2008

The new baby was not able to get up and feed this morning, so we inserted the drip into an ear vein again. She regained consciousness at around 2 p.m. and took some milk and rehydrants. She was very restless, walking round and round the stable, and only fell asleep again at 1 a.m.

21 August 2008

Kimana, who has been moved in with Dida and Shimba did not like his new quarters and kept walking round and round, even though Shimba did his best to calm him. He only fell asleep at about 2 a.m.

22 August 2008

Since the arrival of Saguta, the new elephant, Kimana likes to sleep during the day rather than at night, when he stays awake most of the night. We don’t know why he doesn’t like being in with Dida and Shimba.

23 August 2008

Today, Taveta decided to leave all the other orphans out in the bush and come alone to the mudbath ahead of time looking for his milk. He has already mastered the feeding hours and is always there ahead of time to get his bottle first.

24 August 2008

Taveta was really eager for his milk at the noon mudbath. He rushed up to his bottles and as there was no keeper about tried to pick up the bottle by himself. All he managed to do was remove the teat from the bottle and hold it in his mouth. By this time the keeper had arrived and he was fed his milk.

25 August 2008

Suguta contines to improve on a daily basis. She is however still rather week and does therefore not go out with the rest of the nursery babies.

26 August 2008

Today Kimana wanted Siria all to himself and did not let any of the other orphans come close to him. He spent the day pushing Kenia away whenever she approached Siria. This angered Kenia who retaliated by pushing Kimana into a mudpool.

27 August 2008

Today Maxwell left his stockade for the first time since he was brought to the Nursery. The painters who have been renovating his stockade left the metal bar off the door and he ventured out, exploring the area and was found having a drink from one of the orphans water drums. The keepers struggled to get Maxwell back into his stockade as he was busy taking in all the new and different smells around him.

28 August 2008

The orphans day out was disrupted by the constant fighting between two large male baboons battling over the same territory. Neither one was willing to back down and fought for the entire day, without there being a victor.

29 August 2008

Suguta has bonded well with her keepers and is often found sucking on their fingers or their dustcoats. She follows them, responding to their calls and signs.

30 August 2008

Today Wasessa, who is still nervous around big crowds, positioned herself between Lesanju and Sinya. Lempaute did not like this and approached Wasessa from behind, pushing her slowly forward so that she could take her place. This caused Wasessa to retreat from the visiting public and stand further away.

31 August 2008

Suguta has gained some weight and has improved dramatically. Her character is starting to show as she resists the keepers when they try to lead her in a direction that she does not want to take. She has even started rumbling and making other sounds, something that she was not doing before.