Keepers' Diaries, August 2010

Nairobi Nursery Unit

The loss of Mawenzi on the 8th has been a particularly painful loss for us all, for she had been with us almost 2 years, and was dearly loved by all, both four footed and two. For a long time Mawenzi has been ailing from a condition that refused to respond to every treatment we and the Vets could suggest. At least now she is out of pain, and had a peaceful ending surrounded by compassion, love and care, which would not have been the case had she been still a wild elephant calf. Rest in peace, Mawenzi. You are sorely missed.

01 August 2010

It has taken Kandecha a long time to prove to Chemi Chemi that he is dominant, mainly because he wanted time alone when he first came in. However, now he is responding to Chemi Chemi’s challenge and the two are becoming good friends.

02 August 2010

It is now almost a month since Murka came into the Nursery, having been allowed out of her Stockade two weeks ago, when she tried to run away, so had to be returned. Today she was again allowed out with the others orphans, all of whom tried to comfort and reassure her, except Melia, who was jealous and tried to push her away. Murka behaved very well today, and did not attempt to escape.

03 August 2010

Shukuru loves running home in the evenings ahead of all the others. Today she arrived about 4 minutes before all the others, and was first to greet all the evening foster-parents.

04 August 2010

Since Murka joined the older Orphans, they have not been coming to the mudbath for fear that the presence of the visitors might frighten her into trying to run away again. She needs time to understand that the Keepers are her friends who are trying to help her. When the group returns in the evening, all the other elephants escort Murka to her Stockade, and are very caring of her, seeming to understand that she needs their help.

05 August 2010

After several days introducing Murka to the mudbath venue, without the visitors, she was brought down today along with the other older elephants just before closing time. She took her bottles of milk in front of all the guests, who had been informed about her circumstances and asked to keep quiet. After that she went straight to the mudbath and began wallowing in the mud. Mutara kept close beside her all the time, touching her wounds gently with her trunk.

06 August 2010

There was another rescue alert today, this time a 2 year old calf in Tsavo East. The calf had been found alone on a neighbouring Ranch and had been taken to the Voi Stockades, from whence it was collected by air and flown to the Nursery, arriving at about 5 p.m. It was a bull of about 2 years old and was very aggressive, but took milk from a bucket and browsed well during the night.

07 August 2010

The newcomer, whom we named Sagalla – the name of the ranch where he was found – looked weak today and refused his milk from the bucket. After he collapsed he was put on a drip, but did not revive, and died at midnight.

08 August 2010

Having lost Sagalla, we are very concerned about Mawenzi’s health, which has been deteriorating for some time now. She began breathing very fast, and was put on a drip at 2 a.m. and died at l0.40 a.m. It was very painful to loose Mawenzi, who had been with us for almost 2 years, and had put up such a brave struggle against the ailment that has been troubling her for so long, but to no avail. We were very sorry that we could not help her. Rest in peace Mawenzi – we all loved you, but God loved you more!

09 August 2010

Shida came in during the evening very quietly and from an unusual direction as all the foster-parents were talking to Melia in her Stockade, so they did not see him coming. He stood behind them and they were shocked when they turned round and were confronted by a full grown rhino! Thankfully they did not panic. The Keepers called Shida by his name and he followed them into his Stockade as the two elderly foster-parents moved slowly away!.

10 August 2010

All the orphans woke up in a jovial mood, all running up and down chasing the warthogs who hang around the Stockades. Sities remained very playful even up until the mudbath hour, charging towards Mutara, who is very disciplined and calm like Kudup. Rather than confront Sities, Mutara did not want to push her but kept on running away which proves that she will make a wonderful Matriarch, unlike Melia, who is not as compassionate to newcomers as Mutara. Mutara is very nice to Murka.

11 August 2010

As soon as the orphans left their Stables in the morning, Chemi Chemi challenged Kandecha to a pushing bout, but Kandecha proved that he was no push-over. Chemi Chemi always wants to test all the boundaries.

12 August 2010

Nowadays Murka spends a lot of time browsing near Makireti, who is the other relative newcomer still grieving for her lost elephant family. Murka is slowly becoming more confident around the Keepers, but she remains very fearful of humans following the brutal attack she received in the bush which left her with such serious injuries. Her body wounds are recovering amazingly well but she still cannot use her trunk to take up water, but takes it from a bottle.

13 August 2010

For a long time there has been competition between Suguta and Olare for possession of little Sities, but Sities had settled the question, choosing Suguta as her favourite “mother”. Sities spends most of her time with Suguta and enjoys sucking on her ears. Whenever Olare approaches, she rumbled her disapproval! She also complains when she is separated from Suguta in the evenings and taken to her stable.

14 August 2010

Sities enjoys showing off at the noon mudbath, running along the line of visitors which gets everyone’s interest. She enjoys scaring the school kids who come to view the elephants, spreading her ears wide open! This makes the school kids scream and retreat, which Sities thoroughly enjoys, because it makes her feel big and important. She is mischievous just like Lempaute!

15 August 2010

Kalama has her own trick to entertain the evening foster-parents. She puts her front legs on the stable door and poses as though having her passport photograph taken. All the visitors love that because she embraces them with her trunk. She always welcomes whoever comes to her stable in the evenings.

16 August 2010

During the cold weather this month, the little rhino Maalim developed a respiratory problem. He appeared dull with laboured breathing and his legs seemed painful. An expert came to cut his toenails, because it was thought they were troubling him. He lay calmly as the Keepers rubbed his tummy, allowing the Nail Expert to do his job without a problem.

17 August 2010

In the evening, as the blankets are being put over the orphans to keep them warm during the night, Makireti, Murka and Kandecha run off and watch proceedings keenly from afar. Murka refuses to have a blanket put over her, remembering how she had to be restrained in order to clean her body wounds.

18 August 2010

Straight after having downed their noon milk feed, all the orphans rushed into the mudbath to cool themselves, since it had been a very hot day. The warthog who has been given the name Pembe, who was mauled by a lion, and subsequently submitted herself to a Penicillin injection, also wanted a mudbath, which caused some confusion. Kudup, Turkwell and Tano, reinforced by Kalama saw her off, ganging up to dispel her. This left Kalama “bush-bashing” which is something elephants do as a threat display.

19 August 2010

The orphans woke up in a playful mood, all running around bush-bashing, headed by Suguta, Tumaren, Olare, Melia and Kibo, making one hour eventful! Having settled down Kibo and Kandecha enjoyed a pushing game of strength, which was won by Kibo, who had the edge of Kandecha who is a relative newcomer and not yet strong enough.

20 August 2010

Since Maalim’s toenails were trimmed, he is more comfortable walking, but his breathing is still a problem, and he has a congested nose. He was put on a course of Nuroclav for pneumonia, and appeared to recover, because he began browsing again. We pray that he will recover fully.

21 August 2010

Although Maalim improved after his nails were trimmed, his breathing is still not right, so his Nuroclav course has been extended to 7 days rather than just 5. He is very strong, and it takes a lot of Keepers to subdue him for his inoculations.

22 August 2010

Maalim is trying to find his own territory. He doesn’t like staying where Shida has a dung midden. Instead he likes going with the Keepers to put his dung in a different place.

23 August 2010

When we opened up the elephants on a cold and misty morning, we were surprised to see Maxwell running around his Stockade without colliding with anything. No-one would believe that he is blind!

24 August 2010

The visitors really enjoy the mudbath hour, especially when the elephants get into it and roll around. Today Chemi Chemi was very active trying to knock the others down, especially Kalama, who often tries to discipline him. He is a very naughty little boy, and that is why the Keepers call him Al Quaida!

25 August 2010

Sities and Tano are very close friends. Whilst Tano sometimes pushes Shukuru, she never does that to Sities. Suguta also takes good care of little Sities and every morning as soon as the stables and stockades are opened up, Sities runs to greet Suguta, after which she sucks Suguta’s ears. Also at every feeding hour Sities wants to remain with Suguta who is in the Older Group.

26 August 2010

Murka is becoming much calmer and befriending Kandecha, often spending the entire day close to him. She is still very afraid of people approaching her from behind, obviously because of her wounds, and all the attention required to heal them. She still cannot take water up in her trunk, but all the wounds on her back are now healed. Only the head wound remains a problem.

27 August 2010

Every day Shukuru is first at the Milk Venue, running ahead of all the others. When feeding she does not want any of the others near by. She also loves chasing the warthogs, just like Lempaute used to do.

28 August 2010

Today, a visitor put his hand into Shida’s mouth when Shida had been shut in his old Stockade during the visiting hour, and had his finger bitten. We heard a loud scream, and all the Keepers came running to see what the problem was and saw the visitors hand stuck in Shida’s mouth. The Keepers called Shida by name and he released the man’s finger. The injured visitor was directed to the Office for first aid and then sent to Karen Hospital. One visitor told us that the man had his hand in Shida’s mouth for about 2 minutes before Shida chomped it! We could not believe that someone would be so foolish as to put a hand into a full grown rhino’s mouth.

29 August 2010

All the elephants left for the bush in a jovial mood. At 11 a.m. we received a Rescue Alert from Tassia Lodge in Samburu that they had an orphan in need of help which had been mauled by predators. We had actually taken off from Wilson Airport and were en route when the news came that the calf had died, so the rescue had to be aborted.

30 August 2010

Yesterday was a busy day, especially for Kalama, who loves humans and became the star of a filming crew from Italy who came to do a story for their Geographic Magazine. They arrived a bit late, just as we were preparing to go to the mudbath, but Kalama went to greet them, and before we even left for the mudbath venue, the crew had already fallen in love with her. During the afternoon, they filmed her out in the bush, and also when she went to bed. The only snag was that they kept on having to have a repeat shot, taking Kalama out of her stable, and the Keepers had difficulty persuading her to go back in, until the Keepers said “Enough was Enough”!

31 August 2010

Murka is more comfortable with the younger babies than the older elephants, something that has been evident for some time, because whenever the orphans are separated into two groups, she always wants to remain with the smaller babies. Whilst browsing she still likes to be alone, although sometimes Olara is often next to her, comforting her. She enjoys the love and gentleness of the smaller elephants, especially Mutara and never pushes them.