Keepers' Diaries, August 2011

Nairobi Nursery Unit

A terrible Nursery tragedy this month was the death of baby Mumbushi on the 30th who was deeply loved and will be sorely missed. Mumbushi who was just two months old, came in with a deep cut across his face, one damaged eye that threatened to go blind, both of which entailed a great deal of attention. All this, plus the loss of his elephant family was compounded by the onset of teething, which always causes problems in the infant elephants. It was all simply too much for him. He has been deeply missed by all his Nursery companions, but especially by Tano and Mutara who were always at his Stockade door first thing in the morning to escort him out into the bush. He died during the early hours of the morning, and on that day both ran to his stable door, raised their trunks in the air, bellowed and turned and walked away, obviously instinctively knowing that he had passed away. All the Nursery females grieved for him deeply.

01 August 2011

Training of the three Nursery elephants who will soon be leaving for Ithumba is going well, although Ololoo has shown some resistance on occasions.

02 August 2011

Tano is proving a very loyal and competent little “mother” for baby “Mumbushi”, even more so than Shukuru. Whereas Shukuru will leave Mumbushi to run for her milk, Tano will remain by his side and wait for him to take his bottle first.

03 August 2011

Today, having left her Night Stockade, Solio enjoyed playing with blind Maxwell, Maxwell running up and down inside his Enclosure with Solio keeping abreast of him on the outside. The game lasted about half an hour, and was thoroughly enjoyed by both rhinos. Ololoo went into the Elephant Truck without any hesitation today.

04 August 2011

For some reason the elephants do not like people crouching down. Although the Keepers always tell the noon visitors not to crouch down, today one person did, and nearly got knocked over by Makireti. Shukuru was very protective of little Mumbushi at the Open Viewing hour today, and would not let anyone touch him.

05 August 2011

This is the last day in the Nursery for Kalama, Chemi Chemi and Ololoo, who will be leaving for Ithumba very early tomorrow morning. It was as though Kalama sensed this, because she was extra playful and attentive towards all the others, as though bidding them farewell! Chemi Chemi spent a lot of time playing very gently with little Mumbushi. Sities is getting jealous of Kainuk. Today she pushed Kainuk for no apparent reason. She also resents the attention given to little Mumbushi.

06 August 2011

Everything is in place for the departure of Ololoo, Kalama and Chemi Chemi, water and milk aboard the Elephant Moving Truck. All three elephants walked into the truck together and were on their way by 4.20 a.m. All the other orphans left behind did not seem to notice the absence of the three, and went about their daily routine as usual.

07 August 2011

Today, having taken her noon milk feed, Kilabasi walked back into the bush and continued to browse, refusing to return for the mudbath. With her were the warthogs. One Keeper then went to keep her company. We think she is missing Kalama, Chemi Chemi and Ololoo and is searching for them.

08 August 2011

All the females, except Kilabasi and Ishanga, are very caring of little Mumbushi. Since it was a very cold morning, he was kept in his stable until it warms up. Turkwel, Mutara, Tano, Shukuru, Naipoki and even Makireti refused to leave without him, returning to push his door. Mumbushi then began crying, which upset all the orphans, so in the end the Keepers had to let Mumbushi out.

09 August 2011

Kilabasi has settled down again, and is no longer leaving to try and find Kalama, Chemi Chemi and Ololoo out in the bush. Last night Maxwell kept on trying to break into Solio’s Stockade, constantly banging the separating poles. The Keepers wonder what his motive could be! We had a Dutch Filming crew here today.

10 August 2011

Today we had a South Korean Filming Crew who arrived just as the orphans were leaving their Night quarters, and all gathered at Mumbushi’s stable door. Having picked up Mumbushi, they were in high spirits and all ran trumpeting and playing into the forest. Turkwel and Kainuk are inseparable. We tried to make Kainuk remain with the Younger group, but she refused to leave Turkwel, so we had to relent and let her remain with the Older Group.

11 August 2011

The Nursery orphans are still missing Kalama, Chemi Chemi and Ololoo. As soon as they are opened up in the morning, they all go to the Stockades once occupied by the three, and then to where the Elephant Truck is parked. They then begin trumpeting and screaming. Mutara, as the main Matriarch is having a hard time controlling the whole group.

12 August 2011

At 4 p.m. the Rescue team prepared to rescue the elephant which has been named “Dabassa” from the Galana Ranch, arriving at the Ranch airstrip at about 5 p.m. It was 8.20 p.m. when we arrived back with the orphan. He was put into the Training Stockade next door to Solio, who is becoming used to the arrival of new elephants! The condition of little Mumbushi is causing grave concern. He is loosing weight rapidly, and becoming weaker due to teething.

13 August 2011

Dabassa is very weak, but is taking his milk. He has a lot of worms, but he needs to be stronger before being de-wormed. He is quite wild, and keeps trying to push down the attendant Keepers.

14 August 2011

Mumbushi is definitely unwell. His stool is loose, which is normal when teething, but he is loosing condition very rapidly, and growing weaker. He was given Scourban to help his stomach upset.

15 August 2011

Mumbushi is having a tough time teething. He is loosing condition very rapidly and has been given a course of Sulphadimidine antibiotic – the remedy given to Nursery elephants suffering from diarrheoa.

16 August 2011

Mumbushi is having a very difficult time with his teeth. He is becoming very thin and weak.

17 August 2011

Mutara is an excellent Matriarch. As soon as the orphans are let out in the morning, she leads them all to Dabassa’s Stockade to escort him out into the bush. He is very anxious to come out and join them, knocking his door. Mumbushi is having a very hard time teething, and is loosing condition rapidly.

18 August 2011

Mumbushi is having a very difficult time cutting his first molars. He has lost a great deal of condition and has loose stools. At about 3 a.m. he became very weak, and was too weak to go out with the others today. Tano is feeling very lonely because Mumbushi is not with the orphan herd today. He is taking a lot of rehydration salts, but not all his milk feeds.

19 August 2011

Mumbushi is getting very weak and not taking his milk feeds well now. Tano is missing the presence of Mumbushi very much indeed. While Mutara leads the orphans to Dabassa’s stockade, Tano remains by Mumbushi’s stable door and is reluctant to go into the bush with the others.

20 August 2011

Having opened up Solio, and on our way out into the bush, we came upon a lioness and her 3 cubs. Solio was the first to see them and ran back to her Stockade. The Keepers decided to take her in another direction.

21 August 2011

At 1 p.m. as the Keepers were sitting in the shade, a warthog shot past us being chased by a lion and Solio came running to us, almost stepping on us. The warthogs always run to the Keepers when being chased by a lion, because they know that the lion will be scared of the men.

22 August 2011

For the first time Dabassa was opened up to join the other orphans. We suspected that he might try and run away, but were pleasantly surprised because he just settled in amongst the group, and seemed very calm. Mutara and Ishanga came to hug him with their trunk. In the evening we moved him from the Taming Stockade to the Stockade next to Kilabasi and the two spend a lot of time talking to one another.

23 August 2011

Today, after spending several days confined to his stable, little Mumbushi walked out with the others, very warmly welcomed by Mutara, Tano, Shukuru, Naipoki and Sities. We could not take him far due to his weak condition, and he did not attend the mudbath today. During the afternoon, the orphans and their Keepers had a bad scare from a lion, which roared at them, sending everyone scampering in all directions, the elephants trumpeting and screaming. This frightened the lion, who, fortunately, ran off.

24 August 2011

Mumbushi is out and about with the other elephants again today, and all are paying him a great deal of attention. He is feeding and sleeping as normal, and taking a lot of water as well but is still very weak and cannot go far. Dabassa is now enjoying himself and is accustomed to the Nursery routine. He, Kilabasi and Ishanga are all still wary of humans, only approaching the Keepers during milk feeding times and shying away from the public at the Open Visiting Hour.

25 August 2011

All the orphans assembled outside Mumbushi’s stable today to greet him, putting their trunks over the door. During the mudbath Dabassa, Kilabasi and Ishanga enjoyed chasing off the warthogs who wanted to share the orphans’ wallow. Dabassa chased the pigs far away, but came back when called by the Keepers.

26 August 2011

Friday is the day for Coconut Oiling. Kainuk and Naipoki enjoyed rubbing their bodies against the older elephants after the oiling, while the older elephants enjoyed rolling in the soil. Mumbushi, who is not very strong, had a gentle oiling, and was helped by the Keepers to have a dustbath afterwards. Since it was a cool day, none of the orphans wanted a mudbath, but instead put on a good display for the public soil dusting.

27 August 2011

The orphans left in a jovial mood today, Makireti, Mutara, Dabassa, Ishanga Kilabasi and Shukuru bush-bashing and trumpeting as they went out. Mumbushi is still weak but spends the day out with the Keepers, being given a lot of attention by the others elephants.

28 August 2011

Another early Rescue Alert, this time to save an orphan from the Tsavo Conservation Area, rescued by the Trust’s anti-poaching De-Snaring team in an area that is very unele-friendly and either kills or mutilates any elephant found in their patch. The new orphan who is approximately 2 years old arrived in the Nursery just past 3 p.m. and has been named “Rombo”. He narrowly escaped death with a spear hole through one ear which penetrated the shoulder, and another wound on a front leg – fortunately nothing life threatening. Naturally, he was very traumatized upon arrival, and also weak but still fierce enough to inflict damage on the Keepers, so was put in the Taming Stockade recently vacated by Dabassa. He began calming down during the night and by morning was taking milk.

29 August 2011

This morning all the Nursery elephants went to greet the new arrival in the Taming Stockade, reaching their trunks through the bars of the door and rumbling a greeting to him. Mutara and Ishanga welcomed the newcomer very warmly, Ishanga always one to do this, empathizing with their predicament. Tano has copied Shukuru in picking up her sleeping mattress and holding it between her legs until she is ready to go to sleep, rather as a mother elephant would her baby!

30 August 2011

A tragic day in the Nursery – Little Mumbushi finally gave up the struggle to live and passed away peacefully in the arms of his Keepers, despite having been given every medication we could think of. His Keepers, and all at the Nursery, were devastated. As usual Tano and Shukuru came to his door, raised their trunks, then shook their head and walked away, obviously having detected that he was no more. Mumbushi was dearly loved and will be sorely missed by many. Rombo is still in his Stockade, but enjoying the company of the Keepers now and taking his milk well. He has been de-wormed, so will soon be ready to go out with the other Nursery elephants.

31 August 2011

As soon as the elephants were out this morning, Mutara led the group to Rombo’s stockade. Mutara, Tano, Turkwel and Shukuru all enjoyed touching him gently with their trunks and exchanging trunk “kisses” - putting their trunks actually into his mouth. When the Nursery elephants left for the field, Rombo complained loudly, but now that he has been de-wormed, he will soon be joining the others out in the field.