There have been numerous Elephant Rescues this month, but sadly only three new orphans recovered, bringing the total in the Nursery back to 22. (following the transfer to Ithumba of Makireti, Kasigau and Ishanga on the 17th,) Panda was rescued from Mgeno Ranch abutting Tsavo on the 2nd who was about 2 years old and could bypass the Nursery. She was driven to the Voi Stockades, to be reared in situ. Kwale (aged approximately 10 months) from the Shimba Hills/Kwale area was flown in on the 7th, the same day that another female orphaned elephant was rescued in the evening at Narok and driven overnight to Nairobi. Sadly this calf arrived unconscious and in a state of advanced emaciation. She was put on an infusion of Dextrose and Saline, regained consciousness at 4 a.m but was very traumatized exhausting her remaining strength charging the Keepers. She survived just one day before collapsing and dying at 6 a.m. the next.
Baby Kinango came in on the 12th. (so miniscule that initially we suspected a newborn who may not have even suckled his mother, so an infusion of stored elephant plasma was drip fed into his ear vein). However, when teething began a week later, we believed him to have in fact been older upon arrival – possibly 2 or 3 weeks. Then there was news from KWS of a female orphan who had attached itself to community cattle on the slopes of Mt. Kenya. The Trust’s Rescue Team was again mobilized and flew to Nanyuki airfield only to discover that the orphan was too big to be safely airlifted to Nairobi, so that rescue had to be aborted. (KWS then decided to release calf in the nearby Aberdare National Park.)
10 month old Faraja came in on the 21st - a surprise since he is a partial “albino” from the Amboseli population where apparently another similar very blonde elephant exists, obviously fathered by the same pale coloured bull. Faraja is believed to have been a victim of the recent Masai revenge killings on the outskirts of Amboseli National Park over a revenue sharing dispute with KWS.
Shukuru, one of the Nursery’s Big Girls, has been unwell this month. Blood test results were sent to Dr. Clay in America, the prognosis being a severe viral infection, and if not that, then possibly something much more sinister such as Cancer. She was put on a course of injectible penicillin and Vitamin B, and by month end her condition was almost back to normal - a huge relief. Shukuru is a very popular member of the Nursery Group sharing Matriarchal responsibilities for the babies with Mutara.
The Nursery Keepers have had a busy time coping with the dynamics amongst the Nursery orphans – the tragic grieving of Nyika, who came in last month and has obviously been witness to the immense tragedy that cost the life of his elephant mother and who tends to keep disappearing in order to spend quiet time on his own. Then there is the jealousy of Kwale towards the newcomer Faraja, who took several days to be “tamed” in a Stockade, before being allowed out to join the others. Since then he has settled well and behaved exemplarily, even at the public viewing hour,“adopted” by Tano with Mutara as Chief Matriarch keeping a close eye on him, as do all the bigger girls. Unlike Faraja, Kwale calmed very rapidly, and was out and about with the others the very next day, befriended by Naipoki, Sities and Kihari.
The training of Makireti, Ishanga and Kasigau to the Elephant Moving truck in preparation for their move to Ithumba began on the 14th. Makireti went in without hesitation, Ishanga was more hesitant, and Kasigau reluctant, balking at the entrance. The actual transfer took place on the l7th, when he had to have a shove at the last minute to get him in and by 3.30 a.m., all three were on their way to Ithumba. Gentle Makireti, one of the Nursery Big Girls, was greatly missed by the others but nobody was sorry to see Ishanga and Kasigau go, since they had been throwing their weight around the smaller orphans during milk feeding times. It is for this reason that they were selected being in need of elephant discipline from older peers, something they will have in abundance at Ithumba!
Because baby Kinango was spending such a lot of his time trying to suckle the Big Girls, which inhibited his bottle feeding, the orphaned herd has been split into three – Kinango, Kithaka, and Barsilinga in the crèche section; Napoki, Balguda, Bomani, Orwa, Kwale, , Ishaq-B, Nyika and Faraja and Sonje and Kihari promoted to the Big Girls’ group. Sonje is another who is inclined to be “pushy” at milk feeding times.
Towards the end of the month little Kinango began teething and was poorly, suffering from the usual diarrheoa, loss of appetite and rapidly becoming weaker.. As a precaution he has undergone an oral Sulphadimidine course and given an infusion of Dextrose and Saline to boost his strength. Thankfully by month end he had pushed out 3 of his 4 baby molars and was much better. Mutara is besotted over little Kinango, seeking him out whenever possible and encouraging him beneath her forelegs for a suckle on her tiny teats something that gives him great comfort.
It has been very rewarding to see Murera so much better. She is now active and enjoys spending time with the Junior Nursery orphans, fearful of being accidentally pushed by those bigger. Her injured back leg is a lot thinner and shorter than its counterpart, and she treads not on the sole of the foot, but rather on the side, the foot joint seemingly too compromised to take her weight. But, at least she is now mobile, and free of pain, with a leg that can function. Sonje is her night neighbour and the two have formed a strong bond of friendship. Sonje is usually always near Murera, choosing to leave the Big Girl group in order to be close to her.
The recent intake has necessitated the usual reshuffle of sleeping arrangements, something that is never popular! Bomani and Kinango now occupy the stables that previously housed Naipoki and Sities who have been upgraded to a Stockade, with Faraja and Nyika near Kithaka. Two new Stockades are in the process of construction. With poaching so serious, sadly more orphans are bound to come in during the coming months.
The Rhinos:- Again, the lions have been frequent visitors to our premises, a lioness killing one of the warthogs in broad daylight a few paces from Maxwell’s Stockade, an event witnessed by many Staff members who happened to be in the compound at the time. The lioness then dragged her kill into the bushes and called her three small cubs to come and partake of the meal. The commotion greatly energized Max inside his enclosure who, in a high state of anxiety, repeatedly battered the posts separating him from the drama! Once things returned to normal, Max took a lengthy mudbath to cool himself off!
As usual, Solio has been up to her disappearing pranks. These days she is a free spirit who calls the shots as regards whether or not she wants to be accompanied by her Attendants. More often than not she chooses to give them the slip, running off and hiding until they give up searching for her! She then brings herself back whenever she feels like it, often during the public Viewing Hour which causes quite a stir before taking herself back into her Stockade, where she is locked in until the crowds disperse. At such times she entertains the audience who congregate at her Gate by sparring with Max through the separating poles of their respective stockades. Both Solio and Max enjoy the human onlookers, especially when they reach through the bars to give them a rub on the face.