Keepers' Diaries, August 2012

Nairobi Nursery Unit

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.

01 August 2012

Nyika has settled in well, and is keeping pace with the other orphans. At the noon mudbath today Barsilinga and Kithaka enjoyed an active soil bath, rolling in the earth and delighting all the onlookers.

02 August 2012

Bomani, who is also new to the Nursery, is a very mellow boy, obviously still missing his mother and elephant family, but integrated well into the Nursery group. Shukuru’s blood sample results indicate a viral infection. She was given long acting Penicillin and vitamin B complex.

03 August 2012

In response to a Rescue Alert from KWS, this time of an orphaned elephant from Mt. Kenya, who had been browsing amongst community cattle, the Rescue Team arrived at Nanyuki airfield at 1 p.m., only to find that the orphan in question was too big to be airlifted to Nairobi. It was a female over 3 years of age, so the KWS personnel decided to release her in the Aberdare National Park.

04 August 2012

Nyika is still grieving his lost family. Naipoki and Sities are keeping him company at all times, helping to heal him psychologically. Ishaq-B’s abscess has softened, and has been lanced, providing relief from the pain it has been causing as it built up. Murera can now accompany the younger group of Nursery Orphans and is maternal towards the small babies, especially Bomani and Nyika. Sonje, who is Murera’s Night neighbour, likes to join her there.

05 August 2012

A few minutes past 1 p.m. a lioness killed a warthog beside Maxwell’s stockade, an incident witnessed by some of the Staff. The commotion caused Maxwell to react aggressively, charging the wooden fence of his enclosure in defensive mode. The lioness dragged the kill into the bush, and called up her 3 small cubs to join in the feast. Once all the commotion had died down, Max took a mudbath to cool himself!

06 August 2012

Solio was up to her usual disobedient antics today, walking into all the Elephant stables and Stockades and inspecting them closely. She then returned to her Stockade, and having had some Lucerne, took off at high speed. The Keepers trailed her until 11 p.m. without success, after which she turned up again during the Public Visiting Hour and planted herself in her stockade where she was locked in while the public were at the premises. Once the public had dispersed, she was let out, but as she was walking down to the mudbath, she encountered a giraffe at the Salt Lick, and took fright. She ran off “blowing her nose”! Once in the Park forest she settled down, accompanied by her Keepers.

07 August 2012

In late afternoon, KWS Narok reported that a rescued orphaned elephant calf would be driven to the Nursery since it was too late to dispatch a plane. The calf arrived at 11 p.m., in a critical condition of extreme emaciation and unconscious. After an infusion of Dextrose and Saline, the calf (a female) was able to stand at 4 a.m., and after charging the Keepers took a little milk but was extremely weak.

08 August 2012

Makireti came to be close to the new calf early in the morning, but the baby was too weak to show much interest. It then collapsed again and the drip was again inserted, but to no avail because little “Narok” died at 6 p.m. At 10 a.m. we heard that another orphaned elephant calf which had fallen down a manhole near Kwale (Shimba Hills area) had been rescued the day before by KWS personnel and the Voi elephant Keepers, and needed to be airlifted to Nairobi. Named “Kwale” the calf arrived in good health at 4 p.m.

09 August 2012

Kwale was allowed out to join the other Nursery Elephants today, welcomed warmly by all, sandwiched between the Big Girls who embraced him especially warmly. He was even at the Public Viewing Hour, taking his cue from Naipoki, Sities and Kihari who “showed him the ropes” by approaching the visitors calmly. Shukuru has completed her injectible course of Penicillin and is still taking the Vitamin B complex. We now hope that she will improve. She continues to feed well.

10 August 2012

Nowadays Ishanga and Kasigau are extremely “pushy” bullying the younger orphans at milk feeding times. Ishanga knocked Tano down today while Kasigau who has long tusks has been bullying Kilabasi who is a gentle girl. Kasigau is the biggest boy in the Nursery, and takes advantage of this over the younger orphans. Murera is happy whenever within the younger group where no one dares shove her around. She can now walk quite swiftly, but the injured limb is thinner and shorter than its counterpart and she treads awkwardly, not on the sole of the foot as normal, but rather on the side, since the foot joint does not have the strength to remain rigid.

11 August 2012

Nyika is still a very unhappy little elephant, choosing to remain apart from the others when out in the field, and not playful. Orwa, Bomani and Naipoki look out for him. Tano has been moved to a Stockade, her stable now occupied by Kwale. Every morning she rushes back to her former Stable to check it out!

12 August 2012

It was a lucky day for a tiny orphaned elephant near Kwale who had been spotted alone on the Kwale – Kinango highway sheltering under a large parked truck. The calf was rescued and spent yesterday night at the KWS Staff quarters before being airlifted to the Nursery today, arriving at 1 p.m. But for ticks, he was in good condition. He was sprayed with Frontline to remove the ticks and showed no fear of the Keepers, eager for his milk. He has been named “Kinango”.

13 August 2012

The arrival of Kinango necessitated another change in the sleeping arrangements, Sities and Naipoki being moved into the Stockade next door to Tano, with Bomani in Naipoki’s former stable, and Kinango in that previously occupied by Sities and Orwa next door. Sities and Naipoki complained a lot during the night. The new baby was out amongst the other Nursery elephants at dawn, welcomed very enthusiastically, especially by the Big Girls and all the Keepers in a celebration reminiscent of a newborn human baby. At the Public Viewing the crowd found him adorable since he is smaller than Kithaka, hitherto the darling of the herd!

14 August 2012

Last night Kinango was given an infusion of blood plasma just in case he had not had the opportunity to suckle his mother and benefit from her first colostrum milk. Today Ishanga, Makireti and Kasigau began their training for their prospective move to Ithumba in a few days’ time. All went in readily being greedy for their milk. However, at the 3 p.m. feed Ishanga refused to go in, even for her milk.

15 August 2012

All the new babies are doing well. Today Makireti went into the Elephant Mover well, but Kasigau and Ishanga had second thoughts! The training will continue. Shukuru’s condition has definitely improved following her medication. Whereas before she was dull, now she is feeding well and is much more active.

16 August 2012

Just as the mudbath hour was closing, Solio turned up unexpectedly having dodged her Keepers all morning. Two Keepers intercepted her before she could reach the public, who were just about to leave, with many people turning back to see her. Two warthogs then began fighting in the nearby bushes, which startled Solio, causing her to run to her Stockade, her passage blocked by the people who were at Maxwell’s door watching him! The Keepers had a difficult time moving everyone off so that the door to Solio’s Stockade could be opened for her to go in. The training of the three Graduates continues, with Kasigau still hesitant. The three are due to leave the Nursery for Ithumba tomorrow.

17 August 2012

With the Elephant Mover all set to go, preparations for the move began at 2.30 a.m. Makireti went in following her bottle of milk as usual, followed by Ishanga, who was a bit more hesitant, but decided to oblige. Lastly Kasigau who had never been eager, so a rope was put around him as he was walked to the entrance of the truck. There he balked, but upon seeing Makireti and Ishanga inside, with a push from behind, he was in! By 3.30 a.m. their journey to Ithumba had begun!

18 August 2012

Mutara and Shukuru noticed the absence of their friend, Makireti. Both went straight to Makireti’s Stockade which was empty, after which they checked each and every Stockade and Stable. They then waited outside baby Kinango’s door until he was let out. He is very attached to the Big Girls. Tano and Sities also love him dearly, and when he wants to suckle them, they go down on their knees so that he can get a good hold of their teats! He loves suckling the Bigger Girls, which can be a problem, because he wants to take his milk beneath them, and they in turn want to snatch the bottle from the Keeper!

19 August 2012

Today, we have split the Nursery elephants into 3 groups, mainly because Kinango won’t take his milk properly when with the Big Girls and is not yet used to the Hanging Blanket. Now Kinango is with Barsilinga, Kithaka and Nyika with Naipoki, Balguda, Bomani, Orwa, Kwale and Ishaq-B in the second group and Sonje and Kihari upgraded to the Big Group, Sonje in that group because she is inclined to be pushy towards the smaller elephants. The separation worked well with Kinango feeding as he should again. When the entire herd came together at 3 p.m. for the private viewing, Mutara was wildly excited at seeing Kinango and insisted upon making a fuss of him before taking her own milk.

20 August 2012

Because it was a drizzly morning, Kinango was kept inside his stable. Mutara tried to push the door open, and Kinango tried to climb the door in order to get out. We had a hard time moving Mutara away. In the end Kinango, Barsilinga and Kithaka were moved into a Big Stable to await the weather improving and by l0 a.m. they were allowed out, accompanied by Nyika. At the mudbath Kwale knocked Barsilinga down as he was playing in the dust, which made him scream. With lots of fingers pointing at him Kwale sneaked off quietly to join Orwa who was further away. At the 3 p.m. viewing Mutara took hold of her bottle and went in search of Kinango who was shielded by Naipoki. She dropped her bottle still half full, pushed Naipoki away and urged Kinango underneath her body so that he could suckle. What a loving mother she is! We feel bad separating Kinango from her, but it is for his own good.

21 August 2012

Today was much warmer, so the extra blanket could be removed from the little ones. Nyika is still a very sad little elephant, who is weak and grieving. He prefers to feed apart from all the others. Later we received a call from the Amboseli Elephant Researchers that they had identified a baby whose mother they suspected had been poached. The rescue team left at 2.30 p.m. and managed to capture the calf – a male of about l0 months, who wasn’t in too bad shape, but was very aggressive. Back at the Nursery he spent the entire night screaming and rumbling, which upset all the others.

22 August 2012

Another new day for the Nursery Elephants, all of whom instantly headed to the newcomer’s Stockade. He has been named “Faraja” and is from the Fara Amboseli family. Mutara tried to push open his gate, with him pushing from the inside, but he is still very wild, and cannot be let out. When the orphans left for the field, he was very depressed and screamed for 2 hours before settling down. Because it was hot, all enjoyed the mudbath, with Balguda emerging the star of the day. Faraja was very happy to see the herd returning in the evening. Mutara went straight to his door and rumbled to him before going to her own Stockade, and then Sities, who is his neighbour had a longer time with him.

23 August 2012

This morning Solio did not want to leave her Stockade until about 8.30 a.m. after which her Keepers followed her into the Park forest where she suddenly took off at speed, giving them the slip! The Keepers searched for 3 hours in vain, but Solio decided to bring herself home for the noon visiting hour, putting herself in her Stockade to be where she entertained all the mudbath visitors by playing with Maxwell through the separating poles of their two Stockades. Once the visitors had dispersed, she was allowed out again, and this time did not return until the evening. Faraja is still aggressive so has not yet been allowed out. However, he has memorized the feeding hours, and is always at his Gate waiting for his share.

24 August 2012

It was a sunny day, so Mutara and the older orphans were able to remain with the little ones until the 9 a.m. feed, after which they had to move further afield to browse. Mutara makes good use of the time she spends with the babies, pushing all the other orphans away in order to have little Kinango all to herself. Today Faraja is more settled and not so aggressive to his attendant Keeper, so should soon be allowed out. A small mudbath was prepared for him in his Stockade so that he could cool himself off. Solio was unsettled today by some workers in the Park forest uprooting alien species of plants. She ran back to her Stockade and didn’t want to come out.

25 August 2012

A Film Unit was in attendance today as the orphans left their Night Quarters, all gathering at the door of Faraja’s stockade to greet him before moving out. Solio again gave her Keepers the slip and was absent all day, but returned at 5 p.m. as usual.

26 August 2012

Faraja has calmed down. A Keeper can now stand actually inside his Stockade without being pushed, and can soon be let out to join his peers. He is always very sad to see them leave the compound. Today Kinango is unwell, passing a lot of dung which is too loose. Also he did not take his noon milk feed as usual and appeared weak and dull, so he was returned to his Stable and put on a drip. After 3 bottles of saline and l of Dextrose he took his milk, but remained inside his stable. He is now teething, which always seems to trouble the babies.

27 August 2012

Nyika is still a very sad little elephant. Normally he, Bomani and Kwale are together, but as the orphans congregated at the mudbath, we noticed that Nyika was missing. We found him asleep in some long grass in the forest! In the afternoon all the orphans gathered near Faraja’s Stockade so that he could be let out and accompany them, Tano was first at his Gate, pushing it to try and open it. When Faraja emerged all the big females surrounded him giving him an exuberant welcome into the fold after which they escorted him out into the bush to browse. At the noon Open Visiting Hour he behaved very well. In the evening he was moved into the stable previously occupied by Bomani, who moved to Naipoki’s old one. Kithaka had fun playing a chasing game with Angela’s son, Taru, today.

28 August 2012

Faraja is very happy to be out and about with the others, browsing happily in the forest, and also behaving well during the public visiting times. In the morning he decided to walk with Bomani, Nyika and Kwale, but later joined the older group where Tano “adopted” him and Mutara kept coming to check up on him. At one point he decided to lie down in the grass, but Tano woke him up, not wanting to see him lying down. In the evening he came back to his new Stable without any difficulty.

29 August 2012

The Keepers decided to take the orphans to the mudbath area to feed today, where they settled down to browse. Nyika absented himself, going to the usual milk feeding area, hoping for more milk. Kwale seems jealous of Faraja, pushing him until he leaves the Junior group and moves to join the Seniors. In the afternoon he joined up with Nyika, Barsilinga, Kithaka and Kinango.

30 August 2012

Up until the arrival of Kinango, Barsilinga has been the Keepers’ “baby” and while he has been tolerant towards Kinango usurping his privileged status, today his jealousy erupted. He pushed little Kinango away! Solio turned up at the mudbath today which drew the attention of the visiting public. The Keepers had a hard time to control the crowd, all of whom wanted to take photos of the rhino. Eventually, Solio obliged by taking herself to her Stockade, where she was locked in for the rest of the Public Hour.

31 August 2012

Nyika has been put on a course of oral antibiotic today because he has been passing a lot of loose stool. Another Film Crew filming a documentary entitled “Ivory Wars” led by Daniel Woodley came to film the orphans today.