Keepers' Diaries, August 2013

Nairobi Nursery Unit

With the escalation of poaching throughout the country pending the passage into law of the new Wildlife Bill set to entail much more stringent punishment for poaching perpetrators, (15 years jail and/or K. Shs. l0 million fine), everyone seems to be taking advantage of the delay and cashing in on what poached ivory they can accumulate while they can. This escalation is reflected in the numbers of rescues this month, mainly of older milk dependent infant elephants who, having lost their mother, have remained with the rest of the family until unable to keep up. (Infant elephants are milk dependent and cannot live without it if orphaned under the age of 3 years). Therefore most have come in too far gone for us to be able to retrieve, despite having been put on life support after rescue and during the flight back to the Nursery.

01 August 2013

The month began with the rescue of a young l ½ orphaned bull elephant from the Masai Mara, who was subsequently named “Olkishi” (the Masai word for “orphan”. He had obviously been without his mother for some time, and was extremely emaciated and despite being weak, understandably very aggressive. He is thought to be another poaching victim.

02 August 2013

All the resident Nursery elephants rushed to Olkishi’s Stockade as soon as they were opened up in the morning, rushing to the door of his Stockade throughout the day whenever they were close. However, soon afterward’s the newcomer collapsed, and had to be put on life supporting drip infusion.

03 August 2013

This morning Olkishi collapsed and had to be put on intravenous life support. He revived briefly, but again collapsed soon afterwards, and had to again be put on life support.

04 August 2013

There was no improvement in Olkishi today, who despite life support, appeared to be deteriorating, unable to feed.

05 August 2013

Sadly, Olkishi gave up the struggle for life, and passed away at 5 a.m. this morning which left all the Keepers extremely upset, since they had tried so hard to retrieve him. The other orphans will also miss him, as usual running to see how he was in the morning, but then walking away dejectedly. However, another young l8 month old bull orphan was driven in from the Aberdares, having been rescued by Angela’s half-brother, Neville Sheldrick who happened to be working there. Since there was no airfield nearby, the calf, who had also obviously been without milk for sometime, and was extremely emaciated and weak, had to endure a long and grueling car journey in order to reach safety, which lessoned his chances radically. He was named “Kieni”, the name of the place in which he was found. This was obviously another poaching victim, since many elephants have been recently poached in that area which is littered with carcasses.

06 August 2013

Kieni spent his first night in the Nursery on life support drip infusion and was still too weak to even stand in the morning. He died at midnight, never having recovered from the coma – yet another loss!

07 August 2013

Elephants have incredible perceptive powers! This morning the orphans all left in a very jovial mood, which, according to the Keepers, predicts the arrival of yet another newcomer. They were right, because at 4 p.m. there was yet another Rescue Alert, this time from Mt. Kenya. The Rescue was scrambled hurriedly to collect the orphan from Nyeri airstrip and airlift it back to the Nursery. It was a young bull, approximately 2 years of age, who arrived in the Nursery at 8 p.m., and again was extremely emaciated and weak, obviously having been without milk for a long time. He was named “Nelion”, (the name of the second highest peak of Mt. Kenya) and like “Teleki” (also from Mt. Kenya) was very hairy with long eyelashes and fuzzy hair on his head!

08 August 2013

Although horrendously thin, Nelion was still on his feet in the morning, and was welcomed by all the resident elephants, who rushed to his Stockade to greet him, led by Kihari, Naipoki and Ishaq-B who had witnessed his arrival the previous night. All rumbled their greetings, to which he responded, quite obviously relieved to have elephant company. The 9 a.m. milk feed took place just outside his Stockade door, and he took his cue from the others, and accepted milk from a bottle himself which left all the Keepers extremely relieved and happy.

09 August 2013

Nelion’s second day in the Nursery, and still taking milk and feeding on greens, even allowing the Keepers to handle him. At the 9 a.m. milk feed he was happily greeted by Lima Lima, Arruba, Laragai, Faraja and Balguda who were allowed to join him in his stockade for a while.

10 August 2013

Poor newcomer, Vuria who came into the Nursery at the end of July was dull this morning, having collapsed during the night and been on life support. Once out with the others, he collapsed again, and had to have life support re-inserted in an ear vein, which revived him sufficiently to be able to walk back to his Stockade accompanied by Lima Lima, Kwale and Tundani.. He spent the day feeding on the cut greens provided for him, and took all his milk feeds, feeling much stronger by evening.

11 August 2013

Vuria managed to rise unaided this morning, which was a good sign. Lima Lima, Kwale and Tundani escorted him out to the field, Kwale and Tundani being very cool, gentle boys, with whom he loved to associate. Meanwhile Nelion is still doing well, and should be strong enough to join the other orphans out in the field soon.

12 August 2013

Nelion joined the other orphans today, escorted out of his stockade by Naipoki, Laragai, Lima Lima, Ishaq-B and Orwa, all anxious to embrace him and be as close to him as possible. He was extremely happy to be with them. Heavily guarded by Laragai, he attached himself Kwale and Vuria, and was not at all aggressive towards the Keepers, although slightly nervous at the Public Viewing, surrounded by hordes of humans, but nevertheless was impressively behaved!

13 August 2013

Nelion’s second day out and about with the others during the hours of daylight, happily trying to play-push Balguda. Vuria is much better now, having been dragged from the jaws of death!

14 August 2013

Kwale continues to be cause for concern, often looking dull, although his appetite has improved. Ajabu has pushed out her second tooth, but has lost a great deal of condition throughout the two months of teething, and often is dull with a fever. We pray for her, because, being the smallest, she is a Nursery favourite.

15 August 2013

At 5 a.m. this morning, having been absent for several days, Solio showed up again and walked into her Stockade, much to everyone’s relief following the poaching of a White Rhino in Nairobi National Park just a few days ago. She and Maxwell had a wonderful time playing through the separating poles, Max wildly excited, running around his Stockade with his tail raised in between sparring bouts! They played until the elephants were out at 6 a.m. whereupon Solio moved off again, but was back at 3 p.m. for another Lucerne feed, and game with Max.

16 August 2013

Bomani and Orwa enjoyed their usual Pushing Match this morning on the way out to browse. Murera has again taken to leaving the main herd to browse on her own further afield. Lemoyian has become very attached to Kihari, whom he regards as his adopted mother and who has completely won his heart!

17 August 2013

At 2 p.m. we received another Rescue Alert from the Masai Mara. A lone elephant calf had been spotted on the 14th by our Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit and had been monitored by the Masai Scouts of the area, who tried in vain to attach it to a passing herd, who kept on rejecting it, hence the decision to capture it in order to save it from predators. However, when the Rescue Plane arrived at the airfield, the Pilot decided that the elephant was too big to carry by air, so the decision was made to drive it to the Nairobi Nursery. The calf was sedated, tied down, and put on life support for the grueling journey, estimated to be about 3 years of age. It was a bull and came riddled in worms. He was named “Saruni”, suspected to be yet another poaching victim.

18 August 2013

The latest arrival, Saruni, was too calm for comfort, showing no signs of aggression, which, for a calf of his age, was not a good omen. He was greeted by excited Kihari, Naipoki, Ishaq-B and Orwa and was obviously relieved to see them. Although he fed on greens, he refused milk, and collapsed at midnight, when he was put on life support.

19 August 2013

Saruni was back on his feet at 3 a.m. and again began feeding on greens, but refused milk. He collapsed again in the morning at 8 a.m. and was again put on life support which brought him back to life at 3.30 p.m. when he began charging the Keepers at the expense of the last of his strength.

20 August 2013

Another sad morning for the Keepers because the new orphan, Saruni, died at 2 a.m. all proving too much for him – losing his elephant mother and family, rejection from another wild herd, the long car journey and finding himself in the midst of whom he regarded as “the enemy”! In the morning Kihari, Naipoki and Ishaq-B passed by his Stockade as usual, but soon sensed that he was gone, and sadly walked away. He is greatly missed by all who loved him in the end.

21 August 2013

Precious baby Ajabu woke up in a pathetic state this morning, dull and refusing her milk. She was immediately put on life support, which continued throughout the day, but died at 8 p.m. surrounded by a grief-stricken human family who loved her unconditionally, as did all the other Nursery elephants. Yet, there was no time to mourn at length, for yet another needy orphan, rescued from the Sobo Area of Tsavo East National Park, who was also said to be in a critical condition, was already on its way to the Nursery, having been rescued by the Voi Elephant Keepers. This orphan, a yearling female, came in with a large swelling under the belly (believed by the Vet, who was summonsed to take a look, to be as a result of malnutrition). The new baby, believed to be another poaching victim, was named “Mashariki” the Swahili word for “East” since she was rescued from Tsavo East.

22 August 2013

Mashariki fed on cut greens throughout the night, and was still on her feet in the morning, welcomed warmly by Kihari, Ishaq-B, Naipoki and Lima Lima. At 9 a.m. Mashariki became dull and stopped feeding. The calf was put on drip infusion which got her through the night. Meanwhile Vuria is gaining strength and beginning to be able to get up in the morning unaided. Nelion is also doing well. He and Kwale are very close friends of Vuria- 3 little boys, all in the same boat!

23 August 2013

Mashariki was on her feet at dawn, but collapsed again a few hours later, and had again to be put on life support, with injections of Nuroclav, Vitamin B 12, Selenium and Calvasan which brought her back from the dead. By 3 p.m. she was livelier, walked around her Stockade, downed 3 pints of milk from a bottle held by Mishak, snuggling up to him afterwards, which amazed us all!

24 August 2013

Mashariki had a peaceful night without another collapse and fed well on her milk and greens. She was greeted lovingly in the morning by Lima Lima, expressed by the inter-twining of trunks. She also enjoyed the presence of the younger set who took their milk feed just outside her stockade door, although Lemoyian attempted to intimidate her by banging on the Stockade door.

25 August 2013

Kwale is still not himself, with loose stools and not as active as normal, feeding slowly on his milk, and with not much appetite for vegetation. An analysis of his blood indicated the usual viral problem but he was given a long acting penicillin injection to stave off any bacterial infection that could set in due to his depressed immune system along with Vitamin B and immune boosters. His favourite companions are Nelion, Vuria and Ngasha.

26 August 2013

Solio showed up again today, much to the delight of Max with whom she spent time sparring before enjoying her Lucerne and taking water from the bin. After some time she walked off again into the bush to enjoy her freedom and a wild life amongst the wild rhino peers of Nairobi Park who have now fully accepted her presence as belonging within the community.

27 August 2013

Having emerged from their Night Stables in the morning Lemoyian and Kithaka enjoyed a vigorous Pushing Match which inspired Balguda, Ngasha and Tundani to follow suit. Having taken the 9 a.m. milk feed just outside Mashariki’s Stockade, the gate was opened and she walked out, happily welcomed by Lima Lima, Laragai, Tundani and Ngasha who escorted her out, sandwiched between them, to join Kihari, Naipoki, and Ishaq-B, who instantly took her over from the younger elephants. At the Public Viewing noon mudbath hour she was impeccably behaved, remaining calm and even patrolling the separating cordon along with Vuria, Kwale and Nelion. Like Tundani, she is a very gentle and loving character. At 1 p.m. we received another Elephant Rescue alert from the Voi Keepers, who had retrieved an orphan bogged in thick black cotton mud where the Mombasa Pipeline leaks close to Mudanda Rock. A while later another Rescue Alert came in this time for an orphan near Galdessa Tented Lodge on the Galana River, but this orphan died before the Voi Elephant Keepers could capture it, so the second Rescue was aborted. Meanwhile, the mud victim, named “Matopeh” (the Swahili word for “mud”) arrived at the Nursery shortly after 7 p.m. He was thin, obviously having been deprived of milk for sometime, and very aggressive, but took a bottle of milk soon after arrival. He was passing mud in his stools.

28 August 2013

Matopeh woke up still extremely aggressive towards humans, despite having taken his milk throughout the night through the separating partition between his and Tundani’s stable. Tundani rumbled to him throughout the night, trying to calm him, but by morning he had still not been convinced that he should be friendly towards humans! At the 9 a.m. milk feed he received a visit from Kihari, Naipoki and Ishaq-B who came into Tundani’s Night Stable, extending their trunks to greet him, but the presence with them of the Keepers proved a deterrent. He did not want to know! After the Public Viewing hour, one of the long-term resident wild (but tame) warthogs, given the name “Pembe” (meaning tusk) turned up walking only on her knees, one foreleg swollen. She was ushered into Solio’s Stockade, sedated, and an X-Ray taken of the damaged leg, which revealed no break, but just a sprain. Having been given an anti-inflammatory and a painkiller, Pembe spent the night in the Stockade, and was able to walk the next morning, when she was escorted back to the KWS Staff Canteen and the rest of her family.

29 August 2013

Matopeh muddy stools turned into diarrheoa today, so he was given oral Sulphadimidine. Sadly, he had no reserves to cope with diarrheoa, and despite being put on life support, passed away during the night.

30 August 2013

Since Mashariki joined the other orphans to browse out in the bush, aside from Lima Lima, Ishaq-B has also taken her under her wing, often escorting her to take her milk. Mashariki is doing well and has settled into the routine very rapidly. She is gradually gaining strength.

31 August 2013

Solio reappeared at 6 a.m. and walked right round Maxwell’s stockade, trying to locate him for the usual sparring match. It so happened that Max was fast asleep on his bed of hay, but as soon as Solio entered her Stockade, he woke up, and was delighted to see her again Solio spent the entire day resting in her stockade and enjoying the Lucerne.