Keepers' Diaries, August 2019

Nairobi Nursery Unit

When raising baby elephants one has to understand and be prepared to succumb to the emotional roller coaster that is inevitable and comes with the territory. Dame Daphne always would say that they are the hardest animal to raise, and just when you cross one hurdle and feel you are out of the woods, something can happen to remind you just how incredibly tricky these extraordinary creatures are, when raised without the perfect situation - mothers milk. 

01 August 2019

Poor Dupotto continues to struggle with her health; despite her continued treatment the Keepers see no great change in her condition. She has better days than others, where she is happy to have her milk and browse with the other orphans, whereas other days she seems to struggle and prefers to keep to herself. 

It has been amazing to watch the other orphans interact with Dupotto as it seems that they know she is unwell and that she needs their company and affection. When she lags behind the group, Tamiyoi, Maisha, Nabulu, and Enkesha could be seen walking after her and holding up the rest of the Nursery herd to wait for her. The orphans can be seen doing the same for Luggard, when he lags behind Nabulu, Kiombo and Ziwadi love to accompany him out to the forest. 

Kiko is growing into a healthy and playful teenager who really enjoys being out and about browsing. Some days he can be a little naughty and decides to do his own thing as opposed to follow his Keepers. Today, he decided to wonder off and browse in the general parking area where he was curiously watching some of the guards at the gate. When the Keepers tried to get him to move back into the forest he refused and kept walking in the other direction. Eventually he agreed to follow his Keepers and head back into the forest. 

02 August 2019

Shortly after the orphans had their mid-morning bottles of milk the Keepers had to take some blood from Ziwadi to just check on her health as she had had a difficult evening the night before. The Keepers had some difficulty getting Ziwadi away from the rest of the herd to get the blood sample. As soon as they moved Ziwadi away from the others Tamiyoi and Kiasa came rushing over to see what was happening. As the Keepers were holding Ziwadi still she began to rumble and trumpet which appeared to upset Kiasa as she charged around the Keepers trying to squeeze in between them and Ziwadi. Tamiyoi also tried to get in between them and set Ziwadi free. Eventually some of the other Keepers had to stand guard keeping the two girls away. Tamiyoi and Kiasa have appeared to really taken on their roles of protecting the other orphans, especially the younger girls, and Tamiyoi is becoming a role model matriarch. 

03 August 2019

It was a very cold morning as there had been light rainfall throughout the evening. Some of the orphans such as Musiara, Kiombo, Maktao and Mukkoka refused to leave their rooms and head out to the forest. It was quite amusing for the Keepers because when they opened the doors to Mukkoka and Musiara’s stables both the young bulls trumpeted loudly as if in protest to their doors being open and hid right at the back of their rooms waiting for the rains to stop. 

Other orphans such as Dololo, Sattao, Kiasa, Maisha, Larro, and Tamiyoi were very happy outside their stables making their way out to the forest to start their morning browsing activities. Due to the cold weather, they all enjoyed a long dust bath and Larro could be seen happily rolling around some of the dust mounds. Maisha, Enkesha, Kiasa, and Tamiyoi were all busy rolling around and posing next to each other. Musiara and the others eventually came out of their stables and joined the rest of the Nursery herd. 

04 August 2019

Recently Maktao and Dololo have become good playmates as they are often seen wrestling one another. This morning, shortly after the orphans had settled out in the field, the two bulls were busy in a strength testing match, and the two bulls were seen charging around after one another. When the one bull would catch up to the other they would then run off in opposite directions, and Maktao could be seen running flat out through the bushes, with his ears held high and trumpeting loudly showing his strength off to Dololo. Dololo, on the other hand, would mock charge, demonstrating his strength in his own way. Then they would charge at each other again before running off again, it was all so entertaining to watch.  

05 August 2019

Luggard woke up in a very happy and playful mood today, when he was let out of his stable he went charging off to meet the other orphans. Maisha and Enkesha were waiting for Ziwadi and Larro who were making their way up the path. As Luggard was charging out to the field he kept playfully pushing at any of the other orphans that would come near him. He seems to love any strength testing match he can start up with any of the other orphans. 

This morning, he got the attention of Maisha and the two began a pushing game, their game continued far into the forest. Luggard would kick about and trumpet loudly as he would charge around with Maisha, he appeared to be very pleased with the game. Maisha knew not to push too hard back at Luggard so she would really enjoy locking trunks with him. 

The two were eventually joined by Sattao who also loves to play, but Luggard seemed to get a little rough with the young bull who decided to move away. Sattao went off and started to play with Dololo who was browsing nearby.

06 August 2019

It was an extremely hot day, and the temperatures were soaring during the midday milk feeding time and mud bath. Some of the younger orphans like Kiasa, Musiara, Larro, Maktao and Dololo immediately made their way to the mud bath after finishing their milk bottles. It was funny watching the orphans roll around in the mud, Kiasa and Musiara were rolling all over and around thoroughly enjoying themselves. 

As Kiasa and Musiara were still busy in the mud bath, Ziwadi and Larro had moved away to have a drink of water. It is always amusing to watch the two young girls drinking as they dunk their entire heads into the water and drink through their mouths as opposed to sucking up the water into their trunks and then squirting it into their mouths like the others. The two young girls are still learning to use their trunks, especially when it comes to drinking. 

07 August 2019

After the orphans finished their 9am bottles of milk, they all spent time together at the milk feeding point. Some of the greedier orphans such as Mukkoka, Kiasa, Larro, Nabulu, and Luggard all hung around near the wheelbarrows trying to suck up any spilled milk. 

The Keepers were also waiting for Dupotto to finish her milk so that they could give her her injections. It was quite funny as Dupotto seemed to pick up that the Keepers were talking about her and the antibiotics. As soon as she heard her name being mentioned several times she quickly began to move away as she didn’t enjoy receiving her injections. As the Keepers began to approach her, she trumpeted loudly in protest. As Tamiyoi heard her trumpet, she and Maisha came rushing over to see what was happening and comfort Dupotto. When the Keepers were all done, Dupotto went running off into the forest, with Tamiyoi and Maisha closely following behind. 

08 August 2019

Some of the orphans are braver than others whilst in the forest and are quite happy to wonder further afield, browsing on their own. Musiara is such an orphan as he often seen some distance from the Nursery herd happily browsing on his own. Today, Musiara appeared to be so happy on his own that he did not take any notice of the orphans heading down for the midday bottles of milk. Eventually, the Keepers had to go off and call him to join the others at the mud bath. These are all good character traits for a confident young bull but he still has a lot to learn. 

Mukkoka doesn’t seem to love his mud bath as much as some of the other orphans. Whilst the rest of the Nursery herd were enjoying a long mud wallow, with the Keepers helpfully splashing them on occasion, Mukkoka kept his distance ensuring that he did not get splashed by any of the Keepers. 

09 August 2019

The orphans were very calm today as they made their way out to the bush. Even once they were out in the field they all calmly browsed together, including the playful bulls such as Sattao, Maktao, Dololo, Musiara and Mukkoka. Even other orphans such as Tamiyoi, Kiasa, Kiombo, Larro, Nabulu, and Maisha who often insist on walking further into the forest, today were quite happy to slowly browse along the route, moving in their own pace. 

Their relaxed morning was, however, interrupted by two fighting warthogs that came barreling out the bushes. This caught the orphans unaware and they all got a fright and began to trumpet and run off in different directions. Poor Ziwadi got confused by all the commotion and went running off in the opposite direction of the Keepers. The Keepers immediately noticed that she was confused and went running after her calling her to stop. They quickly caught up to her and got her to calm down for a few minutes before leading her back to the rest of the herd. Ziwadi is a very calm little girl who doesn’t like to be pushed during games, so she is often seeing happily doing her own thing and always remaining close to her Keepers. 

10 August 2019

Little Larro has recently been spoilt by Kiasa, as Kiasa is constantly protecting her and smothering her, ensuring that she is eating and not being bothered by any of the other orphans. Larro seems to know that she is constantly protected and has recently appeared to take advantage of this. Today, at the morning milk feed, Larro came down well before the other orphans and quickly finished her bottle of milk. As soon as she was finished, she started to push and shove some of the other orphans that were arriving for their milk, Ziwadi, Maktao and Mukkoka were all pushed by the young female and she even began to push at some of the Keepers. When the Keepers tried to usher Larro away from the other orphans, she would trumpet loudly in protest and this would alarm the older girls such as Kiasa, Tamiyoi and Maisha. All three of the older girls would come charging over to make sure everything was okay. Due to all of this commotion, the Keepers have learnt that Kiasa and Larro should receive their bottles after the other orphans. 

11 August 2019

Kiombo and Nabulu sometimes get mixed up at milk feeding times. For example, Nabulu sometimes prefers to go down to the mud bath with the younger group but even after being told to wait by her Keepers, as she is meant to go down with the older group. Kiombo has a habit of finishing his milk and then starts heading off back into the bush, not bothered to wait for the other orphans. The Keepers must keep a close eye on him some days, making sure he doesn’t wonder too far off whilst the other finish their milk. Nonetheless, the two have adapted well to life at the Nursery and are growing to be healthy young elephants. 

Mukkoka and Dololo are the best of friends and they both have quite the appetites, as they are constantly trying to get more milk and are always racing to be the first to have their bottles. If they by chance fall behind some of the other orphans, they start to push the others to get to the milk. The Keepers often have their hands full keeping them away. These are all signs that they are growing into strong young bulls. 

12 August 2019

Enkesha was in a very happy and playful mood this morning, and always thoroughly enjoys her bottle of milk very close to little Larro. Larro and Enkesha have become best friends and are often seen hanging around the wheelbarrows with one another, looking for spilt milk, and browsing together in the field. As they both like to hang around for extra milk, the Keepers have had to watch them both, ensuring that they move back into the field or to the mud bath once they have finished drinking.  

Dupotto and Luggard, on the other hand, are always the last two to get their milk bottles. They both slowly make their way down, avoiding all the commotion of the other orphans and then quietly enjoy their bottles. Dupotto who continues to struggle with her health, seems to enjoy relaxing with Luggard as she knows she won’t have to rush to finish her milk. The two quite happily walk together behind the rest of the Nursery herd. 

13 August 2019

It was another cold morning as the orphans were browsing out in the field. When it was time for their 9am bottles of milk, Mukkoka as usual tried to be the first to come charging down to the milk feeding point ensuring that he gets his bottle before the others. He continues to trumpet in protest if any of the other orphans are ahead of him. This morning, Dololo and Maisha were ahead of the rest of the herd, and Mukkoka had to try his very best to catch up them. Once the three had finished their milk they all headed off together to continue their morning browsing activities. They had decided to browse close to Maxwell’s stockade. Maxwell who appeared to notice he had some company began to stomp around and kick up the dust as though he was marking his territory, ensuring the orphans didn’t come too close. 

14 August 2019

Kiko always seems to have his own ideas of where he will browse during the day. Today, when the Keepers let him out his stable he walked straight out into the forest and began to browse on some acacia trees. The Keepers slowly followed him ensuring that he didn’t start any of his usual antics, such as adventuring into the general parking area. Sattao and Musiara who were also browsing in the field noticed Kiko’s arrival and were a little cautious of him at first but then relaxed and continued to browse. 

Before the midday feeding time and mud bath, the Keepers walked Kiko back to the stockade neighboring Maxwells’ stockade just to make sure that he was safely inside whilst the Keepers were busy with the orphans at the mud bath. Kiko appears to enjoy Maxwell’s company as he always curiously watches him eating his pellets and laying in the sun. After the midday feeding time, the Keepers walked with Kiko back out into the field where he browsed for the remainder of the day.  

15 August 2019

Kiombo is really getting used to his milk bottle these days and likes the formula so much now he has started bullying Dololo during feeding times. Dololo used to be quite active during feeding times but now he has become quiet as he fears Kiombo might try and bully him for his milk. Kiombo likes to try and run to be first to the milk bottles too. Dololo never shows any signs of revenge however and just accepts that Kiombo is becoming pushy at feeding times.

Maisha is showing off good matriarchal duties these days and shows the responsibility of taking charge sometimes. She likes looking after Ziwadi and a lot of the time they can be spotted browsing together out in the forest. When it comes to the end of the day however and the orphans run home for their milk, Ziwadi is happy to leave Maisha behind and run in as fast as she can for her milk bottle in her room. She is another baby that likes to try and run the fastest for her bottle.

16 August 2019

It was a chilly morning and the elephant orphans slowly made their way out of their bedrooms this morning. Tamiyoi looked ready to go and browse when she came out of her room, but Ziwadi, who always likes to do the opposite of the others, decided to stay and drink from the water trough next to Tamiyoi’s room. As the Keepers walked the orphans out to the forest, they noticed that Ziwadi had been left behind and they walked back to get her. Ziwadi was upset when she was not in the first group to the 9am milk feed and she came running in for her bottle yelling out loud in protest. Tamiyoi went over to calm her down after she had finished her bottle, and escort her off to browse from the nearby bushes.

17 August 2019

Kiko, who is always an active and slightly naughty giraffe, today decided to walk out of his bedroom and head straight for Maxwell’s stockade where he bent over and started helping himself to some of Maxwell’s leftover pellets which he had been given by the Keepers in the morning. Eventually Kiko’s Keeper decided to lead him off into the other enclosed side of Maxwell’s stockade until later in the morning when he could escort him to the forest. He provided branches of fresh greens to supplement the greens in the boma as well as some extra pellets. Maxwell marched up and down wondering if there was an intruder in his territory, but when he realized it was Kiko he settled down and went to have a nap on his favourite dusty spot. 

18 August 2019

Luggard walked out of his stable this morning in a very happy mood and showing signs of wanting to play with his close friend Musiara. They had a happy moment playing pushing games in the compound but slowly making their way out to the forest as well. Their games made them slower than the others however, who were in a hurry to go out and browse, and they were the only two left behind. When they eventually finished their games to look up they realized they had been left behind and they decided to run, and in Luggard’s case run slowly with short pauses, to catch up. When they reached Sattao who was quietly browsing from a bush, they started up their game again and it was as if they had agreed to finish what they started. Their game eventually drew Sattao’s attention however and he decided to join in on their pushing game. They all had fun together for a short while, but Luggard also knows his limitations and also that Sattao can be a bit pushy sometimes so eventually he decided to quit the game, and leave Musiara and Sattao playing together. After a while the game seemed to take its toll and both elephants felt hungry as they walked off in different directions to go and browse, until the matriarch Tamiyoi and her side-kick Kiasa decided to lead the orphans to where they would wait for their 9am milk feed. 

19 August 2019

All the orphans looked happy and healthy today as they came out of their bedrooms ready to walk out to the forest, except Dupotto who looked very dull and ill today showing signs of weakness due to the illness that has plagued her for so long. As the orphans walked out to the bush, Dupotto did not look very active and didn’t even feel like her milk bottles very much. She did not attend the 3pm mud bath and milk feed as she was walking very slowly and we did not want to push her, but by 5pm in the afternoon she was showing signs of stomach pain. The Keepers administered some pain killers for her stomach but eventually Dupotto lay down and we knew the end was close. The Keepers surrounded her and spoke to Dupotto as she eventually passed away just after 6pm, and everyone shed silent tears. 

20 August 2019

It was a chilly morning when the orphans came out of their rooms today, but other than that they seemed to be okay. Maisha and Enkesha decided to leave the others and went their own way to browse behind the stables. It was still early in the morning and Kiasa and Larro were together feeding in front of the others. It seemed as if they wanted to walk off further into the forest; because Kiasa is a naughty girl sometimes and the Keepers always keep an eye on her, they were watching her this morning to make sure she did not wander off too far. When it was milk time Kiasa ran very fast to have her bottle with her little friend but when they were done they decided to hang around to see if they could have any extra milk. The Keepers were wise to their tricks and directed both girls away from the feeding area to go off and continue browsing.

21 August 2019

At the beginning of the day it was all about Maktao and Musiara as these two boys were having a really good time playing their pushing games. They were engaged in a wrestling game and at times they also took a break from this to play hide and seek as they gathered their energy to continue wrestling. They hardly bothered associating with any of the other babies, including Ziwadi who for the first time was showing interest in playing with Maktao. When it was time for their milk bottles, Maktao and Musiara walked together to go and have their milk at the same time. Luggard walked down slowly behind them as Larro, Mukkoka and Enkesha were kept at the back to go and have their milk at the end, as sometimes Mukkoka and Larro can be disruptive. Larro was looking very greedy and she was very happy by the time she had her milk bottle, and all of the others had finished so she could not ask for any more either. After everyone was done, they all walked in the company of their Keepers to the bushes to browse on greens. 

22 August 2019

Day by day Ziwadi is doing better and better in the Nursery herd and is becoming more accustomed to the daily routine as well as the other babies. She is starting to get a bit closer to Maktao and Musiara, though is still struggling with some of the others like Kiasa and Larro who are two naughty little girls and who sometimes push Ziwadi away when she tries to interact with them. Her trust therefore grows in babies like Maktao and Musiara and this was witnessed this morning as well, as all three babies spent their time browsing close together this morning. 

Tamiyoi and Mukkoka sneaked away from the others and went to go and browse beside Maxwell’s stockade, which caused Maxwell to wander over and investigate as he pondered who was so close to his territory. Obviously they could not go inside his stockade, but the noise of them eating and breaking branches seemed to unsettle Max as he walked round and round and kicked up dust as well, so that we thought he might be able to smell another rhino nearby as well. 

23 August 2019

It has been quite chilly for the past couple of weeks now but the forest is quite dry as we have not had any rain for some time. Kiombo is a shy and quiet boy so he is still looking for that very special friendship in the Nursery. He tends to spend time with the other younger orphans like Dololo. Dololo has become very active around milk time and always acts like he wants more milk after his bottles. He has acquired the habit of hanging around the milk wheelbarrow holding all the bottles, trying to suck up all the spilled milk inside, until he is moved away by the Keepers. Maisha is very close to Tamiyoi still and the two girls were spotted playing a fun pushing game when they reached the forest after the 11am public visiting hour where they had their milk.

24 August 2019

Today we witnessed that strange phenomenon of the orphans in the Nairobi Nursery alerting us to the fact we might be expecting a baby in the Nursery later that day. Today was different however as we knew we were expecting little Tagwa, a baby who had been sent down to the Voi Reintegration unit in June last year 2019 and who was in fact the Nursery matriarch at that time as well. Tagwa is being brought back to the Nursery so she doesn’t have to ride out the drought period in Tsavo while one of her tusks is coming through the wrong part of her gum, instead of the tusk pocket, which can be very painful. In order to receive the best care and attention, plus lots of access to food and supplements, Angela thought the best place for her would be the Nairobi Nursery for the time being. In the morning the Nursery babies were trumpeting and jumping around while still in their bedrooms, and just around 6am Tagwa arrived at the Nursery. When she was offloaded from the special translocation lorry, most of the babies were eager to welcome her, especially Tamiyoi who she remembered very well!

25 August 2019

Larro and Enkesha have become very close recently and both these little girls were seen browsing with each other all day today. They may have spent the whole time browsing, but Larro has become very eager to have her milk bottle these days and always wants to be the first to any milk feed, leaving Enkesha behind. Larro likes to be first, but little Mukkoka has proved to be a fast mover as well and there is often a competition between he and Larro over who can arrive first for their milk bottles. If Mukkoka thinks he is falling behind, he starts to yell out in protest at Larro being first – just like a child shouting that it isn’t fair!

26 August 2019

Tagwa used to be the matriarch of the Nairobi Nursery and still shows these motherly and caring instincts now that she is back. This morning she wouldn’t leave the compound until the little girl Larro was also with her. She stood next to Nabulu’s stable which is the last one on the way out to the forest to wait for the little girl. Tamiyoi used to be the main leader in the herd along with Enkesha who likes to shower Larro with affection, and Tagwa has taken on some of the responsibility of looking after little Larro as well. With Tagwa around, Larro feels very safe and secure in the group, and Tamiyoi and Enkesha decided to take the opportunity to go and browse far ahead of the group. The Keepers had to be on their toes and make sure they didn’t go too far so that they would get lost. 

27 August 2019

It was a chilly morning today when all of the orphans came out of their stables. Luggard and Musiara came out of their rooms which are next to each other and decided to go a different route behind the empty stockades, to meet up with the others on their way out to the forest. When they reached the forest, Sattao started a pushing game with Musiara, and eventually they were running up and down in excitement. Mukkoka loves running and swiftly joined in their game, but he got carried away and started blowing trumpets which scared his two friends who ran off to find the others who were browsing. Mukkoka found himself next to Dololo who was busy eating greens. Mukkoka decided to start a pushing game with him but Dololo wasn’t interested as Mukkoka can sometimes be a bit of a bully towards him so he wanted to avoid him, and walked off to where the older girls were busy browsing. The elephant orphans realized that it was soon to be their next milk feeding time so they started gathering altogether in preparation to run down for their milk bottles.

28 August 2019

As usual the elephant orphans were walking out to the forest after coming out of their night stockades and were walking past Maxwell’s stockade. Maxwell heard the orphans all filing past and walked over to his gate to salute them as they walked out. He then started running around the top half of his stockade in excitement, kicking up dust. When all of the elephants had walked out and he could no longer hear their footsteps, he walked over to where his Lucerne pellets are always piled for him and started feasting on his breakfast. Later on in the morning the sun came out which our little blind boy always enjoys, and Maxwell found a nice dusty spot to lie down and have a nap while basking in the warmth of the sun.

29 August 2019

Ziwadi is such a clever girl. She is a bit slower than some of the others but she had developed a taste for the sweet milk formula too. She knows she is a bit slower, so she walks to where the milk feeding point is, even ahead of the others sometimes and on her own. She has never been able to suckle a bottle as well as the others, but the Keepers always allow her to feed with the first group as she is slower at walking than them, as well as feeding! They do not want her feeling left out. Musiara sometimes walks down for his milk with Tamiyoi, and they have been spending a lot of time with Mukkoka who loves running down for his milk, so Musiara and Tamiyoi are getting faster at coming for their milk as well! Mukkoka is lucky to have one of the leaders Tamiyoi as one of his good friends, and she will always look after him.

30 August 2019

Larro is the youngest in the Nursery herd and is so lucky to have the care and attention from so many of the older girls in the Nursery. Tagwa seems to have taken on the full mandate of looking after the little baby of the group, but Enkesha, Kiasa and Tamiyoi still manage to look after her from time to time. Enkesha is happy to accept that Tagwa is very capable of taking care of Larro and is happy to leave her in her company. Kiasa, although very caring of Larro, has never changed the naughty side of her character. Today during the public visiting time she decided to initiate a pushing game with Sattao. The visiting public found their antics very funny, as they wrestled for close on twenty minutes after having their milk bottles, until it was time for them to go back out to the forest again. They both walked out with the rest of the younger herd in the company of their Keepers, back to the forest to browse. At least Kiasa was better around the milk bottles today!

31 August 2019

Kiko was full of energy and was very active today. When he came out of his night stable to walk over to the boma where he spends the morning next to Maxwell, he decided to go by Tagwa’s stockade to feed on one of the trees close by there. Eventually he decided to follow his Keeper and walked into the stockade next to Maxwell, where he was greeted by lots of freshly cut green branches to feed on and some lucerne pellets too. He might have wished he had listened to his Keeper earlier! Maxwell wandered over to the gate separating them to find out who was in the stockade next to him and smelt Kiko there, so walked off again to feast on his own Lucerne pellets.