Keepers' Diaries, August 2021

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

Maxwell spent the month in high spirits. Of course, like all creatures, he sometimes experiences mood swings. We can usually tell how he is feeling based on how he treats the Nursery’s resident warthogs. While Maxwell cannot see, his hearing and sense of smell are excellent, so he always knows when they have invited themselves into his stockade. When he is in a good mood, he doesn’t mind listening to them crunch away on his lucerne pellets. Should he wake up in a bad mood, however, he kicks up dirt to intimidate the warthogs and then herds them into a corner. This certainly keeps the warthogs on their toes, as they never quite know what to expect from Max! 

After her health took a dip, Shukuru returned to the Nursery to convalesce under close supervision. She is doing very well and seems to have more energy each day. The Keepers always say that you can tell a lot about an elephant’s health from the condition of her skin, and Shukuru’s has vastly improved since her arrival. She enjoys her milk bottles and spends her days browsing on a variety of greens. The younger orphans are in awe of Shukuru, particularly Naleku. Whenever Naleku sees the big girl enter the mud bath, she sidles up next to her, visibly delighted to be in the presence of such a large elephant.

Esoit is our newest rescue, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at him. He is growing in confidence every day and has formed strong bonds with most of the herd. Because he tragically lost his mother just a few months ago, these friendships play an important role in his healing process. Esoit really looks up to the older bulls and confidently plays with all of them. He challenges Naboishu to wrestling matches without hesitation, even though Naboishu has a reputation for roughhousing. 

However, even Naboishu seems to be growing up. He spent a lovely afternoon with little Ziwadi, browsing side by side and sharing greens, which was surprisingly generous of him. Elephants are very intuitive creatures, so perhaps Naboishu senses that Ziwadi is not the strongest girl and needs gentle treatment. Naboishu is still the naughtiest member of our Nursery herd, but he certainly has his moments of kindness.

Rama, who was our newest rescue before Esoit, has also settled into Nursery life. He has been coming out of his shell day by day and even engages the other orphans in pushing games. One day, he and Roho had a spirited match in the forest. This was a marvel in and of itself — until recently, he avoided games all together — but even more amazing was the fact that he then moved on to wrestle with Mukkoka. Mukkoka seems to know that Rama is bowlegged and always plays gently, just lightly pushing against him. Rama’s best friend remains Ziwadi, who has a similarly reserved personality. 

Larro is such a considerate matriarch of our Nursery herd. Because it is winter in Nairobi, the weather has been particularly brisk. On chilly mornings, the Keepers leave the youngest orphans in their cosy stables until it warms up. This never sits well with Larro, who prefers to keep everyone in her sight. One morning, she even walked back to the stockade compound, as if she was returning to fetch her babies. As soon as the Keepers let them out, she came running over, rumbling and trumpeting in excitement. 

Kindani, Kinyei, and Bondeni have never been very fond of mud bathing. Instead, the best friends prefer to stand near Rama and enjoy the fringe benefits of his enthusiastic splashing. They do, however, love their dust baths. The Keepers often help the youngest babies bathe themselves, but Kindani, Kinyei, and Bondeni are not interested in a helping hand. Whenever the Keepers try to splash them with mud, they quickly run off in the opposite direction.

Olorien remains our girl of mystery. She can be very temperamental, depending on the hour. However, she has really taken a shine to Esoit and often spends the entire day in his company. She is full of funny quirks, such as her dislike of water drains. In fact, she flatly refuses to walk over the water drains that run through the Nursery, which forces the Keepers to create all sorts of alternative routes back to the compound! 

August 2021 day to day

01 Aug

Despite being an overcast day, most of the orphans appeared to be in a good mood as they were leaving the stockade compound to make their way to the forest. Unlike most mornings, Ziwadi was quite quiet today, and instead of stopping at all the water troughs for water, she would stop at one or two before slowly following the Nursery herd. Once in the forest, she quietly settled to browse. Although she has not had a seizure for quite some time now, the Keepers kept a close eye on her, making sure she did not overexert herself and that the rest of the herd left her peace. 

Larro, Bondeni and Esoit recently seem to have formed their own small trio as they are spending most of their days together. Larro has always had a close relationship with Bondeni and recently she has been getting closer to Esoit, even challenging him to some light wrestling matches. Both the bulls are so full of energy that they enjoy various games throughout the day, although they haven’t challenged each other to a wrestling match. Esoit seems to rather challenge Roho and some of the bigger bulls to a wrestling match. 

The orphans had a quiet day in the forest and being overcast none of them seemed interested in having a mud bath after their midday or afternoon bottles of milk. Some of the orphans such as Shukuru, Kinyei, and Kindani did have a short dust bath but otherwise they mostly spent their day browsing before heading home in the evening.

Ziwadi quietly out in the forest

Esoit, Roho, Larro and Mukkoka dust bathing

Shukuru dust bathing