Keepers' Diaries, December 2003

Voi Reintegration Unit

Nursery Elephants:- There have been two main events in the Nairobi Nursery this month - the ailment that has beset little “Ndomot” which has, and is, causing us such anxiety, and the arrival of the little Southern African elephant, called “Ollie”, whose name we have changed to “Madiba” to reflect his Southern African origin. “Madiba” is the name by which Nelson Mandela is affectionately known by the people of his homeland.

01 December 2003

The day was extremely hot with no sign of rain. The orphans mudwallowed happily and extensively. Morani, Seraa, Pmpala and Burra went to dust themselves by rolling on a nearby anthill.

02 December 2003

The orphans split into three groups at l0 a.m. Emily took Tsavo, Loisaba, Mukwaju and Ndara whilst Natumi took Ilingwezi, Nyiro, Salama and Thoma. The rest remained with Aitong. They all joined up again on their way to the noon mudbath. Two waterbucks joined the orphans at 2 p.m. and they browsed peacefully together until Nasalot, Mulika and Morani decided to chase the antelope off.

03 December 2003

Today saw an altercation between Natumi and Nyiro, when Nyiro grabbed Natumi’s tail to try and hinder her progress into the mudbath.

04 December 2003

It was a cool day, so most of the orphans opted out of going to the mudbath, but concentrated on feeding. At l0 a.m. Mweya, Sosian and Solango chased off a squirrel that was approaching them. The squirrel climbed on a nearby tree, so its pursuers gave up and rejoined the orphan group.

05 December 2003

The orphans and their Keepers had to walk many Kms. to find adequate pasture. Mweiga was lagging behind, but Morani, Solango and Thoma kept her company.

06 December 2003

The orphans joined up with Lissa’s group at 9 a.m. when Natumi and Edie played pushing games with Lara and Laikipia and Salama took on Uaso, who accompanied them to the noon mudbath, but left at 2 p.m. to return to Lissa.

07 December 2003

Sosian made use of his little tusks to dig soil from an antil. He took the soil with his trunk and sprayed it into Irima’s eye. Irima went forward to retaliate, but Ilingwezi intervened to separate them.

08 December 2003

Morani tried to mount Seraa at noon, but Seraa managed to avoid him.

09 December 2003

At the noon milk feed, Morani and Thoma, who came first, tried a trick to get another bottle. They turned back running in front of the next group as though they had not yet taken their share, but the Keepers spotted them, and saw that the second group took their milk without a problem. A wild bachelor bull joined Emily’s group at 8 a.m. Aitong remained behind browsing with the bull when the others proceeded for their noon mudbath. She re-joined them at 3 p.m.

10 December 2003

It was very hot, and all the orphans thoroughly enjoyed their mudbath. They felt threatened by 2 running giraffes who passed close by, all clustering around Emily and the Keepers.

11 December 2003

Mvita knocked down Nasalot during a wonderful noon mudbath. Mulika and Yatta hurried to support Nasalot’s head so that she could rise easily.

12 December 2003

Sosian’s efforts to get the very first bottle of milk ended in failure at noon, when he fell down whilst racing. Although he got up rapidly, he found himself last. A group of 7 wild elephants passed close to the orphans at 1 p.m. The wild group were moving rapidly, so the orphans did not join them.

13 December 2003

Kinna, Mukwaju, Laikipia and Tsavo found themselves alone in the mudbath when the others went on browsing at noon. They ran to join them, trumpeting loudly.

14 December 2003

At 2 p.m. Emily and Aitong each took their favourite calves to go browsing in different directions. They later all joined up on the way back to the Stockades in the evening.

15 December 2003

Mpala, who was scheduled to get his bottle of milk with the second group of orphans, sneaked in between two Keepers and ran to get his ration with the first contingent. Emily was happy to spend time with Mrs. Sheldrick and Angela, who came to visit the orphans.

16 December 2003

The orphans joined a wild group of 9 elephants who were browsing on top of Mazinga Hill behind the Stockades. Edie, Icholta and Salama played pushing games with their wild age-mates. They separated at 5 p.m. when the orphans came down the hill to their Night Stockades.

17 December 2003

It was extremely hot today, so the orphans had two mudbaths.

18 December 2003

Nyiro, Mpala, Irima and Morani enjoyed a wonderful mudbath together, whilst Lolokwe, Loisaba and Nyiro chased off a warthog with 2 babies which was resting under a tree. They then took over the tree.

19 December 2003

All the orphans enjoyed their mudbath today. Emily lay down and allowed the younger elephants to climb on her. Loisaba, Tsavo and Ndara became very jealous and were busy pushing anyone who climbed on Emily, off!

20 December 2003

the orphans browsed close to a large group of about 20 impala without a problem. They later left the antelope to move location. Whilst returning to the Stockades in the evening, Laikipia seemed to be feeling unwell. He lay down whilst the others were browsing when Emily came to him to try and lift him up. During the night we administered colloidal silver twice.

21 December 2003

Laikipia’s condition has improved. He was looking active, leading Natumi’s little group.

22 December 2003

There were light showers of rain all day. The orphans concentrated on feeding, and declined to go to the mudbath.

23 December 2003

The continuing drought has weakened Mweiga further, who had difficulty in getting up in the morning as the others were leaving. The Keepers had to help her. On the way back to the Stockades in the evening, Emily, who was leading the group, came to a halt with her ears out. All the other orphans stood motionless with ears out, facing in the same direction. The Keepers went to investigate and found 2 mating lions, who objected to being disturbed and charged, roaring fiercely. The Keepers took to their heels, and all the orphans did likewise, running in different directions. Emily, Aitong and 16 other orphans ended up at the Stockades, whilst Natumi and 11 others (the younger set) ran in the opposite direction, towards Lugards Falls. The Keepers used the Greens truck to go in search of them and were able to round them all up by 7.30 p.m., some of them having gone 13 kms. from the foot of Mazinga hill near the Stockades, where they encountered the lions.

24 December 2003

In the morning Irima, who seemed fine the previous night, was seen to be limping, unable to keep pace with the others. The Keepers gave him some pain killers and separated him, and two of his best friends, Morani and Mweiga, to spend the day feeding nearby. In the evening Irima was much better.

25 December 2003

Sosian who came last in the race for the milk, pushed off all the others who had already started taking their bottles. The Keepers gave him a stern warning. At the mudbath, Emily, Mukwaju and Kinna prevented 6 zebras from drinking

26 December 2003

All the orphans went slowly today, keeping weakling Mweiga company, which made her very happy.

27 December 2003

At 8 a.m., the orphans split into two groups, one led by Aitong, and the other by Emily. Sally browsed close to Aitong, pushing away others who tried to approach. The two groups later joined up at the noon mudbath.

28 December 2003

The Keepers rescued an elephant calf of about 4 years of age at Mwatate Sisal Estate. The Estate’s residents had seen the calf roaming alone for the past 4 days. It was very emaciated, so was easily overpowered and taken back to the Stockades. When the other orphans returned, Mweiga and Aitong monitored the baby closely, touching her to comfort her with their trunks most of the time.

29 December 2003

Little “Mwatate” was looking assured and relaxed. Mweiga remained with her to comfort her when the other orphans left. The newcomer and Mweiga fed on browse cut for them by the Keepers, touching each other time and time again. At 9.20 a.m. the other orphans were frightened when a wild group of 8 elephants came running past them. The Keepers were unable to determine what had scared them, but suspected that it could be the lions. The younger orphans browsed close to the Keepers for the rest of the day.

30 December 2003

“Mwatate” looked weak, although she continued to feed, kept company by Mweiga. Mrs. Sheldrick sent down injectible antibiotics on the night bus, which were administered. Mweya, Burra, Thoma and Ndara became excited when they met up with a dikdik, which was charged by Mweya and Ndara and made a hasty exit. Ilingwezi was a little unwell today. She kept lying down and squirming, as though in pain, so we gave her a de-worming dose, which seemed to work well.

31 December 2003

The year ended very sadly with the death of our “Mwatate”, who died peacefully in her sleep. She was very weak in the morning, leaning on the Stockjade walls. The Keepers helped her to lie down and she died at 1.30 p.m. that afternoon. Her body was removed before the other orphans returned in the evening.