Keepers' Diaries, December 2004

Nairobi Nursery Unit

The inexplicable and very sudden death of little Jipe on the 20th will always be remembered as one of the most mysterious and tragic events that has ever beset our Nursery elephants. He had always been perhaps the most healthy and problem free infant we had ever had, thriving from the moment he arrived, and even cutting his first molars without the usual fevers and diarrheoa. The only unusual thing was the quantity of stool that he was passing for a day or two beforehand, but it was of a perfectly normal consistency, and other than that he showed no signs whatsoever of feeling unwell, playful and happy even when he returned to his stable that fateful evening. He took his 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. feeds in full, but refused the other 3 hourly feeds thereafter, and was dead by 8 a.m. the next morning, white froth exuding from the trunk. Even the Vet, who came to give him an injection in the morning, was astonished by such a rapid demise in what appeared just a day before to be a normal and healthy animal.

01 December 2004

All the Nursery inmates looked a bit bored today, and chose to feed apart. Nalitu and Jipe began playing, and Naserian came to watch over them.

02 December 2004

Ndomot and Madiba engaged in their usual boyish battle. When Ndomot looked like winning, Madiba pretended to disengage and not be interested, and then suddenly caught Ndomot unawares, pushing him almost to the ground. In the afternoon a lone buffalo approached us, unbeknownst to the Keepers, but Buchuma alerted us, rushing towards us with ears out. We, and all the elephants were very scared, when suddenly, out of the bushes, came Makosa, who took on the buffalo in a brief battle, and managed to chase it away! Makosa was our hero that day, and everyone was proud of his courage!

03 December 2004

Nalitu’s love for Galana grows. She goes beneath Galana as if to suckle, and Galana touches her gently with her trunk, as would a mother. Jipe’s allegiance to Naserian is still strong, although he leaves her now and then to play with Nalitu.

04 December 2004

NU Sunyei began circling and trumpeting today, as though to warn us of approaching danger. Although we saw nothing untoward, we took heed and changed location. Later Ndomot blocked Buchuma’s progress, which made Buchuma irritated. He gave Ndomot a shove which made him move.

05 December 2004

The newest orphan, “Lualeni”, keeps to herself most of the time, and is not interested in playing, obviously still grieving for her family. Jipe tried to entice a game, but she ignored him, so he moved back to Naserian. Naserian loves both Jipe and Nalitu, and both are happy in her company, sometimes lying down beneath her, and touching her mouth with their trunks. Sunyei is something of a loner, preferring to feed apart from the others.

06 December 2004

Jipe decided to stick to Sunyei today, interested to know what type of browse she was eating, occasionally taking food from her mouth. Elsewhere Nalitu was trying to suckle Galana. Occasionally Buchuma stayed close to Lualeni, trying to entice her into the main group. Ndomot and Madiba had only a short bout today, before concentrating on feeding.

07 December 2004

We woke up to a cold and wet morning today, and all the elephants were reluctant to venture out of their night quarters. When they did emerge, Ndomot lay down in the mud whilst Nalitu, Galana and Madiba played around him. Sunyei preferred to feed on her own, with Jipe following, intent on taking food from her mouth. Naserian is a little more cheerful today, chasing the baby warthogs around.

08 December 2004

Jipe was disappointed to see that Naserian was paying more attention to Nalitu today, so he returned to the Keepers. Sunyei fed apart again, and chased away some warthogs who intruded onto her patch

09 December 2004

Galana tried to take Nalitu from Naserian, but Nalitu remained attached to Naserian, whilst Jipe decided to stick to Sunyei

10 December 2004

Madiba and Ndomot had their usual bout today, which lasted about an hour, irrespective of the intervention of Sunyei who tried to bring it to an end.

11 December 2004

We disturbed six hyaenas this morning, who emerged from their holes, scaring all the elephants who ran in different directions. However, Sunyei plucked up the courage to charge after the retreating hyaenas.

12 December 2004

Today Buchuma showed off his strength by pushing Galana, which made her very angry. She retaliated, and we had to intervene to save Buchuma from being pushed right down. Nalitu decided to spend time with Galana today, rather than Naserian

13 December 2004

Nalitu woke up in a very good mood today, running up and down and being friendly to all the orphans, especially Madiba, spending some time with him, which made Ndomot jealous. Ndomot came to push the baby away, so the Keepers had to reprimand him.

14 December 2004

Jipe had a bad night, passing a lot of stool, which was normal in consistency, but more than usual. This persisted the whole day.

15 December 2004

We encountered a wild rhino today, which fortunately ran away, leaving all the orphans with ears out and trunks up. We decided to change location.

16 December 2004

Nalitu, closely watched by Sunyei, enjoyed a game climbing on top of Naserian who was lying down. Buchuma and Ndomot had a rough play fight today, which Sunyei broke up

17 December 2004

Jipe and Nalitu played together after being anointed with the Coconut oil, which happens every Friday. Naserian and Sunyei stood by, watching them closely, but Buchuma decided to join in and began to push them, which interrupted their game.

18 December 2004

Buchuma again tried to take on Galana, who was not amused, and shoved him away. Instead he tried to take on Madiba, but Madiba was not interested, and moved away.

19 December 2004

For the first time Lualeni hesitatingly went into the mudbath and began to play, which made us all very happy. Jipe and Nalitu wanted to join her, but we restrained them, because it was too cold to risk a chill.

20 December 2004

It was a very sad, and bad day, for us all today, for Jipe showed signs of being sick and did not go out with the others. As Mrs. Sheldrick was in Tsavo, we called the Vet who came and gave him an antibiotic injection. After one hour, Jipe lay down, and in less than half an hour he was dead! That was the shortest time that any of our orphans have suddenly died, not showing any signs of illness previously, apart from an unusual quantity of normal looking stool. It was a huge shock for us, and unbelievable because he was everyone’s favourite baby. Today, all the orphans appeared dejected, missing the presence of little Jipe. His body was sent to KWS for post-mortem examination to try and determine the cause of death.

21 December 2004

A very quiet and sad day for everyone without Jipe amongst us.

22 December 2004

Sunyei woke up early and remained outside Jipe’s empty stable, refusing to leave for a long time. We had to force her to go into the bush.

23 December 2004

Again, Sunyei, this time along with Naserian and Nalitu, remained outside Jipe’s stable, refusing to leave for the bush. In the end we had to force them away

24 December 2004

Buchuma began an early bout with Naserian today, until Sunyei brought it to an end. Meanwhile, Galana took over Nalitu from Naserian.

25 December 2004

Today saw Lualeni playing by chasing the baby warthogs around. Galana joined her and shoved her. Then Buchuma joined the game, and got shoved by Galana, so the Keepers stopped Galana from taking part, since she was bring too rough.

26 December 2004

The elephants had a new mudbath today, and were very happy with it. They had a wonderful time in it, including Lualeni

27 December 2004

Lualeni enjoyed playing with Madiba today for the first time, while Galana took Nalitu from Naserian. Buchuma tried to push Galana again, but she turned on him and disciplined him seriously. In the evening Naserian did not want to go into her stable, but rather wanted to share that of Nalitu.

28 December 2004

Lualeni proved very active today, playing all day and trying to push all the other orphans, irrespective of their size! A wild rhino pursuing Makosa in our direction scared everyone. It was very interesting to see how Sunyei tries to protect all the others by not running away, and rather standing her ground making a lot of noise, trumpeting and bellowing, with her ears flapping wildly.

29 December 2004

Tiny Nalitu enjoyed chasing the baby warthogs again today, but when the adults appeared, she ran back, screaming for help, which brought Naserian at the double, hurrying trumpeting to protect her baby

30 December 2004

A herd of buffaloes appeared today, walking majestically towards the orphans. It was Sunyei who was first to spot them, and warned us all to make haste in another direction!

31 December 2004

Nalitu and Lualeni had a lovely play today, having been anointed with coconut oil. They were running up and down together, with Naserian following them wherever they went!