Keepers' Diaries, December 2005

Nairobi Nursery Unit

It has been an eventful month for the Nursery elephants, and one that has seen a marked improvement in blind little Ndololo’s general health, having been literally and miraculously snatched from the jaws of death. Now that he has cut his teeth, and weathered about 4 serious bouts of diarrheoa, which left him skeletal and feeble, he is gaining weight and strength by the day, feeding well, and becoming much more outgoing. The Eye Specialist who is monitoring him pronounced on Christmas day that there had been a marked improvement in one eye, so much so that if progress continued, he may not need to have to undergo surgery. If we can restore the sight of even just one eye, it would be sufficient to be able to offer him a quality of life in wild terms when grown, so this news was the best Christmas present we could have received. By the 20th, he was strong enough to join the other elephants out in the forest for a short time daily, and whilst to begin with he was afraid of their touch, by the end of the month he was enjoying contact, and looking forward to being with the other elephants during the mornings. By the end of the month he was spending all day out with them, and even coming to the mudbath.

01 December 2005

Early morning rain saw all the elephants and Keepers shrouded in their raincoats. Kora kept on pulling on Zurura’s raincoat, which angered Zurura, who bellowed for help.

02 December 2005

It was a cold and drizzly morning, so Makena and Zurura were left behind in their night stable. As soon as they were let out, Makena ran to join Naserian, but found that the Keepers had changed location. She bellowed loudly, and all the other elephants responded, especially Naserian, who immediately set out to find Makena. It was a very happy reunion.

03 December 2005

It was a very difficult day for blind little Ndololo. We all thought that he was on the way out, and would not make it. He refused his feeds, had diarrheoa and was becoming very weak, only taking 3 pints of milk at 4 p.m. Mrs. Sheldrick dosed him again with Sulphadimidine, Kaolin, and Vitamins, administered orally through a cut off large syringe.

04 December 2005

Ndololo fed quite well during the night, which encouraged us all.

05 December 2005

Whilst in the Night Stable, Zurura, who is next door to Ndololo, seemed to understand that little Ndololo was not well. He kept on stretching his trunk through the separating bars to touch him and comfort him.

06 December 2005

Zurura attempted to befriend both Kora and Challa, but Kora tried to mount him, so he concentrated on Challa, who is quiet and not pushy in any way. Challa likes Zurura to remain close to him.

07 December 2005

Shida was very excited and playful this morning, running away and back to his Keepers. At one point he disappeared, which prompted a search, and we found him feeding quietly on his own in the Park.

08 December 2005

Lualeni was very playful this morning, enjoying chasing the warthogs who were close to the stables when the elephants were let out. Kora joined in as back-up, whilst Challa remained stationery, with his ears out, looking a bit alarmed.

09 December 2005

Shida really enjoyed his mudbath today, running up and down and putting on a good show for the visitors. Afterwards Rapsu began to lead the orphans back into the bush after their noon mudbath, but Buchuma came and pushed him aside in order to be Leader.

10 December 2005

Makena is glued to Naserian all day long, and does not want to be separated from her. Rapsu is being a bit pushy towards Challa. We think this is because Challa occupied his Stockade when he first arrived, meaning that Rapsu had to be moved to another. Rapsu resented this and has not forgiven Challa.

11 December 2005

The large trucks are parked at the Loading Ramps today, but Naserian is very suspicious whenever we try to separate her from Makena, and coax her to go in for her milk.

12 December 2005

Shida seems to think that he is old enough to be independent these days. He keeps running from his Keepers, and is reluctant to go into his stockade at night.

13 December 2005

Naserian and Rapsu refused to go into the trucks for their moving practice but Buchuma obliged. At the noon milk feed Rapsu got in, but Naserian firmly refused. For the evening feed both Rapsu and Buchuma were happy to go into the trucks, but Naserian refused.

14 December 2005

This morning Naserian went without her milk feed because she refused to go into the truck. Throughout the day she refused to go in. Makena also seems to know that something is up because she is making a lot of noise. We tried putting Makena in the truck, hoping that Naserian would follow, but she still refused.

15 December 2005

Today was the day scheduled for Rapsu, Buchuma and Naserian to leave the Nursery for the Ithumba Reintroduction unit. Rapsu was first to be loaded, followed by Buchuma, with Naserian still in her Stockade. Robert Carr-Hartley had been given a sedative for her by the Vet, but when the time came, this was not needed. We tied a rope to Naserian’s legs so that she could not run away, and when she was close to the truck opening, a quick shove from many Keepers propelled her inside. We were all very relived, and the three trucks left at 6 a.m. for Ithumba. Makena spent time searching for Makena, but Lualeni moved in and comforted her, taking her to be her special baby.

16 December 2005

Lualeni understands that the bigger three elephants have left, and has put on a big show of calming Makena. Makena is the only member of the group that is disturbed by the absence of Naserian, Rapsu and Buchuma. Lualeni is happy to be the mother of Makena, Zurura is happy to have Challa as a friend, and Kora seems quite happy to be the Big Boy of the group!

17 December 2005

Zurura and Makena are bonding now that Naserian has left. Makena divides her time trying to suckle Lualeni and being with Zurura, playing pushing games. Zurura tries to mount onto Makena. Challa prefers Zurura to Kora, who sometimes pushes him away. Kora is a loner, who likes to feed apart from the others.

18 December 2005

Now Lualeni has the adoration of Makena, whilst Zurura likes being close to Challa, who is very polite. Kora is a bit rough, so the youngsters prefer to leave him alone.

19 December 2005

Little Ndololo is becoming much more active now that he has recovered from his diarrheoa, and Mrs. Sheldrick has strengthened his milk mixture. He even tries to push the Keepers and spends a little time with the other elephants as well as taking long walks, following the tapping of a stick on the ground.

20 December 2005

Today, Makena and Zurura spent a long time playing with one another, Zurura trying to mount onto Makena and Makena pushing him around. Lualeni enjoys joining in the game, watching them closely all the time, but also lying down so that the two can climb over her.

21 December 2005

Lualeni is doing her best to comfort little Ndololo whenever he joins them out in the bush, but Ndololo did not enjoy the contact, crying and running to he Keepers for help. He does not like the elephants to touch him, although Lualeni and Zurura are both very interested in him, and would like to do so.

22 December 2005

Makena displayed a very caring nature today. When Ndololo came to join the orphans out in the bush, she moved away from Lualeni, and remained close to Ndololo for the entire time that he was with the others.

23 December 2005

Ndololo is very clever and is becoming strong now. He knows every inch of his stable, and also knows every change of Keepers, trying to push the newcomer away because he wants the previous one! He does not like his medicine, and since he knows that he has to have it every morning, he pushes any new Keeper away!

24 December 2005

Now that Challa has regained some strength, he is trying to challenge Kora to a pushing contest. Kora is also beginning to respect Challa by turning away from him and not wanting to be engaged. Makena and Zurura spent a long time playing together today.

25 December 2005

All the orphans were very playful this morning. Only Challa did not want to run up and down and round about with the others.

26 December 2005

Kora led the orphans into the bush today, making a lot of trumpeting, because the warthogs came along too. Makena attempted to trumpet, but found that she could not. She remained very close to Lualeni, obviously a bit alarmed by Kora’s rowdy progress.

27 December 2005

Ndololo was the centre of attention for the other elephants out in the bush today, all of whom wanted to touch him, which he did not much like. He cried a lot, so the Keepers returned him and took him for his usual walk near the stables.

28 December 2005

Today, Ndololo was much more relaxed with the other elephants out in the bush. He was even trying to touch them with his trunk. Lualeni wanted to keep him close, which made Makena jealous. She pushed Ndololo away from Lualeni.

29 December 2005

Zurura and Challa were together this morning when they were joined by Ndololo, who remained with them until it was time for him to be taken back. Kora likes to try and bully Challa, but Challa tries to ignore him.

30 December 2005

There has been a huge improvement in Ndololo. For the first time he was taken to the mudbath with the other elephants and enjoyed being touched by Lualeni, although that did not make Makena very pleased.

31 December 2005

Zurura and Makena are good friends now, and spend time playing together in the dust, until Zurura tries to mount onto Makena, which she does not like. Then she moves away to Lualeni.