Keepers' Diaries, December 2006

Nairobi Nursery Unit

A significant event this month was the arrival of 2 year old “Kenze” on the 7th, bringing the Nursery contingent to a record 12. He was rescued by our Chyulu De-Snarers the previous evening near a community village of that name adjacent to the Chyulu National Park and was driven to the Voi Stockades from whence he was airlifted to the Nursery the next day. He arrived in a pathetic condition that shocked us all. He was skeletal, every inch of his body literally plastered in ticks of all sizes, and had a nasty suppurating wound on his penis. Despite being clearly extremely weak, and near death, he still had sufficient strength to demonstrate his loathing of humans, and did his utmost to flatten the Keepers who were in with him against the walls of the Stockade, and because he had tiny tusks, the men had to be pretty agile at scaling the escape platform after each onslaught. Clearly, there was nothing that could be done for him until he collapsed, which we knew was inevitable. Having arrived at 11 a.m., this happened at 5 p.m. the same day and only then could his wounds be assessed, and the life-saving intravenous drip inserted into an ear vein. The wound on his penis, although severely infected, was not life-threatening – probably inflicted by a small predator such as a mongoose or domestic dog whilst he slept. It was clearned out with Hydrogen Peroxide and Betadine and Frontline Spray and tincture of T Tree took care of the ticks as he lay comatose. Two Keepers attended him throughout the night, replacing each bottle of dextrose and saline as it emptied with another and during the night and the next morning gallons of fluid went into his veins.

01 December 2006

Recently Galdessa has caused us concern, for he takes his milk so very slowly. Today, we were impressed, because he began to feed normally. After the mudbath, little Shimba astonished the Keepers, charging some baby warthogs and even surprising himself, and us, by managing a trumpet! Usually, Shimba is very quiet, so this was a very pleasing development.

02 December 2006

Lenana can now hold the bottle of milk herself. As soon as it touches her lips, she winds her trunk around it, and the Keeper can simply stand by to hand her the next one.

03 December 2006

The two baby bulls of the tiny group of four are Galdessa and Shimba, and they enjoy fraternizing with each other, more so than interacting with the girls of the group, namely Lempaute and Lesanju

04 December 2006

Lesanju was a cause for concern today, passing too much stool, and too frequently to be normal. Mrs. Sheldrick decided that she must receive medication, having learnt from experience that this is a very ominous sign.

05 December 2006

There was a mini-punch-up today between the smallest baby, Lempaute, who challenged Shimba. Lempaute was putting up a good show, but then Galdessa moved in to support his friend, and the Keepers also moved in to separate the warring parties before Lempaute was knocked down.

06 December 2006

A group of impalas came running towards the older group of orphans today, which prompted a general retreat back to the Keepers. Only Sian, who is the Nursery Matriarch, stood her ground, and flapped her ears at the impalas, which made them disperse in a different direction. The orphans were very playful during the mudbath today. Since heavy rains, water is seeping from the ground near the mudbath, forming a beautiful, deep, natural mudbath which the orphans thoroughly enjoyed. In the late evening, the Chyulu De-Snaring Team Leader alerted us to the possibility of an elephant rescue, having been told by members of the neighbouring community that a young elephant had been spotted near a village called Kenze.

07 December 2006

At first light, we were told that the orphaned elephant had been captured the previous evening, and had spent the night at the Voi Stockades. The rescue plane set off for Voi and the new orphan arrived in the Nursery at 11 a.m. He was approximately 2 years old, and in a very bad state, covered in ticks, and extremely gaunt. However, he had enough strength to be very aggressive, so the Keepers in the Stockade with him had to be pretty agile, having to scale the escape platform at every onslaught. In the late afternoon, the new orphan (who has been named “Kenze”), collapsed when the Vet, who had been standing by, was able to insert a drip into an ear vein, and clean out a nasty wound on his private parts. We were then able to pull off most of the ticks, and spray those that remained in dense clusters so that they would die.

08 December 2006

The new orphan, Kenze, survived the night, but was still comatose in the morning, having received many pints of intravenous drip during the night. Mrs. Sheldrick made some oatmeal and coconut cakes, which we placed in his mouth during the night, and which he slowly swallowed, but he could not be given milk for fear of it getting into his lungs. At 2 p.m., we managed to get him onto his feet, and after a few minutes, he was sufficiently strong to try and charge his Keepers again, and still resisted taking milk.

09 December 2006

By midday, Kenze took his first milk, which was cause for celebration all round, because we were beginning to despair that we would not be able to save him. He manages to lie down, but we have to help him to his feet still because he is so weak. However, now that he is beginning to take milk, we hope that he will become calmer, because he does not like humans anywhere near him, and has to be fed his milk through the bars of the Stockade door. Zurura is not pleased to have Chyulu near him. We think this is because he is no longer the smallest baby in the older group and Sian, Loijuk and Makena now pay Chyulu more attention than Zurura.

10 December 2006

The new arrival, Kenze, now allows a Keeper to feed him milk. He rushes up to gulp down his ration of milk, but then wants to knock the Keeper over. He is still very anti-human, but he enjoys his milk, and spends his time waiting for the next bottle.

11 December 2006

Today is the last day for Kenze’s antibiotic injectible course. It has been very difficult to administer the injection daily, when he has to be physically crowded into a corner by all the Keepers so that Angela Sheldrick can inject him. Afterwards he is very angry.

12 December 2006

The new arrival Kenze now understands the word “No” and tone of voice, stopping and refraining from pushing a charge home. For the first time a Keeper can now stand in his Stockade, rather than being up on the escape platform. He will also now accept milk from a Keeper actually in his Stockade.

13 December 2006

Lempaute looked dull today, and not her usual self. She kept on grinding her teeth, and the stool, although normal in consistency, had a strong odour. Mrs. Sheldrick decided that it was just the usual teething problems, and that she was cutting her first molars.

14 December 2006

Kenze showed signs of becoming less aggressive. He fed well on both milk and greens. When the other orphans leave their Night Stockades each morning, he looks very sad, and eager to join them. It was decided that he be allowed to join them tomorrow, after the mudbath.

15 December 2006

After the mudbath, on a hot day, Kenze was allowed out of his Stockade to join the other orphans. He looked nervous, and when he got out in the bush, he remembered his wild life, and became very aggressive to the Keepers, charging them whenever they approached. He spent the afternoon as far from the Keepers as possible. We had quite a job to get him back into his Stockade for the night.

16 December 2006

Kenze went out with the others in the early morning, but we had difficulty feeding him. He would just bite the nipple, chew it up and then spit it out, gulping down the milk poured straight from the bottle, and then was impatient for the next bottle, running after the Keeper and wanting to push him. Kamboyo kept pushing Kenze away.

17 December 2006

Kamboyo is eager to demonstrate that he is the main man of the group, and kept on pushing Kenze until he fell down. The Keepers then had to help Kenze up and reprimand Kamboyo.

18 December 2006

Kenze kept to himself throughout the day, fearing Kamboyo and the Keepers, who had to keep a close eye on him to ensure that he did not run away.

19 December 2006

Zurura was sensitive to Kenze’s sadness, and kept very close to him, touching him gently with his trunk to try and console him, and trying to persuade him to return to join the rest of the orphans. Kenze appreciated Zurura’s attention, but did not want to come close to Kamboyo.

20 December 2006

Kenze kept close to the Keepers as all the elephants hurried to the mudbath and their noonday ration of milk. However, because he is still so weak, he fell down and the Keepers crowded around him to protect him from being run over by the others, before lifting him back onto his feet.

21 December 2006

Lempaute is always very close to Lesanju. During the mudbath Lesanju moved away out of sight, which disturbed little Lempaute. She ran along the line of visitors screaming, which attracted Galdessa and Shimba, who were busy playing. They came running to her and all three settled down once they had found Lesanju, who was behind a bush.

22 December 2006

Kenze is feeling much stronger now. He came running to the mudbath, having had coconut oil rubbed on his body. He enjoyed the mudbath, because it was a hot day, and there was a lot of muddy pools following rain. He lay down in the mud, but then could not get up, so the Keepers had to fold up their trousers and wade in to lift him back onto his feet.

23 December 2006

As the babies were just playing in the bush, Lempaute screamed loudly. The Keepers rushed to her side, but could not see anything amiss. Shimba was close by. A short while later, Lempaute screamed again and the Keepers noticed that Shimba was just releasing her tail from his mouth, and that he must have bitten her tail!

24 December 2006

Kenze’s health is improving rapidly. He pleased the Keepers when he spread his ears and charged the baby warthogs.

25 December 2006

After heavy rain, it turned into a very hot afternoon, so the orphans had a wonderful mudbath, but were surprised because there were no visitors to watch their antics, since it was Christmas Day and the one day a year that the Trust is closed for the noon mudbath. Kenze joined in, but again needed the help of the Keepers to get up again. When he wanted to get up, he screamed for help.

26 December 2006

Having taken his milk at the noon mudbath feed, Kenze was angry when it was finished, and wanted to fight the Keeper. In the end another Keeper had to come and trick him with another bottle that was also empty, so that he understood that it had finished, and that the Keeper was not withholding it from him.

27 December 2006

Because there is mud everywhere due to the plentiful rains we have been enjoying this month, even when the Nursery elephants have their raincoats on to keep them dry, they insist on playing in the mud. The four baby elephants are brought into their stables when it rains, for fear of pneumonia. They are not allowed to play in the rain.

28 December 2006

Makena was in a very playful mood today, running after the warthogs all day the moment she spotted them. Chyulu also joined in this fun, running after Makena every time to help chase the warthogs.

29 December 2006

Having finished his milk, Kenze wanted to become aggressive towards the visitors at the mudbath hour. All the Keepers had to herd him away from the rope, and place heavy security there to ensure he did not misbehave.

30 December 2006

Sian demonstrated her Matriarchal abilities today, by separating Kamboyo and Lenana, who were having a tussle. Kamboyo wanted to take on Sian, but Sian was serious and used her tusks, so he took the hint. Now Kamboyo has stopped pushing Lenana.

31 December 2006

Lempaute cried today and Lesanju ran fast to her to find out what was the problem. Lesanju and Lempaute are very friendly, whilst the two little boys, Galdessa and Shimba are best friends.