Keepers' Diaries, December 2007

Nairobi Nursery Unit

It has been a very peaceful and happy month in the Nairobi Nursery. The four small babies are all now content, satisfied at last with the new sleeping arrangements, i.e. Dida in with Lesanju and Lempaute and the dividing partition removed to make more space for three, and Shimba next door, in with Sinya. Baby Dida, the darling of the Nursery, has begun to thrive and play now that she is close to Lesanju and Lempaute 24 x 7, and is turning into a mischievous little character, who has taken a cue from Lempaute, delighting all the mudbath visitors by running up and down, and through, the ropes, with her ears out like dinner plates. Being such a miniature, this makes an enchanting spextacle that ensures that she is the centre of attention, interrupting the Explanatory Speeches for the visitors have eyes and ears for no-one else!. Lesanju remains a very able Mini Matriarch of the four smallest elephants, and is deeply loved by all the youngsters. Now that Sinya’s wounds are healed, and she is free from pain, she, too, is turning into a very friendly, affectionate and caring Matriarchal Assistant to Lesanju, her innate elephant mothering instincts coming to the fore. Lempaute is just Lempaute – mischievous, playful and full of nonsense, and Shimba, who is the only boy in the Nursery now, is happy to display bull independence by choosing to feed apart from the three little girls and sometimes picking on Lesanju for a pushing match, which he has yet to win, because Lempaute comes in as back-up to Lesanju!

01 December 2007

The babies emerged from their Night Stables in a happy mood, running up and down and around the bushes near the Stockade. Lesanju engaged Shimba in a playful fight, which was won by Shimba. This did not go down well with the girls, so Lempaute took on Shimba, reinforced by Lesanju. The two girls finally won the bout, and peace returned to the unit.

02 December 2007

Dida’s appetite has improved. She is now taking her milk faster, but not yet asking for more. She is still cutting her teeth, but is gaining weight, and is playful and happy because all the girls and Shimba love her to bits!

03 December 2007

At 11 a.m., it was too cold for a mudbath but the elephants still insisted on going into the mud and playing, so we had to remove their blankets.

04 December 2007

Sinya is proving to be very careful of little Dida now that the pain of her wounds have subsided. Today, she fed close to Dida when Lesanju was further away. We think that she was pushy at the beginning only because she was in such a lot of pain, but now her wounds have healed, and she is happy and well.

05 December 2007

Shimba, who is now the only boy in the Nursery, enjoys being independent of all the girls, and often feeds apart from them. At milk time today, the girls came running for their bottles, but he continued to feed, and did not want to come even when the Keepers went to collect him. Eventually, he strolled along, and took his milk in a dignified manner.

06 December 2007

Today, the Keepers had a difficult time trying to persuade Sinya to go into her own stable, because she wanted to be with Dida and the other girls. Eventually, she obliged and spent the night next door as usual, with Shimba.

07 December 2007

Dida put on a brilliant performance today for all the visitors, running up and down the rope with her ears out, and pretending to charge the crowd, which enchanted all the visitors because she is so tiny. She has learnt from Lempaute! She was the centre of attraction, and everyone was laughing and looking at her rather than listening to the speeches!

08 December 2007

The day was drizzly and cloudy, so the Keepers kept the babies inside their stables until the weather improved. Lesanju and Lempaute did not approve of this, and kept trying to climb over the stable door because they wanted to play in the rain. The older elephants, Makena, Chyulu and Lenana enjoyed the rain, and were very playful on their way out to the forest.

09 December 2007

Today, Chyulu was the centre of attention at the mudbath, playing football with the Keepers, and running up and down kicking the ball with her front and back feet. The visitors were all very happy.

10 December 2007

Makena and Chyulu had a lovely morning today because Shida, the rhino, came to play with them through the bars of the door to their Stockade. Chyulu held onto his horn, not wanting him to leave!

11 December 2007

Today, whilst browsing out in the forest, Chyulu and Makena had a disagreement over some roots, and began a tussle. Immediately Lenana, who was feeding some distance away, ran over to separate them, after which the two went to feed on their own, rather than being together as usual.

12 December 2007

The two Nursery groups came together after lunch. Lenana went straight to Shimba and caressed him with her trunk all over his body. Makena and Chyulu focused on Dida but Dida was not interested, and went to Lesanju and Lempaute. Since none of the elephants were feeding, but instead vying for the babies, we decided to separate the two groups again.

13 December 2007

In the early morning, Chyulu did not want to leave the Stockades, but waited outside wanting to see Dida. She refused to follow Makena and Lenana and remained outside Dida’s stable for a long time. Eventually, the Keepers managed to persuade her to go and feed with her friends.

14 December 2007

This morning, the older elephants were very restless, searching for the babies out in the forest. Eventually, Lenana led the other two to join the babies, and we had to allow them time together before taking the older elephants further afield to feed.

15 December 2007

When the older elephants came to the mudbath, Chyulu followed the little elephants and caught up with them, wanting to spend time with Dida. Eventually, she came running for her milk, having spent some time with the babies.

16 December 2007

Lesanju is proving to be a wonderful little Matriarch, taking care of all the babies, and ensuring that they remain close to her. All the babies love her.

17 December 2007

When Lesanju’s team left their night quarters, Dida went to play with Maxwell in his Stockade, touching his face with her trunk, which he enjoyed. Maxwell was very calm.

18 December 2007

As the Keepers were having lunch out in the bush, and the elephants playing nearby, a warthog came rushing towards us followed by a lioness. The Keepers stood up, and the lioness stopped immediately, and retreated. We changed location, fearing for the elephants.

19 December 2007

At the mudbath, again Dida was the star, running up and down along the rope, and delighting all the visitors, with her ears out. She has been taught well by Lempaute!

20 December 2007

During the mudbath, four giraffes arrived to take salt from the rocks opposite. Lenana, who was wallowing in the mud, spotted them, and immediately ran towards them, chasing them away. This made all the visitors laugh!

21 December 2007

Today, the mudbath visitors enjoyed five buffaloes, who came to the rocks opposite to lick the mineral salt. Some visitors were scared, and left, but others enjoyed viewing them and taking pictures. However, their excitement caused a lot of noise, which scared the buffaloes away.

22 December 2007

There was confusion as Lenana, Makena and Chyulu were heading to the mudbath venue and met up with buffaloes. The elephants ran in different directions, as did the buffaloes. Lenana ran back to the Stockades, and we had a difficult time persuading her to join the others when they finally came to the mudbath.

23 December 2007

Shimba spent the whole day feeding apart from the girls, and his stomach looked like a barrel because he had eaten so much!

24 December 2007

The Christmas evening visitors had a wonderful time at the mudbath, because some impala came to the rocks, followed by the giraffes and then the buffaloes. They had all this in addition to a wonderful show put on by our orphans.

25 December 2007

Dida has taken a shine to one of the Keepers, and only wants him to feed her. This is the Keeper who was with her for the past two nights. We were closed for Christmas Day, so the elephants enjoyed the mudbath without an audience, which confused them!

26 December 2007

Shimba and Lempaute had a good fun time chasing off the warthogs and their babies, who wanted to remain close to us, but were not permitted to do so!

27 December 2007

Chyulu was first to spot some buffaloes whilst we were out in the forest today. She raised the alarm, and when the Keepers stood up to see what had disturbed the elephants, they spotted other buffaloes coming towards us. The elephants were preparing to run away, but when the buffaloes spotted the Keepers, they ran away instead.

28 December 2007

Lempaute interrupted all the speeches at the mudbath, with her usual tricks of rushing towards the visitors, through the rope, and then lying down at their feet. No-one wanted to listen to the speeches, because Lempaute had all the attention for the entire mudbath hour. When we began to leave at noon, she ran after us, not wanting to be left behind.

29 December 2007

After the mudbath, Lenana was very friendly to all the visitors, walking slowly along the line of the rope and allowing them all to feel her skin. Some visitors asked if she had been taught to do this, but we told them that it was her decision alone. All the visitors were very happy to be close to her.

30 December 2007

Dida was very playful this morning, running up and down and interacting with the Keepers. When the warthogs arrived, she was first to chase them, backed up by Lesanju and Lempaute, who rushed to protect her from the mother pig.

31 December 2007

The last day of the year, and all the elephants were very happy, because we decided to keep the two groups together, and all the Keepers together today because of the tribal unrest that has gripped the country. We all prayed for peace to return to our beautiful country. The elephants enjoyed being together on this, the last day of 2007.