Keepers' Diaries, December 2008

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

This month the Trust received 2 new orphans into the Nairobi Nursery, the first rescued on the 2nd from Loisaba Ranch in Laikipia district, where his elephant mother had been poached. The calf had been without milk for about 2 weeks, and during that time had also been mauled around the anus by hyenas, his tail almost severed in two. He was very emaciated, but we felt that he still had sufficient strength to make it, but the stress of capture, the trauma and pain of his injuries, and the loss of his elephant mother proved too much for him, and despite being supported by a Dextrose drip in an ear vein, he died during the early hours of the following morning.

This month the Trust received 2 new orphans into the Nairobi Nursery, the first rescued on the 2nd from Loisaba Ranch in Laikipia district, where his elephant mother had been poached. The calf had been without milk for about 2 weeks, and during that time had also been mauled around the anus by hyenas, his tail almost severed in two. He was very emaciated, but we felt that he still had sufficient strength to make it, but the stress of capture, the trauma and pain of his injuries, and the loss of his elephant mother proved too much for him, and despite being supported by a Dextrose drip in an ear vein, he died during the early hours of the following morning.

The next new elephant came in from the Kimana area in the Amboseli ecosystem, and was already comatose when the rescue plane arrived to load him. Keeper Edwin immediately managed to get a drip into an ear vein, but the calf never regained consciousness, and died during its first night in the Nursery. This was also probably a poaching victim who had been without milk for too long to be able to save. It saddened us to have to bury two baby elephants within the space of just a few days, but at least they had a peaceful end, surrounded by compassion and care as opposed to a lonely death at risk from predators out in the bush.

Aside from the loss of two new orphans, it has been a happy month for the Nursery elephants. Little Suguta has gained in strength, and is turning into quite a character. The friendship of Ndii and Kenia blossoms further, as does that of Siria, Shimba, and Mzima while Taveta has been badly behaved by being pushy, venting his circumstances on the others, although when he tried to shove Dida around, she put him firmly in his place. This behaviour is not uncommon in the older orphaned elephants once they recover their strength, and tend to vent their frustration over the loss of their former elephant life in this way.

As usual, it has been Lempaute who can always be counted upon to entertain the visitors and dominate the mudbath, playing with the football and bouncing around on the large tractor tube, before rushing up and down the cordon, mischievously plastering all the bystanders in as much mud as possible! Sometimes she actually breaches the cordon and then lies down at the visitors’ feet. Little Suguta is following her lead and also becoming a mudbath star as well, and being the smallest member of the Nursery group clearly enjoying all the attention that is invariably focused on her. She is beginning to become attached to Kenia, vying with Ndii for the prime position of being closest. Kenia has all the makings of a wonderful Matriarch. She is very caring and protective of Ndii and Suguta, and is quick to intervene when the two squabble. Wasessa is still self sufficient and makes sure that she is in the midst of the group, avoiding close contact with strange humans, and but for milk feeds when she takes her milk from a Keeper, also keeping clear of the Keepers. Dida loves Kimana, but has to defer to Siria, who is also very possessive of Kimana, and whose company Kimana enjoys more. When Siria moves in to remove Kimana from Dida, Dida returns to Lesanju and Lempaute.

Dida is the elephant most caring of the blind rhino, Maxwell. She takes time each morning to give him tender trunk touching all over his face, something Max clearly greatly enjoys.

The resident warthogs have piglets, who are a continuous source of endless entertainment for the Nursery elephants who enjoy chasing the piglets around. At such times they work themselves into a high state of excitement so that trumpets happen as they knock down small shrubs in a threat display. (The trumpeting of baby elephants is, at first, involuntary, and happens when they are excited, something that scares them at first, but which they soon begin to enjoy hearing!) Suguta surprised everyone by her turn of speed when an adult warthog suddenly appeared beside her from the bushes as she was lagging behind the group. On another occasion, having been scared by the sudden appearance of a warthog, she bellowed, and immediately Sinya and Lesanju came to the rescue, saw off the adult warthog and escorted her back to the Keepers while sparring impala rams and sprinting giraffes gave all the Nursery babies a good adrenalin rush and sent them flying to their Keepers for protection! When a fleeing impala leapt clear over the line of orphans as they were returning for the night, they all almost died of fright!

The Rhinos:- The arrival in the Nairobi Nursery on the l9th of a tiny newborn rhino calf who had been rejected by his rhino mother in Tsavo’s Ngulia Rhino Sanctuary was the highlight of the month, because, being just days old, the baby was so very small and new. Named “Maalim” for the Ranger that saved him, he weighed just 25 kilos and stood about 8 inches tall, easily mistaken for a baby warthog by the uninformed! He has enchanted everyone, most of whom had never seen such a small rhino, and could hardly believe that the tiny newcomer was, indeed a rhino, since he looked more like ET!

The scent of a new rhino immediately put Shida on high alert. He prowled around the compound bent on ejecting the new intruder and vented his frustration by putting a few more dents into the Trust’s new bus during the night! Yet again, the hot wires denoting “No Go Rhino Areas” had to be reactivated! Meanwhile, in order to conserve our stocks of rhino formula (Lactogen) Maxwell had to be put on Replacer. Although supposedly manufactured locally by Nestle, for some reason Lactogen has been withdrawn from the shelves, we hope, only temporarily. We are told that the Factory will begin manufacturing it again in the New Year.

By the end of the year little Maalim was strong enough to put in an appearance at the daily mudbath, and has been a huge crowd puller! He comes just for l0 minutes every day and everyone thoroughly enjoys seeing him.

December 2008 day to day

01 Dec

Lesanju became very excited when she came across two impala rams fighting out in the bush. She and all the orphans rushed back to their Keepers.

Lesanju

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