Keepers' Diaries, December 2009

Nairobi Nursery Unit

The Nursery suffered yet another two tragedies during December, first the death of Bhaawa on the 13th, followed by the death of baby Shaba on the 21st, putting a dampener on what should have been the happy build-up to Christmas and leaving us with 20 babies in the Nairobi Nursery.

01 December 2009

This 1st day of the month was a sad day, having lost little Sala yesterday. Sala had been ailing for several days, and was therefore not with Tano’s baby group, so they had become used to her absence. The Keepers felt her passing, because we had all worked very hard on her for a long time.

02 December 2009

The small babies, Tano, Mutara and Shukuru enjoyed a beautiful dust bath today outside Maxwell’s Stockade. They enjoyed rolling around in it very much.

03 December 2009

Maalim was brought to the mudbath after the elephants had left today, and he was very excited to get into the large mudbath, something that he hadn’t done in a while. He came out plastered in mud, even over his eyes, so he had difficulty seeing. The Keeper tried to clean his eyes, but he ran off, and went back into the mudbath again.

04 December 2009

After the mudbath, the Baby Group spent time with the older orphans, and when it was time to separate the two units, Mutara did not want to join Tano and Shukuru, but wanted to remain with Kalama, Nchan and Turkwell. She likes Turkwell very much, who is a stable neighbour.

05 December 2009

Although Tano is the oldest in the Baby Group, Mutara wants to be the Leader. She is strong and always wants to take the lead.

06 December 2009

Chaffa is not well today, but even so, she had a strong fight at the blanket with Tano, who tried to push her away. Chaffa resisted strongly, despite feeling unwell.

07 December 2009

Nchan is beginning to become like Lempaute. She runs along the visitors’ cordon, scaring all the kids, something that Suguta also enjoys doing, although Suguta seems to have stopped recently.

08 December 2009

Kalama is not always nice to the small babies, because she likes to suck the Keepers’ fingers, and gets jealous when the small babies want to do the same. Bhaawa’s condition is worsening despite all our efforts and the treatments he has been receiving. Worryingly the keepers have noticed his back foot turning up at the ankle which is a symptom seen in other orphans this year who did not survive.

09 December 2009

When all the orphans were let out of their night quarters today, they mingled around the yard. Mutara is always very interested in mingling with the older elephants, paying particular attention to Tumaren, who responded positively. Tano and Shukuru prefer to remain near the Keepers, but Shukuru enjoys chasing the small warthogs whenever she spots them and is usually joined by Mutara. When Dida’s older group settled down to browse, the boys - Kilaguni, Sabachi, Kibo and Kimana engaged one another in pushing tests of strength. Kilaguni engaged Sabachi whilst Kimana challenged Kibo. Having been overpowered by Kilaguni, Sabachi wanted to throw his weight around Kalama, but the Keepers warned him off.

10 December 2009

This morning Kalama took the lead as the orphans headed out to the bush. Later when the orphans were making their way back to the stockades for the night Nchan took the lead, Kalama quickly rushed over and pushed Nchan. Suguta intervened and separated the two from a fight.

11 December 2009

Mutara is a loving and clever elephant for her age. Whenever the baby group is with the older orphans Mutara enjoys engaging in games with them. When she is alone with the rest of the baby group she takes on the matriarchal role looking after the others and protecting them from Tano’s bullying.

12 December 2009

Maalim really enjoyed his mudbath in the bush today. He rolled around and kept running around in joy near the mud.

13 December 2009

Today was a sad day in the nursery as Bhaawa lost the battle for his life after a long struggle spanning several months. His symptoms left the experts baffled and he underwent many treatments in the effort to save him. Shukuru’s leg has shown improvement following a sore joint from taking a fall whilst out in the bush. Today she played in the soil with the others and ran around showing a complete recovery. She has also started teething.

14 December 2009

Maxwell had a fantastic time in his stockade today after being brought a pile of red soil. He rolled and played in the soil the whole day.

15 December 2009

After not seeing Shida for several days near the stockades the Keepers were beginning to worry about him. We carried out a search and found him down by the River. He is beginning to become much more independent and wild.

16 December 2009

Mawenzi was feeling dull and weak this morning. She was not being her usual self who runs around and plays with the others. The Keepers are close attention in an effort to monitor her symptoms.

17 December 2009

Turkwel is beginning to get strong and more challenging with the other orphans. She particularly likes sizing up Kudup and having playful fights with her. The Keepers are pleased to see this kind of change in little Turkwel as it indicates she is feeling healthier and happier.

18 December 2009

Maalim was brought the mudbath by the Keepers at 2pm today after the visitors had gone. He loves to wallow in the mud but cannot do this anymore with the visitors watching due to his boisterous ways.

19 December 2009

Shida has not come to the stockades for 3 days. The keepers could not find him during their search and hope he is ok.

20 December 2009

The Rhino keepers came close to the older orphans with Maalim. The elephants were very curious about him especially Kilaguni who ran over to him. Amazingly Maalim let Kilaguni touch his horn with his trunk. When the rest of the orphans started to show interest in Maalim this proved to be too intimidating causing him to run away at full speed.

21 December 2009

Shaba’s health is slowly deteriorating. This morning he could not feed and was too weak to go out to the bush. Chaffa joined the other orphans while Shaba stayed behind on a drip. A new orphan arrived at the Nursery today. He is a suspected poaching victim who has been alone for several days leaving him in a terrible state. He was also put on a drip.

22 December 2009

Today was one of the saddest and hardest days at the Nursery. During the night we lost 2 orphans. One of them was poor little Shaba who lost the battle for his life after a gradual deterioration. The other was the new orphan which arrived the previous day and was on drip for the night. Loosing 2 orphans in one night is a huge loss to the Nursery and stressful for all the staff.

23 December 2009

Due to the recent losses of orphans we took blood samples from some of the healthy orphans as well as some of the poorly ones like Mawenzi in order to send these samples for laboratory tests. When drawing blood from Mawenzi we noticed her blood started to clot immediately which was not seen in the healthier orphans. All observations were reported to the experts.

24 December 2009

As soon as the orphans exited the stockades at dawn Ndii, Olare, and Melia began playing a chasing game with the female warthogs and their piglets. They chased them around the stockade area several times until the warthogs ran into thick bush which Ndii attempted to go through before giving up and joining the others feeding in the bush nearby.

25 December 2009

Today was a special day for both the orphans and the Keepers. The orphans spent the whole day together while the Keepers enjoyed their annual Christmas party nearby. Both Keepers and orphans spent the whole day in the bush as the Keepers had their meal and enjoyed their ‘lucky dip’ gifts.

26 December 2009

As the orphans settled down to feed in the park Chaimu and Sabachi engaged in a pushing game which was short lived as Sabachi changed the game to a mounting game. He attempted to mount Chaimu who sought some assistance from Suguta & Tumaren to get Sabachi away. Suguta warned Sabachi by pointing at him with her turnk, a warning which he obeyed.

27 December 2009

During today’s 11-12noon public visit the older orphans were in a particularly jovial mood. They rolled and played together in the mudbath for the entire visit. The orphans later had a dust bath in which the games continued as they mounted each other and rolled around in the soil.

28 December 2009

Since the Suguta & Dida groups have merged Kilaguni and Kalama play in the water together a lot. They both rush over to have their milk quickly and then without delay enter the water. Since the Suguta & Dida groups have merged Kilaguni and Kalama play in the water together a lot.

29 December 2009

Kilaguni & Kibo have the tendency to extend what starts off as a pushing game into a fight. This is beginning to occur on a daily basis. Despite this they are becoming great friends and often wallow in the mud together and enjoy playing strength testing games every day.

30 December 2009

Dida and Kimana have always been the most gentle and tolarent orphans in the group. Dida even allows Suguta, Olare and Ndii take over some of her matriarchal duties. Suguta is more concerned about the young babies then Dida is, she keeps close to the babies touching and guarding them.

31 December 2009

The last day of 2009 was a pleasant and relaxed day amongst the orphans. They spent the day browsing and playing in the dust. Tano, Chaffa, and Shukuru spent a lot of their day playing while Mutara played with the older orphans.