The 15th December brought the arrival in the Nursery of a 2 ½ month old female calf rescued from a well in the Naipoki lugga within the Namunyak Conservancy. An attempt to re-unite the baby with a neighbouring wild herd had apparently proved unsuccessful, for the calf was found down the same well the following day. She has been named “Naipoki” to identify her origin, and but for some wounds around the tip of her trunk, possibly inflicted by small predators or a hyaena whilst she was in the well, she arrived in good condition, and has settled in remarkably well, teaming up instantly with Baby Wasin.
Sities obviously put two and two together witnessing Suguta, Melia and Tumaren being trained to going into the new and custom built Elephant Transporter Truck for their milk feeds over the past couple of weeks. The Keepers observed that Sities was much more subdued than usual, although her usual mudbath mischievous pranks have continued - running up and down the cordon which separates the visitors from the elephants during the mudbath hour, and rushing up to visiting African school children and enjoying the reaction this produces!
It was an early start on the 2nd for the transfer of Melia, Suguta and Tumaren to the Ithumba Reintroduction centre in Northern Tsavo. The activity began preparing the milk for the three Transferees at 2.30 a.m. and by 4.30 a.m. all three Big Girls were safely in the large Transporter and ready to embark on the next phase of their long journey back into the wild elephant system. Any unusual nocturnal activity always triggers anxiety amongst the other Nursery elephants, but as day dawned Olare instantly took control of all, paying particular attention to Sities, and reveling in the fact that she no longer had to share the Matriarchal slot with Suguta. Strangely enough, the elephant who missed the three Big Girls most was Kibo, who had shared the Nursery with Suguta longer than all the others. However, since then Olare has proved herself to be an extremely competent and caring Leader, reprimanding bullying little boys, keeping pushy Chemi Chemi in line, and “talking to” Murka when she rudely shoved Naisula and Kitirua in the mudbath. Olare immediately approached Murka and rumbled her disapproval, after which Murka walked over to the two she had previously targeted, and laid a trunk lovingly across their backs as though to apologise! None of the Keepers doubt that she had been ordered to do so by Olare!
Kandecha and Kibo are regular Pushing Partners, but Chemi Chemi has always been the most pushy of the Nursery boys. However, he was a bit too bold when he attempted to mount onto Olare as she was lying down enjoying a dusting session, pinning her down. Olare took up a trunkfull of dust and blew it into his face which instantly dislodged him, after which he took off at speed to avoid retribution! Whenever Naipoki and Wasin are with the older orphans, Olare keeps a very close eye on Chemi Chemi, who cannot resist seizing every opportunity to prove his dominance over little girls. The Keepers are convinced that he has the makings of a fine dominant Bull when grown, because according to them he is so “courageous” and never gives up!
Although Wasin now has her full compliment of first molars, she remains a cause for concern having lost a great deal of condition and not being as active as she should. By mid month she appeared much better, and even began to play, which is always a positive indicator but she has always been a rather lethargic baby.
Mutara, who sleeps in a stable next door to Naipoki is extremely fond of the newcomer, desperately anxious to mother her. The two small babies were introduced to the entire Nursery herd for the first time on the 24th when the greeting they received was so exuberant that the Keepers had to remove most of the herd and leave the babies with Olare Kalama and Kudup to lavish love on them since all the others were distressing the babies as they shoved and pushed in order to get as close as possible to them.
Ishanga (rescued in Tsavo West by our De-Snaring team at the moment a lion grabbed her by the throat) has recovered remarkably well, and is now gaining weight rapidly. She has teamed up with best friends Naisula and Makireti who are also relative newcomers to the Nursery. The three are seldom apart, feeding very close to one another usually slightly apart from the rest of the group, which is normal during elephant grieving periods. However, their self imposed isolation from the main herd has its price in terms of alarming incidents. For instance on the 12th a warthog which was being pursued by a lioness raced straight through them, triggering a rowdy and terrified retreat which prompted a stampede of all the elephants back to their Keepers. Passing impalas and a hare which suddenly sprang up near Turkwel, Tano and Shukuru also caused panic amongst the herd. However, many unnecessary alarms are apparently triggered by Naisula, Makireti and Ishanga who, being apart, are usually more on edge than the others within the security of the herd, and the first to notice an intruder. On the 9th the disturbance was created by none other than orphaned rhino Shida, who emerged from a slumber and playfully chased the elephants around the bushes!
Nevertheless, December has been notable because of the frequent presence of the remaining Nairobi Park lions who have been bent on securing a warthog meal from amongst the pigs that frequent the Trust compound, and who sleep beneath the Containers and buildings and enjoy feeding near the elephants and their Keepers out in the bush where they benefit from protection. Many piglets have been born recently, adding another incentive for the lions, who have become ever bolder even turning up during the mudbath hour to lie on the rocks and like the visitors, interested in the mudbath activity. On the 7th it was Rhino Solio who alerted her Keeper to the presence of a lioness trailing them, having got a whiff of lion scent and snorted her alarm. Solio is no shrinking violet, as Kudup and Turkwel learnt when they mistook her for a warthog and attempted to chase her when they bumped into her around Maxwell’s Stockade. Solio confronted them head on, her little horn ready to meet whoever came first! Needless to say, the elephants instantly jammed on all brakes, and retreated ignominiously!
On New Years Eve at month end the Keepers happened upon two lionesses as they were taking the orphans to the noon mudbath, and had to circumvent their normal route because the lions were not about to move off for them! It was thus the year 2010 ended!