Keepers' Diaries, December 2010

Nairobi Nursery Unit

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.

01 December 2010

With all the activity getting the elephants soon to be transferred to Ithumba used to going into the new Elephant Moving Truck, Sities seems to have sensed that something unusual surrounding Suguta is brewing. She has been very clinging to Suguta, and it has been difficult to separate her from the trainees. She will undoubtedly miss Suguta very much once she has left, but Olare also loves her deeply.

02 December 2010

Today is the day that the three big girls – Suguta, Tumaren and Melia – are due to leave the Nursery for Ithumba. The Keepers on Night Duty were up at 2.30 a.m. to ensure that everything was in place for the long journey. Loading began just after 3 a.m. First to be directed to the truck following the milk bottle was Melia, who was hesitant about actually going in. Suguta and Tumaren followed and went in easily to take their milk, but then noticed that Melia was reluctant, and came out again. All three then had to be persuaded to go back in, which took a little time, but finally the truck pulled out of the yard at 4.20 a.m. and was on its way to Ithumba.

03 December 2010

Kandecha who is very greedy for his milk ran back in the evening to where the orphans were usually fed during the training process of the three Big Girls and was surprised to see that the truck was no longer in position and that the Keepers had taken the elephants’ milk ration to their respective stables! Throughout the day Olare took control, paying particular attention to Sities. The only Nursery member that behaved unusually was Kibo, who has known Suguta longest and who began crying, rumbling and trying to tear down the canvas awning of his Stockade. This surprised us, because he has never appeared to be very close to any of the Big Girls, focusing all his attention on Kandecha, who is his sparring partner. Melia had been his Stockade neighbour for just a few weeks, and the fact that she was no longer there obviously upset him greatly. He also noticed the absence of the three at the mudbath hour, when he went running around crying for them.

04 December 2010

Ishanga is doing very well, and the improvement in her condition is already noticeable. She is very active, second only to Shukuru when running back home for her milk and eager to jump into the mudbath having downed her share. The Keepers were anxious that she might have difficulty getting out, but she managed admirably as Makireti stepped in.

05 December 2010

The past few days have been exceedingly hot, so it was a relief when some rain fell today which made all the elephants very happy. They enjoyed playing in the rain pools and wallowing in the wet soil of the forest. At the mudbath Sities was up to her usual tricks – running up and down the line of visitors. The little rhino, Solio, also enjoyed the rain, running up and down and doing little jumps of joy in between the action!

06 December 2010

Olare has become an excellent Matriarch since the departure of Suguta. On many occasions she gathers up the group and appears to communicate with them. Murka, Kitirua and Naisula are not always very welcoming to newcomers, so Olare has been guarding both Ishanga and Sities very closely. During the Private Visiting hour at 3 p.m. Murka pushed Kitirua and Naisula, and Olare immediately went up to her and had some words for her. After this Murka immediately came and stood close to the two she had targeted, touching their faces with her trunk, as though to apologise for her bad behaviour!

07 December 2010

The Nairobi Park lions have been a problem of late, stalking the warthogs who live underneath the Containers at the Trust Headquarters, and who enjoy keeping close to the elephants and the Keepers for protection. When rhino Solio was being taken out into the forest to browse today, unbeknownst to her and the Keeper a lion was following. Solio got his scent, and snorted with alarm, which alerted the Keeper, who turned round, spotted the lion just 15 paces away, shouted at it and sent it on its way!

08 December 2010

A heavy downpour during the night, accompanied by loud thunder, kept the orphans awake a lot. Only Turkwel didn’t seem to be disturbed. Turkwel has changed a lot since coming to the Nursery. Having been pushy and jealous, now that she is over the trauma of being orphaned, she is a polite and gentle little elephant.

09 December 2010

Shida didn’t show up today at 11 a.m. for the mudbath hour, as usual. As the Keepers were taking their lunch out in the bush, suddenly Olare accompanied by Kalama came running to the Keepers, with their trunks up and ears out. At first the Keepers thought the two were just playing, but in fact they were trying to communicate that something was amiss! The Keepers went to investigate and came across Shida attempting to play with the elephants, chasing them around! The Keepers had difficulty controlling Shida, who was in a playful mood, and had to take the elephants in another direction to lose him!

10 December 2010

Wasin was the star of a German film unit who were doing a documentary about children who lead unusual lives, Daphne’s grandsons, Taru and Roan being the children concerned. Wasin was weak having just cut her first molars, which always cause problems. Her damaged eye, which was healing well having been treated for the past month, has unfortunately suddenly turned cloudy again, which is a concern.

11 December 2010

Sities was up to her usual pranks again during the mudbath hour, running along the cordon which separates the visitors. She bumped into a small child, who screamed, and before the Keepers could even react, Sities was back, sandwiched in the midst of Mutara, Kalama, and Kudup!

12 December 2010

At around 8.30 a.m., Kitirua, Naisula and Ishanga came running having been frightened by a speeding warthog who literally ran right through them as it was being chased by a lioness. All the orphans crowded around the Keepers, Olare on full alert, standing guard with her ears out! Within a few minutes the lioness returned passing very close to the orphans and their Keepers. Everyone kept quiet until she had passed, but the elephants were very nervous for the rest of the day.

13 December 2010

Having emerged in the morning, the orphans enjoyed their usual pushing games. That of Shukuru and Mutara was interrupted by Chemi Chemi, who is not known for fair play, and enjoys head butting and mounting! The mudbath was greatly enjoyed today, because the temperature was conducive, Kibo, Kandecha, Murka and Olare being the most active bathers, with Kibo pushing Kandecha out of the mudbath.

14 December 2010

After the 9 a.m. milk feed, Shukuru, Mutara, Olare, Ishanga, Kalama and Chemi Chemi had a wonderful soil dusting session, Chemi Chemi seizing the opportunity to climb onto Olare whilst she was lying down. The game attracted Kibo and Kandecha and in order to get rid of Chemi Chemi, Olare threw a trunk-full of soil at his face and then hurriedly get up. Chemi Chemi took off, fearing reprisal! At about l0 a.m. the orphans were happy to welcome the German film Unit and Daphne’s grandsons to a game of football. However, Naisula, Ishanga, Kitirua and Murka were off field, not being soccer fans! At 3 p.m. little Wasin enjoyed a coconut oil massage and a dusting of red soil afterwards. She is more lively having come through her teething period.

15 December 2010

Another elephant rescue today, this time a baby from Namunyak Conservancy in Northern Kenya who had fallen down s well in the Naipoki lugga. The Keepers took off in a chartered plane just after 8 a.m. The calf, who is about 21/2 months old had minor injuries on the trunk, suspected to have been hyaena bites, but apart from that appears in good health arrived at the Nursery at midday, welcomed warmly by the German film crew, Daphne’s grandsons and all the Keepers. She has been named “Naipoki” after the place where she was found. Mutara and Olare were very anxious to meet her when they returned in the evening, but the newcomer was already in the stable with a Keeper for the night.

16 December 2010

As soon as the orphans emerged in the morning, Mutara was waiting anxiously outside the door of Naipoki, eager to meet her, rumbling to her. As soon as she came out with Wasin, Mutara embraced her lovingly and was reluctant to leave her when called away by the Keepers to join the rest of the group who were already heading out to browse. In the end Naipoki had to be returned to her stable and only then did Mutara leave her, complaining all the way, as she went to join the rest of the herd. Naipoki spent the day with little Wasin and their Keepers, closer to the compound.

17 December 2010

Clear skies promised a hot day, so by l0 a.m. the orphans browsed under shade, while Naipoki and Wasin had to have their ears anointed with sun block. All the elephants were eager for the mudbath at noon, but were distracted by the arrival of a mother warthog, her Nannie warthog and piglets joined them in the wallow! Murka and Olare plucked up sufficient courage to chase them out, after which the two kicked small bushes and charged around trumpeting in a display aimed at deterring the return of the intruders! This carried on for the duration of the mudbath hour.

18 December 2010

Naipoki is doing very well, feeding well, and responding well to her human family, teaming up with little Wasin, but has not yet appeared at the public visiting noon mudwallow hour. Ishanga has made friends with other relative newcomers Naisula and Kitirua. The three enjoy keeping close together whilst browsing out in the bush, feeding apart from the others. Ishanga is gaining weight well, and is now well settled, the wounds on her throat inflicted by the lion attack in Tsavo, all now healed.

19 December 2010

Kibo and Kandecha welcomed the new day with a Pushing Bout, until Olare intervened forcing them to fold up their game and concentrate on browsing. The orphans enjoyed a wonderful mudbath during which Chemi Chemi took full advantage by trying to mount onto whoever was closest! The Keepers cautioned him and Mutara and Kalama also did their best, but Chemi Chemi he is a hard nut to crack! Once grown, he will obviously be a very dominant bull.

20 December 2010

As Turkwel, Tano and Shukuru were browsing out in the forest, a hare suddenly sprang up and darted between Turkwel’s legs, which scared her witless! All three rushed back bellowing towards the Keepers, joined en route by all the others after which, once the hare had escaped by racing through the seated Keepers, Olare, Murka, Kudup and Kalama embarked on bush-bashing as a deterrent to whatever had scared Turkwel, Tano and Shukuru!

21 December 2010

As the orphans were approaching the noon mudbath, they suddenly came face to face with a lioness, which was very daunting for both the elephants and their Keepers! The Keepers steered the orphans passed the lioness, while the elephants had their trunks pointing towards it! At 2 p.m. all the orphans enjoyed a Coconut oiling, Naisula, Kitirua and Ishanga doing their best to escape the oil massage. Later they all enjoyed a dustbath, Sities, Shukuru, Ishanga and Tano lying behind the big girls who dusted themselves whilst standing.

22 December 2010

Olare rushed to greet her favourite, little Sities, as soon as the Stockade Gates and Stable doors were opened, touching Sities lovingly on the back with her trunk. Sities rumbled. Shukuru and Mutara enjoyed chasing the baby warthogs who were running around the yard looking for their mother. Naughty boy Chemi Chemi spotted Ishanga and targeted her but she ran to Olare for protection, who guarded her and Sities and kept them away from Chemi Chemi. After the usual Compound games, the orphans headed out to browse.

23 December 2010

Out in the forest, Kibo and Kandecha enjoyed a strength testing exercise. Tano. Shukuru, Ishanga, Turkwel and Chemi Chemi were sandwiched between Olare, Murka and Kalama as they browsed, until a herd of impala interrupted the peace. Murka and Olare rapidly took charge to expel the antelopes, who ran off, leaving the two combing the bushes searching for them, while the youngsters ran around until rounded up by Mutara who took them to join the two Big Girls. The scene then turned into play time, and all enjoyed running around chasing phantom antelopes with their ears wide open!

24 December 2010

After the 9 a.m. feed, Wasin and Naipoki joined the older elephants, greeted very warmly by Mutara and Olare, who rumbled a welcome and touched them with their trunks. The two babies let out a cry of sheer joy! Soon the rest of the herd came to greet them, crowding around them, pushing and shoving each other in order to get as close as possible. It all turned a bit chaotic, so the Keepers took the other elephants away, leaving only Mutara and Olare. Olare offered Naipoki her big ears to suckle while Wasin was comforted by Mutara. Olare lay down to soil dust, and Naipoki did the same.

25 December 2010

On a lovely Christmas morning, the orphans met outside their stables. Having greeted Naipoki and Wasin, Mutara went to her friend Kalama to play a pushing game. Meanwhile Chemi Chemi had engaged Makireti, all the action overseen by Olare, who kept a close eye on Chemi Chemi. Kibo targeted Tano to try and mount, but she managed to escape, so his attention was diverted to Turkwel who was busy trying to grab Lucerne from Maxwell’s Stockade. However, the Keepers intercepted him after which he ran off complaining!

26 December 2010

Naisula and her two friends Kitirua and Ishanga are very close and the three are never far apart as they browse throughout the day. Naisula is the leader and always makes sure that Ishanga is near in case Kandecha and Kibo try to bully her. Ishanga is recovering very well and putting on weight.

27 December 2010

After leaving the Compound, the orphans, led by Shukuru headed out immediately to browse while the day remains cool, because the days have turned very hot so the elephants have to take to shade. At noon Kalama and Shukuru led the herd to the mudbath where they had a lot of fun. Makireti, Chemi Chemi, Mutara, Sities and Kalama entertained the visitors with their wallowing skills, Sities holding the floor by kicking the football towards the visitors and running after it! Later the orphans enjoyed feeding quietly for the rest of the day.

28 December 2010

Naisula, Ishanga and Kitirua always cause drama! Today the three were scared by a male warthog who wanted to join some other warthogs who were browsing close by. Ishanga, who was first to spot the male warthog as he approached from the opposite direction, ran off screaming, which triggered Kitirua and Naisula. Olare was with Sities further away when she saw the three running with their ears out while Mutara, Chemi Chemi, Turkwel and Shukuru took off towards the Keepers, who had a difficult time calming all the orphans down!

29 December 2010

The orphans played around the compound before heading out to browse, Kalama, Mutara, Olare and Turkwel keeping close to little Wasin and Naipoki, rolling around in the red soil so that the babies could climb onto them. Naipoki climbed onto Olare while Wasin lay down beside Mutara. Meanwhile Kibo and Kandecha were focused on their strength testing game while Makireti did the rounds of all the stables to make sure no newcomer had come in without her knowledge. When the Keepers called the orphans, all headed out to browse.

30 December 2010

The orphans enjoyed having fun around the Stockade in the morning. Kudup and Turkwel went round Maxwell’s Stockade and came face to face with Solio as she was heading out. The girls started to charge her, thinking that she was a warthog, but Solio stood her ground, put her head down with her small horn pointing forwards to take on whoever arrived first! Upon seeing that Solio was not going to run, both Kudup and Turkwel did a U Turn and ran off at speed!

31 December 2010

The orphans were browsing happily out in the forest when two lionesses appeared from nowhere, scaring the elephants who all ran to their Keepers for protection. Luckily he lions just gazed at them and then walked away!