Keepers' Diaries, December 2011

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

Intermittent showers of rain and overcast mornings meant that the smaller orphans often had to remain behind in heir night stables longer than the older orphans who are let out at dawn, something that is never popular. The older females such as Mutara, Shukuru and Tano invariably stand outside the stable doors waiting for the Junior occupants to emerge. This month Naipoki, who previously had been jealous of the attention paid to Nursery newcomers such as Orwa, has become more caring of him.

Intermittent showers of rain and overcast mornings meant that the smaller orphans often had to remain behind in heir night stables longer than the older orphans who are let out at dawn, something that is never popular. The older females such as Mutara, Shukuru and Tano invariably stand outside the stable doors waiting for the Junior occupants to emerge. This month Naipoki, who previously had been jealous of the attention paid to Nursery newcomers such as Orwa, has become more caring of him.

Orwa, who arrived in he Nursery in a pitiful state of advanced malnutrition and weakness, exacerbated by deep grieving for his lost elephant family, has gradually been recovering. Initially unable to even get up from a sleeping position without help from the Keepers, be is now able to do so, and is also becoming more sociable towards the other Nursery elephants, although still preferring to spend quiet time on his own, indicative of the grieving process that can last for several months.

Towards the end of the month he was even greeting the mudbath visitors, walking slowly along the cordon line, so that comforting arms could be extended to gently touch him.

Little Sasab, having been washed down the flooded Uaso Nyiro river, had always been a prime candidate for the dreading pneumonia, from ingesting water into his lungs during this traumatic accident. Very few of our elephants orphaned under similar circumstances have been able to survive pneumonia, despite precautionary antibiotic injections after arrival. Sasab’s chances of survival were compromised by the onset of teething immediately after arrival, which is always accompanied by loss of appetite, and as a result, condition, plus fevers and loose stools. Tragically we lost him during the night of the 7th, fluid from the trunk indicative of the dreaded symptoms of advanced pneumonia.

Most fortunately tiny Kithaka has continued to thrive, although he, too, began teething towards the end of the month, and also lost some of the condition he had gained when he first came in at just a few days old and managed to ingest over 33 pints of milk fed little and often on demand throughout the day. He has now settled into the usual 3 hour feeding schedule and by month end had managed to pop out one first molar without he usual stomach problems. Kithaka is the adored baby of all the older Nursery females, but especially Tano, who is in the Night Stable next door to him.

During the month, three of the older bulls, who are all more recent arrivals in the Nairobi Nursery and who came in as 2 year olds with tiny tusks, but in a near death condition of milk deprivation, have recovered rapidly with milk and a de=worming. All are, as is usual, greedy over milk, and have tended to throw their weight around the other elephants and Keepers during milk feeds. Once such candidates have recovered, it is always urgent to get them down to the Rehabilitation Centres where they can be subjected to discipline from older elephants. Dabassa (the pushiest of the older bulls), his friend, Rombo and Layoni were selected to be upgraded, and have been undergoing training to the Elephant Mover, fed their milk inside it. After three weeks of training, all were going in and out without hesitation, so their move to the Voi Rehabilitation Centre on the 28th December was one of the smoothest ever undertaken. By 5 a.m. all were on their way to Voi, accompanied by some of the Nursery Keepers, with just one stop en route to hand=pick the tasty Grewia bicolor that they so love and which grows in profusion on the roadside near Kibwezi.

But for the sad demise of precious little Sasab, and a new Nursery grave in the forest, December has been a happy month for the Nursery elephants, who were puzzled on Christmas Day, the one day a year when the Trust is closed to the midday mudbath visiting public! The absence of an admiring audience does not go un=noticed by the little elephants.

The Rhinos: Maxwell, who can never be released since he is lacking a retina and optic nerve in both eyes, having been born that way, enjoyed a special Christmas, devouring with great gusto 8 Mince Pies and 4 Tangerines as a Christmas treat! Solio had an extra large pile of lucerne and natural browse in her Night Stockade and both enjoyed a spirited tussle through the separating poles of their Stockade in the morning and evening when Solio was about to go out for the day and returned in the evening.

Solio has been up to her usual disappearing act, deliberately leading the Keepers quite a dance on several occasions, enjoying chasing off the baboons and warthogs she happens upon during her outings. However she approves of her new larger Night Stockade and is happy to bring herself back to base in the evenings even though with her acute rhino hearing, she chooses to ignore the calling of her anxious Keepers whenever she decides to go into hiding and would rather they were not around!

December 2011 day to day

01 Dec

The orphans were in a jovial mood this morning and began the day with a game of hide and seek. Naipoki and Kainuk enjoyed this most hiding behind bushes then coming out charging with their ears spread wide. Orwa met the rest of the orphans today with Naipoki and Kithaka being the first to greet him before the others arrived. Naipoki was particularly affectionate with him which was a welcome surprise for the keepers as usually she is the one who distances herself from the newcomers pushing them around whenever she can.

Kainuk being playful

Naipoki with Kithaka

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