There have been three Orphan Rescues this month sadly all calves that had been without their mother’s milk for too long for us to be able to save. The first was a young bull of about l7 months, rescued on the l8th, whose presence near Maktau was reported by our Ziwani De-Snaring team. Named “Oza”, he collapsed and was on life supporting drip soon after arrival and although he rallied briefly the next day, sadly he collapsed again and died on the 21st. That same day there was another rescue alert, this time for a female calf in the Masai Mara, who had been seen alone for the past 2 weeks. This baby collapsed and died soon after arrival, and by the time she was rescued was in a pitifully advanced state of milk deprivation and severe malnutrition. The Third rescue was of a male calf from Borana Ranch in Northern Kenya on the 28th, who was so feeble that he had to be on life support during the flight to the Nursery. He died the next day, on the 29th.
Sporadic rainstorms throughout the month have kept Nairobi Park green. Lemoyian, who previously kept little Tikondo company, is now with the main Nursery herd and enjoying being part of it, adored by all the Big Girls being the youngest Nursery member. Teleki is healing psychologically, no longer seeking long periods of time apart from the others, (which is normal during the grieving process). He is a calm and gentle character who enjoys the company of Murera, Sonje, Kwale and Faraja and whose shoulder spear wound is still not entirely healed, being in an awkward place where there is a lot of movement. Quanza still exhibits signs of post traumatic stress manifested by being “pushy” towards the others. Understandably, she is still not overly trusting of the human Keepers either having witnessed the brutality of human poachers firsthand. She keeps a distance from them, approaching only to down her milk rapidly before returning to the middle of the herd and giving all humans a wide berth.
Barsilinga is doing very well, putting on weight and enjoying being instructed in Pushing skills by Bomani, while tiny Kithaka, who despite being over one year old still remains the smallest calf in the Nursery. Being a “little man” he tends to make up for his lack of statue by being Pushy, and enjoys displaying his football skills at the noon public viewing hour, when he entertains the crowd by kicking the ball with both back and front feet, often falling over in the process! But, he is, in fact, growing, even though he has a lot of catching up to do! Sities also enjoys showing off during the public viewing hour, but is a promising future Matriarch, moving in to break up a Pushing Match between Orwa and Bomani on Christmas Day.
Orwa, who came to the Nursery in a pitiful state of collapse and weakness, is now one of the dominant boys of the Nursery, eager to show his newfound strength by challenging others, especially those smaller who he can be sure to dominate. He is particularly pushy and greedy at milk feeding times, pushing down poor Faraja on the 22nd. Likewise, Kanjoro who has sharp little tusks, is also very Pushy and Greedy, and is not a popular member of the herd. Even Turkwel who is normally friendly to everyone, does not want to fraternize with him. Kanjoro, who is now the dominant bull in the Nursery needs Older Bulls to put him in line, so he, along with Turkwel and Kainuk are currently in training for the upgrade to the Ithumba Rehabilitation Centre. They will be followed by three of our other Big Girls, Mutara, Kilabasi and Shukuru. All are now at an age when they need to embark on the journey back where they rightly belong, their transfer having been delayed due to the very dry conditions that have prevailed throughout Tsavo in 2012, and of course also due to the poaching issue. Their departure will leave Tano as a very proficient Nursery Matriarch, who already enjoys leading Splinter groups from the main unit. On the 9th she took Lemoyian, Sonje, Quanza, Teleki, Faraja, Kwale and Ishaq-B deeper into the Park, but returned obediently when the Keepers called her back, carefully rounding up all her charges and delivering them back safely to the Keepers.
There was great excitement on the 23rd when a White Rhino ran through the orphan herd as they browsed out in the bush. Barsilinga, Ngasha and Kithaka ran to their Keepers for protection, while the others all gathered around the older Elephants, who stood facing the threat with outspread ears. There was more excitement the next day on Christmas Eve when the orphans encountered a herd of buffalo and the Big Girls again lined up ahead of the youngsters with outspread ears, later indulging in a threat display of Bush Bashing as soon as the buffaloes began to retreat! More excitement was in store on a wet 27th, when the youngest members of the group had to be under shelter in their stables, and when the older elephants came across a pride of l0 lions. All gathered around their Keepers with outspread ears, standing stock still until the lions slowly wandered off followed by a hopeful hyaena!
The year ended with the orphans encountering a troupe of baboons on their way out into the Park to browse when Kihari, Kainuk, Turkwel, Kilabasi and Quanza charged the primates scattering them and sending them up the trees, while the young elephants ran back to their Keepers for protection! But for the loss of three new arrivals this month, it has been a happy time for the Nursery elephants, with browse plentiful in the Park.
The Rhinos:- Maxwell over indulged on a handout of Dairy cubes one day, and suffered an upset stomach overnight! However, this was nothing that a dose of Kaolin did not rectify, and he was soon himself again. Solio continues her solo excursions into the Park every day, the Keepers having given up on trying to follow her! On the 15th she turned up at the mudbath during a rainstorm to entertain the few visitors who braved the rain and stood sheltering under umbrellas. The elephants had to wait until Solio decided to depart! A favourite sport of hers is to push the water barrel around the yard when she exits her night stable, and also to investigate all the elephant stockades to see if there is anything worthwhile eating left behind. The usual play sparring with Max continues whenever Solio is around. She is the light of Max’s dark life! Both rhinos are growing apace and could not be healthier or happier under our protection.