Keepers' Diaries, December 2012

Nairobi Nursery Unit

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.

01 December 2012

Lemoyian is now enjoying the company of the Nursery herd, something he was not able to do whilst baby-sitting little Tikondo. He is enjoying walking far and wide, investigating new terrain and enjoying tasting new vegetation. Along with Barsilinga he also enjoys spending time close to the Keepers, but after a while Kainuk comes to collect him and take him back to his Elephant family. Kainuk adores Lemoyian.

02 December 2012

Nowadays Teleki has stopped wanting to spend time alone, or leaving the other elephants to return either to the mudwallow or the Stockades. This indicates that he is healing psychologically, coming to terms with the loss of his natural Elephant family and accepting the fact that he now has another new family. Teleki is a calm and gentle boy, who loves being with Murera, Sonje, Kwale and Faraja. The wound on his back continues to heal, but is taking a long time, being in an awkward place – on the shoulder blade where there is a lot of movement.

03 December 2012

Blind Maxwell woke up with an upset stomach, possibly from having over-indulged on Dairy Cubes! He was given a bottle of porridge in which Kaolin was mixed which he downed eagerly, and by evening this had the desired effect. His appetite for greens did not diminish!

04 December 2012

As the orphans were waiting for their 9 a.m. milk feed, Barsilinga engaged Bomani in a Pushing Game. Bomani, who is much older than Barsilinga, taught him some pushing tactics until the arrival of the milk. Ngasha has taken a shine to Kilabasi, often trying to suckle her tiny teats which sometimes Kilabasi permits, but at oher times pushes him away. This makes him cry out, begging to be allowed this privilege. Maxwell was back to his usual form today, playful and happy again after his stomach upset.

05 December 2012

As usual, as soon as the Big Girls were let out of their Stockades in the morning, they rushed to the Night Quarters of the babies to check up on them, Mutara and Turkwel homing in on Kithaka while Sonje and Kainuk were busy with Lemoyian. Meanwhile Balguda and Kwale enjoyed a Pushing Strength Test game, which was interrupted when Orwa turned up and also wanted to be involved. Orwa then took on Bomani and the game continued until the Keepers led the elephants out to browse.

06 December 2012

During the Open Public Viewing hour, Kithaka entertained the public showing off his football skills, occasionally falling over as he kicked the ball, which made the audience laugh! At 4 p.m. there was a soft rain shower which prompted Lemoyian to run back to the shelter of the Stockade but others like Faraja, Kwale, Kithaka, Quanza, Orwa, Narok and Teleki enjoyed rolling in the mud. Nor was Murera excluded, who also mud wallowed. She has reason to smile now that her serious injuries have healed and are no longer an inhibiting factor.

07 December 2012

The older elephants enjoy teaching the younger members of the herd skills that they themselves have learnt. Today Bomani has focused on Barsilinga, training him gently in wrestling techniques. Barsilinga, like Orwa, is a gentle and polite boy, who a few months ago preferred the company of the Keepers. Now this is changing, and he is very fond of Bomani.

08 December 2012

Quanza is still not fully settled, and remains wary of humans, even the Keepers who bring her milk, tending to try and knock them down. She approaches the Keepers with outspread ears and also bullies the younger elephant boys such as Balguda, Kwale, Bomani and Faraja – all as a result of the stress she has experienced witnessing the brutal death and mutilation of her Elephant Mother and Aunts at the hands of evil poachers.

09 December 2012

Tano is a gentle and lovely girl. Today when out browsing she took Lemoyian , Sonje, Quanza, Teleki, Faraja, Kwale and Ishaq-B off with her, leaving the rest of the herd. It took the Keepers a while to locate her Splinter Group but when she heard them calling her name, she appeared from thick bush, and then escorted the Keepers back to where the others were browsing, so that they could all return together to the main herd. What a brave girl she is!

10 December 2012

It has been a fun day for Orwa and Teleki, who spent almost the entire day wrestling playfully together. Whereas previously Teleki preferred to be alone, he is now much more outgoing and becoming much happier. Orwa and his other Elephant friends have been crucial to his healing.

11 December 2012

As Tano was browsing, she inadvertently turned and by mistake knocked down little Lemoyian who was standing close by. His yells immediately brought Ishaq-B to his side, comforting the baby by laying her trunk tenderly across his back and rumbling reassurance to him. In the afternoon Kithaka enjoyed a chasing game with Daphne’s grandson, Roan and a school friend, charging them with his tiny ears outspread!

12 December 2012

Sities has little respect for the new Keepers. Today at the Public Visiting hour she ran along the cordon pushing anyone within reach, and would not respond to the new Keepers. In the evening a filming crew attached to the Amboseli Researchers came to film Quanza and Lemoyian, both ex Amboseli ecosystem orphans.

13 December 2012

When Barsilinga was sucking a Keeper’s fingers, Ngasha got jealous and came to push Barsilinga away. This triggered a fight between the two boys, and although Barsilinga is younger than Ngasha, he won driving Ngasha away. Hearing Ngasha’s cries, Kilabasi hurried to the rescue.

14 December 2012

In the afternoon Turkwel, Kainuk and Tano were browsing together when Kanjoro came to join them. Turkwel surprised everyone when she pushed him with her short tusks chasing him away. This was very uncharacteristic of Turkwel who is always very gentle with the rest of the orphans. During the private visit the older orphans had a mudbath while the youngsters enjoyed a dustbath.

15 December 2012

As it was raining this morning Lemoyian, Barsilinga and Ngasha were returned to the stockades until the 11am milk feed. Before the orphans arrived for the morning visiting hour Solio made an appearance and walked through the mudbath so that the guests could see her before following the keepers to her stockade.

16 December 2012

Upon exiting the stockades Orwa and Kihari started playing pushing games which quickly ended when Orwa tried to mount on Kihari who was having none of it and chased him away. Teleki’s shoulder wound is healing well which makes us all very happy.

17 December 2012

This morning Solio had some fun pushing the water trough infront of her stockade emptying the water from it before walking into Kilabasi’s stockade and enjoying the saltlick she found there. She then went to greet Maxwell and they locked horns for a few minutes before she headed out.

18 December 2012

It was a cold rainy morning and as such Lemoyian, Ngasha and Barsilinga remained in the stockades. Just before the 11am visiting hour we received a call from the Ziwani desnaring team about an elephant in need of rescue from the Maktau area. The calf was a bull about 17 months old and sadly was in very poor condition having been without its mother for some time.

19 December 2012

The new calf, named Oza, spent the night in what used to be Quanza’s stockade while Quanza was put in with Narok. In the morning the calf was put on a drip in an effort to give him more energy and he was taking his milk and feeding on greens but is very malnourished.

20 December 2012

This morning Mutara led the orphans to Oza’s stockade to meet him but unfortunately he was lying down and unable to greet them. Shukuru and Turkwel tried to rouse him by banging his gate. Later on with the help of the keepers Oza stood up and he spent the rest of the day feeding on greens and taking milk from the keepers.

21 December 2012

Last night Oza collapsed and had to be put on drip. Sadly he died at around 3am. The keepers were very upset as he seemed to be rallying and had been taking his milk and feeding well on greens. Later in the day we received a call about another orphaned elephant in the Maasai Mara. The calf had been on its own for about two weeks. The rescue team left together with a KWS vet as the calf was over two years old and would likely need to be immobilized for the rescue. The calf arrived at the Nursery at around 6pm and was greeted by Orwa and Kihari. The calf was in poor condition with a bloated belly and maggots coming out of its trunk. Sadly the calf died at 8:30 pm.

22 December 2012

Orwa, who is usually very gentle, has become somewhat pushy with the other orphans especially during milk feeding times. At the 11am visiting time he charged Faraja who was drinking his mil and knocked him to the ground. The keepers reprimanded him and separated him from the rest of the group until he calmed down.

23 December 2012

As the orphans were busy browsing in the fields a white rhino ran through their midst surprising them and sending them trumpeting into the bushes. The younger ones, Lemoyian, Barsilinga, Ngasha and Kithaka cried and ran to the keepers who were calling the older ones so that they would not run off. The older group rejoined the youngsters and they all spent some time making sure everyone was ok before continuing their browsing activities.

24 December 2012

While walking out to the forest this morning the orphans came across a herd of buffaloes who were relaxing under the trees. Upon seeing the orphans the buffaloes quickly got to their feet and stood to attention while the older orphans spread their ears and trumpeted ready to charge should the need arise.

25 December 2012

Lately Orwa and Bomani have been engaging one another in strength testing and pushing games with Orwa always emerging the victor. Today they once again went at it with Bomani refusing to concede defeat. Sities ended the game when she came between them separating them as it was time for their milk feed.

26 December 2012

As the orphans were waiting to head out for the day Balguda and Kwale began a pushing game that ended when the keepers led the out to the field. It was a hot day and the orphans all enjoyed a mudbath. Quanza, Narok, Orwa and Ishanga had a lengthy wallow and a lovely time rolling in the mud bumping into one another.

27 December 2012

It was raining as the orphans left the stockades this morning which meant that the youngsters of the group, Lemoyian, Barsilinga, Kithaka and Ngasha all had to remain indoors. The older orphans had a lovely time mudbathing in the rain puddles. At around 4pm the keepers and orphans came across a pride of over 10 lions. They all stood quietly as the lions walked into the bushes followed soon after by a hyaena. Mutara, Shukuru, Turkwel and Kilabasi charged at the bushes, trumpeting and spreading their ears.

28 December 2012

This morning we received a call about an orphan in need of rescue at the Borana Conservancy in Laikipia. The calf was on its own and had been for a while as it was dehydrated and malnourished and was about a year old. The rescue team put him on a drip before loading him for the flight to Nairobi, arriving at the trust at 5pm, at which time he drank some milk and water.

29 December 2012

This morning the new calf who was still very weak was put on a drip as he was in a state of collapse. At 4pm he managed to get to his feed and drink some milk. At 10pm he collapsed and sadly died a few minutes later. The past 10 days has been very difficult for the keepers with three new orphans arriving at the Nursery and tragically none of them surviving due their weakened condition.

30 December 2012

Due to the bad weather the younger orphans remained in the stockade while the older ones headed out for the day. They had a lovely morning mudbath out in the field with Mutara, Teleki and Bomani having the most fun as they rolled around getting completely covered in mud.

31 December 2012

After the orphans morning bottle of milk they headed out to the fields to browse. On the way they came across a troupe of baboons. Kihari, Kainuk, Turkwel, Kilabasi and Quanza charged at the baboons sending them scattering into the trees. One big male baboon chattered loudly as Kihari and Kainuk ran around below him. This scared the youngsters in the group who ran to the keepers.