Keepers' Diaries, December 2015

Nairobi Nursery Unit

At the Nairobi Elephant Nursery a huge amount of rain fell throughout December and the very wet conditions proved challenging for the little orphans, as well as for their Keepers. However the Nairobi National Park, home to the Trust’s Nursery Unit since 1978, is looking more beautiful than ever with flowing streams, filled waterholes and green grass in abundance. Our older Nursery orphans have relished the muddy and wet conditions, but we have had to be mindful of the cold and chill factor with the younger orphans, keeping them inside their stables when the conditions were extreme.

01 December 2015

It was later than usual for the orphans to go out into the bush today and this was because of the rain and we have been experiencing huge rain in Nairobi, El Nino rain. Kiko stayed in his pen until the rain had eased slightly, but Pea and Pod the ostriches left with the older orphans looking wet and bedraggled. The older girls such as Rorogoi and Mashariki don’t like seeing the ostriches close to their young peers and they, together with Arruba sometimes, chase them away from interrupting their feeding time. Kauro doesn’t like getting wet and he stayed under a tree whilst the others browsed and played in the drizzle. Ndotto and Ngilai were at Elkerama’s side. Olsekki and Sirimon had a great time wrestling, mounting each other and rolling in the mud at length. Mwashoti also had some fun playing with Siangiki who hardly plays at all so this was a nice change in mood. Mwashoti engaged her in a pushing game that lasted for quite some time until they finally called it off. Seeing Mwashoti with his leg that was nearly severed by a cable snare doing so well and totally healed and becoming more mobile all the time is extremely satisfying for the DSWT team. When the second group came down for visiting the greedy boy Olsekki gave the keepers a very hard time as he was very difficult to control. He had arrived together with the first group including Siangiki, Boromoko and Sokotei for their milk, but he went on fighting and pushing everybody trying to snatch other elephant’s milk share including those of the last group of orphans to descend on the midday mudwallow time, these included big orphans like Suswa, Elkerama, Rorogoi and Arruba. He tried to fight for Arruba’s bottle but in vain. He ended up pushing the keeper that was feeding Arruba and when she saw that she abandoned her bottle and drove him away dishing out some much needed discipline and helping us Keepers, poking him with her tusks, before returning to finish her bottle.

02 December 2015

Last night there was a heavy downpour that left most of the orphans sleepless with the rain pelting down on the iron sheeting shelters and thunder cracking it was a turbulent night for all. Kauro, Arruba, Lasayen and Mbegu were all moving up and down screaming in their stockades throughout the whole night, and needed the calming influence of their Keepers. This one disruptive night really brought them down and they walked out of their stables in the morning having lost condition from the stress. As the orphans moved out into the bush they divided themselves into group. Balguda led the group of Mbegu, Naseku our new little arrival, Roi, Kauro and the little boy Murit. Kamok took a different route with Boromoko, Tusuja, Rapa and Simotua. Suswa, Mashariki and Arruba took the rest and decided to move further into the thicket. There is such a variety of vegetation since the rain, with new soft, green grass which most of them prefer at this time having had a lack of it in the driest month. Some did not want to go into the thick bush because everything was so wet, but Suswa, Elkerama and his friend Ngilai, Rorogoi and Embu all do not mind the wet and they headed further afield. By the days end all looked to have full rotund bellies once more.

03 December 2015

Kamok, who came to us the day she was born but who is morphing into a caring, nurturing mini-matriarch along with best friend Mbegu, took little babies Naseku, Godoma and Ngilai further afield from the rest of their family this morning, enjoying the sensation of being the matriarch in charge and feeling like a big girl with her own mini herd deferring to her. The little two, Godoma and Ngilai seem to trust and feel more comfortable under the guidance of Kamok. Whenever Elkerama is not around, Ngilai is beside Kamok and even during milk feeding time, Ngilai is there and occasionally suckling on her ears as well. Our new little Naseku, a well victim from north Kenya, is a quiet girl and minds her own business, still mourning inside with the memory of her lost wild herd and struggling to heal emotionally. Having said that, she is showered in love and attention from the others. As the first group of orphans was getting ready to go to public visiting and have their milk, it was realised that these four were missing, having slipped away without the Keeper detecting this, easy to do with well over thirty five orphans in your care. The keepers began searching since the place where they had their 9 o’clock feed and they were located in a small bush just close to where they had had that last bottle. They were all just busy browsing without any regard to what time it was or milk or anything! This is very unusual even for the young babies who know exactly when milk time is. When they saw the keepers they recalled it was milk time and they automatically ran to the mud bath area. By the time they got there the others had all finished their feed and were busy playing in the mud bath. Earlier in the day around the 9am milk feed, it had started drizzling. Pea and Pod had harassed one of the keepers with front leg kicks and they were not sure why, it was discovered that they had zero tolerance for raincoats and the Keeper had put a rain coat over his green jacket. Pea and Pod then accompanied the orphans for the show today and as one of the keepers tried to control them they tried to kick him too. But it was only when it came to the 3 o’clock feeding and a keeper walked past them in a rain coat and they tried to kick him, did the keepers realise what the problem was – they don’t seem to like their rain coats!

04 December 2015

It’s 3am and some of the keepers are up and preparing the orphans who have graduated to the next stage of moving to Tsavo. Arruba, Mashariki and Rorogoi are leaving this morning for Voi. Before they are loaded however there should be the exact amount of milk on the lorry that the orphans will need for the journey. After setting everything up, Arruba and Rorogoi were the first to be loaded onto the truck. When their gates were opened Rorogoi got on, but Arruba resisted. Ten minutes passed and Mashariki was brought out to see if she could attract Arruba onto the truck. But as soon as Mashariki saw Arruba standing by the truck gates, she got to her and stood still. The keepers tried all their tricks but none of these worked and after half an hour without success the only method left seemed to be to use a rope to put around Mashariki and pull her onto the lorry. All this time Arruba just stood by waiting her turn and drinking her milk. The same method was eventually used for her and finally all three were on board and the journey started at around 4.05am. Their resistance, despite feeding fine on the lorry since they were first loaded onto it, must have been due to the perfect memory of elephants and loading at that time and what happened last time (when they remained on board for some hours due to traffic and the lorry just returned to Nairobi). When Suswa woke in the morning she was very surprised when she went to Arruba’s stockade and she was not there. She seemed quite sad and spent most of the day on her own and not interacting with the others very much. We knew that just in a few days she would be joining her friend in Voi.

05 December 2015

Suswa hasn’t given up the search of her friend Arruba and when she came out of her stockade this morning she went to look for her friend again at her old stockade. But when she got there it was Sirimon who was inside! When the three girls left yesterday some of the elephants were moved around so they had more space and the ones sharing were given their own stockades which is a preference for us so that there are no squabbles over both milk and vegetation throughout the night – Boromoko was moved into Mashariki’s old stockade and Kauro moved into the one that was Rorogoi’s. Sirimon went into Arruba’s so Tusuja could leave Rapa and both to have their own stockade again. There weren’t any complaints from the elephants with the move or change last night which was a relief. When Suswa could not locate her friend she just walked off into the forest and isolated herself from the others for the rest of the day. The only time she joined her peers was during the milk feeding time. She and Elkerama stay in separate stockades around the corner from Max’s stockade and she normally comes home slightly early compared to the rest of the family. Before the 3pm feeding Balguda, having become so playful since not feeling well all that time, and Naseku sneaked away from the herd early and went to the mud bath looking for milk! It is nice to see Balguda improved, although not yet perfect.

06 December 2015

The weather has been very good for the babies today. They have all been very playful and enjoying a mud bath whenever they came across a water pool – there are many because of the plentiful rain we have been having over the last few days. Every time the babies come across a water pool they abandon their browsing and go for a mud bath, before resuming browsing again. At public visiting it was a great mud bath time for the first group when they finished taking their milk. Naseku was the first one to get into the mud pool followed by Lasayen and then everyone else. It is surprising that both Lasayen and Naseku have a love of the mudbath as both these babies are well victims, and we have seen over the years well victims are often left with an aversion more than others to mudbathing and water. Ndotto, Lasayen and Kamok did not spend long in the pool and they got out after covering themselves in mud. Kamok started rolling on a heap of loose, soft soil. Ndotto was happy to see her rolling on the ground and he ran up to her to climb on her back. She enjoyed this game as well. Tusuja tried to follow Ndotto and do the same but Kamok got up quickly and drove him away, as Tusuja having recently recovered from his parasite problems has grown exceedingly fat. It is a relief to see him so fat now after so long completely emaciated from a parasite infestation which he arrived in the Nursery with. Ngilai, the funny one, a little heart-thief and a baby who charms everyone her meets, came out of the mud pool and went along the rope cordon spraying mud over all the visitors standing there – they got excited and shouted which made Ngilai do it more and more!

07 December 2015

Kiko, Pea and Pod are starting to have their own walk in the bush a slight distance from the keepers and the other babies. The three have been moving together in the forest and straying from their keepers. Kiko has his own special spot in the park where he goes to hide himself. There was a time when he saw other giraffes in the park and we thought he was going to run towards them. But instead he kept looking at them for a long time and decided to follow his friends the ostriches. These three have become good friends and they never want to stray from each other for long. Kiko has also started feeding on greens which is great because it means he is getting older and will get stronger with these fresh new nutrients. Alamaya who is our eunuch, as his genitals were severely bitten by hyenas while orphaned and before he was rescued, is lucky to be alive and has had to undergo a very big operation and thankfully recovered fully from it. He has recently been quite rough and quite a bully today towards Dupotto and Tusuja charging them all the time. Rapa too was a bad boy towards Murit during public visiting. However they both did some of their bullying in the presence of our wonderfully material little female called Oltaiyoni and he was disciplined by her as a result. Murit had climbed into the mud bath and was having fun. Rapa joined him in the pool and after a short while Oltaiyoni got into the pool to cool herself. When Rapa kept on pushing Murit Oltaiyoni was watching and decided to send Rapa out of the pool. She smacked him with her trunk a few times before letting him go.

08 December 2015

The two little great friends Lasayen and Ndotto are becoming little bullies towards the polite girl Naseku. Over the past few days it has only been Lasayen bullying the poor little girl whenever he meets her. But today both of them have been naughty towards her. She is such a quiet baby girl who tends to keep space from the rest. When the orphans out in the bush this morning, Lasayen kept pushing her around and at one point he would just go in search for her to test her temper. Of course we as the Keepers do not tolerate this behaviour and stop it but when they were on the way down for the mudbath Ndotto was leading in front as they ran for their milk feed, but on the way Naseku over took him. Ndotto did not like this and tried to overtake her back but she was faster than him. She was the first one to start having milk but since Ndotto drinks faster than her he finished first and immediately started pushing her. After Lasayen arrived and had his milk the two boys were seen together exchanging trunks like they were discussing something. After they left in different directions and approached Naseku from different sides. We read their minds and stopped them pestering her any more. She moved towards little Mbegu who showered her in love and attention.

09 December 2015

Suswa took control of the orphans during the 9am feeding. The greedy boy Olsekki and the other cheeky Enkikwe were causing problems as they got overexcited about their milk. They were pushing and fighting everyone before Suswa stepped in and took charge, giving Enkikwe a good telling off and chasing Olsekki away. Later on when the babies were coming down to the mudbath, Murit was walking behind some of the others and suddenly got a terrible shock as there was a swarm of bees in one of the bushes. He turned back so fast and sped in the other direction, taking a very long way around to get to the Keepers and his milk making sure he gave the bees a wide birth. Thankfully the bees were uninterrupted but it does indicate the respect elephants have for bees and why the Trust’s bee fences to protect community farms are so successful. Suswa is becoming Balguda’s best friend after Arruba left her to go to Tsavo. Balguda enjoys the extra attention and company; he is usually quiet and gets along with everybody.

10 December 2015

During their day out in the Park, Lasayen had a wonderful time playing on his own, as Ndotto didn’t seem to have the energy so early in the morning and clearly wasn’t in the mood. Lasayen spent his morning chasing the baby warthogs trumpeting and squealing with delight – but the warthogs weren’t so amused, and did not enjoy the constant badgering and moved away to a different location! Later on at the 11am mudbath time Ndotto was in a much better mood and entertained all the visitors by rolling in the mud and running along the rope line covering everyone is mud. He also did some good headstands and sat on his bum with his trunk in the air performing more the more laughter he heard for the adoring crowd who were captivated by his baby antics. Naseku was limping on her front leg this morning and was escorted back to the stockades to check her injury out and make sure it wasn’t anything serious. Just a llight sprain from running over uneven rocks we think.. Tusuja and Rapa went with her to keep her company. After her check-up she was released back to join up with the others but soon took off into the Forest, running a good couple of kilometres away. The Keepers used the other babies to help coax her back as she obviously didn’t enjoy her medical check which brought memories back to her and unsettled her enormously. She soon calmed down after some milk and forgot all about it

11 December 2015

Today Suswa, Embu and Elkerama continued to train for their big trip to Tsavo. They had experienced it earlier in the months when the three others were training, who are already in Tsavo, so they have had some good rehearsals. All three have been going into the truck with ease, talking their bottles confidently and trusting their keepers. Previously Naseku had been nursing a big swelling on her forehead which she got when she fell down a water hole; she also bruised her spine quite badly. Due to these aches and pains she has been staying away from the other orphans as she doesn’t want to get in any play fights or get accidently hurt again, so she has been spending a lot of time alone. The Keepers keep on giving her lots of attention and tending to her ailments, which they feel are slowly improving. Sokotei is a fat and healthy little bull these days, keeping close company with Sirimon, Boromoko, Enkikwe and Olsekki. Their favourite pass time is shoving and strength testing games, pushing down shrubs and general bullish behaviour. All of these bulls are prone to bad behaviour around the milk bottle, so eager are they for their fair share and more if given half a chance. Dupotto loves Embu enormously but in recent months we have seen her grow in confidence and spend more and more time with the girls Mbegu and Kamok. We hope with Embu’s move to Voi she does not miss her too much as Dupotto is far to young to join them.

12 December 2015

Although being a young female, Siangiki has not displayed any strong maternal or baby caring characteristics like young Mbegu and Oltaiyoni who are always taking care of the younger babies. In most instances when the young ones like Ngilai, try to suckle on the older females ears they are allowed to, but when Siangiki sees a little one like Ngilai approaching to try and do this she pushes them away – quite a rare characteristic in young female elephants! Roi is a girl though that loves to hang out with the young ones like Ndotto, Lasayen, Godoma and Rapa Tamiyoi and company. Out in the field she sometimes plays games with them like posing on the ground for the little ones to try and come and climb on her and roll in the dust with her too. The little boys like Ndotto and Lasayen love her so much because she has a great sense of fun.

13 December 2015

There was tremendous rain all night and through the early morning so the translocation move of Embu, Elkerama and Suswa which was planned for this day had to be cancelled. If the weather allows we will try again tomorrow early morning! Enkikwe who has always been a bit of a bully within his peer group is starting to become stroppy even with his keepers. Sometimes out in the field he tries to frighten his keepers, out in the field and at public visiting hour soon after finishing his bottle. He tries to run after his keeper with his ears spread open, even if his keeper is cautioning him and telling him off. In the future he might become a very naughty bull elephant, but we have seen this in the past and discipline from the older orphans tends to sort this problem out .

14 December 2015

Very early in the morning, around 3am, most of the keepers on night duty were up to prepare Elkerama, Suswa and Embu for their long journey to Voi. Extra milk bottles were packed into the lorry and enough vegetation for the 3 elephants. Once everything was set it was time for the elephants to walk aboard. Suswa and Elkerama came out together with Suswa leading in front to direct Elkerama. They both walked behind a keeper holding a milk bottle, what they love most, to lure them onto the lorry. It was one of the easiest moves onto the lorry, even with Elkerama who has never liked it! Both cooperated very well and although they were slightly hesitant, all was good. They went into the lorry and their inner gates were closed. Embu’s move into the lorry was the best of all as she is always greedy for her milk. She hurriedly left her pen following the keeper with the milk bottle straight into the lorry without wasting any time. Her door was closed and the lorry doors were locked, and they were ready to go! Just before 4am the journey for the orphan graduates began – Although Dupotto was sad to lose Embu at first, looking for her all day and standing on her own, not mingling with the rest, she eventually settled down and found solace in Mbegu and Kamok. Ngilai did not seem to mind the loss of his best friend Elkerama as much as we thought, as he is a very gregarious little fellow with many friends and much attention from all the other orphans. After spending some time looking for him and failing, he settled next to Kamok and life went on as normal for him. Olsekki, Enkikwe, Roi and Oltaiyoni who are used to browsing with the big girls were left crowded together and feeding on their own now, without much activity. Perhaps they were wondering what happened to their older friends – but one day soon they will learn what the happy move entails, and being free once again.

15 December 2015

Simotua’s wounds are healing well, with the hole in his head caused by a spear closing slowly, just as Murka’s did a number of years before. Their remarkable powers of healing never cease to amaze us.. In the Nursery today we have Mwashoti with his snare wound on his foot, Simotua with his snare wound on the leg and spear wound to his head, and Alamaya who had his rear end chewed terribly by hyenas. All of these orphans have healed well. Even little Kauro, who came with his trunk chewed by predators has just a small scar visible today. Ngilai who came to us with terrible back injuries has healed well too, with just a scar evident today. Kamok the trouble maker has a new habit. She has been returning home to the stockades not long after leaving recently. Whenever she comes she always causes trouble, like breaking little trees down, folding over the buckets on the stable doors and pouring out trough water. When she is driven back she will sometimes hide behind the bushes around the stockades and return again after realising the keepers have gone. She comes back and continues with her bad behaviour. She is also very clever, and selective, she will not listen to the very new keepers and their commands and instead goes around charging them. This morning she was even more stubborn after spotting a car pass and she went to chase it! She went on playing tricks with the keepers before being driven back to the field by more than 5 keepers. Dupotto is also getting on well today and seems to have settled after losing her friend Embu after her move to Tsavo. She enjoyed a mud rolling game with Roi and had a good time with Mbegu when they engaged each other in a wrestling game. Back home in the evening, she put her trunk trough to her new neighbour Siangiki – she confirmed it wasn’t Embu but she just went back to her bed without any crying like before.

16 December 2015

We had a lot of rainfall last night. This was really exciting for Maxwell who was running up and down his stockade in the morning. With this weather he always wants to test his strength and push his horn against anything that stands in his way. In the morning we found that he had pushed down some of the wall that divides his upper and lower stockade – luckily it wasn’t the outer walls otherwise we might have found him outside this stockade this morning! Kiko is still not very comfortable in the company of the older babies – because the likes of Roi, Sokotei and Enkikwe never give him peace and chase him around. Today Siangiki was not comfortable with his presence and she kept running away from him in fear with her ears raised high whenever he came close. Pea and Pod had no problem because lately they decide who they want to accompany by themselves. Sometimes they want to stay on their own without even the keepers company, but today they decided to join the elephant for the public show. Enkikwe, Sokotei and Olsekki had a good time today. The three boys have been wallowing in the mud, mounting on each other, wrestling and feeding together most of the day. Rapa, who is growing into a difficult baby sometimes, received harsh discipline from Mbegu today during public visiting. The naughty boy attacked Godoma who was drinking water from the same trough as Mbegu. She saw everything that happened and acted immediately by poking and pushing Rapa away from the rest.

17 December 2015

It is so green and bushy everywhere as a result of the rain recently. Balguda is the oldest orphan in the nursery now since the others have gone to Tsavo, and he is used to browsing further into the forest. After having their 9 o’clock milk this morning all the older babies went in separate small groups in different directions. They went looking for fresh, tasty pasture moving away from their keepers. Balguda was together with Naseku, and this new friendship is rather lovely to watch as our quiet girl is finding the love a reassurance and protection from our oldest bull,. Normally they all know the milk feeding hours and as the time approaches they start moving out from the bushes and regroup around the keepers. When they did this the keepers saw that Balguda and Naseku were missing and they started looking for them. By the time the first group started walking down for visiting the duo was still missing. Then the visit was over and they had still not arrived and they had missed their milk too. After 3 hours they were found browsing over a little stream and deep inside the thick bush. They were busy browsing away on the long soft grass without any concern for the keepers. But when Naseku saw the keepers coming she ran towards them to meet them and started demanding her milk. By this time it was not long until the 3pm feed so they waited for a bit until then. The very greedy boy Olsekki almost pushed a keeper down while fighting for more milk. He had already had his milk when he started approaching Siangiki trying to snatch her milk bottle. When he was stopped by the keeper he raised his head high with his trunk folded down, a sign of charge. Four more keepers intervened to control him to move him away from the others still drinking milk- all because he is such a greedy young boy!

18 December 2015

Just like with human children, when there are two girls of the same height, size, age and even strength, sometimes they can be best friends and sometimes there can be some animosity between them. Mbegu has been a soft, polite and caring baby since she came to us but recently her attitude has started changing with regards to Dupotto. Dupotto is a complicated elephant to understand and she is sometimes a bully to her friends, even Mbegu. Today Dupotto had her milk standing by the edge of the mud pool and after she played with the mud, spraying it around herself. Mbegu was being bottle fed next to her and as soon as she finished her milk she jumped over and knocked Dupotto into the mud bath. Dupotto got a fright and screamed as she struggled to get up in the mud. Mbegu, knowing she had done something wrong, ran away in fear of being disciplined by the keepers. Mwashoti was out helping the keepers today control the naughty girl Kamok when she started pushing the visitors who were standing along the rope cordon. Throughout the visit as soon as she started approaching the rope the keepers would block her from the side. Mwashoti would push Kamok off the rope from the other side. Ndotto and Lasayen put on a good show for the guests at visiting today. The two engaged each other in a head pushing game, holding and pulling each other’s trunks and all at the same time rolling around on the ground. From the start of the show to the end everyone was smiling at the games enjoyed by those two.

19 December 2015

Out in the bush, Ndotto and Mbegu had some good fun together. They engaged one another in a big game of hide and seek. Ndotto would run away from Mbegu and hide behind some bushes, then Mbegu would go around every bush trumpeting and trying to find Ndotto. When she got closer to him Ndotto would then spread out his ears and rumble. Mbegu would walk backwards pretending to be scared of him! Boromoko is a boy who always engages in strength testing exercises with the older boys like Olsekki and Sirimon. He will always have a good game with the likes of those two even though he usually losing against them, in which case he will throw his weight against the young ones like Kauro but who do not provide such a good game. Sometimes he runs after Roi who he likes and chases her, but he does not always enjoy this game as much as when Oltaiyoni spots him doing this she chases him away.

20 December 2015

These days Olsekki is such a greedy young bull, out of all the boys he is the greediest! He likes to challenge the other boys in strength testing games and assert his dominance. The little bully Enkikwe gives him some resistance but he is still not enough of a challenge for Olsekki! Olsekki is enjoying his high rank among the other boys although Sokotei, Enkikwe and Sirimon still like to challenge him. Balguda is of course older but far too mellow an elephant to get involved with Olsekki’s boisterous behaviour and instead avoids him! Mwashoti on the other hand is such a gentle boy who likes to play and hang out with the quiet Alamaya who is also calm and gentle with all the orphans. Sometimes out in the field, these two boys are spotted having a fair pushing game, which it never gets too rough. He likes to teach little Lasayen how to play these wrestling games when they are all out in the field too.

21 December 2015

Soon after the orphans walked out of their stockades early in the morning, Enkikwe, Sirimon and Olsekki were all busy play fighting each other. Their jovial games attracted the attention of Sokotei and Kauro who joined in too: Enkikwe took on Sokotei whilst Sirimon took on Kauro, though Kauro could not meet Sirimon’s standard of strength. Kauro ended his game early leaving the three strong boys challenging each other. Their game did not last much longer either however as Olsekki became too rough which folded up the game. During public visiting at 11am, the first group of orphans had a very long mud bath due to the very hot temperature at that time. As it was time for them to leave to make room for the second group of orphans, Mwashoti resisted the keepers’ commands to leave the mud bath and went further into the deeper part to challenge them! His behavior attracted the attention of the entire visiting public all enjoying his character and stubbornness. However, just before the others were about to come down he slowly walked out of the mud bath and followed his group who were already deep inside the forest.

22 December 2015

Nowadays naughty Kamok is with the big group of orphans in order to be disciplined by them should she misbehave. The likes of Sokotei, Enkikwe, Kauro and Olsekki will keep her in check. After the last few days that she has been spending time with the big group, during public visiting she has been calm and polite with no naughty actions or running and bumping into the public like before! The keepers do not need to announce her presence and behaviour like they used to have to do before when she was in the younger group. Perhaps her naughty character might be no more! These days Alamaya has developed a habit of spraying the visiting public with the contents of his trunk during the 11am visiting time. He positions himself on the edge of the mud pool but close to the rope cordon where the crowds are standing busy taking pictures of him, and before they know it he suddenly sprays mud all over them! This makes them all applaud his tricky idea!

23 December 2015

As the orphans left for the bush this morning they were not messing around but clearly intent on reaching the forest to browse on the fresh, green shoots. Simotua, Boromoko, Balguda, Siangiki, Enkikwe and Roi all competed to feed on the green shoots before the others. Such a company always browses ahead of all the others. Around 9 o’clock the orphans were enjoying their milk bottles when the big cats were announced to be right at the orphans mud bath and they had brought down an impala. There were 7 lions in total and it did not take them long to finish their meal. The presence of the lions saw Kiko, Pea and Pod go back to their pens in the stockade area. The lions remained within the vicinity for awhile and later walked away around 3pm far down into the park plains, we could hear them roaring as they walked away. When they had gone Kiko, Pea and Pod walked out back into the forest to join the elephants but all remained under tight security of the keepers. The rest of the day was a peaceful one!

24 December 2015

The first group of orphans came running down for their bottle at the 11am public visiting time. Ngilai, Godoma and Rapa were all competing about who could take the lead over the other. Young Ngilai overtook Rapa but Rapa was still trying to run fast trying not to let him. He was grabbing Ngilai’s hind legs with his trunk which made Ngilai yell out. He turned to challenge Rapa and then started running forward again. The audience was already applauding them by the time they came for their milk bottles due to this little show. As the older orphans were drinking them milk and some going into the mud wallow, there was a slight drama when Olsekki snatched Kauro’s milk bottle and went off drinking the whole thing near the rope cordon. This saw Kauro drink his second milk bottle really fast and because he was so angry his milk bottle had been stolen, he then went over to the water trough were Alamaya was drinking and head butted the poor innocent Alamaya! Poor Alamaya walked away from the water trough and over to the other side of the mud wallow area and eat the greens which are provided for them there. Young growing bulls are always rough and greedy indeed and try to dominate others from any angle… as Sokotei, Olsekki, Kauro and Enkikwe often show us!

25 December 2015

This Christmas Day at 10am, Kiko had a happy time running around the bush enjoying his fitness with some moments of chasing warthogs and their piglets! He tried to play kick them but the warthogs challenged him by making quick u-turns and avoiding his contact. Kiko would sprint back to his keepers before running back to play with the warthogs again. He enjoyed a full day of playing outside as well as the orphans, because this is the only day in the year we are closed and there is no public visiting. It was a fun time out in the bush with no reason to return to the public viewing site.

26 December 2015

After the other big girls went to start their new like in the Tsavo Conservation Area, where they are doing so well, Oltaiyoni has been doing so well leading the other orphans and playing her role of matriarch perfectly. Today soon after the orphans had their 9 o’clock feed, Oltaiyoni took the time to discipline naughty Enkikwe who head butted poor Naseku. Oltaiyoni saw this happening and quickly jumped into action, pricking Enkikwe with her sharp tusks which caused him to yell out but she kept doing it, driving him away from the herd. Out during public viewing, as some babies were enjoying mud bathing, Alamaya went down into the deep part of the mud into a position where it was hard for him to get up. He yelled out for help which drew the attention of the other orphans next to the mud bath who just stood on the edge but Oltaiyoni walked in and supported him by helping him up with her hind legs – the visiting public were astounded by how this elephant went to help another in help like that, and realised how intelligent and caring they are.

27 December 2015

When the orphans came out of their stockades early in the morning, they were all greeting each other in the bushes close to the stockades. Mbegu was busy knocking on the door of Tamiyoi’s stable ready to welcome her and escort her the bush where the rest of the orphans were already busy moving to and browsing. Mbegu kept pushing the door and rumbling to draw the attention of Tamiyoi who responded by yelling out, prompting Mbegu to yell out and become restless. Since it was still early it was too cold for little Tamiyoi to come out and she could not join Mbegu in the bush just yet. After a short while and realizing it was not time, Mbegu left for the bush, running and trumpeting she charged forwards protesting at her failure to retrieve Tamiyoi. She joined the rest of the orphans but still charging ahead which attracted the attention of Godoma, Ndotto, Lasayen, Dupotto and Kamok who joined her running and trumpeting. They all then had a busy time charging around, kicking and knocking over bushes and after awhile Mbegu led them all back to Tamiyoi’s stable where they all fell silent and watched Mbegu again push on the door! Failing once again to meet Tamiyoi Mbegu led the convoy, still running and trumpeting, back to the forest where after awhile, they all settled down to browse with the others. Mbegu is one girl who is fully fond of the young babies!

28 December 2015

Rapa and Lasayen have been acting like little bullies the past few days. Today during bottle feeding at public visiting, the two boys finished their milk very quickly and went over to where little Naseku was enjoying her milk bottle and they both promptly head butted her from behind. She walked away from her bottle as her keeper tried to discipline the two boys. The two little boys are taking advantage of Naseku still being new and not fully settled.

29 December 2015

All the orphans woke up in a jovial mood today all playing together and ready to welcome the new day. After enjoying their 9 o’clock feed all the orphans settled down to browse until just after 10 o’clock when the orphans busy time was interrupted by the arrival of a lioness who seemed to have her sights set on Kiko who was busy browsing! The keepers were standing right there and their shouting chased her off. All the commotion then frightened the elephant orphans who started stampeding deep into the thicket which created quite a task for the keepers afterwards to round them all up again! One of the ostriches made its way back to the stockade and Kiko sprinted in the opposite direction to the lion with the keepers running after him to get a hold of him. He was then taken back to the stockades together with the other ostrich where they spent the rest of the day away from the lions and in order to settle down.

30 December 2015

Due to high tension of the lions visiting the bush the other day, and putting Pea, Pod, Kiko and the rest of the orphans in danger, the orphans are not leaving as early for the bush in case the pride is still in the area as they were heard roaring during the night. Pea and Pod and Kiko had to remain indoors until quite late in the morning, when it would be too late for the lions to be active. After coming out of their stockades, Pea, Pod and Kiko spent the day in the bushes close to the stockade area, giving them some safety from the big cats. During public visiting hour the temperature soared which meant the orphans enjoyed a length mud bath. Lasayen, Ndotto, Rapa and Ngilai staged a dramatic game of rolling in the soil that was prepared by the keepers. As Lasayen, Rapa and Ngilai had their happy game of playing in the wet soil, Ndotto was busy trying to mount on Lasayen’s head. As Lasayen lifted his head Ndotto was carried high in the air – they both stroke a funny pose which all the visitors enjoyed watching and applauded. Lasayen and Ndotto are great friends which is a friendship that has been forged since they were tiny babies. Since Elkerama went down to Tsavo, Ngilai has attached himself more to Kamok and enjoying suckling on her ears, though not as frequently as he used to with Elkerama.

31 December 2015

It is the last day of the year 2015 and the orphans saw through this day as a peaceful and happy one. They came out of their stockades in playful moods with little Ngilai, Ndotto and Lasayen staging a pushing game to show off their physical fitness. During public visiting it was very hot again, which meant all the orphans enjoyed a length mud bath again. Many of the orphans were showing off dramatic games which really caught the eyes of the visiting public. Mbegu, Dupotto, Naseku and Mwashoti spun around in the pool making it very muddy – ideal for sunblock and conditioning their skin. As they lost interest in this game Mbegu and Dupotto walked out of the mud bath to then turn around with their heads in the mud and their hind legs outside, like they were ready to slide in! The public thought they were really trying a game to leave the last day of 2015 in style! Lovely Solio who is now happily living wild with the wild rhinos in Nairobi National Park has not come back for awhile now; however, we remain hopeful that she is healthy and happy with her new life in the wild. As the year 2015 comes to an end we wish her all the best and wish that she may come and visit us to say hello soon in 2016. Happy New Year!