Keepers' Diaries, December 2016

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

For some reason Esampu and Ambo really do not get on with one another. Esampu tends to be a bit grumpy with everyone sometimes, but this is taken to a new level with Ambo, despite the fact they are stable neighbours! Sometimes, just the sight of him sends her running to head butt him, but Ambo is no push-over and the Keepers usually have to intervene to restore order! We are not sure what it is about Ambo that annoys Esampu so much! Malkia was promoted to the older Nursery herd so that she could receive some discipline from her older peers. However, this triggered misbehavior from Tagwa who was then also later promoted to the older herd to learn better manners from older members.

For some reason Esampu and Ambo really do not get on with one another. Esampu tends to be a bit grumpy with everyone sometimes, but this is taken to a new level with Ambo, despite the fact they are stable neighbours! Sometimes, just the sight of him sends her running to head butt him, but Ambo is no push-over and the Keepers usually have to intervene to restore order! We are not sure what it is about Ambo that annoys Esampu so much! Malkia was promoted to the older Nursery herd so that she could receive some discipline from her older peers. However, this triggered misbehavior from Tagwa who was then also later promoted to the older herd to learn better manners from older members.

Karisa seems to have made the most progress this month but has not yet joined the fostering program although he is now much calmer than when he came in and was confined to the Stockade before being let out to join the others in the forest for the first time on the 8th of the month. Now he is settling well and becoming attached to the Keepers as well as making friends with the others in the Nursery, becoming a different bull since leaving his Stockade! He is now close to Ukame who is another who has settled well, despite being rescued at an older age than many of our other orphans and therefore more likely to take longer to integrate into the herd. She is still a quiet little elephant; despite being older and bigger than some of the others, still following babies such as Karisa and especially little Malima around. Malima is the most recent addition to the Fostering Program! She loves leading her special friend, Ukame, for milk feeding, special mud baths and sometimes even home in the afternoons. Kuishi has also been able to leave her stockade for the first time this month, and on the 5th December joined Karisa and Luggard for their first day at the mud bath during the Public Visiting hour. All behaved impeccably, especially Luggard who relishes the mud bath, and can now enjoy it for an extra hour a day! This special little boy with a broken leg and big heart has developed a particularly close relationship with Murit, who is similarly a gentle bull and can often be spotted engaging Luggard in fun but mild wrestling games.

Murit and Tamiyoi made the keepers laugh this month when they developed a new naughty habit - returning to the stockades whilst the others were occupied out in the forest in order to steal their friends’ left over lucerne pellets from their pens! Tamiyoi and Murit always make sure that they finish theirs during the night, but enjoyed returning the following day to try and pilfer more from their unsuspecting friends. Tamiyoi was so guilty when the Keepers first caught her that she ran out of Jotto’s stockade all the way back to the forest, yelling for her friends, as she knew that what she was doing was wrong!

Godoma is an elephant who does not like loud noises, and this became evident this month when she sprayed some of the visiting public with mud when she felt they were being overly noisy! This month Rapa found a an abandoned squeaky toy which he loves and with which he plays with incessantly, much to the annoyance of Maramoja who finds the noise it makes irritating! We are sure that sometimes Rapa plays with it on purpose whenever she is around!

During the characteristic hot weather throughout December, January and into February, Maxwell (our orphaned blind Black Rhino) has been enjoying his mud bath and taking a nap in the shade within his stockade. He enjoys playing with the orphaned elephants, charging up and down his stockade in excitement whenever they pass by, but one day Kamok took this too far and ended up with pungent rhino urine sprayed in her face to chase her away!

The main event in the Nursery this month has been the big move of six of the oldest orphans down to the Ithumba Relocation Unit in Northern Tsavo East National Park, which took place between Christmas and the New Year in order to benefit from what remained of the Green Season. Added to this, they were clearly in need of some discipline from the older elephants at the Relocation Unit where older females are intolerant of bad behaviour. Whilst still milk dependent, it can take the orphans up to four years or more to gain the confidence needed to take the next step of joining the Ex Orphan herd and venturing further afield away from the Stockades and returning to a wild life in the fullness of time. With rain having fallen in Tsavo, it was time to clear the Nursery of some of the older orphans. Roi and Kamok were beginning to outgrow the Nursery and throwing their weight around especially at feeding times, Roi being particularly guilty of this! Their training began on the 12th and went relatively well, except that initially Roi was reluctant and Tusuja flatly refused to enter the truck for his milk feed, choosing instead to stand to the side and bellow for his bottle in sulky defiance. This trend continued right up until the time of his move, but when it came to the morning of the move, they all boarded effortlessly, Tusuja with slightly more effort, and in fact were on their way in record time, before 3.30am. With them were two of the Nursery Keepers to help settle them at the other end where they were also welcomed by old friends from the Nursery such as Olsekki, Enkikwe and Siangiki who were happy to see them again. However, it was not long before Olsekki and Enkikwe were up to their old tricks again, attempting to mount on them to try and demonstrate dominance! We wish them all a happy and successful life in the wild and hope they will be content.

Poor giraffe orphan, Kiko, has had to be kept close to home at the Nairobi Stockade compound this month, with cut greens, since the Nairobi National Park lions have been hanging around. When the orphans began their relocation training, Kiko was over the moon to have them returning to the Stockades earlier, running over to join them and even going into the truck with them as well! The orphans are always less excited to see poor Kiko however, and Kamok wasted no time having finished her milk in order to chase him away, joined by Oltaiyoni and Roi too.

Ndotto has been engaging Rapa in wrestling games more frequently, seemingly having found a good sparring partner but for some reason Rapa is always less rambunctious when playing with Ndotto. His best friend will always be Lasayen and the two are often seen sparring or romping in the mud bath together, often with a football as well! We can also see this kind of close relationship developing between Wanjala and Galla as well who often play together, separated by only a month in age. One day they were messing around in the forest and decided to cheekily chase some eland, only to stumble across the big male who had been hidden in the thick bush! He started trotting towards them and this sent the two boys in a screaming retreat back to the rest of the herd!

December 2016 day to day

01 Dec

It is known that when a lion is full or satisfied that no matter how close their prey come, they show no interest. In the afternoon the orphan elephants were all enjoying their browse when they heard a warthog piglet shouting and screaming. The piglet came running down the path towards where the elephants were browsing and there was a lion chasing it from behind! But the lion didn't seem to be putting that much effort it and rather was teasing the piglet and pretending to chase it. The mother warthog was running behind the lion trying to save the little one - the drama came to an end however when courageous Kamok, who doesn't like the lions, left the group and stepped out of the bushes to scare away the lion. The lion ran away and disappeared into the thicket and the little piglet was reunited with its mother. Today it was such a hot day since early morning and come 3pm and time for the private visit, Malima finished her milk and led Ambo, Jotto and Mbegu into the mud pool. Later sweet little Godoma joined them too and together with Mbegu the two submerged themselves in the mud from head to tail. Mbegu allowed the little ones to climb on her back and slide down into the mud. This group later left the mud to go and dust themselves with loose soil to dry off. Ndotto and Lasayen then decided to go into the mud and they enjoyed new games of their own - kicking a football to one another and doing headstands in the mud as well. Finally they abandoned the football and started the game that Ndotto loves best, a pushing and climbing game.

Sweet Malima leading the way

Mbegu thought it was a hot day

Godoma going to join the others

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