Keepers' Diaries, December 2017

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

With 36 orphans in the Nursery at the beginning of the month, it was time to move some of the older elephants to the Ithumba Rehabilitation Unit. At three years old it Rapa, Pare, Maramoja, Sapalan, Namalok's turn to graduate and come one step closer to living a life in the wild once more, and the sufficient rainfall received in the Ithumba region throughout November and December meant that it was a good time to move them; there was ample vegetation re-growth and the water holes and dams were brimming once more.

With 36 orphans in the Nursery at the beginning of the month, it was time to move some of the older elephants to the Ithumba Rehabilitation Unit. At three years old it Rapa, Pare, Maramoja, Sapalan, Namalok's turn to graduate and come one step closer to living a life in the wild once more, and the sufficient rainfall received in the Ithumba region throughout November and December meant that it was a good time to move them; there was ample vegetation re-growth and the water holes and dams were brimming once more.

Kauro now back to full health was earmarked to return back to his old stomping grounds and he made up the sixth orphan to begin their familiarization training, leading them into the translocation lorry during feeding times so that all would run smoothly on the day, in fact on some occasions the orphans did not want to leave the vehicle after they had finished their milk, they all seemed remarkably comfortable with it!

On the 7th of December it was early doors for Sapalan, Namalok and Kauro who left the Nursery by 3.00am for their journey to Tsavo. Just over a week later Pare, Maramoja and Rapa followed suit on the 16th. Their entry into the lorry went slightly less smoothly than their friends before as Maramoja hesitated this time, and Rapa then sensed that something was afoot. The ruckus then woke some of the orphans in stockades close by who started shouting and pushing on their doors. This woke Kiko the giraffe who started kicking his door as well! Once the three were loaded and the lorry had departed, the orphans soon settled down and remained calm feeding the whole way. Both the moves were very successful and the full details are covered within the move stories. All these orphans have settled remarkably well, and appear to simply love their new home. Kauro arrived back to a warm welcome and has thrived ever since.

Angela made the decision to utilise the translocation truck to move Shukuru back to the Nursery as well, given that her poor condition remained a worry, and we are much better equipped to give close medical attention here at the Nursery to identify Shukuru’s problem and provide her with the tender care and treatment she requires to hopefully make a full recovery. She followed Ithumba Head Keeper Benjamin into the truck without any resistance, and handled the journey back to Nairobi well, for an eight year old she settled back at the Nursery as if she had never left. She remains slow and encumbered in her movements and has blood parasites in her system which she has been treated for so we hope she will slowly grow in strength once more. The reaction of the other babies when Shukuru arrived at the Nursery was also something to behold; some could not recall a time they had seen an elephant her size! Tamiyoi and Luggard were the most inquisitive whilst some of the older girls were obviously a bit surprised by her large size at first. Sattao was delighted to be able to stand under her belly, just like a baby elephant would do in the wild. Shukuru has such a gentle nature and her return to Nursery life has been smooth, without upsetting any of the matriarchal duties that already existed either. We hope that by spending time here at the Nursery and treating her over the coming months she will make a full recovery.

Mbegu is still the matriarch of the group and is never far away to distribute love and affection, or discipline, whenever it might be needed. She has had to keep an eye on Esampu this month who has continued her naughty antics, especially at feeding times. Tagwa is always the most willing to dole out love, even more so than Godoma sometimes, and is a favourite with the youngsters like Sattao. Sometimes the older girls use clever tactics to guide the youngsters. One day Malima broke up a fight between Maktao and Musiara by enticing them over for a soil dusting game and the opportunity of climbing on her as a distraction from their quarrel.

Kiasa has settled in much more but is still quite a ‘sassy’ little girl and the Keepers have their work cut out when she decides to do her own thing! She is willing to stick up for herself in any situation though as is no push over with the other orphans. Mapia joined the other orphans out in the forest this month and has settled into the daily routine well, albeit becoming a bit over excited at feeding times and causing havoc. He is really enjoying the mud baths in this month of warm weather, along with other mud bathing favourites like Enkesha.

Ndotto is developing a slightly more independent character these days; very happy in his own company or leading a band of brothers further into the forest in search of more browse. One day he led Lasayen and Mundusi deep into the forest, only to come across a pair of bull buffalos which frightened them enough to send them running back to the rest of the group!

Kiko had a few interactions with wild giraffes this month, but on all of those occasions he either ignored them or ran away to seek out the elephants, whose company he seems much more comfortable with still! Over a couple of days a pride of lions passed through close to where the orphans browse and even the compound, and during this time Kiko had to stay in a stockade for safety.

Maxwell our resident blind rhino enjoyed relaxing in his muddy water hole this month, occasionally getting up to chase thieving warthogs who come through the bars of his stockade to share his delicious lucerne pellets. One day poor Enkesha was caught up in one such a game and Maxwell accidentally pinned her sensitive trunk between the bars of his gate and his horn! She squealed in pain and Maxwell moved immediately, freeing her to run towards the others where Mbegu and Malkia were ready to comfort and offer her solace.

December 2017 day to day

01 Dec

Ambo decided to spend time with the older boys Kauro, Ndotto, Sapalan and Lasayen today. When Mbegu saw that Ambo was okay in the company of the older boys, she went over to the keepers where the young babies were and took Sattao with her. Tagwa saw them walking away and ran over to accompany them, and the three of them walked out into the forest. They stayed out there together until it was milk feeding time. When the three walked back to the rest of the group for milk, Sattao was running ahead very excited and playful with Mbegu and Tagwa just walking behind. He was so excited he tripped over a tree root! Jotto and Malima heard Sattao and came running towards him trumpeting, and all three ran towards the milk feeding area. All three were very happy with their game and were trumpeting with excitement. Namalok has never missed a public visit since he was introduced to them, but today he was attached to Kauro and Ndotto and the three of them disappeared into the forest after the 9am milk feed. The keepers thought the orphans would show up to the public visit because of Ndotto, but they did not arrive. After the public visit the others found them just browsing in the bushes nearby and just waiting for them to return!

Ambo browsing around the rocks

Sattao and Mbegu

Tagwa browsing

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