Keepers' Diaries, February 2005

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

The orphans in the nursery are all thriving. Thankfully Lualeni and little Nalitu are putting on condition, and in Lualeni’s case she is beginning to play, something she hasn’t really done until recently. She is finally showing signs of really being happy again, and now thoroughly enjoys her mudbath at noon, where in the past she has always stood aside close to a Keeper and observed from a distance. While the two little ones are not encouraged to actually wallow in the deep mud due to the pneumonia risk, they enjoy slipping around on the edges, getting muddy followed by a sprinkling of dust. Madiba, still the naughtiest in the ranks, cannot resist gamboling around at mudbath time, is by far the most proficient with the football, and generally a real clown. He is such a favourite with the Keepers as he is such a character, never predictable.

The orphans in the nursery are all thriving. Thankfully Lualeni and little Nalitu are putting on condition, and in Lualeni’s case she is beginning to play, something she hasn’t really done until recently. She is finally showing signs of really being happy again, and now thoroughly enjoys her mudbath at noon, where in the past she has always stood aside close to a Keeper and observed from a distance. While the two little ones are not encouraged to actually wallow in the deep mud due to the pneumonia risk, they enjoy slipping around on the edges, getting muddy followed by a sprinkling of dust. Madiba, still the naughtiest in the ranks, cannot resist gamboling around at mudbath time, is by far the most proficient with the football, and generally a real clown. He is such a favourite with the Keepers as he is such a character, never predictable.

Buchuma spends most days sparring with Ndomot, and Ndomot exercises enormous restraint despite being shoved around constantly, it is as if he is aware that if he exerted full strength he would hurt the younger Buchuma. Sometimes their sparring sessions gets to a point where it worries Sunyei, the Matriarch of the nursery group, and she intervenes and separates them.

Sunyei is definitely in charge of the nursery eight, and is always protective and caring without being overly possessive of the little ones. She happily shares the two babies with the other two females, Naserian and the older Galana, who both have very strong maternal instincts, particularly towards Nalitu. In the early mornings all three make a mad dash for Nalitu’s stable door in an effort to be the first to escort Nalitu into the bush, and there they wait for their little charge to emerge. Galana, the glutton in the group, has even shown extraordinary restraint when Nalitu has fallen behind when heading towards the midday mudbath and the midday bottle. Ordinarily she would be the first charging towards the row of milk bottles, but lately her maternal instincts have outweighed the greedy streak, and she holds back gently nudging Nalitu forward! Naserian, is equally as loving and caring of the babies.

Their days in the Nairobi National Park forest are often punctuated with fun and games at the expense of the resident Warthog families, who are very long suffering and quite blasé about the constant elephant harassment, as they cannot resist charging pigs or any unsuspecting Impala or bushbuck. On one day this month the orphans and their Keepers happened upon a pride of lion, a male with three female’s lionesses. The babies freaked out, taking comfort in the fact that they were safe when huddled around the Keepers and Galana, her size giving them some reassurance. The lions were equally freaked by this motley group of elephants and humans and took off in the opposite direction. However, their lingering scent really disturbed the orphans for most of the day, as they all stuck close to their Keepers, never venturing very far from them.

The Rhino Orphans: Shida has developed an exceptional relationship with Ndomot, who shares the opposite stockade, and their adjoining gate is the meeting place every evening. Shida loves the attention as Ndomot carefully massages his face, his ears, his eyes, even placing his foot on Shida’s horn from time to time. Shida just stands there lovingly lapping up the attention. It is at night time only that Ndomot gets to see Shida, and one senses both long for that contact. We ensure our rhino and elephant orphan’s do not mix, as they would not in the wild, and when grown and wild rhino’s need a healthy respect for elephants, and the protocol of waterholes is importnat, always letting the elephants take their fill first. Etc. Obviously if Shida remains in Nairobi Park this would not be an issue with no fully grown elephants in the Park, however we have had our orphans in the past free released in Tsavo, and should Shida one day live in Tsavo he will definitely need that respect. Makosa is very much part of the wild community visiting us most evenings, entering his stockade voluntarily, eating his cut greens, and inspecting the premises to see if there are any changes and then leaving again once satisfied. He sometimes is spotted in the forest by the Keepers, but everyone has a healthy respect for Makosa and so he is kept at a safe distance. His Keepers can do anything with him, he is as docile as a lamb around them, however the same cannot be said for him with strangers! Magnum is also successfully assimilated into the wild community of Nairobi National Park, but we are still very much part of his territory, and he visits every morning, thereby avoiding Makosa. Unlike Makosa he has a laidback nature and allows anyone to handle him, only if approached slowly, as he is blind in one eye, so one has to be careful not to frighten him from the blind side. He loves the attention he receives from the Keepers every day, the extra food and the Neem oil rubbed onto his falarial sores.

February 2005 day to day

01 Feb

A very interesting morning when the elies became aware of the wild impala. The whole group charged and the Impala leaped to safety, obviously very bewildered by this scene. In the charge Lualeni was left behind and became very frightened causing to cry out. Sunyei immediately came running back to comfort her gently and reassure her everything was infact fine, it was only a game. When they then walked on Lualeni was allowed to be in the front with Sunyei resting her trunk protectively on Lualeni’s back.

Patrick with Ndomot

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