Keepers' Diaries, February 2005

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.

01 February 2005

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.

02 February 2005

It was 6.00am when a serious fight erupted between Naserian and Galana over who should escort Nalitu today. Naserian left her stable in the morning in a hurry and immediately waited at Nalitu’s door. Galana then did the same and they both met outside Nalitu’s stable door as she was late to emerge. When Nalitu finally came out they both started to fight. While these two fought over who should spend the morning with Nalitu Sunyei gently whisked Nalitu away from them both!

03 February 2005

Naserian got clever this morning, opening her stable door by herself and immediately went to Nalitu’s stable, in time to scoop Nalitu up first! Lualeni was very animated at the mudbath, running around kicking the football and chasing the warthogs. She is really beginning to play and is quite visibly enjoying herself. The warthogs were persistent, desperate to have a mudbath too because of the hot weather, but every time they got close Lualeni was after them again.

04 February 2005

Again Naserian would not feed today until she was satisfied that Nalitu had taken her bottle, and only then would Naserian feed.

05 February 2005

Today Nalitu was walking very slowly towards the mudbath, and Galana, who is normally the greedy one and first in line for the milk bottles with the midday mudbath today shocked us all and stayed behind to escort Nalitu. Nalitu really enjoys nestling under the bulk of Galana, who really feels like Mum.

06 February 2005

An aeroplane flew over very low, prompting all the orphans to run around screaming, they all ran towards the Keepers with Naserian taking the time to calm the two little ones down.

07 February 2005

When Buchuma started pushing Lualeni about Galana was at Lualeni’s side like lightening, giving Buchuma a very serious warning with a trumpet. Buchuma immediately retreated to Ndomot and then started pushing Ndomot around.

08 February 2005

Lualeni and Nalitu communicated with their trunks in each others mouths for a long time. Then Nalitu pushed Lualeni who became furious, retaliating hard. The Keepers had to come in and rescue the situation which was fast getting out of control, as Lualeni seemed strong, and the fact that Nalitu was smaller than her she didn’t seem to take into consideration.

09 February 2005

Buchuma really revealed that he is the naughty boy in the group today by becoming enraged when Galana tried to prevent him from pushing Lualeni. He went for Galana, fighting her aggressively, but Galana retaliated. The Keepers had to intervene and separate the two. Still in a rage he went and fought Ndomot, who eventually retreated, anything for peace! Buchuma grazed alone for the rest of the day, and when another elephant came close he would push them away. Both Madiba and Naserian were pushed to the ground! This was a difficult day as we the Keepers had to constantly separate Buchuma from the others, and keep a close eye on the babies. Ndomot shares a stockade next to Shida, and the two of them are so close, always spending time together through the metal gate. Shida enjoys the massage Ndomot gives his face, almost falling asleep on his feet.

10 February 2005

It is Buchuma again today who wants to constantly be in the lead, which ever direction we go, and he also has to be first when chasing the warthogs, who were in the distance. When he returned he found that Sunyei was in the lead. This caused him to fight her, and she neglected the fight, allowing him to take the lead.

11 February 2005

Today was a very cold morning, and the orphans made a circle around Nalitu and Lualeni in an attempt to keep them sheltered from the cold. All the elies were taking responsibility for Nalitu and Lualeni and Nalitu seemed to notice this and really respond to it. Shida while out in the forest with his Keepers bumped into Makosa, who was interested in tracking Shida, and followed them around for a long while. This is the reason we have to be sure Shida is accompanied at all times as he is very vulnerable to the wild rhinos and Makosa and Magnum too.

12 February 2005

Madiba acted very responsibly when Nalitu charged the warthogs, but instead of them running away they held their ground with her. Protectively Madiba gave a ferocious charge scattering them in all directions. He then went back to Nalitu to ensure she was fine.

13 February 2005

Nalitu slowly started playing with the football for the first time, under the guidance of Madiba, who is the official football coach of the orphans, as he loves nothing more that kicking the ball around, and leaping around in the huge tractor tube.

14 February 2005

Naserian prevented the warthogs from going into the mudbath close to Nalitu and Lualeni, giving a trumpet to alert all the other elephants who immediately ensured the warthogs didn’t approach from another direction. Poor pigs, as all they wanted was a cool mudbath, but they were fair game and all the orphans enjoyed a good warthog charge.

15 February 2005

Today was a cold day, again the orphans tried to protect the little ones from the wind. Because of the overcast weather non of them wanted to go into the mudbath at midday.

16 February 2005

The Buchuma Ndomot fighting dominated the day, with Ndomot never really exerting his full strength again Buchuma. Sunyei would intervene from time to time, concerned that it may be getting too serious. Shida loved his mudbath session today, and really entertained the visitors with much huffing and puffing, head tossing with circular skips – He seemed in a very skittish move.

17 February 2005

All the orphans were clustering close feeding with Nalitu taking greens from the others and placing them in her mouth and tried to chew them. Lualeni brushed passed Nalitu, who immediately became very angry, and pushed Lualeni hard requiring Keeper intervention.

18 February 2005

The orphans visited some new areas today, and really enjoyed it. Makosa was sighted in the distance.

19 February 2005

The stuggle for Nalitu continues, with Naserian, Galana and Sunyei all trying to get her undivided attention. Lualeni prefers to stay close to the Keepers. Lualeni loves to share the Keepers mattress in the night stables rather than her own, she loves to cuddle.

20 February 2005

Buchuma continued his bullying streak but Galana wasn’t having it, and he was reprimanded severely. The BBC crew were with us all day. Toby the BBC camera man had Lualeni lying all over him, and she really seemed to enjoy resting close to him.

21 February 2005

When the group first went into the bush they came across a warthog family. The elephants all trumpeted and chased them into the bushes, Lualeni following and even she managed to let out a trumpet. She also trampled the bushes with ears raised in excitement. Today we were joined by the Samburu Warriors who rescued Ndomot when he fell into the sandy well in the Northern Frontier District. The four guys were amazed at how big he had grown and also the whole relationship the elephant orphans and Keepers had. They spent the day feeding the elephants and interacting with them, and we the Keepers spent a lot of time explaining the intricacies of the project.

22 February 2005

Sunyei’s calm guidance was evident today when she came to calm Nalitu when Lualeni accidentally knocked Nalitu in an effort to reach her bottle quickly. Sunyei didn’t reprimand Lualeni, merely calmed Nalitu down. The Samburu guys were here again today and spent time observing the mudwallow time, the visitors, and the project as a whole.

23 February 2005

A lion with three lionesses scared the elephants terribly this morning. We happened upon them in the forest. The lions appeared to be as startled as our group. The elephants immediately ran to the Keepers for safety, including Galana, and they all huddled close to Galana who showed great courage. The orphans were disturbed for a large part of the day after this encounter.

24 February 2005

Today there was an interesting development with Galana pushing Sunyei and trying to exercise some domination over Sunyei. Naserian immediately came to Sunyei’s defense, but Galana chose to walk away rather than retaliate.

25 February 2005

A fun day had by all, lots of pushing, warthog chasing, mudbathing, and all the orphans appeared to be exceptionally happy today.

26 February 2005

Makosa came to visit today, walking right up to where the Keepers were seated. Buchuma was unbelievably bold charging Makosa, ears out, face to face with him. Makosa lowered his head and eyeballed Buchuma alittle bit puzzled by what to do next and eventually snorted and walked off in the opposite direction. Buchuma had a definite bounce in his step, obviously feeling he had overcome a formidable force. The weather has been unbelievably hot, temperatures reaching 39 degrees.

27 February 2005

Madiba a Sunyei spent time today uprooting the roots of plants, then gently peeling the back off and eating the succulent root. Sunyei was much for proficient at this that Madiba, which eventually really annoyed him, causing him to cry for help. Another unbearably not day, which caused the Keepers and elephants to rest up in the shade.

28 February 2005

Today the Buchuma Ndomot show began again, the pushing and sparring for hours. This quite clearly annoyed Sunyei who stood between them for a long time causing them to find something else to do, but eventually the urge to continue proved to much for them and they started nudging her out of the way in order to continue. Sunyei obviously realized that she was in a compromised position so moved off to spend time with the little ones. Again another very hot day, which made the elephants quite listless.