Keepers' Diaries, February 2007

Nairobi Nursery Unit

February has been a dramatic month in the Nairobi Nursery – tears at the unexpected death of baby “Galdessa” at 9 a.m. on the morning of 23rd February which was a tragic loss for all who had battled long and hard to save this precious elephant life. Washed down the flooded Galana river in Tsavo East, tossed around the rocks of the raging rapids, he eventually ended up, battered, bruised and suffering from severe trauma and shock in the Generator House of Galdessa Camp, simply awaiting death, for by the time he arrived in the Nairobi Nursery, most of his vital organs had apparently already all but shut down, according to tests on his saliva and urine. His physical condition was exacerbated of course by the intense grief of losing his mother and elephant family. This little calf never fully recovered during the 4 months that he was with us, plagued by successive bouts of diarrheoa and possible internal bruising and damage as well. During the night of the 22nd/23rd he began passing blood, and by the morning was too weak to even stand. Despite having a Dextrose Drip inserted in an ear vein, he died a few hours later. Little Galdessa, the best friend of “Shimba” will be sadly missed by all in the Nursery, especially by his elephant peers, his Keepers and, of course, all his foster-parents who also loved him having followed his short life through the monthly Diaries.

01 February 2007

Lesanju led the five tiny babies out this morning, and she and Lempaute were running up and down the Parking Area with their Keepers, whilst Shimba and Galdessa concentrated on pretending to browse on green leaves. Little Kilgoris wanted to play in the rain puddles and eat the mud, but we prevented him from doing so fearing that it would upset his stomach.

02 February 2007

Heavy rain fell during the morning, which delayed the departure from the Night Stockades of the babies. Later on the tiny babies were allowed out, and began running around the Parking area. Lempaute is very playful with Lesanju and Kilgoris watching carefully, trying to learn how to do it. As usual the two boys, Shimba and Galdessa remained behind and did not participate.

03 February 2007

At about 6.30 in the morning, the older orphans, led by Sian, decided to take a different route, so the Keepers followed them until Sian stopped and began to browse. Kenze, who did not want to follow the others was left behind, so Sian went in search of him and brought him along to join the others.

04 February 2007

Shimba and Galdessa are best friends, and are always close together whether playing or feeding. Kilgoris has joined the little girls, and enjoys playing with them.

05 February 2007

Lesanju is showing matriarchal tendencies, waiting for Kilgoris if he happens to be left behind. She fetches him, pushing him from behind, until he has joined the others. Lempaute looks upon herself as Lesanju’s mini Nannie, and also waits for little Kilgoris to catch up with the baby group.

06 February 2007

At the noon mudbath, all the older Nursery orphans were running for their milk with Makena leading, followed by the others with Sian behind. Makena came across a warthog hiding in the bush which gave her a terrific fright. She screamed and turned back, followed by all the others, who ran to their Keepers. However Sian, who was at the back, did not turn back, but went forward to investigate the cause of the trouble and chased the warthog away. During the morning the Keepers heard a baby rhino crying and went to investigate. It was about a year old, and was banging into the vegetation. We, and the KWS Rangers, monitored the baby all day, hoping that its mother would return to retrieve it, but by nightfall there was no sign of a mother. By calling the calf with the rhino calling sound, we enticed the baby close to the Trust Headquarters where it was overpowered, and brought into Galdessa’s vacant Stockade. It was blind in both eyes and extremely aggressive, charging blindly and crashing against the bars of the stable, threatening to break out. It was far too strong and too wild for a Keeper to be in with it once its legs had been untied, but a Keeper remained outside the stable door all night, talking kindly to it. By the morning it was a little quieter. Meanwhile, Galdessa had to be moved in Lempaute’s stable, and Lempaute doubled up with Lesanju. Mrs. Sheldrick decided that the blind rhino be named “Max”.

07 February 2007

The larger orphans met up with a sounder of warthogs and their young this morning and began chasing them around and breaking down small shrubs whilst trumpeting with excitement. This game went on long after the warthogs had vanished. The blind rhino baby is still too aggressive for anyone to go in, but did take some water and milk from the stable door during the night. Robert Carr-Hartley grappled with him, being tossed around, as he injected him with his antibiotic.

08 February 2007

Again, at about 5 p.m., it was day three of Max’s antibiotic injection. All the Keepers were too fearful to go into his stable, so Robert Carr Hartley went in alone, and grappled with Max, shouting for the Keepers to come and help him. They all jumped in, one by one, and managed to hold the rhino so that Robert could administer the injection! Then they all had to jump out rapidly before being pinned against the walls of the stable.

09 February 2007

At the noon mudbath, Loijuk as usual enjoyed the attention of all the visitors and kept running up and down the cordon spraying the visitors with muddy water and soil from her trunk. Chyulu then followed suit, which focused the attention of the large crowd on the females of the orphaned group.

10 February 2007

Since the arrival of Max, Lempaute and Lesanju have shared a Night Stable, and disturb each other, their Keepers and Galdessa, next door, all night with their playing, and fighting for the blanket and the bottles of milk. It is very disruptive, and we hope that the new Stables will soon become serviceable!

11 February 2007

Kenze has recovered and grown strong now, so he is feared by all the others because he has short tusks, although he is a well behaved boy and does not push the others around, as Kamboyo used to do to him when he was weak and new. Only Sian, who also has tusks, does not fear him.

12 February 2007

Today, it was time to move Max from Galdessa’s stable to the Big Rhino Stockade next door to that of Shida. He did not want to go, so we had to man-handle him along until he was inside. After this Galdessa’s stable was sterilized and washed so that Galdessa could again occupy it, and Lempaute return to her previous Night Stable. Max now occupying the rhino Stockade previously used by Kamboyo, meant doubling up Kamboyo with Zurura.

13 February 2007

Lesanju is a true Mini Matriarch of the baby group. She led all four little ones out this morning, and back again in the evening, using the correct route, as the Keepers just watched as they walked behind.

14 February 2007

Shimba was very playful today, trying to mount onto Lempaute. Lempaute bellowed and Lesanju ran to the rescue pushing Shimba away helped by Lempaute. However, Shimba was too strong for the two girls, so in the end they just ran away.

15 February 2007

Kenze is much calmer now, and accepts the Keepers to be close to him. He is still very fond of Lenana. Kamboyo has stopped trying to push him around.

16 February 2007

It is unbelievable that Max knows exactly where his greens are put each day, and where his Keepers are, even though he cannot see. He has a strong sense of smell to direct him around his Stockade. Today, he even went to where his milk bottles were standing whilst the Keeper was otherwise occupied laying out his greens.

17 February 2007

Sian and Makena now have to share a Stockade, and this morning were frightened by a revving vehicle and were reluctant to leave their Stockade. In the end the Keeper had to go and bring them .

18 February 2007

Some visitors came to see the tiny elephants out in the bush, and Lempaute became jealous of their attention to Kilgoris. Whenever Kilgoris came near the visitors, Lempaute coiled her trunk and tried to push him away, but Kilgoris held his own, displaying signs that he will one day be a strong bull. He was not prepared to be shoved around by little Lempaute!

19 February 2007

Normally Shimba is not very social with the visitors, but today was different. He moved close to the cordon, and put on an impressive display of playing near the visitors who appreciated it very much.

20 February 2007

An army of warthogs waited on the rocky area near the Trust Headquarters, hoping for a hand-out. They refused to let anyone pass until a Keeper had given them some Copra.

21 February 2007

As the Keepers were taking their lunch out in the bush, suddenly all the older orphans came running towards them screaming, having been scared by some impala. A giraffe, who was feeding nearby, also took fright and left in a hurry. The Keepers had to calm the elephants down and reassure them that there was no danger.

22 February 2007

Sian was nervous about going into the bush today, and remained close to the Keepers. The Keepers went to investigate the cause of her anxiety and came across a buffalo lying in a thicket. Sian had warned us of its presence, so we took another route.

23 February 2007

It was a very sad day today for all of us. Galdessa had a very difficult night, passing blood in his stool, and by the morning was too weak to stand. We alerted Mrs. Sheldrick, who made a ball of medication which we inserted down his throat and inserted other boluses into the other end in an attempt to save him. Although a Dextrose drip was inserted into an ear vein and he was put under the Enerblanket, it was too late, and he died at 9 a.m. It was a very traumatic day for all the Keepers, and for his little friends who missed his presence out in the bush.

24 February 2007

Our blind baby rhino, Max, was allowed out of his Stockade today, and guided into the forest a short distance from the Headquarters. He enjoyed being out very much indeed, and at 2 p.m., when it was time for him to return because of rain, he refused to oblige and it took all the Keepers, and Robert Carr-Hartley to man-handle him back to his Stockade. He is very strong and also heavy, and it took l0 men to carry him back home!

25 February 2007

After the difficulty experienced yesterday in getting Max back into his Stockade, it was decided that he should remain inside until his eye operation early in March. Today, he did not like a Keeper near him, obviously still angry at being brought back into his Stockade after enjoying freedom in the forest.

26 February 2007

Kamboyo gave Kenze a shove during the Visiting Hour which left him too close to the line of visitors for his liking. Kenze, who is now strong, was very angry with Kamboyo and pushed him forcibly almost to the ground, which served Kamboyo right for trying to bully Kenze.

27 February 2007

Makena persisted in trying to take something out of Sian’s mouth which Sian was enjoying very much. In the end Sian lost patience with Makena, and gripped her trunk between her teetch. Makena bellowed loudly, so Sian released her trunk, and she refrained from trying that trick again. Sian was eating a root which she had dug up from the ground.

28 February 2007

During the mudbath, one of the resident wild warthogs came from behind the line of visitors and pushed his way through, which caused a disturbance and a lot of laughter from the other spectators. Loijuk, Makena and Zurura led the charge of all the older orphans to expel the warthog from the mudbath area, and this pleased all the visitors.