Keepers' Diaries, February 2008

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

It has been a very peaceful, growing month for the Nursery elephants, with Lenana, Makena and Chyulu now quite a size, and ready to be transferred to the Ithumba unit as soon as the next rains break. The three older elephants, who forage much further afield throughout the day, do not spend a lot of time with the youngsters, but when they happen to meet, Lenana always rushes to take possession of little Shimba, who is her favourite, while Makena and Chyulu are in competition to try and acquire Dida, who wants none of it, and retreats to Lesanju and Lempaute, who cling to the Keepers at such times.

It has been a very peaceful, growing month for the Nursery elephants, with Lenana, Makena and Chyulu now quite a size, and ready to be transferred to the Ithumba unit as soon as the next rains break. The three older elephants, who forage much further afield throughout the day, do not spend a lot of time with the youngsters, but when they happen to meet, Lenana always rushes to take possession of little Shimba, who is her favourite, while Makena and Chyulu are in competition to try and acquire Dida, who wants none of it, and retreats to Lesanju and Lempaute, who cling to the Keepers at such times.

Apart from a shower on the night of the 8th, the month has been hot and dry. Within the junior set, Lesanju and Sinya share the Matriarchal role, both paying a great deal of attention of baby Dida. Being the only boy in the group, Shimba takes on Lesanju now in a shoving match to test his strength, but as she can invariably count on the support of Lempaute, his little bull ego remains subjugated! Nevertheless, whenever either Lesanju or Lempaute are lying down to roll in the dust, he takes advantage of this and tries to mount them. He was unpopular though when he tried this on Dida, for Sinya rushed in to bowl him over and send him off!

Sinya is a very different elephant now. She is loving, caring, and gentle whilst Lempaute is still the mischievous member of the Junior set, always eager to attract as much attention as possible at the mudbath and whenever visitors are present. Little Dida, who has long been slow to thrive, is very much better having been offered, and taken, the strong essential Garlic Oil every evening. Being a powerful natural antibiotic, we are confident that this will take care of any “lurgies” brewing in her baby lungs, for being a water victim, she is still vulnerable to pneumonia, especially the Klepsiella variety, which is resistant to most antibiotics, but been proven sensitive to essential oil of Garlic.

When Shimba had difficulty getting up from a lying position in the mudbath, Lempaute used a foreleg to prop up his head and enable him to rise more easily, as did Makena when Chyulu was in similar difficulty. (An elephant is usually careful to lie at an angle in order to rise easily, but in the mudbath situation this is not always possible. However, they can always count on the help of a member of the family, or a friend, to prop up the head with a foreleg, which enables them to rise).

A small group of wild buffalo who persisted in advancing towards the older elephants and their Keepers on the 14th necessitated a hasty withdrawal in another direction, but when the elephants found themselves in amongst an impala herd, Makena and Chyulu had fun chasing them around, whilst Lenana retreated. Lenana is a very timid character, who is always nervous of other animals.

Rhinos:- Whilst meandering out with his wheelbarrow of milk for the orphans, the Milk Mixer heard a rustle in the bush, and thinking that it must be Shida, simply gave the bush a wider berth. However, a loud snort drew his attention, and to his astonishment there was a very large wild rhino and another smaller one watching his progress with an interest that understandably un-nerved him and hastened his departure!

Shida is still a regular visitor back home to the Stockades, usually turning up in the morning, and again in the evening, mainly to monitor Maxwell next door. Max becomes very excited at such times, rushing around his Stockade with tail in the air and trying to engage Shida through the bars. The arrival of Shida is the highlight of Max’s dark blind world, although he also enjoys the evening foster-parent visitors, some of whom were treated to a urine shower when he spun round twice to spray them!

February 2008 day to day

01 Feb

It was a beautiful morning. Lesanju, Lempaute, Dida, Sinya and Shimba showed their approval by running up and down amongst the bushes, trumpeting with excitement and joy. The entire day was spent in that happy frame of mind. Even little Dida joined in the fun.

Dida playing around with Sammy

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