Keepers' Diaries, February 2008

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.

01 February 2008

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.

02 February 2008

Lesanju and all her group except Dida had a spectacular mudbath. Dida would have liked to go in, but the Keepers prevented her because she is so young and still vulnerable to pneumonia. Instead, they plastered the sides of her body with mud, which made her happier.

03 February 2008

At about 3 p.m. Lesanju and Shimba engaged one another in a pushing game, which was pretty evenly matched, until Lempaute came in on the side of Lesanju, and pushed Shimba away.

04 February 2008

The three older orphans, Makena, Lenana and Chyulu were in a happy mood, running around the bushes, trumpeting and playing, until they settled down and went off into the forest to browse.

05 February 2008

When the small babies came out of their Night Stable at 6.30 a.m., they found the warthog family just outside, and immediately engaged them in a chasing game round and round the Stockades, until the girls tired and gave up. However, Shimba was not going to capitulate. He carried on the chase, until the Keepers went to bring him back into the fold.

06 February 2008

It was chilly at the noon mudbath, so the Keepers did not expect any of the orphans to wallow. However, Chyulu surprised everyone, and kept all the visitors happy by having a lovely mudbath.

07 February 2008

After the babies had finished their mudbath, they joined up with the three older elephants out in the bush, who were on their way to the mudbath. Lenana immediately ran to Shimba, who is her favourite, while Makena and Chyulu were in competition to acquire Dida, who was not being cooperative, and ran to Lesanju who was standing next to the Keepers.

08 February 2008

It rained throughout the night, so the orphans woke up to a wet morning and took advantage of the wet puddles around their stables. Lempaute immediately lay down for a wallow in a puddle with her blanket on. It was still chilly, so the Keepers had not expected her to do this, but they had to remove the blankets. All the others then joined in the fun, except little Dida, who was restrained by the Keepers who did not want her to get cold and wet.

09 February 2008

As the Milk Mixer was taking the 9 a.m. ration of milk out into the bush for the older elephants, he heard something move in a bush behind him. Thinking that it was likely to be Shida, he changed direction, but then a huge wild rhino emerged, and snorted a warning. It was accompanied by a smaller one. The Keeper hurriedly retreated, while the wild rhinos did the same.

10 February 2008

During the mudbath, two female warthogs decided to take a wallow, unafraid of the smaller elephants, who tried trumpeting to scare them away but with no affect. The warthogs remained in the wallow until they had had their fill, and then moved off to allow access for the orphans.

11 February 2008

Maxwell surprised his Keeper by deciding to take a mudbath and play around his Stockade at 5 a.m. in the morning, which was unusual. After going in the mud, he rushed around playfully, probably because he did not know the time, and being blind, cannot see whether the dawn has come or not.

12 February 2008

During the evening visiting Hour for Foster-parents when people were at Maxwell’s Stockade Gate watching him, he suddenly spun round and sprayed them with urine. They all screamed and moved off, but they still wanted to watch him, so they moved closer, whereupon he spun round and sprayed them again! This time they kept their distance!

13 February 2008

Today provided a lot of fun for Lempaute, because some Samburu tribesmen came to see the elephants. Lempaute immediately began chasing them, and was thoroughly enjoying herself because they were scared, all running away from her. She continued the game until Robert told them not to run away, after which she continued all her tricks, lying down at their feet, pushing them from behind, and enjoying their jovial laughter.

14 February 2008

While we were out in the bush with the orphans, a herd of about l0 buffaloes appeared and walked towards us. The Keepers all stood up, surrounded by the orphans, who were nervous, but the buffaloes kept on coming, forcing us all to retreat in another direction. Only when we began running away did the buffaloes stop their advance.

15 February 2008

Lenana and Makena engaged each other in a play pushing game out in the bush, which lasted a long time, until Chyulu intervened on the side of Makena, making Lenana give up.

16 February 2008

All the orphans had a wonderful mudbath today, which was very enjoyable for all the visitors who had come to watch them. The visitors left very happy.

17 February 2008

Dida has learnt some tricks from mischievous Lempaute. Today at the visiting hour, she ran through the rope to scare a kid before running back to the Keepers with her ears out, looking very pleased with herself! This is Lempaute’s favourite trick at the mudbath.

18 February 2008

Sinya adores little Dida and is like a little mother to her now, sharing this task with Lesanju. Whenever Dida is not with Lesanju, she is with Sinya. All three orphans are great friends so little Dida receives a great deal of attention from the two older females.

19 February 2008

It was another beautiful sunny morning, so Makena, Lenana and Chyulu greeted the day in a very joyful mood, running around playfully, trumpeting and breaking down small shrubs. This activity went on for about an hour, until they settled down to browse.

20 February 2008

When it was time for the babies to vacate the mudbath, Shimba got stuck and was having difficulty getting up. The Keepers ran to help him up, but Lempaute raced them and using her foreleg, helped him to get up out of the mudbath.

21 February 2008

A new mudbath had been made for the orphans, and this caused a great deal of excitement and joy. All loved it, including little Dida, who did her best to join in, but was restrained by the Keepers. Instead they plastered her with a little mud.

22 February 2008

Mrs. Sheldrick decided to offer Dida garlic this evening, which is a natural antibiotic, just incase she was brewing the Klepsiella type pneumonia, having observed that she was not quite as playful as she should be. She took a lot of it, so this treatment of self selection will continue until she does not want it. This is what helped Sinya recover when she first came in.

23 February 2008

Today Dida was offered the essential oil of lemon, in addition to garlic, which she enjoyed.

24 February 2008

This evening, while trying to offer the oils to Dida, it was difficult because Lempaute kept interfering, wanting some as well. I offered her garlic which she enjoyed. Then Lesanju wanted some as well!

25 February 2008

Shimba was in trouble today, because he tried to mount onto little Dida. Sinya immediately came to push him away, and this initiated a fight between the two. Shimba held his own until Lesanju joined in on the side of Sinya, and sent him running away.

26 February 2008

Usually Makena runs the fastest to get her ration of milk, and is first at the Milk venue, but nowadays Chyulu has taken over, and beats Makena in this race.

27 February 2008

Dida went through the rope again today at the mudbath, choosing a small boy to push before rushing back to the Keepers with her ears out. The little boy screamed so the Keepers reprimanded Dida for frightening him.

28 February 2008

Today, Chyulu found herself stuck in the mudbath, unable to get up unaided. Makena immediately went right into the middle, and using her foreleg, propped Chyulu’s head up, pushing very hard several times, until Chyulu managed to get up. All the visitors were very impressed.

29 February 2008

Shida arrived at the Stockades very early this morning, at 5 a.m. which made Maxwell very excited. Normally Shida comes much later. Maxwell began running up and down his Stockade, wanting to engage Shida through the bars.