Keepers' Diaries, February 2015

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

February was a month that saw no new arrivals come into our care, but January's arrivals Siangiki, Hamsini and Boromoko have continued to settle. Hamsini is a tiny calf that we have not yet placed on the fostering program because his road has been fraught. Firstly because of a horrible injury to his spine which continues to plague him and cause him great discomfort, but also because he was teething throughout this month as well. Teething in baby elephants not on perfect mothers milk can be life threatening. He is an incredibly strong and brave little fellow who despite his trials and tribulations has continued to fight to survive and has not gone off his food for a minute. He remains incredibly thin and his life has hung in the balance for much of the month, but finally his teeth pushed through and his injury and the sepsis on his back has almost healed completely and he is now in a lot less discomfort. His favorite friends are Ndotto and Lasayen, who together form the baby group.

February was a month that saw no new arrivals come into our care, but January's arrivals Siangiki, Hamsini and Boromoko have continued to settle. Hamsini is a tiny calf that we have not yet placed on the fostering program because his road has been fraught. Firstly because of a horrible injury to his spine which continues to plague him and cause him great discomfort, but also because he was teething throughout this month as well. Teething in baby elephants not on perfect mothers milk can be life threatening. He is an incredibly strong and brave little fellow who despite his trials and tribulations has continued to fight to survive and has not gone off his food for a minute. He remains incredibly thin and his life has hung in the balance for much of the month, but finally his teeth pushed through and his injury and the sepsis on his back has almost healed completely and he is now in a lot less discomfort. His favorite friends are Ndotto and Lasayen, who together form the baby group.

Then we have the middle group of Boromoko, Murit, Kauro, Kamok, Ashaka, Mbegu, Dupotto, and Siangiki who love to join the baby group at any opportunity, and the bigger much more independent orphans form the third group. The females are nurturing and tender most of the time, but Lentili and Rorogoi, uncharacteristically for females, are sometimes rather rough and mean to the newcomers with little Siangiki feeling the brunt sometimes this month. The Keepers are always mindful to keep a close eye on this sort of thing and are quick to intervene. Siangiki is beginning to settle, but is definitely feeling her loss. Boromoko, despite coming into our care late in January has grown completely familiar with the Nursery routine and enjoys human company; gravitating towards his Keepers and guests. He is a lovely gentle elephant whose best friend is Lasayen, despite being much younger than him.

Mbegu, Ashaka and Kamok are inseparable and this month gave their Keepers the slip to join up with the baby herd so that they could play mothering games with the tiny ones. Kauro continues to be physical playing his climbing mounting games and Murit is a changed elephant, full of energy and this month playing with the warthogs and their piglets, and spending time with his hero Tundani. He continues to grow stronger and more playful by the day. His traumatic beginning when his life was precarious for months on end is now behind him. Mashiriki, Arruba, Barsalinga and Kithaka are all growing up fast and it will not be long before they are making their journey to the rehabilitation units in Tsavo. They are ready for the change and the stimulation they will gain in the company of the older elephants. The moment the rains have broken they will be on their way to join their friends that have gone before them. Destinations for these orphans have not been finalized yet whether it is Voi, Ithumba or Umani, but this will be determined by friendships.

Balguda has been off colour for a while and blood diagnostics showed he had a bacterial infection, which we treated him for this month. Since being medicated he is much improved exhibiting more energy and an increased appetite, which is a relief. His friends Lemoiyan, Olsekki and Sirimon have enjoyed lengthy mud wallow sessions in this very hot weather which have been spectacular to watch. These happen sometimes twice a day in these hot months. The temperatures in Nairobi have been extremely high and at times so hot that the elephants have been forced to stop browsing and take cover under the forest canopy flapping their ears to cool down seemingly sapped of all energy. This suits the Keepers who on these days are feeling the same way, and a respite from the glaring sun is always welcomed.

Ziwa continues to improve and is almost back to being 100% fit. Seeing him now in his improved condition it is hard to remember just how bad he was. His best friend is our little girl called Roi. Ziwa is careful to watch over Roi at all times and is quick to come to her aid whenever he feels she needs his help. Kithaka remains badly behaved and full of character with never a dull moment. The Keepers have to keep a keen eye on him when there are visitors around as he does like to cause havoc if given half a chance barging and pushing.

In stark contrast gentle Nelion sleeps in a stockade next to Tundani and the two are extremely close. Nelion has by far the biggest tusks in the Nursery group, but thankfully does not throw his weight around, although he does not need to as he commands much respect because of it. His gentle and calm manner is mirrored in Tundani. It is no surprise that these two elephants are firm friends. Enkikwe and Sirimon are great buddies too, but Enkikwe is still hooked on Embu and is never far from her side. Embu's quiet nature has been a great balm for little Siangiki who remains haunted by her lost family's memory. Suswa and Oltaiyoni have had some playful moments in the red mud wallow and on one occasion Arruba, Suswa, Rorogoi and Mashiriki were involved in rescuing Sirimon who was firmly stuck in the mud right in the middle of the mud wallow.

Our Ostrich chicks Pea and Pod are growing extremely fast, and are very much part of the orphan herd joining them down at their midday mud bath even. They are not quite wallowing yet, but are certainly enjoying lolling around in the powder soft red earth and flapping and dusting themselves. Pea and Pod have developed some fun games with their elephant friends, charging them with their wings out, and being well prepared for any retaliation.

Maxwell is having his stockade boma enlarged which we hope will bring him great pleasure once it is completed. Solio on the other hand visits at night, and can be seen in the company of another rhino and her calf at the mud wallow, huffing and puffing at the water trough. She has a very definite snort that she does when announcing her arrival. When Angela, Robert, Taru and Roan hear this they always race onto the veranda to confirm if it is Solio who is visiting. Many more details about the Nursery elephants are shared in the Keepers daily entries.

February 2015 day to day

01 Feb

February is very hot and sunny and during the public visiting hour all the orphans quickly down their bottles and rush into the mudbath. Today they had great fun rolling in the wallow with many of the orphans rubbing up, scratching and bumping against each other. The boys, Sirimon, Olsekki and Enkikwe enjoyed climbing all over each other as they took their time in the pool of mud. Lovely Oltaiyoni rolled dramatically, playing happily and then charging out of the pool with her ears spread wide. She ran along the rope cordon, brushing her trunk along it with all the guests getting painted in red mud, and then she turned to the water barrel, head-butting it before putting her head deep inside and spinning her trunk around. Her antics left the visitors astonished! Today she was certainly the star of the show.

Oltaiyoni Sirimon and Enkikwe before their bath

Oltaiyoni was the star of the show

Orphans enjoying a mud bath in the heat

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