Keepers' Diaries, February 2016
Nairobi Nursery Unit
The month began with an elephant scramble led by Naseku, Balguda, Oltaiyoni, Olsekki and Roi who were frightened by a herd of Impala who ran off when scared by the approaching elephants. As the impalas ran off our ‘not so bold’ babies did the same with little ones such as Ngilai, Ndotto, Lasayen and Godoma rushing to their Keepers for gentle reassurance.
01 February 2016
Naseku, Balguda, Oltaiyoni, Olsekki and Roi were leading the orphans out into the forest early in the morning, when they came across a herd of impalas that were grazing there too. Naseku and Olsekki were walking ahead of the others and it was them that first came across the impalas, which gave them a fright, and they did a quick u-turn running while rumbling in low voices, back to the others. This frightened the impala herd too which scattered the orphan herd scattered into the bushes, with the young ones like Ngilai, Ndotto, Lasayen and Godoma running and yelling towards their keepers for safety. For a few minutes, they all stood in dead silence next to the keepers as they listened to the sounds in the forest with their ears erect. After the keepers assured them of their safety and they realised that there was actually no threat, Oltaiyoni led the herd out to the forest again and they settled down happily to browse.
As most of the orphans settled to browse, Kauro and Boromoko engaged themselves in a pushing game which really earned the interest of little Lasayen, who joined them, and Boromoko took the time to teach Lasayen some important skills before turning back to engage Kauro again who had been patiently waiting for the lessons to finish. The two carried on their game as Lasayen watched from the sidelines, until the game ended when the three realised that the other orphans had moved off deep into the forest.
During public visiting at 11am Tusuja had a busy time trying to mount on Dupotto as she happily rolled on the wet, muddy ground. Mbegu was watching and, being the leader of the younger group, she came over and pushed him off Dupotto and he fell on his back. When he got up he walked away and settled right in the middle of the mud pool where he happily enjoyed mud bathing for the rest of the visiting time.
02 February 2016
When Pea and Pod walked out to join the elephant orphans they were showing off their happy mood and jumping around. Their playful moment of spinning around gained the interest of Ngilai, Rapa and Dupotto. They interrupted the ostriches happy time by running after them and charging around. Ngilai seemed to have the most happy time charging after them, spreading out his little ears and trumpeting, trying with all his might to grab their tail feathers but he could hardly reach them. The tall birds gave him quite a challenge as they sprinted off and ran circles around Ngilai. Their quick turn arounds sometimes saw Ngilai crash into the ground. Failing to meet his goal, Ngilai gave up and went to stand with Kamok and suckled on her ears instead.
During the private viewing at 3pm the orphans were very busy having a mud bath. Big boys Enkikwe, Sirimon, Olsekki and Sokotei wanted to dominate the mud pool which meant the young ones Rapa, Mwashoti, Simotua, Lasayen, Mbegu, Godoma, Kauro and Roi had to stay along the edges. Little Godoma attempted to get in the pool by rolling into the mud, but bully Enkikwe came along and intentionally sat on her causing her to yell out, promoting Oltaiyoni to come over and intervene as well as the keepers, who warned Enkikwe off poor Godoma. The keepers tried to get him out of the mud pool but he challenged them by standing in the middle of the mud, so Oltaiyoni forced him out of the pool herself, so Godoma could enjoy the mud under the supervision of Oltaiyoni.
03 February 2016
As the orphans were waiting for the 9am bottles, Alamaya and Mwashoti were having a busy time challenging each other in a pushing game, and although both of them were trying to win they are both good friends and are gentle boys so they were not too rough. Their game drew the interest of Siangiki who came over to understand why the two boys were challenging each other. Her presence saw them end their game though, and walk off to the bottle feeding area.
Today Murit was seen heading the young group of Lasayen, Ndotto, Godoma, Ngilai and Rapa to enjoy their 11am bottle feed during public visiting. Lasayen, Ndotto and Rapa were trying to catch up with Murit who was ahead but he had quite a lead, until just before they got to where the bottles were and Rapa head butted Murit on the back causing him to fall forward. Murit now had no chance of reaching the bottles first and Rapa and the babies behind him went ahead for the first bottles.
Rapa, who has earned the name ‘little menace’ for his bad behaviour and acting like a bully sometimes seems to have no respect for other babies young or old. Sometimes he even bullies Naseku who is older than him! Tusuja is an older orphan Rapa is happily attached to though; sometimes Tusuja disciplines him by pushing him away to go and spend time with Mbegu or Kamok so they can also discipline him since they know he is a naughty boy with the other babies. They do not allow him to spend that much time with them though because they love their little babies, so he goes back again to Tusuja!
04 February 2016
Today Pea and Pod did not want to walk down onto the plains with the orphans. The keepers tried several times to convince them to come but either Pea or Pod would sprint off from the babies swiftly followed by the other back to where Kiko, and the babies were quietly enjoying their day in the forest. Although the keepers only wanted them to meet more ostriches on the plains, in the end they felt they could only let the animals do what they wanted to. Settling back where Kiko and the babies were the trip was called off.
Over time we have noticed that Oltaiyoni is the most disciplined older girl within the orphaned herd and has a unique character of her own. We have seen this numerous times whether it is bottle feeding, out in the field, public visiting and all the times in between these places. We find this especially during bottle feeding when she comes out and finds the bottles are not placed ready for them to be fed. She maintains great patience without scampering around until the bottles are ready for her, which cannot be said for many of the other babies! When walking out to the bottles as a group, she patiently gives way to the others to go first and slowly follows them. When it comes time to return to the stockades in the late afternoon and the other babies are restless and wanting to run in for their milk, Oltaiyoni is the only one who is not bothered at all and always walks slowly, being the last one to come in with the keepers. She will make a wonderful Matriarch one day due to her steady calm.
05 February 2016
The little baby orphan group headed by Tamiyoi were given extra special attention today by Mbegu and Dupotto. Caring Mbegu, who is naturally fond of all the little babies, tried to sneak then away from Dupotto but Dupotto shielded her from the side, making it difficult for Mbegu to sneak her away. Mbegu tried tempt them by allowing Tamiyoi to suckle on her ears as she made a slow move away from Dupotto; Dupotto gave up and moved away.
During public visiting today Kamok had a fun time scaring the school children which also visit during this time. They were in awe of being able to stand next to this huge land mammal for the first time, who even as a baby is quite a big animal, and Kamok was having fun making them scream with a mixture of fear and delight! Kamok, in most of her attempts, only spread her big ears wide, a pose that scared most of the children away from the rope cordon leaving Kamok to make funny poses in head stand styles along the empty rope, and leaving the audience clapping with delight at her funny behaviour.
06 February 2016
During public visiting today at 11am the temperature was very hot which meant the babies all quickly drank their bottles to get into the mud bath as soon as possible and cool their burning bodies. As the orphans were busy taking their time rolling in the mud and capturing the attention of the entire visiting public with their dramatic bathing styles, Alamaya as usual took it upon himself to spray the audience standing closest to him who were busy taking photos and not paying attention to what his real intentions were – they got a real shock when they were sprayed with mud by the elephant they were photographing! As that was going on at the same time Olsekki and Sirimon were enjoying a pushing game that took them right into the mud pool. This saw the other orphans leave the mud to give them some space for their lively pushing game, which lasted for quite some time until Sirimon slipped into the deepest part of the pool, landing on his forehead and prompting Olsekki to climb on him. This made him sink further into the mud and he shouted for help so the keepers went to him and helped him out of the mud.
07 February 2016
An orphan baby in the Masai Mara was reported to us today by the Mara Mobile Vet Unit in the morning, although it had been spotted in the evening before. The elephant calf had been spotted on its own the day before by workers at a safari camp, who then reported it to the Mara Mobile Vet Unit who responded immediately but unfortunately when they got there they could not locate the calf after it disappeared into the bush and it was getting too late to locate it. Thus the rescue mission was launched today! In the early morning the vet unit re-launched the search and with the air and ground patrol working together they managed to locate the lone calf along the Talek River near a Masai Village. Soon they were close enough to dart it, as the calf was too strong for them to capture it by hand. By noon they had caught it and transported it to the nearby airstrip to transport it back to the Nairobi nursery, where it arrived by 5pm. The new orphan arrived just as the others were returning to their stockades at 5pm and she was happily greeted by Olsekki and Simotua, exchanging trunks and touching each other giving the new calf comfort and love. The young calf is approximately 18 months old emaciated and riddled with worms. We named her Endito meaning ‘little girl’ in the Maa language. She is suspected to be an orphan due to poaching reports were gathered from the local people in the community – another baby who has lost its family and mother to the ivory trade.
08 February 2016
Endito spent the night under the watchful eye of her keepers – feeding on milk from a bucket (as she was not tame enough to accept it from a bottle) and on some greens as well. At about 8am in the morning poor Endito collapsed and with intensive care managed to revive her again and get her back to her feet.
After the orphans had enjoyed their 9am bottle feed and they were again out in the bush to browse, Simotua and Mwashoti were seen busy locking trunks and enjoying a pushing game, which did not last long as they were interrupted by Kauro. The two boys did not want to include Kauro in their game so they folded it and walked off back to the bushes, leaving Kauro with no one to play with. Simotua and Mwashoti are seen most of the time browsing close to each other out in the bush, a sign that they are close friends and they are not rough like some of the other boys.
09 February 2016
This morning was chilly so the little elephants stayed indoors for a bit longer as it was too cold for them to join the others. The weather was no deterrent to the older orphans and they walked out into the bush as usual; some enjoyed soil bathing in the light showers that occurred that early morning. Boromoko, Kauro, Roi, Siangiki and Balguda were all seen having a busy time rolling on the ground enjoying the wet soil. Boromoko’s poses on the ground saw the two little boys Ndotto and Lasayen come and join him and as usual Ndotto, the climber, was trying to climb on his back as Lasayen enjoyed sliding down. Boromoko, who is always a calm older boy, did not react to the little boys at all and allowed them to play with him for some time. However little Rapa who was watching from not far away got jealous of the little boys playing with Boromoko and ran after Ndotto who was busy climbing and head butted him – which saw the little boys run away leaving bully Rapa enjoying bumping against Boromoko for awhile until Boromoko realised his little friends were not the ones playing with him! He then got up abruptly and warned Rapa away from him as things were becoming rougher than he liked. Whilst that was happening Ndotto and Lasayen were now playing a pushing game with Murit who is nowadays showing more interest in playing and has attached himself to the two little boys. Tragically we lost Endito in the early hours of the morning.
10 February 2016
Out during public visiting at 11am and soon after the first group of orphans had their milk, little Ngilai was busy walking along the rope cordon and enjoying the contact with the visiting public. At one point he even managed to sit down on the rope and hold his head and trunk high in the air – a pose which really captured the hearts of the audience and visiting school children who clapped at his funny games. As they were busy clapping Ngilai ran away from the rope and kicked a spade, which spun around as he used his hind and forelegs to kick it. Before the spade stopped spinning Ngilai picked it up and walked off balancing it on his forehead with his trunk walking towards the cordon again, before he got there he tossed it on his back and ran to let it fall before turning to pick it up once more. His game attracted Godoma and Rapa but Ngilai knows Rapa would ruin his game! Rapa came over and stepped on the spade making it hard for Godoma to pick it up, thus wrapping up the end of the game.
11 February 2016
The day started off very cold dominated by a heavy downpour which was continuing from the previous night. As the two little babies had to stay in their stables, all the big babies were out happily enjoying the downpour and rolling in the mud. Some like naughty Rapa, Godoma, Ndotto, Lasayen, Mbegu, Naseku, Kamok and Dupotto were all seen busily playing in the running water in a small stream which had formed. They were enjoying running in and out of the water, splashing each other and kicking the water with their feet, trumpeting as they played to their hearts content.
The greedy ones will never cease to amaze. As the orphans were enjoying their 9am feed out in the bush, greedy Sokotei proved a handful for the keepers as even when he had finished his own bottle he kept on going back looking for more… even though he knows two is his quota! The keepers kept chasing him away but Sokotei just waited until the keepers were busy feeding others and walk over unnoticed, quickly picked up a bottle from the wheelbarrow and ran off - by the time the keepers reached him he was done with the bottle!
Out during public viewing Roi and Olsekki were busy moving from one point to another picking up milk bottles and dropping them by the keepers who were busy feeding other still. The two kept picking up these empty milk bottles in the hope there might be some milk left, but this is never the case! At one point greedy Olsekki snatched an empty milk bottle from Roi thinking it still had some milk left in it; of course this was not the case and they charged around before settling down to eat some greens.
12 February 2016
Out in the early morning, Sirimon and Enkikwe were enjoying a lengthy pushing game going in and out of the bushes when they both stumbled across a buffalo that was sleeping in the thicket. This sudden encounter saw them both run in different directions. Enkikwe was the first one to yell out and run off with Sirimon also making a very hasty retreat. When they reached the other orphans who were busy browsing Oltaiyoni and Siangiki received them and tried to find out from them what was amiss. They did not give anything away but actually made a u-turn and charged back to the bushes and started charging and stamping around, trumpeting trying to search for the buffalo like big bull elephants. Then Oltaiyoni and Siangiki joined them and they bashed around for a few minutes before giving up when they could not find the buffalo (which had moved further into the bush by then!)
13 February 2016
During public visiting, soon after the first group of orphans had finished their milk, some were feeding on the greens and other like Ngilai, Godoma and Ndotto were having a busy time interacting with the public. Lasayen was busy running along the cordon and bumping into members of the audience who enjoyed the interaction. At one point Lasayen walked under the rope onto the visitors side and playfully made his way amongst them. He later wrapped up this happy game by posing on top of the water trough on his belly as he enjoyed a good scratch. His moment on the water trough came to an end though when Ndotto came over and tried to climb on him.
14 February 2016
Around 10pm last night lovely Solio paid us a visit in the orphans stockade area where she happily greeted Maxwell and they touched each other with their lips through the bars of his gate and locked horns. Max was so excited to see Solio and he ran up and down his stockade as Solio patiently waited for him to come back to the gate. She did not stay long though and after visiting her old stockade and feeding on a little bit of lucerne put down for her she returned back to the Park leaving poor Maxwell protesting her departure and knocking hard on the wooden fence and his stockade gates as he wanted to follow Solio too. Poor Maxwell because he is blind will never be free and able to follow Solio, but we try to make sure he has the best life here with us.
During public visiting it was extremely hot which meant the orphans drank their milk quickly so they could run into the mud pool. Even Murit and Balguda got into the mud because it was so hot and they happily rolled around – Balguda even stopped to scratch himself on Murit’s side. For so long Murit and Balguda have just splashed themselves with mud from the sidelines but these days they are happy to submerge themselves fully in the mud bath.
15 February 2016
It seems that young Rapa is fully attached to calm Tusuja as they have bonded over the year since they both arrived at the nursery only a few days apart. Today during the 9 o’clock bottle feeding out in the field, Tusuja was allowed to proceed forward from the holding group to go and get his bottle. Rapa was deep in the midst of the group and was not aware Tusuja had gone for his bottle and he started to look for him everywhere. When he could not find him he started rumbling moving from one elephant to the next trying to find Tusuja; then he yelled out in anguish and ran yelling towards where the group including Tusuja was having their milk bottles. As he was handed his milk bottle he took it and slowly drank it whilst making his way to stand where Tusuja was drinking his. When they had both finished Rapa was see playfully bumping against Tusuja as they walked back into the bushes. Though the two are no longer sharing the same stockade as they were doing some time back, every morning Rapa will come out of his stockade and walk to Tusuja’s to find him, which has become his daily morning routine!
This morning Nanyu was having a busy time suckling on the feathers that she could reach on Pea and Pod, who patiently stood allowing her to play with their feathers. Nanyu then moved away from them to Kiko but his belly was too high for her to reach so she walked back to the Ostriches but by now they were busy browsing and didn’t have time for her… so she went over to the hanging blanket, another favourite of hers, and spent some time suckling on that before having a nap out in the bush.
16 February 2016
The greedy boy Olsekki can be good and a gentle boy towards the younger ones when there is no milk around. This morning he had a good time with Ndotto and his friend Lasayen teaching him some wrestling skills. He engaged the two young boys in some pushing games to teach them some wrestling skills. As almost everyone in the family knows what the boys like to do best, he went down on the ground and invited Ndotto to come over and climb on him. Without hesitation Ndotto went over to him and started sliding down his back. Lasayen was also on top of Olsekki and they both enjoyed playing together with the older boy until it was milk feeding time.
At about 8.30 am we received a call from Turkwel that a team of KWS rangers had a baby elephant in their sight who needed urgent rescuing. They had been monitoring the calf since the previous evening and she was still all alone. A rescue team departed by 9am for Turkwel airstrip in northern Kenya. Once landing it took the team 30 minutes to drive to the place where the calf was being watched. She was surrounded by thorn bushes and the rangers were monitoring her movements carefully. It took the keepers about 10 minutes to capture her because although she was an older calf, she was very tired, emaciated and extremely weak. The keepers even managed to walk her and usher her towards the vehicle without her retaliating. They got her into the vehicle and back to the airstrip to administer first aid including re-hydration. She was loaded onto the plane and after a one and half hour flight they were back in Nairobi and by 5pm the team and calf had arrived safely at the Nairobi Nursery. The calf took some milk upon arrival but she was too weak to support herself. She was very thin and it was obvious she had been without her mother for significant time. The keepers had to support her whilst she fed and was placed on a drip. After a few bottles of the drip she was much better and regaining her energy, even trying to charge at the keepers in her stockade. A blanket was placed over her eyes so she was not afraid and she even started to browse on the greens in her stockade. We named her Kerio after the Kerio Valley close to where she was found and we estimate her age to be approximately 14 months.
17 February 2016
Oltaiyoni, Mbegu, Kamok, Ndotto and Dupotto all surrounded Kerio’s stockade by 6am to say hello. Unfortunately the poor little girl was still too weak to reach out to them. They were all pushing and shoving each other to see who could greet her through her stockade gate first. After trying for awhile and not getting anywhere they decided to proceed and join the others who were already in the forest. Poor Kerio then collapsed and she was immediately put on a drip and again after some bottles she was back on her feet and pushing the keepers. She was given some milk and she went on browsing so her condition improved throughout the morning.
Out in the field the other babies were having some fun. Most of them were engaged in some kind of pushing game. Boromoko together with Kauro, Enkikwe and Oltaiyoni, Sokotei and Olsekki – it was mostly pushing, wrestling and mounting games as well. Siangiki is among those that hardly plays these games and she kept interrupting Boromoko and Kauro and not giving any peace to Mwashoti and Alamaya as well. Mwashoti and Alamaya were playing hide and seek with Siangiki who didn’t seem to be impressed with all the games the boys were playing.
Balguda has a new habit, understanding that he is the oldest orphan, of blocking the other babies when they go for their feed or are trying to return home for the evening. They know he is the oldest and they respect him but he likes to use his age and size as an advantage sometimes. Because of this, like this evening, he will be released for his milk ahead of the others so he does not block the others trying to return home as well. This evening though he didn’t walk straight home but waited in the bushed for the others to come down the path so he could block them from moving forward. He blocked about 10 of his friends trying to get to their stable for their milk as the keepers at the stockades were waiting for the babies, and the keepers in the forest insisted that the elephants had gone down for their bottles! After waiting for some time and with no sign of the orphans a keeper followed the path down to find out what had happened to the babies on the way to the stockade compound. Balguda was found trying to chase anyone who attempted to overtake him. When Naseku saw a keeper coming she was the first one to overtake Balguda and just as Balguda was about to go after her the keeper shouted at him and he moved to the side, allowing his friends to finally continue home for their delicious milk.
18 February 2016
The little cheeky boy Rapa together with Simotua sneaked away from the keepers coming down to the mud bath ground just before public visiting. Simotua usually comes down on the second group but together with naughty Rapa now they decided to come in ahead of time. Luckily they were spotted from a distance before they reached the mud bath area. A keeper went out to stop them and take them back to the herd. The cheeky boy Rapa did not obey the keeper though nor be blocked by him. He pushed the keeper out of the way and ran towards the milk but Simotua obeyed ran back to the bush to rejoin the others. This just shows how sometimes the naughty ones can influence even the good ones into bad behaviour. After getting to the feeding area Rapa took his milk and after he had finished it he relaxed for a bit and waited for the others. After waiting for some time and not seeing anyone else come he decided to walk back to the bush. By the time he got to the herd Murit, Godoma, Ndotto and Ngilai were leaving for their milk. He didn’t bother to accompany them but waited for the second group. Dupotto, Tusuja, Naseku and Mbegu were in the second group and who he decided to accompany and when they reached the milk feeding area he started fighting for more milk pretending he hadn’t already had any! He went on pushing one keeper after another trying to get another elephant’s milk bottle. The big mistake he made was trying to go for Mbegu’s milk – after she had finished her milk she gave the boy a thorough disciplining.
Today we had to perform two rescue missions. The first report was from Maralal that a baby had be found fallen down a well and the Nairobi rescue team left at 12.30 in the afternoon for the rescue mission. After an hour we received another call from the Voi stockades that they had rescued a baby from a drainage ditch along the new railway line which is under construction. This called for another recsue team to be mobilized who left the nursery immediately for Wilson airport to fly to Voi. The first rescue team arrived back at the orphanage with a young baby boy at around 3pm. The calf was in very good condition, not too long separated from his mother (found down a well but with no sign of the herd around anymore). By 6.30pm the other team arrived with a newborn calf, in a collapsed state weakened by his traumatic and tiring ordeal being stuck in the drain. He was put on IV drips to help revive him.
19 February 2016
It is normal for Mbegu to react to the cries of any new baby in the nursery and she will always respond to any baby that is calling. In the morning before she goes out to the bush she will always go around and try to find where the voice was calling from. She was stopped by a keeper and guided to accompany the others to the forest. Even though she was not pleased with this decision by the keeper, she had to obey and follow the others to the forest for her important browsing.
The newcomers both had a restless night, and later on in the day were brought out to meet with the other older orphans which was an enthusiastic affair.
20 February 2016
When Kerio saw the other orphans going out to the forest at 6am today she really want to go with them, especially when Simotua walked out of his stockade. He is her immediate neighbour and during the night he is always sleeping next to her. She feels lonelier when Simotua is gone for the day but we have not let her out before as she remains extremely weak. At 9am a few of the older orphans walked back to the stockades to escort her to the forest. When they arrived however, she was afraid to leave her stockade. Lasayen was the first one in the group to enter her stockade and when he attempted to reach out to her she charged at him and he retreated back. Oltaiyoni saw her trying to push Lasayen and she stepped in to push her back but a keeper was by her side who stopped Oltaiyoni. Mbegu tried to get in the stockade to help her out but Oltaiyoni was blocking the way. She was eventually helped out by the keepers and escorted out to the forest with the others, but she completely refused to socialize with any of the others. We often find this a very difficult age for orphans, even more than the very baby or slightly older ones as they are just old enough to really mourn the loss of their family. A bottle if milk helped her follow the others to the forest, a bottle that Boromoko became very jealous of and fought very hard to share with her. Out in the bush it was Sirimon, Sokotei and Kauro who showed the most interest in the newcomer and the most concern for her. They followed her everywhere but still, she didn’t show much interest in them. Over the coming weeks and months she will adapt and learn to love her new family, but we must give her the time and in the meantime, give her the love and attention she needs as a young baby.
21 February 2016
In the early morning Ndotto, Ngilai, Kamok and Dupotto visited Kerio before heading out to the forest. At this time Kerio gets special vegetation brought to her as she is not strong enough to find them for herself, and these little inquisitive ones were eager to share in her vegetation through the bars of her stockade. This morning Kerio was not going to join the others out in the bush as she is looking a little weak again. Kamok wanted to help her out and was playing with the lock on the gate but obviously, she could not undo it. After some time they left for further browsing in the wild as Kerio regained her strength in her stockade.
Ngilai, like Murit, are two that still like to comfort themselves with the hanging blankets in their stables. When Ngilai visited the little babies who still use the hanging blanket out in the forest he became jealous. He was really rough with them and pushing them away from the blanket just so that he could have it to himself. When he was chased away by the keepers he kept playing tricks on them and coming back to play with the blanket again. Because he was being too selfish with it he was eventually forced away for bad behaviour!
22 February 2016
Mbegu, Roi and Ndotto managed to sneak away from their group to join the little babies and keep them company. In this way Ndotto is very different to Lasayen when it comes to the little babies. He is polite, gentle and nice to them where Lasayen can be a bit of a bully with the babies. Whilst Roi and Mbegu were busy looking after the babies Ndotto was trying to encourage them to play with him. He was showing him some fun games of sitting whilst raising his head and trunk high in the air. He allowed the babies to push and mount on him whilst he rolled on the ground in the long grass. The ostriches always decide for themselves when they will go to the public visiting these days. Tamiyoi is slightly different to the other babies because she will always stick by her keepers and never walk away too far. She always seems to love and trust her keepers very much, and prefers their company to the older orphans.
23 February 2016
Lasayen seems to like Kerio our new little elephant. When he met her on the first day he wanted to spend time with her, sensitive to her plight. Today this little pushy boy has been nice to her as well. When he had finished his 9 o’clock bottle he did not follow the rest of his little herd further into the forest but instead joined the little babies where Kerio was. He was directed to follow his herd but he declined. He browsed side by side with Kerio instead and only left when it was time for the 11am public visiting. After that he went to go and find the little babies again; he didn’t show any interest in the little babies but just looked for Kerio. This interest in her is so important as it is making the little girl feel welcome and more comfortable with her new friends and family.
It seems those who respect the sun always decide to have a mud bath. Some the sun doesn’t bother at all but most of the older ones need to mud bathe to have that nice layer of sun protector. Siangiki was the one today who motivated everyone to get in the mud bath – for any of them to enter the mud pool the first one must be a baby that will encourage the others to join too. Normally it is Mwashoti, Mbegu or Boromoko who get into the mud pool first. Today none of them were ready to be the first one but after Siangiki got into the mud, Sirimon followed and after a few minutes Boromoko, Enkikwe and lasltly Oltaiyoni joined in. They all had a lengthy and enjoyable mud bath – when they left the mud bathing area today they were all covered in mud!
24 February 2016
Oltaiyoni is the most well behaved orphan during milk feeding time, followed by Kauro who normally does not cause any trouble during feeding time. Oltaiyoni will allow anyone running past her at milk time to overtake her, sometimes even stepping to the side so that they may pass. If she gets to the milk feeding area and there is no one waiting with her milk bottle she knows she just has to wait her turn and there is no pushing or fighting. This happened today as when she arrived during public visiting feeding time, there was no keeper ready with her milk bottle and those that were being fed were those that drink their milk very slowly like Kamok, Balguda and Simotua. She just waited for her bottle by the wheelbarrow until someone attended to her! Sometimes when they are returning home for their bed time, she will give all the others space to walk in front as she stays behind and is the last one to walk home, making sure that everyone is comfortable and on their way back to their stockade; thus she is the matriarch of the family.
25 February 2016
Boromoko missed the public show today after he decided to be a big boy and separate himself from the herd. He had been feeding far away from the others in the forest this morning since they first left their stockades. By the time of the show no one had noticed his absence until his bottles were found still in the wheel barrow! Normally he is one of those babies that never sneaks away from the herd. Going back to where they had been in the bush, he was found browsing all alone and without any worries! Balguda and Kauro who normally never go in the mud bath must have felt hot today as they found a shallow pool in the park and had a lengthy mud bath – when it came time for private visiting they were a completely different colour from the rest as the mud they had been rolling in was dark grey, and the others were the normal red of the Nairobi soil.
26 February 2016
Maxwell was excited this morning when the orphans were going out to the forest. There were two warthogs inside his stockade who were feeding enjoying his lucerne. He was chasing them around and teasing them as well. After chasing them for some time he pretended to have given up and the warthogs returned to feeding on their bended front knees – Max approached them cautiously from behind, approaching slowly to where he could hear them eating, and got them lined up, all through his acute hearing, and then ran at them. This freaked them out and they too off, with one of them getting stuck in Maxwell’s gate, as the other one took off between his legs! The one stuck in the gate managed to escape when Max turned around, not aware one remained stuck in his gate bars.
It was a really fun show during public visiting today for both the visitors and the orphans – all of the babies were observed to be having a really fun time and playing, perhaps because of the freshly dug loose soil around the mud pool. When the middle group of Mbegu’s arrived, after they had their milk, they all surrounded the pool and those that were interested in mud bathing did so, those that were interested in dustbathing rolled around on the ground. Dupotto, Lasayen, Naseku and Ndotto loved both the mud and the soil. Those four were in the same spot from the start of visiting, until the end. They were rolling in the mud and dusting themselves in the soil to dry again and again. Mbegu led Godoma, Ngilai and Murit for soil dusting in a different spot and she didn’t want to mix with anyone else. If anyone wanted to join her group of 4 she would move them to a different corner.
27 February 2016
Even the greedy ones have a role that they play in the family. The greedy one Olsekki is a real entertainer in his own way. He happens to be the first ever orphan at the nursery capable of picking up his milk bottle from the ground to feed himself. Some of the orphans can do this when they are older at the relocation units, but Olsekki is the first one to do this at nursery level. Usually at feeding time, the elephants come in groups according to how many keepers are present. But today during visiting they came in a slightly bigger number than the keepers present. Olsekki’s milk was on the ground waiting for him and he was able to come over and pick up his bottle without the keepers help.
Whilst out in the forest, Ngilai, Lasayen and Ndotto went off charging and trumpeting. Their keeper attempted to stop them but they were unstoppable at the speed they were running at. They were heading to the little babies and when they arrived they were turned back to rejoin their own group. But it didn’t take them long to repeat the same thing all over again. The second time round they were allowed some time with the babies and they finally settled down. They later left to rejoin their own herd, their own decision!
28 February 2016
Kerio has started feeling more a part of her new elephant family recently. Previously she had been isolating herself, mourning the loss of her family. Today she has been interacting with Murit and Ndotto who paid Tamiyoi’s team, who she browses with out in the forest, a visit. They communicated by exchanging trunks and she kept following the two around for the whole time they were with that little group. Kenani had a very happy and playful day today. He had some fun with warthog piglets which he chased all over the place, under the keepers’ watchful eye. He would raise his ears high and run after the piglets, chasing them up and down, before returning to his keeper.
It is the routine after public visiting that all the babies gather together as the keepers eat their lunch at this time. When the older herd started to move further away into the forest to browse, Murit decline to accompany them and stayed with Tamiyoi’s baby herd. When it was time for the babies to have their milk, the nice boy never complained or demanded to have some too, but some minutes later when the radio went calling for the older orphans milk to be brought, without being told or directed he slowly moved away from that baby group to quietly go and find his team for his own feed.
29 February 2016
Simotua is going back to his usual way of browsing. Once he gets out into the forest he tries to locate an area with lots of green pasture. If his friends or keepers don’t ask him to move on, he will stay in that spot until he has had enough, no matter how far the others move away from him. He is one that doesn’t play around with food. This morning after the 9am milk feed, he was left behind without being noticed. For over 2 hours the other orphans moved and browsed further away and only when they were using the same path to come back a few hours later, did they come across Simotua who had not moved at all.
The milk formula is the babies’ favourite food and they will never have enough of it. Today during public visiting Roi stole a bottle from the wheelbarrow and made off with it. The keepers tried to take it from her but in vain – just like human children when they do something naughty in front of guests, they run towards them hoping to seek some safety and not to be disciplined as harshly. Roi did the same and ran along the rope cordon holding the bottle with her trunk in her mouth. Kauro came over to assist the keepers but it didn’t work, Roi finished the milk and threw the bottle on the ground. At some point Tusuja was unhappy with Rapa’s bullying character towards Godoma and he disciplined him by driving him away from the little girl.
Whilst out browsing in the forest, Alamaya almost stepped on a sleeping bush buck. As the bush buck sped off with a fright, Alamaya ran to his keepers screaming for help. Loikas is another little character and enjoys trying to climb on his door, especially when he sees visitors there. This is similar behaviour to other orphans we had years ago, Sunyei and Kalama.