Keepers' Diaries, February 2019

Nairobi Nursery Unit

Little Maarifa is growing bigger every day and we are mindful that she will eventually grown in a huge animal, already evident in the rate of her growth, as she has morphed from being ‘all feet’ to more compact muscle now. She has a delightful fat little tummy and keeps us very much entertained with her funny antics, always galloping from one place to another before collapsing in a tired heap for frequent naps.

01 February 2019

Maarifa the baby rhino is a clever little girl and she decides not to defecate in her stable at night. She always waits until morning when the elephant babies are waking up and starting to come out of their rooms to begin a new day, then she starts making her sweet little squeaking noise, asking the Keepers to hurry up and open her door so she can go out into the bushes to relieve herself. As soon as she reaches the bushes she relieves herself, and when she is done she playfully starts running out into the forest, with her two Keepers hot on her heels. She is still as playful as ever and at all times chasing and charging anything that happens to pass by. She has grown so much then when she came in in November last year.

02 February 2019

Kiko is doing very well in his protected stockade compound area having been attacked by lions a few weeks ago. The injury caused to his back leg is healing well and he is stress free and very relaxed now. He is not free to walk out into the forest, but spends his days walking around and browsing in Maxwell’s extended stockade area in the trees where he is watched over all day. He is provided with all kinds of extra greens to make sure he has everything he could want, and he seems very happy. He loves teasing poor Maxwell who he is next door to, by lowering his head and touching his ears or head with his mouth or tongue; poor Maxwell who cannot see always gets a startled fright and turns to knock against the stockade posts.

03 February 2019

Kiasa has been showing off all of her character traits recently – she can be the naughty little trouble maker but in her best mood she can be a gentle and calm little girl too. She is always one of the last to be brought to the bottle feeding due to her bad behaviour at those times, but today she managed to sneak down in the first group of orphans! She drank her milk as the Keepers whispered to each other that Kiasa came early and now there might be trouble as the other orphans came in for their bottles, so they kept all eyes on her. Funnily enough Kiasa surprised them all by being such a good girl and kept herself busy by enjoying rolling on the loose soil piles together with Mukkoka and even Maktao! The Keepers couldn’t believe their eyes and they were happy she was showing off her best character.

04 February 2019

Kuishi and Emoli are two orphans who have particularly hidden yet naughty characters. They are not openly mischievous but sometimes they can just act up around strangers. They can approach someone in a friendly manner and then suddenly just change. Today during the public visit Jotto, who is such a calm and gentle bull, was standing close to the rope cordon and enjoying some green branches there and also interacting a bit with the visiting public. Kuishi came and stood alongside Jotto for a bit and then pushed him away so she could stand in that area alone. When she saw that the Keepers were not mindful of what she was up to, she started walking along the rope and intentionally bumping into some of the visitors, who were happy to have this encounter and she was not being too rough. Before things got out of hand however, the Keepers decided to bring her back to the middle of the mud bath area, as they know how she likes to tease! Emoli is similar and also has an unpredictable character – he looks friendly but if not checked he can be naughty!

05 February 2019

It’s always fun and interesting to watch the orphans come out of their night stockades in the early morning and see the different antics they get up to in the compound before they go out to the forest. Some of them were particularly funny today, like Ambo, Kiasa, Sattao, Malima and Tamiyoi, who came running out of their rooms and immediately ran to the stockade where the bags of lucerne pellets are kept, and they were seen simultaneously reaching their trunks through and scooping up what pellets they could gather. When the Keepers came over and tried to move them away, Kiasa, Ambo and Sattao ran away first, pretending they were going out to the forest, but what they were actually doing was circling past Musiara, Luggard and Kiko’s stables to pass through the corridor and sneaking back to the same feeding spot! They settled in the same spot and started stealing pellets again from through the wooden posts, and this is not the first time they have done such a thing – the Keepers really need to keep an eye on these naughty little characters! 

06 February 2019

Enkesha is a gentle, quiet girl, who is fond of being at the back of the orphan herd and sometimes browses slightly away from the others. When she wakes up in the morning she is happy to get on with her own things and not interact too much with the others. She is happy to go her own way, and sometimes sneak off to her favourite feeding spot. Today she lagged behind the rest of the group, feeding on the bushes next to the parking area, and when she lost the scent of the others she bellowed loudly to find out where they were. She ran back to the stockade compound and Tagwa, who heard her yelling, came running from where she was with the other orphans to collect up Enkesha. It seems she does not like to be on her own all the time! Tagwa continues to prove that she is a very competent matriarch of the Nursery herd, as we watched her lead Enkesha out to join the rest of the orphans who were busy browsing.

07 February 2019

The high temperature was talk of the day today as we felt it was already hot from about 9am. By 11am the orphans were already looking forward to a mud bath and they enjoyed a lengthy swim. Today some of the orphans like Mapia, Sagala, Jotto and Tagwa only drank one bottle before running off to spray themselves with water under their ears to cool down, before going back for their second bottle. When they were all done with their milk bottles, they spent a long time rolling around in the muddy pool. Sagala and Mapia, who love mud bathing, instead stood on the edge of the mud bath and sprayed themselves with mud using their trunks, inadvertently targeting the visitors standing behind them, and splashing them with mud as well. It seemed the more the public found this funny, the more Mapia and Sagala sprayed mud around.

08 February 2019

We know that elephants have feeling just like humans do. As soon as the orphans settled out in the forest to browse today, many were enjoying browsing but Ambo and Mapia were busy welcoming the new day with a wrestling game. Their interesting wrestling game gained Jotto’s interest but sadly the two boys didn’t pay him any attention. Jotto tried to stand in between them to have the chance of wrestling with one of them but they didn’t engage with him and instead stepped to the side to continue their game. Jotto persisted and didn’t give up as he followed them but when he realized neither of them would play with him he turned jealous and was about to poke Ambo with his tusks. He stepped in between the boys again and when Ambo tried to play with Mapia Jotto pointed his tusks at him and looked like he was about to charge. This sent Ambo running off towards the older girls like Sagala and Tagwa, yelling for safety. Growing young bulls show characters and feelings just like young children who might feel jealous when others don’t want to play with them!

09 February 2019

The orphans seemed to be rather excited as they came scampering out into the bushes in the early hours of the morning. Tagwa, Kuishi, Sagala, Jotto, Tamiyoi and Malima appeared to be the most excited as they scampered off together, greeting each other in a playful pushing game before they went their own ways into the bushes. Jotto was the first to roll around on the ground, and he was soon joined by Kuishi, Tamiyoi and Malima. Whilst they were rolling around, Jotto decided to playfully climb onto Kuishi’s back but was quickly chased away by Tagwa.  

10 February 2019

The orphans appeared quiet this morning as they slowly made their way out into the field, and the Keepers even had to encourage them a little. None of the orphans seemed to want to play as they all began to browse as soon as they were out in the bush. Even Maxwell and Maarifa seemed to have a relaxed morning as they both were reluctant to get out of their beds of hey. Even during their midday feed, the orphans were uninterested in having a mud bath as they all kept to themselves, browsing having dust baths. Even Maarifa didn’t seem to want to run around as she normally does at the 11am public visit. She simply stood on one spot uninterested in following the Keepers. The day continued to be cloudy and windy and as a result the orphans were less active throughout the afternoon  

11 February 2019

Jotto is so humble and gentle, that he never seems to want to bully his peers. It is amazing to watch how he protects the younger orphans and new rescues. A good example of this has been his response to the arrival of Nabulu, he constantly seems to be making sure that she is not being pushed around by Emoli, Mapia and Sagala, who have been a little bit more apprehensive of her arrival. Mapia seemed to be mock charging her today and Jotto immediately intervened and pushed him away; Jotto has been by her side ever since. Luggard is another one of the orphans that always seems to be there to comfort and console the new arrivals, especially as the orphans head off for their midday or afternoon feeding times. As the herd disperses Luggard always remains close to the new arrivals, and today he was even seen sharing food with Nabulu. This is often the reason why Larro will remain close to him. 

12 February 2019

Ambo never appeared to be that close to Mapia, but more recently the two bulls have been seen spending more and more time together and have even began to play with one another, they have even been seen play fighting whist still in their stables. Mapia seems to have put on some weight recently and now appears to be stronger than Ambo. This morning, the bulls began to play as soon as they came out their stockades. They were seen running, hiding and wrestling each other all the way out to the forest. When the orphans were down at the mud bath area for their morning bottles of milk, they began to roll around and have dust busts in the new loose soil that had just been put down. Ambo and Mapia continued to play in the soil. Ambo, who is a little shorter than Mapia, thought of a cunning plan to climb the mound of soil and then wrestle Mapia from the top. His plan was successful. Jotto seemed to come over to assist Mapia, but he too was outsmarted by Ambo. Tamiyoi even joined in and seemed to challenge Ambo, and as he came down the mound of soil they began to playfully wrestle. In the end all the play fighting was stopped by Tagwa who seemed to calm Ambo and the others down. 

13 February 2019

Emoli seems to be quite a boisterous character as he is constantly trying to jump on his peers’ backs and nudge them around. Enkesha, Tamiyoi, and Maisha, began their day by rolling around in the dust and enjoying each other’s company. Maisha seemed to have enough and slowly got up and went on her way. As Maisha moved away, Musiara decided to join Enkesha and Tamiyoi who were seemed happy to have him around. Musiara was playfully sliding off their backs whilst all three of them rolled around in the dust. Emoli appeared to be closely watching Musiara and the two girls, and he later decided to join in. He started to boisterously push Musiara away from the girls, trying to climb on his back. Musiara, who didn’t seem to like this, ran away and took refuge near the Keepers. Emoli having seen the Keepers immediately ran back to the two girls, where he seemed to be told off by Tamiyoi. As Emoli moved away, Musiara rejoined Enkesha and Tamiyoi and the three continued with their dust bath. 

14 February 2019

All the orphans like their milk but Musiara is one baby that never really makes a fuss over it, but today he was different. It was all calm and quiet at the beginning of the noon milk feed today. The first group of orphans all had their bottles and went on with their usual activities. Enkesha and Maktao enjoyed a dust bath while Sattao and Larro followed the Keepers who had picked some greens for them. The majority of babies were just browsing on the greens in the area. Normally if Musiara approaches the wheelbarrow holding the milk, it is just because he wants to stand in the shade. He can touch and play with the bottles but he has never brought the Keepers any trouble because of demanding extra milk. Today was different and he kept trying to fight the Keepers for more milk next to the wheelbarrow. Whenever he was sent away he yelled out very loud in protest. Maisha seemed to have been watching his bad behaviour and she decided to drive him away from the area to stop him causing trouble for the Keepers, and she kept pushing him away.

Emoli was also being selfish during the same milk feed as he didn’t want any of the others to share the water trough with him. He had already driven away Musiara, Sattao and Maktao from one of the troughs when he found them there drinking water. Later he chased away Kiasa too as she approached to have a drink; so he was clearly in a bad mood!

15 February 2019

In the early morning hours as the orphans came out of their rooms, Ambo, Maktao, Mukkoka and Enkesha decided to go their own different way. The Keepers wanted all of the orphans to move in the same direction, but Maktao declined and went his own way with the others. The other three stopped to listen to the Keepers and joined the rest of the herd, as Maktao wandered off. A short while later however, as expected, Maktao wondered where the others were and started to look for them. By that time the herd had already moved far into the forest. Maktao was clever though and instead of running around when he did not know which direction they had taken, he started bellowing and running back towards the compound. On his way he met a Keeper, when he also remembered that he had disobeyed them earlier, which made him turn and run in the other direction! Kuishi heard him shouting in the distance and ran to find him and bring him back to the rest of the herd.

Sagala was a naughty girl today as she just walked up to Dololo who was quietly browsing and just pushed him to the ground. He rolled over and yelled for help. Tagwa and Jotto came running over to help him and Sagala sneaked away to avoid getting in trouble. Tagwa used her front legs to get him up while Jotto tried to support his head. They couldn’t manage however as Dololo has fallen on one of his hind legs, so the Keepers came over to help lift him up, while one of the other Keepers sent Sagala away for her bad behaviour. 

16 February 2019

Our new baby girl Nabulu from the Masai Mara is settling into the family so well, although she still has to learn how to deal with some of the more rowdy and bully members of the herd. She hasn’t fully accepted her human family yet, but as she was rescued at an older age, this will take time. She is enjoying spending her days out with the other elephants in the forest. Mukkoka, having become settled in the herd a few months ago, is trying his best to bully the new arrival, despite being so much smaller! He can be spotted rearing up on his back legs to try and head butt and push Nabulu, but all she does is move away and give him space. As she is looking to make friends with the others in the herd, she just ignores little Mukkoka’s antics and moves away.

17 February 2019

As a result of the lovely and much-needed rain we received last night, Maxwell was full of energy and excitement this morning as he kept running up and down in circles around his stockade. He also had some fun with Malima, Mapia and Jotto in the morning as well, as they all played a pushing game at one of his gates.

Tamiyoi is not as keen as some of the others at playing pushing games, but today she seems to have been in one of her most playful moods. She engaged both Tagwa and Ambo in a very lengthy pushing game and didn’t even concentrate that much on browsing out in the forest.

Alternatively, Maktao seems to have been in a bad mood today and at the noon milk feeding time he kept charging at Sattao and his neighbor Kiasa. He pushed past Kiasa and took the rest of his anger out in the mud bath, where he stayed until they all returned back to the forest to browse. 

18 February 2019

At the moment when Maarifa goes out to the forest, she does not come across other creatures like her. She does not mingle with the elephants either and because she is the size of a warthog, we sometimes wonder if she thinks she is one of them! Sometimes, like today, she can spend so long playing with the friendly warthogs in the area. When they go down on their knees to eat grass, although she does not have teeth yet and cannot graze, she stands there moving her mouth without actually putting any grass in.

Yesterday, late in the afternoon, we received another new young elephant from Tsavo. This little girl has a terrible leg injury and cannot walk. This morning all of the older girls were crowded around her gate to welcome her to the Nursery. Tagwa, Tamiyoi, Malima, Maisha and Sagala were all there, even though Sagala is not very good with the new arrivals. Jotto and Musiara were also not left out of the welcoming committee.

Today Enkesha, Kiasa, Musiara, Maisha and Emoli had a lot of fun at the mud bath where they played for ages and also with a ball in the water as well. After all their fun and silly antics, they all lay down to fully submerge their bodies and they hardly moved at all until it was time to go back to the forest. While they were in the water, Mukkoka kept guard over them, making sure none of the warthogs could approach the mud pool by chasing them away.

19 February 2019

Little Larro has come to like her milk formula very much. Recently she has started walking back to the stockade compound a couple of times a day to look for some milk before the milk feeding time. She is a nice little girl and seems to enjoy Luggard’s company the most. This morning, before her 9am milk feed, she returned to the stockade twice to look for more milk! One of the times she walked directly to her room and started pulling on the bucket that holds the bottles in the afternoon, to see if there was anything in side. She is such a clever little elephant too!

Tagwa and Sattao still seem hooked on one another and when the whole herd is out in the forest Sattao does not spend five minutes away from Tagwa. If she wanders off, when he realizes she is not around he runs around looking for her. This morning he accompanied Nabulu, Sagala, Jotto and Ambo deep into the forest while Tagwa went in a different direction, but when he realized he couldn’t see her he started running all over the place searching for her, and as he couldn’t find her he started yelling more and more. Tamiyoi came running over to him in response to his cry, but he didn’t calm down until Tagwa came over too.

20 February 2019

It was a beautiful and clear morning with the sun shining brightly, all indications that it would be another hot day. The orphans all appeared to be a in good spirits enjoying the early morning rays of sunshine, Maxwell was even seen resting against his stockade posts, closing his eyes whilst the sun warmed him up. He was so still that all the Keepers could see moving were his ears as he listened to the noises around him, some small birds took this opportunity to perch themselves on his back and eat all the bugs they could find. 

As the day got hotter, Musiara, Larro, and Mukkoka all sought refuge in the shade of the trees. The high temperature didn’t seem to bother the bigger boys, as Mapia, Jotto and Ambo continued to play their pushing game out in the open spaces. Dololo and Maktao, on the contrary, preferred to lie down under some shrubs in the shade. 

21 February 2019

It was a windy and cloudy morning, which meant that young Larro had to wear her blanket for the better part of the day. As the orphans were making their way out to the park for their morning browsing activities, Kiasa seemed to be remaining close to Larro and was thought to be comforting the younger and smaller orphan. Unbeknownst to the Keepers and Larro, Kiasa had other motives for remaining close by. As soon as she had the chance, she pulled Larro’s blanket off and flicked it into the air frightening the other orphans and causing them to charge off in different directions seeking shelter from this strange object. It took the Keepers a little while to calm all the orphans down, but Kiasa seemingly proud of her antics simply walked off into the bush to continue browsing. 

22 February 2019

It was another hot day, with the orphans quickly drinking their milk at their midday feed so that they could immerse themselves in the muddy water to cool off. It was such fun watching Dololo, Musiara, Mukkoka and Maisha all happily wallowing in the mud, but it was Enkesha that caused great intrigue as she walked over to the hose pipe that was running and put it into her mouth and began to drink straight out the pipe. This impressed all the Trust’s visitors who couldn’t believe what they were seeing, and they all thought how clever the little elephants really are.

23 February 2019

Malima is growing from the strength to strength every day, she has a healthy appetite, loves her milk, and is a playful character apart from when she is taking her milk bottle. This was very evident today at the 11am milk feeding time when she came charging down, over taking Kuishi and Jotto in order to get to her bottle first. Once at the mud bath area she impressed everyone by holding onto her bottle by herself and not spilling a single drop.

24 February 2019

Maarifa the little white rhino is always such a joyful and energetic character. She loves to run up and down whilst in the bush and always seems to enjoy her time at the midday milk feed. Today was no different, when she emerged from the bushes making her way down to the mud bath area and finished her milk, she cutely lay on top of the heap of soil warming her little stomach in the sun and enjoying a short dust bath. 

25 February 2019

Ambo and Jotto used to be the best of friends, always playing pushing and enjoying strength testing games with another and charging around. However, recently, and probably due to their age, the two bulls have been a bit rougher with one another whilst playing. Today, Ambo caught Jotto off guard by suddenly challenging him to a strength testing match. Jotto, unaware of his friend approaching, lost his balance as Ambo pushed him with great force, causing him to fall on his knees, and to make matters worse, he would not let Jotto get up! Tagwa and the Keepers quickly intervened and separated the two bulls, allowing Jotto time to stand up. Jotto who is known to be peaceful and polite chose to continue his browsing activities far away from Ambo. 

26 February 2019

The orphans can be quite naughty in the evenings by stealing each other’s greens and refusing to eat their own. This evening was such a case, with Nabulu stealing Tagwa’s greens and Emoli stealing Tamiyoi’s. Tagwa took no notice of Nabulu, but Taimyoi was not happy with Emoli stealing her greens and she challenged him to a tug of war match to see who would win them in the end.  

27 February 2019

Maarifa is growing up so fast and her little antics are increasing day by day. This morning, as the door to her stable was opened, she darted out passed her Keepers and ran straight to the milk mixing area, almost as if to ask where her milk was. As there was nothing of interest happening there, she quickly darted off to the staff canteen, all the while ignoring her Keepers who were trying to get her attention. One of her Keepers eventually managed to get her attention as he was carrying an empty bottle, and with this bottle they managed to lure her away from the canteen and out into the bush where she found a nice spot to lie in the sun.  

28 February 2019

Sattao and Musiara are the best of friends and although their stockades are far apart, they always enjoy greeting each other in the morning. This morning Sattao woke up a little earlier to go and look for his friend but was surprised to not find Musiara within his stable, but instead was feasting on Saya’s leftover pellets with Tamiyoi and Emoli. Emoli appeared to be annoyed by Sattao’s arrival and challenged him to a game of strength testing. Unperturbed by the wrestling bulls, Tamiyoi and Musiara continued to feast on the pellets. 

Whilst Luggard was making his way out into the bush for his morning browsing activities, a warthog appeared from the bush giving him a fright and causing him to trumpet loudly and flap his ears. Sagala, hearing the commotion, quickly ran to his rescue and chased the warthog away.