Keepers' Diaries, February 2020

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

Like all of Kenya, the rains have just continued through the new year and as a result the Nairobi National Park is flourishing and bursting with life; the bushes have grown thick and the grasses have grown high. This can make it difficult for the Keepers to spot naughty orphans like Ziwadi and Enkesha who like to sneak off on their own adventures. Sometimes Kiasa likes to spirit away her own little herd too, and she will whisk the likes of Tagwa, Tamiyoi, Nabulu, Enkesha, Sattao, Dololo, Mukkoka and Naleku off to their own browsing spot. The Keepers can spend quite some time looking for these wandering babies and often find them not even browsing that far away, but conditions are now so dense that they can disappear before their eyes.

Ziwadi is like Enkesha in many ways and is just as independent. When she doesn’t want to do something she can be very stubborn, like when the Keepers tried to get her to leave the mud bath area one day, and on this occasion she flatly refused because she had not yet had her fill and ended up having a lovely time in the water with the older girls when they came down for their milk. Recently she hasn’t been experiencing seizures so we are hopeful that like we predicted, she will grow out of them entirely. Enkesha too has managed to overcome her trunk injury, becoming quite the master of her trunk despite the permanent hole from where the snare wound did not close; she knows exactly how to use her trunk to drink water and pick up and cut her greens, adapting brilliantly to this handicap. In the evenings, she is always one of the first orphans to drink from her water trough and to blow bubbles in her water, just to show off how well she can use it. It is amazing to watch her contract her muscles to close the hole so that she can then suck up her water to drink. 

Little Roho has become quite the playful young bull and he has started to copy some habits of the older bulls such as Musiara, Sattao, Maktao and Dololo. These older boys are always fond of wrestling each other and climbing on each other as well as on the backs of the other orphans in the Nursery herd, and Roho has picked up this playful antic too. He loves to climb on Kiasa and Maisha who are always patient and tolerant of such games with the little ones.  

Because he was her first neighbour and therefore the elephant she first got to know, Naleku is still quite attached to Mukkoka and whenever she is ever frightened or worried she will either run to him or Larro. This is ironic as Mukkoka isn’t the friendliest bull but it is he who Naleku has chosen. Mukkoka is an adventurous bull and doesn’t want to look after the little girl and will look for ways to sneak away from her, although we have seen signs that he can’t help but respond when she is in need either.  

Mukkoka is still the elephant baby who always wants to be the first to get his milk bottle and he will continue to trumpet and rumble at his friends if they try and overtake him. Amusingly once Mukkoka has finished his bottle, unlike Kiasa and Larro, he happily moves away from the milk feeding point, while those two naughty girls keep harassing the Keepers and try to get more milk from the wheelbarrow. 

Tamiyoi has become the Nursery herd’s timekeeper whilst in the forest. Recently she seems to know exactly when it is time for the orphans to get their milk, or head down to the mud bath. She has also become very protective over tiny Naleku and is often reluctant to share her attention with some of the other orphans. Whenever Naleku tries to walk toward the rest of the Nursery herd, Tamiyoi is quick to grab her and bring her back to her side. 

It is heart-warming to see how the other orphans treat their friend Luggard with a broken leg. His best friend remains Musiara but Sattao and Maktao will always engage him in friendly wrestling matches too. One day this month his compromised leg swelled up slightly when he became a little overexcited in a wrestling match, but by the next morning the swelling had gone down and he was walking normally again. This seemed to really please Luggard as he could keep up with the rest of the Nursery herd and he even went down for a mud bath in the afternoon. The Nursery herd let him take the lead when he is running for his milk bottle without bothering him, and always seem to be looking out for him.  

Towards the end of the month Angela was concerned that Maxwell had lost condition and wasn’t feeling as well as he should, and he also appeared more lethargic than normal. The KWS Veterinary Team were called to come and attend to him. He was sedated and given antibiotics and was de-wormed, and after his check-up he remained groggy for a little while.  We have since noticed a huge improvement and we were delighted when a couple of days later he started mud bathing again and playing. 

Over that period Kiko the giraffe actually appeared to show great concern for his neighbour and friend. Kiko and Maxwell often greet each other through the partition they share while Kiko is in the adjoining stockade in the morning while avoiding lions or the midday visiting, and it was as if he noticed his friend wasn’t quite himself. Kiko could be seen pacing up and down his stockade, keeping an eye on Maxwell. We thought the elephants might have been showing the same level of concern as well, when the next morning Tagwa, Maisha, Tamiyoi, and Nabulu all walked over to Maxwell’s gate to greet him, but while the four girls were saying hello to Maxwell, they were also trying to grab some of his Lucerne pellets that were on the floor, so actually it was probably all driven by an ulterior motive! 

February 2020 day to day

01 Feb

Roho has started mimicking Maktao and some of his naughty habits. Much like Maktao, Roho now appears to enjoy climbing on his friends backs. Whenever he sees one of the orphans lying down he quickly runs over and starts to climb on their backs or bellies. Today at the midday mud bath, Kiasa was having lots of fun rolling around in the muddy water, covering her whole body in mud. Roho seemed so excited that she was rolling around that he immediately ran over and began to climb on her belly and enjoyed rolling around with her. Kiasa appeared happy to have the young bull join her and was not bothered at all by him climbing on her back. 

Little Naleku has become quite a tough little girl and the Keepers have enjoyed watching her grow in confidence. She has recently become very good at defending herself when some of the other orphans are being a little bossy. This afternoon whilst in the forest, Larro was trying to push Naleku away but little Naleku stood her ground and pushed back against Larro, refusing to go anywhere. Kiasa, who appeared to notice the two, quickly ran over to intervene and warn Larro away from the little girl. 

Roho climbing on Tamiyoi's back

Kiasa enjoying a lie down in the forest

Naleku and Larro out in the forest