Keepers' Diaries, February 2022

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

For our Nursery herd, February began on a rainy note. This really upset our ‘Kaluku Trio,’ as Kindani, Kinyei, and Bondeni hate the sound of storms. Kindani and Bondeni resorted to snuggling through their stable, while Kinyei tried to climb over her wall to join them. The Keepers remained by their sides and reassured them that everything was okay, but they only fell into a deep sleep after the rain had abated. 

On 2nd February, we welcomed another new rescue from Laikipia, who we named Lorigon. As they always do, the orphans ran over to his stockade first thing in the morning, eager to extend their traditional warm welcome. The young boy was full of energy and relished all the attention he was getting from his new friends. 

The 2nd was also a big day for Lodo, as it was his first day out with the Nursery herd. After the orphans finished their morning milk feed, a small welcoming committee was assembled to escort him into the forest. As soon as his stockade door opened, Lodo came dashing out to greet Olorien, Naleku, Kindani, Suguroi, Roho, Bondeni, and Kinyei. He was an old pro at the mud bath, as if it was something he had been doing his entire life. In the evening, Barnoti, Oldepe, Esoit, Ziwadi, and Mukutan escorted Lodo back to his bedroom. He and his brand new neighbour, Lorigon, proceeded to spend the entire night bonding, sharing greens and greetings. 

Although he is not the youngest member of the Nursery herd, Mukutan certainly behaves like a baby. He is constantly complaining to his Keepers, even when there is nothing wrong. Kerrio has realised that he is the proverbial ‘boy who cried wolf’ and now takes great pleasure in teasing him. Her favourite method is to chase Mukutan around the mud bath, which sends him into a tizzy of rumbles and shouts. As she does this, Kerrio has the naughtiest expression on her face — she knows she is being a little devil!

Tingai, who is one of our newest additions, is a calm and gentle boy. While he has not fully adjusted to Nursery life, he is coming along swimmingly. Because he is still getting used to the routine, he sometimes forgets to follow the herd down to the mud bath. On these occasions, the Keepers have to dash after Tingai and usher him back to the rest of the herd.

Since Mukkoka and Naboishu’s graduation, Roho has become extremely cocky. He is by no means the oldest bull at the Nursery, but he has been there the longest, because he was rescued at such a young age. In an effort to assert his dominance, Roho even tries to push around the bigger boys, such as Barnoti and Oldepe. The Keepers hope that with so many new bulls in the mix, he will start playing with them, too. He gets along well with Esoit, who has also graduated to being one of the big boys. Roho is training him to be a worthy sparring opponent. 

Bound by their shared love of the mud bath, Roho has a partner-in-wallowing in our feisty girl, Suguroi. She is still as cheeky as ever, and maintains her funny habit of flaring her ears at the slightest provocation. Suguroi gravitates towards the older boys, particularly Rama, Barnoti, and Oldepe. She seems to prefer their company to the other girls. 

Stealing greens is a time-honoured tradition among our Nursery neighbours. One evening, however, Olorien really took umbrage at Suguroi’s attempts to snatch her greens. She came charging over and grabbed Suguroi's trunk, which quickly put an end to the thievery. We can always rely on Olorien to keep her friends in line, for better or for worse. One afternoon, Lodo got confused and began charging at his Keeper. Olorien immediately stepped in front of the Keeper and rumbled deeply, reminding Lodo that this was not appropriate behaviour. 

As the oldest bulls in the Nursery herd, Rama and Oldepe seem to think they are untouchable. Sometimes, they saunter out into the forest without the rest of the orphans, as if they don’t need the herd’s protection. One morning, however, they came across a large buffalo. This sent them bolting back to the Keepers, making a dramatic commotion with every step. Perhaps they realised that they aren’t so untouchable after all!

Barnoti and Oldepe have become the ‘gentle uncles’ of the Nursery herd, much as Maktao was. Esoit, Mukutan, Choka, Bondeni, Olorien, Suguroi, Taabu, Latika, and Kamili enjoy browsing underneath these big boys, as they have the ability to grab the freshest branches from the tops of the bushes. Barnoti and Oldepe are very generous, and always share their greens with the younger orphans. 

Every orphan has their own special quirks and qualities, and for Latika, it is her tiny trunk. However, this doesn’t hold her back in any way. She still mud bathes with great enthusiasm, and when browsing, she often goes down on her knees to reach the lower branches and grass blades. She remains very close with Kamili. Both girls are gentle, calm, and always mind their own business.

One afternoon, Latika took a page out of Oldepe’s book and pulled a disappearing act. She has mastered all the browsing routes, so the Keepers knew where to look. Sure enough, they found her happily snacking away in one of her favourite haunts, oblivious to the fact that she was completely alone. When Latika saw the Keepers approaching, she greeted them with a warm, deep rumble. It was something Ziwadi would do!

It has been quite some time since Ziwadi’s last seizure, and she continues to blossom. Drawn in by her gentle demeanour, all the new rescues are completely besotted with her. She and Rama remain close friends, but with so many big boys around him these days, Rama’s attention is divided. Ziwadi is equally happy to enjoy his company or the company of her new friends. 

Taabu has such a playful personality. As the orphans strode into the forest one morning, Taabu, Olorien, Bondeni, Kinyei, and Suguroi had a lot of fun chasing after a herd of impala. Taabu, predictably, was the first to lead the charge. Try as they might, the little orphans were unable to keep up with the speedy impala, so they just enjoyed trumpeting and bush bashing.

Some elephants prefer to filter between groups, instead of latching onto just one or two chosen friends. Choka falls under this category, although he is universally adored. The feeling is mutual; while he is the smallest member of the Nursery herd, he is fiercely protective of everyone. One afternoon, he spotted the female warthog and her piglets down at the mud bath. Choka took it upon himself to charge after the interlopers, flapping his little ears and rumbling. Because he is not much larger than a warthog himself, the piglets didn’t think he was a very formidable opponent and refused to leave. Eventually, Sagateisa stepped in and helped Choka chase them away, once and for all.

As is the case with most drought victims, it has taken Sagateisa a long time to recover. However, she is looking much better, gaining condition and confidence in equal measure. Now, she enthusiastically runs into the forest and down to the mud bath. She even stands up to Olorien, Suguroi, and Esoit, who used to push her around during milk feedings.

We are happy with how our big girl, Neshashi, is recuperating. She was only rescued at the end of January, so she is still settling in. Her neighbours, Latika and Kamili, have been very supportive — although they are also guilty of stealing her greens in the evening! 

Naleku continues to excel in her role as the new matriarch in the Nursery herd. She favours little Kerrio, but she does a wonderful job of looking after everyone. In the morning, she lets out a loud trumpet, as if to rouse the rest of the herd. This is an effective wake-up call for everyone save Ziwadi, who continues sleeping until she is well and ready to get up. 

Maxwell, our resident blind rhino, had a wonderful month. He wakes up in a spritely mood most mornings, especially when his buddy Bondeni pays him a visit. Bondeni loves to pull Max’s ears and then dash off, which makes the rhino terribly excited. One morning, however, Bondeni took the game too far and tried to grab Max’s tail. This really upset Max, and to show his displeasure, he kicked dust in the young elephant’s face. Bondeni scampered off to regain his composure.

February ended on a triumphant note for some of our newcomers. Suguroi and Kamili wanted to show off their independence and leadership skills, so they led Tingai, Esoit, and Roho on a private browsing excursion. The girls were proud to have Roho and the other boys following them. When it was time for the afternoon milk feed, they came running back to the Nursery herd, trumpeting and rumbling in excitement. 

February 2022 day to day

01 Feb

It was another restless night for some of the orphans, especially Roho, Olorien, Kindani, Bondeni and Kinyei as there were heavy showers throughout the evening. These five have always been particularly uneasy about the rain but as there was some thunder and lightning last night, they grew even more restless. Kindani and Bondeni were seen snuggling through the bars of their stable as Kinyei was busy trying to climb over to get to them, despite the Keepers’ efforts to comfort them all. As the rain continued throughout the night one of the Keepers remained with them trying to calm them down. Once the rain passed, they all calmed down and Bondeni, Kindani and Kinyei all fell asleep.

Tingai is growing into a very calm and gentle boy, and although he has not fully adjusted to the new routine at the Nursery, he is coming along swimmingly. As he is still getting used to the routine, he doesn’t always follow the herd down to the mud bath and the Keepers sometimes have to run after him to usher him back to the Nursery orphans. This afternoon was such an instance, when he ran off and one of the Keepers had to dash after him and then usher him back down where he had his milk and settled back down.

In the evenings, the orphans like to steal each other’s greens through their stockades and stables walls. This evening, Suguroi kept trying to grab some of Olorien’s greens, but this infuriated Olorien. Olorien came charging over and grabbed hold of Suguroi’s trunk to stop her from stealing the greens. Suguroi yelled out, trying to break free from Olorien’s hold. The Keepers quickly came running over and yelled at Olorien to let go. As soon as Olorien saw the Keepers, she released Suguroi who went back to enjoying her greens.

Kindani and Bondeni trunk waving

Roho and Kinyei browsing

Suguroi suckling her trunk