Keepers' Diaries, January 2005

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

There was another anxious beginning to the New Year when both Ndomot and Madiba refused all milk, and were obviously unwell, suffering from a stomach disorder. Obviously, they had either eaten something toxic out in the bush, or the boiled barley supplement, which is added to the milk feed of all the orphans over 4 months old, was contaminated. Immediately, all barley was removed from the milk feeds of all the elephants, and this and the stools were sent to the Pathologist for tests. Both elephants suffered severe diarrheoa for about a week, which entailed giving them as much rehydration as they would take, as well as a course of Sulphadimidine to stem “the runs”. The results of the pathologist’s examination of the stools found no bacteria present, but traces of Aflotoxin in the barley, but which our Vet felt was not enough to be the cause of such a violent stomach upset. However, having first hand experience of the fragility of the infant elephants, we could not risk it so Daphne has managed to source ground oatmeal and dessicated coconut as alternative supplements for the infant elephants.

There was another anxious beginning to the New Year when both Ndomot and Madiba refused all milk, and were obviously unwell, suffering from a stomach disorder. Obviously, they had either eaten something toxic out in the bush, or the boiled barley supplement, which is added to the milk feed of all the orphans over 4 months old, was contaminated. Immediately, all barley was removed from the milk feeds of all the elephants, and this and the stools were sent to the Pathologist for tests. Both elephants suffered severe diarrheoa for about a week, which entailed giving them as much rehydration as they would take, as well as a course of Sulphadimidine to stem “the runs”. The results of the pathologist’s examination of the stools found no bacteria present, but traces of Aflotoxin in the barley, but which our Vet felt was not enough to be the cause of such a violent stomach upset. However, having first hand experience of the fragility of the infant elephants, we could not risk it so Daphne has managed to source ground oatmeal and dessicated coconut as alternative supplements for the infant elephants.

During the time that both Ndomot and Madiba were so unwell, all the elephants were visibly depressed, Sunyei in particular, as the “Matriarch” of the Nursery group, standing close by them, and touching them tenderly with her trunk, disciplining Buchuma, who wanted to engage them in the usual “pushing game”.

Buchuma is the smallest and youngest of our Nursery bulls, and as such is determined to hold his own, seen in this month’s Diary as something of a “bully”. However, this simply demonstrates that he will be a force to be reckoned with when grown, and does not reflect badly on his normally friendly and very gentle character.

There is still quite a lot of competition between our three females, all of whom want to mother the two babies, tiny Nalitu and Lualeni, but Sunyei has emerged as the overall Leader and Matriarch of the group as a whole. Nalitu is very fond of both Naserian and Galana, but of the two, Naserian has perhaps won most of little Nalitu’s love, allowing the calf to suckle her miniature breasts, and always extremely caring and attentive of both youngsters. That said, Galana comes a close second, and Sunyei now and then has a turn as well. Of all the group, it is Sunyei who stands her ground to confront any threat, whilst all the others retreat. She, Naserian and Madiba demonstrated the incredible strength of elephants by shoving a huge fallen log around, something that defeated their Keepers!

As usual, the warthog families have provided fun and games for all the babies. It has been rewarding to see little Lualeni beginning to enjoy life at last, and beginning to bond with Nalitu and the older females. Lualeni has been in deep grief for her lost elephant family since arrival, but is gradually recovering, although she is still something of a loner.

Rhinos:- A heart-warming scene, indeed, to see, early one morning, little Shida rubbing noses affectionately with feisty Makosa. We know now that Makosa has accepted him as “rightfully belonging in the Nairobi Park community” and when the time comes for Shida to be out and about at night, he will have a big friend to protect him from other not-so-friendly members of the rhino community. Magnum continues his usual routine, pitching up in the mornings and presenting himself at the front steps of Daphne’s house for a hand-out of fruit, before oscillating round the back to seek out his Keeper and trundle off down the hill behind the wheelbarrow of his offerings, followed by his satellites – the resident warthogs, whose numbers have swelled after the November/December birthing season. All the animals that make use of the orphans’ mudbath greatly enjoyed a pile of loose red earth with which to “powder” themselves, raising a veritable dust-storm that wafted straight into Angela’s house, which was not quite so popular!

At month end, there was excitement when Galana’s tusks broke through the gum, indicating that she has probably reached her second birthday. Her recovery has been remarkable, and she is now the picture of health, sporting fat little cheeks, and shouldering the female mantle of caring and protection for the smaller elephants. Madiba is enjoying a reprieve from the daily test of strength from Ndomot, who now has to contend with “pushy” little Buchuma! And as usual, there are examples of the females keeping the boys in line when, and if, they become too boisterous!

January 2005 day to day

01 Jan

Galana shoved Naserian hard today, but Sunyei immediately ran to Naserian’s assistance, pushing Galana away. Galana merely walked away and did not retaliate.

Shida with his keepers Kingoo, Feliz and Mischak

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