Keepers' Diaries, January 2005

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.

01 January 2005

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

02 January 2005

Buchuma has become very “pushy” and enjoys mounting on the others when they lie down, which annoys Galana, who shoves him off as hard as possible. Sunyei and Naserian then come to calm him down

03 January 2005

Nalitu and Lualeni are becoming good friends, playing together and walking together out in the bush. Galana, Sunyei and Naserian are very competitive, each wanting Nalitu, who shares time with each, but prefers Naserian. Buchuma took on Ndomot today, and emerged victorious.

04 January 2005

Sunyei seems to be the Matriarch of all the Nursery orphans, responding rapidly to any incident within the group.

05 January 2005

During the 9 am milk feed, it was interesting to see that Naserian would not take her milk until little Nalitu begins to take hers. During this process, Nalitu moves close to Naserian before accepting the milk, obviously liking to feel that the milk comes from Naserian’s breast.

06 January 2005

It was a very happy day for the orphans today. Buchuma and Ndomot had a wonderful head butting game, and even little Lualeni played in the mudbath.

07 January 2005

It was another happy and playful day for the Nursery elephants. Buchuma and Ndomot engaged each other, whilst Madiba watched on the touchlines. Nalitu was trying to play football, watched by Lualeni.

08 January 2005

It has become a daily routine for Buchbuma and Ndomot to play fight every morning, just as Ndomot and Madiba used to. This has let Madiba off the hook, and he is very relaxed. Ndomot and Madiba both off their milk; passing stools with greyish pieces, unlike as usual and unlike the others.

09 January 2005

Buchuma decided to take on Sunyei today, and got shoved down, bellowing for help. Madiba and Ndomot responded, and came to his rescue. Both Madiba and Ndomot are still not feeding well.

10 January 2005

Madiba and Ndomot are not feeling well today. They are refusing their milk, but taking rehydrants. The other orphans are very subdued, because two of their number are sick. Sunyei spent a lot of time trying to comfort them, touching them gently with her trunk, and staying close to them. Buchuma tried to initiate a game with both Ndomot and Madiba, but neither felt like playing. In the evening the Vet came, and gave them both oral Sulphadimidine, before taking stool samples for testing as well as a little of the barley that we boil and add to their milk feeds.

11 January 2005

Buchuma did not want to recognise that Ndomot and Madiba were unwell and persisted in pushing them. Sunyei warned him off by pushing him very hard and trumpeting to make him understand.

12 January 2005

Nalitu spent feeding times near Naserian for security purposes, because Buchuma is being silly and wanting to push her as well. The Keepers had to punish Buchuma for being too rough with little Nalitu.

13 January 2005

Sunyei was very attentive to Buchuma, but he did not want to change his bad habits, so she ended up pushing him very hard again. Later he tried to initiate a pushing game with both Ndomot and Madiba, but Galana came to protect them and warn Buchuma off.

14 January 2005

Galana’s fondness for Nalitu and Lualeni is becoming very evident. She likes taking both babies away from the Keepers to the nearby bush, and enjoys them clinging to her, touching her with their little trunks. She looks completely satisfied, and raises her ears whenever anyone approaches who might entice the babies from her side. Naserian is unhappy about this, because she wants the babies as well, and this creates friction between these two females.

15 January 2005

Buchuma is becoming very fond of Lualeni, a fondness that is blossoming every day, although Lualeni seems disinterested in his attentions. Now and then he feels like a game with one of the other two boys, and runs to them to initiate a pushing game.

16 January 2005

Naserian has given all her motherly love to Nalitu, allowing her to suckle her tiny breasts, even though they are barely visible. All the elephants are very content today because Ndomot and Madiba are better. Lualeni was trying to eat some grass, Ndomot, Madiba and Buchuma were enjoying shoving games.

17 January 2005

We are all very happy today, because Madiba and Ndomot are now well again, and are pleased to indulge Buchuma in pushing games. We came across 4 giraffes whilst changing location in the forest, which scared all the orphans, except Sunyei, who stood her ground, trumpeted and ran after the giraffes as though chasing them away.

18 January 2005

Nalitu had a lovely time chasing the baby warthogs. All the others joined in, Sunyei keeping a close eye to ensure that no harm befell Nalitu. Madiba, Sunyei and Naserian combined their strength to move huge logs of wood from one place to another, pushing with their heads. We could not believe it, because we could not move such large logs and the elephants pushed the logs for a long time. Little Nalitu was very interested, walking alongside the three.

19 January 2005

Madiba and Buchuma were engaged in a pushing match, which was interrupted by Ndomot, who came and pushed Madiba away from Buchuma. Perhaps Ndomot thought it unfair because Buchuma is much smaller than Madiba!

20 January 2005

Lualeni and little Nalitu have bonded together well, both spending time together away from the rest. Naserian immediately began running around trumpeting and looking for them, but having seen them, she calmed down and was quiet.

21 January 2005

Madiba and Naserian had a play-fight which lasted most of the afternoon today, interrupting Naserian’s role as mother to little Nalitu. Both Sunyei and Galana moved in to take the baby, but Nalitu went to the Keepers, waiting for Naserian to come to her, which she did once she had finished her game with Madiba.

22 January 2005

The elephants all went out into the bush in a long line, with the two babies at the rear of the column. When it was time for milk, the older elephants ran very fast to take their bottles, but Naserian left her bottle to return to the two babies and see them taking their milk first, before returning to her own. Before Lualeni had finished her milk, Madiba shoved her, which brought Galana at the run to her rescue. Galana protects the two little ones from any bullying by the bulls.

23 January 2005

Naserian remained behind with the babies as all the elephants made their way to the noon mudbath and their midday milk feed. Only Ndomot did not want to go into the mud today, even when pushed by Buchuma.

24 January 2005

Galana spotted a leopard this morning, and ran around trumpeting, making a lot of noise. All the other elephants ran in different directions. Lualeni was not happy to be denied a mudbath at midday by the Keepers, because it was too cold.

25 January 2005

Ndomot and Buchuma were again very playful, but Buchuma seems to be turning into something of a bully, being very pushy with the older bulls. Makosa has been hanging around. He is becoming very attached to the elephants, especially as he is in the next door stockade to Ndomot. A low flying aircraft caused quite a stir amongst the elephant family.

26 January 2005

There was heavy rain last night, so the elephants were very playful this morning. Both Lualeni and Nalitu were much more lively. Buchuma enjoys trying to climb on the other elephants, which does not please Naserian.

27 January 2005

Having spotted a tortoise, Galana ran around trumpeting, which scared all the others, who ran in all directions. We had to re-group. Naserian is very motherly to the two small babies. All the elephants were very playful today.

28 January 2005

Galana is slowly realising that she cannot have the other elephants’ share of the milk. Having taken her quota, she likes to cuddle little Nalitu whilst she is taking her milk.

29 January 2005

Ndomot and Naserian enjoy pushing each other playfully, a game that is usually interrupted by pushy Buchuma, who comes from behind and shoves Ndomot who gives up the fight, and runs, pursued by Buchuma.

30 January 2005

The orphans had a wonderful time playing in the tube, and kicking their football during the mudbath hour, especially when they were joined by a warthog family, who wanted to also share the mudbath. The elephants became so excited that they all trumpeted, and even little Lualeni managed a trumpet for the first time, which left everyone laughing with joy.

31 January 2005

A light drizzle of rain left the elephants very happy and playful. Lualeni enjoyed playing with Sunyei, gently pushing each other. The Keepers kept a close watch in case Sunyei became too rough, but we were mistaken, because she was extremely gentle with the smaller baby, who thoroughly enjoyed the game.