Keepers' Diaries, January 2006

Nairobi Nursery Unit

January has been a tragic month for the Nursery, the severe drought conditions that gripped the country taking their toll. The 4 month old baby bull, named “Yiarie” rescued from the mud of a swamp of that name in Ilingwezi Community Sanctuary, Northern Kenya on the 4th January, 2006, died just 2 days later during the night of the 6th. We struggled desperately to save this baby, but he was already suffering the affects of advanced pneumonia (verified by a Post Mortem examination after death), so he was a hopeless case.

01 January 2006

As the New Year dawned the elephants and their Keepers were in high hopes that Ndololo would regain his sight, and that Kenya would experience better times ahead. Ndololo follows the Keepers with confidence, and finds one, even if he tries to hide from him.

02 January 2006

Challa and Kora are playmates, who spend a lot of time sparring with one another. Challa has regained his strength and can now stand up to Kora, who previously was unbeatable.

03 January 2006

A family warthogs approached quietly during the noon mudbath, as though begging to be allowed a turn. However, Lualeni followed by Makena saw them off with trumpets and outspread ears. Even Makena attempted a trumpet, but only a squeak came out, which made all the visitors laugh.

04 January 2006

After the mudbath, the elephants decided to have a dustbath, and even little Ndololo did his best to pick up the dust with his trunk, and spray it over his body. This is the first time he has attempted this, and it made us very happy.

05 January 2006

Kora is now finding that Challa can beat him in the pushing games, and seems reluctant to get embroiled. Challa is quite tough on him, remembering the many times when Kora beat him whilst he was in a weakened state.

06 January 2006

It was fantastic to see little Makena leading the other elephants to the Stockades in the evening. Perhaps Lualeni is training her to be an excellent Matriarch! We pray that she grows up to lead her own family one day.

07 January 2006

The warthog family joined the orphans out in the bush today. Suddenly little Zurura, with ears out, whilst all the others watched him in amazement, surprised at his bravery!

08 January 2006

Because it was a very hot day, Lualeni was anxious to take the orphans to the mudbath, where they had a very enjoyable time.

09 January 2006

Early in the morning, we met Magnum on our way out into the forest. The elephants charged at him, and he charged at them, but we were able to avert a confrontation, and moved location.

10 January 2006

Challa is being a bit pushy to Zurura and Makena, not wanting them close to him whilst he is feeding, and instead enjoying being near Kora only. Likewise Lualeni only wants Makena close when feeding.

11 January 2006

Makena was very happy when she was allowed to play in the mud with the older elephants today, whilst Lualeni watched her with interest.

12 January 2006

The elephants’ mudbath was cut short by the unexpected arrival of Magnum, who did not want to leave and instead gave himself a good mudbath, whilst we retreated with the elephants. The visitors could only watch Magnum, or meet up with the elephants in the Carpark because we could not be with Magnum at the usual mudbath.

13 January 2006

Lualeni encountered a group of impalas running towards us as she was leading the orphans out into the Park forest. She stopped, and prevented Makena from going forward until the antelopes had passed. She then continued to lead the others out.

14 January 2006

On the way to the mudbath, Zurura stopped and refused to go ahead, until Ndololo had caught up with him. He then went behind Ndololo, pushing him from the back to help him along. He and Ndololo are best friends.

15 January 2006

Kora downed his milk very fast, and went to where Challa was having his. This caused a fight in which the Keepers had to intervene.

16 January 2006

When Ndololo arrived in the bush later on in the morning, Lualeni went and touched him gently with her trunk, which startled Ndololo and caused him to yell loudly! This startled Lualeni.

17 January 2006

Challa became angry with Zurura, who managed to snatch a root that Challa had spent a long time digging up. He chased Zurura, but Kora came between the two, and saved Zurura from the wrath of Challa. In the evening another baby called “Sian” arrived from Amboseli, and was put in the stable next door to Kora. She was very wild and gave the Keepers a hard time.

18 January 2006

The orphans were very happy to greet the other new addition to the Nursery Unit, called Loijuk, on this, the first day that she was allowed out of her stable. They all extended their trunks to touch her in turn and smell her. She seemed very contented in their company, allowing them to put their trunks into her mouth in greeting.

19 January 2006

Loijuk and the other new arrival from Amboseli called Sian were allowed to walk with the Nursery inmates, but were kept not far from the Night Stables, because Loijuk is still weak. The orphans were very excited to have the two newcomers amongst them, but Challa became jealous when the milk arrived, and tried to push Sian. The Keepers warned him.

20 January 2006

There was unexpected rain this morning, so Loijuk and Ndololo had to be brought back into their stables to keep them warm and dry. Likewise Sian was brought back, and Zurura kept her company in her Stockade for half the day that it drizzled. Zurura seemed very happy to be with Sian, because Lualeni only has time for Makena these days.

21 January 2006

The orphans were all very happy in the mudbath today, wallowing and playing in the mud. Later they ran back into the bushes, trumpeting, where they came across an anthill, against which they enjoyed rolling. Zurura and Makena held each others trunk, lovingly, but Lualeni came and separated them, ending their play.

22 January 2006

Lualeni lay down so that Makena could play on her, but when Zurura came to join in the game, she pushed him away.

23 January 2006

Ndololo seemed out of sorts today, which was unusual. He didn’t want to play with his Keepers, which was unusual. The other elephants also noticed that he was not himself, and Zurura came and held him with his trunk, as though to wish him a speedy recovery.

24 January 2006

It was a chilly morning, so Ndololo remained in his stable. A short while later, the Head Keeper came to tell us that he was definitely unwell, and just another short while later, we were shocked to hear that he had passed away. It was a very sad day for all the Keepers and all the elephants in the Nursery, who seemed to know that their little friend, Ndololo, had left them forever. Zurura was especially sad.

25 January 2006

The elephants sensed danger, and raised their ears, so the Keepers went to investigate and found two buffaloes walking towards us. The Keepers shouted and the buffaloes moved off.

26 January 2006

As we were leaving in the morning, we came across Magnum, who began to chase Kora. Fortunately, he stopped after a short while, and Kora found his way back to the others.

27 January 2006

Shida surprised his Keepers by not wanting to follow them. The reason soon became apparent when some buffalo emerged from the bushes. The Keepers could not see them, but Shida somehow knew they were there, and saved the Keepers from a tricky situation!

28 January 2006

When Lualeni emerged from her stable, she found the warthog family just outside. She began to give chase, calling for the others to come and help, which they all did, joining in the fun, chasing the baby warthogs in and out of the shrubbery, and trumpeting with joy. Even Sian joined in and trumpeted and Makena managed a squeaky attempt at one.

29 January 2006

After the mudbath, Challa and Kora enjoyed a play pushing game, in which Zurura wanted to participate, but Lualeni came and took him away, not wanting him to get embroiled with the bigger boys! Challa was angry at Luealeni for spoiling the game and wanted to punish her.

30 January 2006

Makena and Zurura had a play fight today in which Makena fell down when Zurura tried to mount onto her. Lualeni came rushing to the rescue of “her” special baby, pushing Zurura away, which again angered Challa, who wanted to punish her for doing so.

31 January 2006

At the noon milk feed, which takes place at the Nursery Orphans’ mudbath, Makena and Zurura became embroiled in a tough fight over the feeding blanket upon which Zurura insists covers his head as he feeds. Makena recognised this blanket as one of hers, and did not want Zurura to have it. Eventually, Lualeni moved in to separate the two warring babies, whereupon Zurura downed his milk rapidly, the blanket in place, but Makena sulked and refused to take hers until after the mudbath!