Keepers' Diaries, January 2008

Nairobi Nursery Unit

Due to the unrest that gripped the country in the wake of the disputed December 27th Presidential election, attendance at the daily orphans’ mudbath has been depleted, with just a few intrepid visitors turning up each day as opposed to the usual huge crowds. This, of course, has impacted negatively on the working revenue generated by the Donation Box. Those visitors that have braved the political upheavals to come and enjoy the orphaned elephants have had quality time with them, for, being so few, they have been able to actually mingle with the elephants rather than stand behind the cordon. As usual, mischievous little Lempaute can always be counted upon to give the schoolchildren an adrenalin rush, charging towards them so that they scamper off screaming, before lying down at their feet just to show that she means them no harm. This prank has been copied by both Makena and Lenana, who are twice the size of Lempaute, fortunately on just one occasion each!

01 January 2008

The baby group of Nursery elephants, i.e. Lesanju, Lempaute, Shimba, Sinya and little Dida joined up with the older elephants (Lenana, Makena and Chyulu). Makena and Chyulu wanted to take over Dida desperately, which did not please Lesanju. She and Sinya began to walk away, leaving Dida behind with Makena and Chyulu, which made them happy, but did not please Dida. Eventually, the Keepers returned Dida to the Baby Group, after which all was well again.

02 January 2008

As the older elephants were on their way out into the Park this morning, they came across a freshly killed impala, which had been half eaten either by a leopard or lion. The elephants looked distressed, all with ears out, and were eager to leave the site as rapidly as possible.

03 January 2008

Whilst the elephants were enjoying their mudbath today, Shida (the orphaned rhino) arrived, and plonked himself in the middle of the pool, making the Keepers remove all the elephants. He refused to leave, so in the end we took the elephants away ahead of time, and the visitors had to enjoy watching Shida take his leisurely mudbath!

04 January 2008

Lesanju was leading her group back to the Night Stockades in the evening, and Dida trailed far behind. Lempaute, noticing that Dida was way back, ran to be with her, touched her all over with her trunk, and then accompanied her at a leisurely pace. Dida is still teething, and her tummy was not as settled as usual today, making her feel unwell.

05 January 2008

Now that Sinya’s wounds are now healed, and she is no longer in pain, she is sharing Matriarchal duties with Lesanju. Today, she spent the whole day with Dida, playing gently with her, and caressing her. Previously, she was jealous of Dida’s attachment to Lesanju, and used to push her away, so the Keepers were very happy to see her turning into a caring Matriarch.

06 January 2008

Makena and Chyulu are inseparable. They sleep in the same enclosure at night, and are very close. Today they had a lovely time play pushing each other to discover who was the stronger.

07 January 2008

Lenana spent the whole day feeding apart from Makena and Chyulu, who are never far from one another. Lenana, who is the Matriarch of the older Nursery group of three, is much more independent and having been a starvation case on arrival, just gets on to make sure that her belly is filled.

08 January 2008

Today Lempaute was in a playful mood and began rolling around in some soft soil. Shimba took the opportunity of coming to mount on her, so the Keepers came to her rescue. Immediately the got to her feet and there followed a fight between her and Shimba, because Lempaute was angered by his actions. The fight went on for some time until Lesanju intervened to restore peace and separate the warring parties.

09 January 2008

During milk feeding time, Sinya head butted Shimba away from his position, which made him angry and wanting to retaliate. The Keepers restored order by warning the two through tone of voice, and pointing a finger at both elephants. Immediately, they responded and behaved well thereafter.

10 January 2008

Just after the mudbath hour, as the Keepers were taking the older orphans back into the Park, they spotted a leopard up a tree just above them. Immediately, they changed direction, calling the elephants to follow. The leopard then jumped into another nearby tree, and then to the ground, running off in the opposite direction.

11 January 2008

Shimba is a lone Ranger, who enjoys feeling independent, feeding apart from the little girls. Today, a troupe of baboons approached and he only noticed them when they were quite close. This gave him such a fright that he trumpeted loudly, which surprised the Keepers, because he is usually quite brave when it comes to the baboons.

12 January 2008

The older elephants happened upon Shida out in the forest. Makena and Chyulu wanted to play with him, and began approaching him, but Lenana was scared and ran away screaming. The Keepers persuaded Makena and Chyulu to leave Shida and follow them and Lenana in a different direction.

13 January 2008

At 4 p.m., Shimba and Lesanju engaged each other in a pushing match, which ended in a draw with no visible winner. They accepted this and gave up the contest, turning to browsing again.

14 January 2008

Shimba decided to feed close to the girls today, which is unusual. Perhaps he remembered being frightened by the baboons a day or two ago!

15 January 2008

There was quite heavy rain during the night, which resulted in a chilly start to the day. The elephants were very excited by the rains. They ran around breaking down small bushes and trumpeting with joy, rolling in the mud and in rainwater pools that they came across out in the Park.

16 January 2008

Dida, who has not been herself for the past few days, has recovered today, and is active and playful as usual. The Keepers were happy to see her back on form.

17 January 2008

Because of the rain, Lempaute decided to roll around in a different muddy area at the visiting hour, encouraging all the others to do so. Even little Dida followed suite, so they all had a wonderful time and were greatly enjoyed by the few visitors that turned up. Since the disturbances, the mudbath has not enjoyed much attendance because the tourists have left Kenya.

18 January 2008

Lesanju and the little girls were enjoying rolling around in the mud and mounting on each other, but when Shimba arrived to mount onto Lesanju and Lempaute, Sinya pushed him away so strongly that he fell to the ground.

19 January 2008

The older elephants put on a wonderful display for the mudbath crowd of guests, playing in the mudwallow pool, and kicking the football around the yard, trumpeting with joy. The visitors were very happy, thoroughly enjoying the show that the elephants put on for them.

20 January 2008

At 2 p.m., as the babies were feeding quietly out in the bush, two dikdiks came rushing past them chasing one another. This scared the five babies. Lesanju, Lempaute and Dida ran back to their keepers for protection and Shimba took off in a different direction. The Keepers went to round him up and bring him back to the others.

21 January 2008

When the babies were let out of their Night quarters today, Dida went to play with Maxwell, the blind baby rhino, who was at the entrance to his Stockade nearby. Both Dida and Maxwell seemed to enjoy the contact.

22 January 2008

Makena was very disobedient today at the mudbath, taking a cue from Lempaute, who is very cheeky. Makena took to scaring the visitors by going through the rope in amongst all the visitors, running around with her ears out. Many visitors lost their nerve and screamed as they ran off, which Makena found very amusing. The Keepers had a difficult time to control her because she was having such a good time!

23 January 2008

Today, it was the turn of Lempaute, who always enjoys scaring children. She spotted some school kids at the mudbath today, and immediately ran towards them making them run away screaming. As usual, she then lay down in front of them, just to show that it was just a game and not intended to be aggressive.

24 January 2008

Dida had a lovely time today, lying down with Lesanju and playing in soft soil that had been brought in. Lesanju was very gentle with Dida, careful not to lie on her and allowing Dida to climb on top of her.

25 January 2008

Lenana has now also taken a cue from Makena and Lempaute and ran towards a group of school children, scaring them so that they scampered off in all directions screaming. Lenana viewed this as a fun game

26 January 2008

Today, the two Nursery groups came together again. Lenana immediately focused on Shimba, who has always been her chosen favourite, whilst Makena and Chyulu wanted Dida. Dida was running around looking for Lesanju and Sinya, both of whom were hanging close to the Keepers.

27 January 2008

Lesanju and her team enjoyed a soil bath this morning. Dida was involved in all the fun, and enjoyed rolling up and down the pile of soft soil. It was good to see them all so happy and having such a good time.

28 January 2008

Dida is proving very selective about who feeds her. She wants the Keeper with whom she spent the night to hold her bottle. Today that particular Keeper was with the older elephants, so Dida went round all the Keepers, taking just a little milk from her bottle as it was held by each one in turn.

29 January 2008

When the older elephants emerged from their Night Stockades, they immediately went to the stables of the babies to greet them, putting their trunks over the door. Lesanju and Lempaute trumpeted with excitement which the Keepers believed was a greeting.

30 January 2008

After the mudbath, the older elephants ran into a group of impalas. Lenana was very scared, and hurried off in the opposite direction, leaving Makena and Chyulu to disperse the impalas. The two ran in amongst them, charging them and breaking down small shrubs in a display of power, scattering the impalas in all directions.

31 January 2008

During the mudbath, Lesanju’s group had a wonderful time rolling around in the soil, happiness all over little Dida’s face. Shimba, who is the only boy, saw a chance to mount onto Lempaute as she rolled on the ground and this made all the visitors burst out laughing, which excited the elephants and prompted them to play even more.