Keepers' Diaries, January 2009

Nairobi Nursery Unit

Two new elephant orphans came into the Nursery during January, one aged about 1 year, from the Southern end of Tsavo West National Park near Ziwani Sisal Estate, who was heard crying by Rangers stationed nearby during the night of the 19th January. Upon investigation during the morning of the 20th , the calf was found near an irrigation channel on the Estate where many animals come to drink under cover of darkness. She was extremely emaciated from having been without a mother and milk for some time, and worse still had multiple spear and dagger wounds, some severe and deep, and one ear almost sliced in half. (It is difficult to apprehend the mind-set of such brutal and blatant cruelty inflicted on a helpless year old baby elephant, by people who are supposed to coexist peacefully with the wildlife that share the land with them and their cattle, but aside from this, Masai herdsmen and their cattle have no right to actually be in the Tsavo National Park in the first place, but have invaded it illegally. However, this is something to which the Government prefers to turn a blind eye, and seems impotent to tackle).

01 January 2009

Being the beginning of a New Year, the Keepers excitement was also felt by the elephants, who ran around trumpeting and breaking down small bushes. Even Kimana was not left behind. He kept on following the older elephants and doing a squeaky trumpet as well. After the mudbath, the Keepers carried the football to the bush, and they and the elephants enjoyed a game of football. Lempaute put on a spirited display, kicking the ball left and right with both her front and back legs, while Shimba kept on kicking the ball into the bushes and wanting it all to himself.

02 January 2009

Siria, Mzima, and Wasessa left their stockades early in the morning and went to the door of Max’s stockade to greet him. Siria played with his ears, while Shimba fondled his body, which Max thoroughly enjoyed. Mzima then tried to put Max’s horn in his mouth, which was taking things a bit too far! Max moved his head, and Mzima left in a hurry, bellowing, which prompted all the others to leave as well.

03 January 2009

After the 9 a.m. feed out in the Park forest, 3 giraffes suddenly emerged from the bushes, which frightened all the elephants. They ran to their Keepers for protection.

04 January 2009

Before returning in the evening, Siria challenged Lesanju to a pushing match to test his strength. However, Lesanju was not going to be defeated, and after a long time Siria decided to capitulate.

05 January 2009

Kimana persisted in trying to suckle on one of Siria’s ears, which Siria didn’t like. At the mudbath Suguta and Ndii played a splashing game in the pool, running from side to side making as much spray as possible, trumpeting with excitement at the ripples they created. Whereas previously Suguta was firmly attached to the Keepers at all times, she is now becoming much more independent and enjoying the company of the other orphans.

06 January 2009

After mudbath, Siria decided to challenge Lempaute to a pushing match, which Lesanju interrupted, not wanting Siria to become dominant within her group.

07 January 2009

Kimana and Suguta had a wonderful time chasing the warthog piglets around the bushes. The piglets gave them a run for their money, running in tighter circles. Lempaute treated the entire group and their Keepers to a dramatic display of rolling around and bumping along the ground. This attracted Kimana who seized the opportunity to climb onto her belly.

08 January 2009

The days are becoming hotter, so much so that the junior group, known as Kenia’s group, hurried into the mudbath and had a wonderful wallow. Taveta, Suguta, Kimana and Ndii were reluctant to leave, and remained in the water after Kenia and Dida had left, Kimana and Suguta then enjoying a soil bath on the outskirts of the wallow. Kimana pushed Suguta away, but Suguta retaliated, and the Keepers intervened to prevent a squabble amongst these two tiny babies.

09 January 2009

Maalim knows his routine now and enjoys meeting the warthogs and impala herds out in the bush during his excursions accompanied by his Keepers. He knows each route, and the way back to his stable, having only been shown the way once. He insists on sleeping on his mattress, and if it is not in place when he returns in the evening, he goes in search of it. Although he is very small, he is certainly very smart!

10 January 2009

Lempaute entertained all the mudbath guests by chasing the warthog piglets around the yard when they turned up to cool themselves down in the mudwallow. Having chased the piglets off, she picked up the soccer ball, and walked up and down the cordon in front of the visitors, balancing the ball between her mouth and her trunk! All the visitors were very pleased to see this, and Lempaute enjoyed their laughter.

11 January 2009

As soon as Shimba left the mudbath, he went to the cordon and walked up and down in front of the school-children, allowing them to touch him. Some enjoyed blowing down his trunk, while others opened and closed his large ears. At each milk feed Suguta tries to push Ndii away, thinking that Ndii might take her share. Suguta now has good strength.

12 January 2009

Shimba and Mzima embarked on a pushing game just outside Max’s stockade first thing in the morning, which made Maxwell very excited. He began running and up and down his stockade, knocking the poles near the two elephants, in an attempt to disperse them and divert their attention to himself. Shimba took the hint, and began fondling Max’s ears, which didn’t please Mzima who tried to head butt Max through the stockade poles.

13 January 2009

During the mudbath, Kimana, Ndii and Suguta enjoyed sliding in the mud, while Kenia and Dida stood along the wallow edge, testing the temperature of the water before getting in. Taveta then arrived to upset things, pushing Kimana. The Keepers reprimanded him. Taveta is quite a bully, pushing the younger elephants out in the bush at feeding times and at the mudbath, proving that he is a naughty boy!

14 January 2009

As the orphaned herd snaked their way out into the forest, two bushbuck rushed past them, leaving them all shaken and running back to their Keepers. Lesanju, Sinya, Siria and Wasessa fled into a thicket and began trumpeting knocking down small shrubs in a display of bravery, while Lempaute joined the babies and the Keepers. The Keepers had to go and calm down Lesanju, Sinya, Siria and Wasessa, who were reluctant to come out of hiding!

15 January 2009

It was a cloudy and very windy day at mudbath time, so Kenia’s baby group decided to take a soil bath instead. Kimana and Suguta then had a dispute over a pile of earth each one wanted, which brought Kenia along, pointing her trunk in their direction as though to warn them. Kimana moved away, and went to suckle the fingers of the Keeper to comfort himself.

16 January 2009

There was a sudden downpour of rain today, so the smaller elephants had to remain in their stables for the best part of the morning. However, the older group had a wonderful time, enjoying all the puddles and mudwallows. Lempaute and Sinya enjoyed bumping Lesanju and Siria as they mud-wallowed. Wasessa does not like being climbed on. She wallowed next to Shimba and Mzima, who were too preoccupied with one another to worry about Wasessa.

17 January 2009

This morning Kenia and Mzima had an altercation over a tasty shrub that each one wanted, but this soon stopped when the milk bottles arrived. Sometimes when the older elephants feed apart from the Keepers, Kimana and Suguta hang out with the Keepers, but Kimana and Dida are beginning to feel that they should be with the Senior group of Lesanju, Sinya, Lempaute, Siria etc.

18 January 2009

As the orphans were browsing out in the field, Wasessa peeled off on her own, but soon returned in a rush, rumbling, having spotted some giraffes in the distance. Her stampede caused a stir amongst all the others, who rushed back to their Keepers. Lempaute has a trick. She enjoys frightening the others whenever they decide to browse a distance from the Keepers. She rushes back as though afraid of something, which triggers a stampede amongst the others!

19 January 2009

Soon after the orphans left their Night Stables, Siria tried to trick Lempaute, pushing her into the bushes with the intention of mounting onto her. When Lempaute realized his agenda, she began to run back to the Keepers, but Siria held onto her tail. Lempaute rumbled for help, and Lesanju and Sinya immediately came to the fore. All three girls then saw Siria off!

20 January 2009

Soon after Maalim had finished his morning bottle, and was relaxing near his Keepers, he was frightened by some warthogs, who turned up unexpectedly and began grazing near him. Maalim immediately stood up and charged them, before returning to his Keepers, proving that he will one day be a very courageous bull!

21 January 2009

Today, another elephant came to the Nursery from Tsavo West. She was called Ziwani, and she had multiple wounds all over her body, obviously inflicted by the tribesmen who found her on her own. She was put in the Stockade next to Mzima and Shimba, who greeted her warmly. She soon calmed down, and began gulping milk and water, but she is in a bad way.

22 January 2009

First thing in the morning, all the elephants headed to Ziwani’s stockade to meet her. She came to the door and they exchanged greetings by touching trunks, but we could not let Ziwani join them, because she is too wounded and weak.

23 January 2009

Ziwani collapsed today, soon after 11 a.m. and Robert came to put a drip into her ear vein to try and bring her back to life. By the evening, she was breathing a little better, but was too weak still to stand.

24 January 2009

Ziwani has been fighting for her life. At 5 p.m., with a great deal of help, she was lifted to her feet. She suckled a Keeper’s fingers while bottles of milk were hurriedly mixed, which she downed. All the Keepers were now very hopeful, because the diarrheoa had stopped.

25 January 2009

Just after l0 a.m., the orphans were scared by Shida, who suddenly appeared out of the bushes. All, except Lesanju and Sinya ran back to the Keepers, bellowing, Lesanju and Sinya went right up to Shida and touched his head. Lempaute then came to join them, but Shida continued on his way.

26 January 2009

Maalim and his Keeper of the day went close to where the younger elephants were feeding. Suguta and Ndii noticed the presence of Maalim, and at first looked like running away, until Suguta plucked up the courage to approach Maalim and touched him with her trunk. Maalim just kept on following his Keeper and didn’t seem to mind.

27 January 2009

Out in the Park forest, Shimba took a different direction to the others, but when he realized he was alone, he trumpeted and ran back knocking down small bushes. This caused tension amongst the others who responded by rumbling. Lesanju, Sinya and Lempaute went to find him and all were very happy when the group was again intact!

28 January 2009

We decided to allow Ziwani out to join Suguta’s team. As soon as her Stockade door was opened, Kenia went in first, followed by Dida and Kimana, but Ziwani was afraid to be knocked because of the pain. She eventually went out, limping badly, preferring to be on her own rather than near the others.

29 January 2009

Kenia, Suguta, Ndii and Kimana again came to Ziwani’s Stockade early in the morning. Kenia and Dida kept touching her gently, but Ziwani didn’t like to be touched because of pain. Ndii put her trunk to Ziwani’s mouth, as though to try and comfort her.

30 January 2009

Another new arrival in the Nursery is a female calf from Amboseli, called Mawenzi, after the second highest peak on Mt. Kilimanjaro. She was found wedged in a well and is about 5 – 6 months old and in good condition apart from bruising on her back. We took her out to Kenia’s group, but she keeps on walking away to be on her own. Kenia follows her to bring her back to the others. At 3 p.m. the other orphans came for a Private Viewing at 3 p.m. and had a wonderful mudbath. The little elephants thoroughly enjoyed climbing on the bigger ones as they lay in the mud. Kimana enjoyed sliding on his favourite friend, Siria.

31 January 2009

Today Maalim had his own ideas about how to behave at the mudwallow. He refused to walk along the line of the visitors, but wanted to return the way he had come. In the end the keepers had to lift him up and bring him to the visitors, all of whom were anxious to see him at close quarters. He then obediently walked the line of the cordon.