Keepers' Diaries, January 2014

Nairobi Nursery Unit

With 31 infant elephants already resident in our Nairobi Nursery, it was business as usual at the onset of another year in the Nursery, with little respite and the trauma connected with the tragic loss of 2 of our Nursery babies, plus the rescue of 4 others during the month, two of whom also never made it.

01 January 2014

On New Year’s day, the two oldest Nursery females, Murera and Sonje, having checked on the smallest calves, ran to greet their chosen favourites – Murera to Lemoyian and Sonje to Oltaiyoni. Meanwhile Kithaka, Barsilinga and Mashariki heralded the onset of another year with trumpeting and a bush bashing session around the compound, before Murera and Sonje rounded up the herd and led them out to browse. The three smallest calves, Kamok, Ashaka, Olodare and Mackinnon have all been teething, and have lost a lot of body condition as a result.

02 January 2014

Another Elephant Rescue today, this time of a yearling female orphan wounded by a snare who had first been spotted at Sagalla Ranch abutting Tsavo last December, and was located again yesterday. Having been rescued, the snare around her left foot was removed, but must have caused her great pain, since it had almost severed the foot. The calf has been named Sagalla.

03 January 2014

Having spent most of the night standing, the new arrival, Sagalla, collapsed at 5.30 a.m. and was put on intravenous Life Support which brought her round, but she collapsed again later and was given more intravenous drip. She regained consciousness again and began taking some milk from a bucket. Rhino orphan, Solio, who is now independent of human care, returned to the compound at 9 a.m. and enjoyed the usual sparring match with blind Maxwell until midday before heading out again. However, she was back at 4 p.m. to spar-play with Max again and enjoy some Lucerne in her Stockade. She was in fine fettle, and looked very happy.

04 January 2014

Tragic newcomer Sagalla again collapsed, having spent another long night mainly standing, the wound on her left foot causing great pain. Again she was put on life Support which revived her. She began feeding on greens, and took a little milk from the bucket.

05 January 2014

Lima Lima, Suswa, Ngasha and Tundani passed by Sagalla’s Stockade today to try and comfort her, extending their trunks in an attempt to touch her. However, she did not feel up to responding, probably due to the pain of her wound, and warned them off with outspread ears.

06 January 2014

The 4 small babies woke up in good shape after a peaceful night. They spent the day happily near the compound, playing with one another and their Keeper, until the evening, when, having returned to their night stables, Mackinnon suddenly appeared to be suffering stomach cramps and passing a lot of loose stool. He was put on life support to keep him hydrated, but passed away during the night, leaving his human family heartbroken and in shock, since this was so unexpected.

07 January 2014

Kamok, Ashaka and Olodare missed little Mackinnon, searching for him around the compound. An autopsy was carried out on his tiny body, but nothing untoward could be found to explain his sudden death, other than the usual emaciation that accompanies teething. With much sadness he was buried in the Park forest and will be sorely missed by all.

08 January 2014

Another busy day, with another Elephant Rescue, this time of a calf near a place called Sera in Northern Kenya who had fallen down a well in the night, and but for the tip of her trunk, been submerged until dawn when tribesmen bringing their livestock in to drink noticed it. The calf was a female, aged about 5 months and was blind on arrival. She was named Losasia. A second rescue took place today, this time of a 2 year old bull calf from Amboseli National Park, whose mother had been ailing for sometime, and eventually collapsed and was unable to get up again. The Sky Vet who went to investigate the case euthenased the mother, and rescued the calf, who was still milk dependent. He arrived at the Nursery in good condition, but very wild. Apparently he belongs to the Researcher’s Z elephant family, and has been named Ziwa.

09 January 2014

Nursery boys Orwa, Bomani, Jasiri and Faraja accompanied by Limalima rushed to greet Ziwa first thing in the morning. Since Jasiri and Faraja also come from Amboseli, it is possible they may have met him previously, because Ziwa was very happy to see them, and instantly calmed down. Meanwhile, the other newcomer, Losasia appeared somewhat too calm for comfort this morning.

10 January 2014

Losasia was not in good shape this morning, and had to be put on Life Support. However, Ziwa looked well and took milk, initially from a bucket, but then from the bottle, offered through the bars of the Gate to his Stockade. He is also feeding well on the cut greens put in his Stockade, but remains too wild to be handled.

11 January 2014

Another very sad morning, because blind Losasia died during the night, having obviously ingested a lot of well water into her lungs, which, in elephants, causes death since they cannot expel it through coughing, having no diaphragm. According to the Eye Specialist her blindness must have been caused by massive infection from her time down the well.

12 January 2014

Asanje, who suffered an inexplicable anaphylactic attack a while ago, is now sufficiently strong to be able to join the other orphans out in the bush, but prefers to return to the safety of her Stockade and remain with a Keeper rather than risk being pushed around by the likes of Lemoyian, Ngasha and Kithaka. She has developed a strange swelling on her forehead which could be a boil, but is not yet ripe.

13 January 2014

Ziwa is still not sufficiently settled to be allowed out to join the other orphans. The three smallest babies, Kamok, Olodare and Ashaka are beginning to pick up having pushed out their first molars, and this is a positive sign.

14 January 2014

As usual, having emerged from their Night Stockades, Murera went to greet Lemoyian and Sonje Oltaiyoni before going over to greet Ziwa in his Stockade where Orwa and Bomani were already interacting with him through the Gate, intertwining trunks. When the orphans left him, he appeared restless, wanting to join them, but the Keepers felt that he was not quite ready to do so yet.

15 January 2014

At about 3.30 p.m. Solio again returned, and planted herself outside Maxwell’s Gate, feeding on the pile of Lucerne that was there while Maxwell scampered around his Stockade, anxious for their usual sparring game. Having satisfied her hunger, Solio engaged him as usual, before going to rest in her old Stockade which abuts that of Max. She remained there until the evening, Max lying as close as possible to her next door, just happy to have her presence for such a long time.

16 January 2014

Today blood samples were taken for analysis from Balguda, who has been showing signs of being unwell, Asanje who is still far from well, and Suswa who also appeared unusually “dull”. Whilst Asanje’s sample showed signs of improvement, she appears to be becoming weaker, and needs help to rise after sleeping. Balguda and Suswa had a slightly elevated white cell count, and were given immune boosters.

17 January 2014

Following the public viewing hour, Ziwa was allowed out to join the other orphans, escorted out sandwiched between boys Orwa, Bomani and Teleki (who have been showing great interest in him of late) plus girls, and Sonje, Murera, Quanza and Zongoloni. Ziwa was very happy to be out and about with the others, and was very relaxed with Orwa and Bomani giving him close company and warning off Jasiri who came to try and push him around. Although the Keepers feared that Ziwa, who is big for his age, might be difficult to get back into his stockade in the evening, he presented no problem, going in happily escorted there by Limalima, Garzi, Nelion, Barsilinga, Suswa and Ngasha.

18 January 2014

Orwa and Bomani came to collect Ziwa and escort him out this morning. Orwa was eager to engage him in a Pushing Game, but Ziwa respected Orwa’s longer tusks, and refused to comply. He was perfectly relaxed at the Public Viewing hour, taking his milk alongside the others, and enjoying a mudbath like a veteran, without any sign of anxiousness about the surrounding human audience.

19 January 2014

Kamok and Ashaka are becoming very playful, and having come through the teething, are developing their specific characters. Little Olodare, like Tundani, is a very quiet and gentle boy, and prefers to remain close to his Keepers rather than play with the girls.

20 January 2014

Ziwa has settled into the Nursery routine amazingly well, taking his cue from the others, and doing everything correctly, which for the Keepers was unexpected due to his age and size. He loves his milk, and thoroughly enjoys being out with all the others, and is now trusting of all the Keepers.

21 January 2014

The swelling on Asanje’s head is now soft, and is a boil that is ready to burst, because she has been rubbing it against trees. Worryingly, the previous swelling she had on her belly seems to be returning, which is puzzling.

22 January 2014

A Television Filming crew were here at dawn to film the orphans leaving their night quarters, which did not go unnoticed by naughty Kithaka, who greeted and embraced them all with his head and trunk on top of the stable door to attract their attention! Out in the field Kithaka kept sneaking around bushes to try and reach the cameraman in order to push him, but the Keepers were alert to his tactics, and restrained him! Ziwa, however, was exemplary, showing no sign of aggression towards the strangers.

23 January 2014

Bomani has developed a bad habit of biting the ears of the others, especially during milk feeding times, and when it is time to be put in for the night, targeting Tundani, Nelion and Vuria. The Keepers have been forced to discipline him by sending him for “time out”. Tundani, Nelion and Vuria now tend to try and avoid contact with Bomani.

24 January 2014

Asanje has been sleeping standing up, rather than lying down, which is a sign of weakness. Today the Vet came to lance the boil on her forehead, which yielded a lot of pus. Her skin texture has also deteriorated, as had the consistency of her stools, all a sign of ill health, so we are all concerned about her. Another blood analysis was carried out by the Vet suspecting that she might be harbouring a parasite, but there was nothing obvious.

25 January 2014

Ziwa seems to be most friendly towards Zongoloni, and Nelion above Orwa, avoiding Teleki, Bomani and Jasiri, who tend to push him about.

26 January 2014

Having come out of their Night Stockades, and after greeting the Juniors as usual, Teleki and Bomani engaged one another in a tough test of strength that went on for sometime, each doing their utmost to emerge victorious. Eventually, Sonje intervened to end the game.

27 January 2014

Today Olodare appeared “dull”, so a sample of his blood was taken for analysis, after which he received an infusion of electrolytes, which made him feel better. The consistency of his stools, and his appetite were both good.

28 January 2014

Today Asanje collapsed and was put on Life Support, which brought her round. The took some milk and began feeding on greens, but was very weak.

29 January 2014

Asanje remained standing during the night, but collapsed again in the morning, and was put on Life Support again. Today she has become extremely weak, and is refusing all food, the swellings on her lower belly more pronounced, so we fear for her life.

30 January 2014

Poor Asanje passed away at 1 a.m. this morning, so a somber mood greeted the day today in the nursery, since she was deeply loved by her human family, who had tried their utmost to bring her back to health following the mysterious fit she suffered out in the bush, which preempted many months of health issues. An autopsy was carried out on her body, but the Vet was unable to establish the exact nature of her illness. The Nursery received another baby elephant this morning, again a well victim from the Sera Conservancy rescued yesterday evening too late for the rescue plane to fetch it that day. The baby, who is a big baby bull calf, but with a fresh umbilicus, has injuries to his trunk, the tip of which has been bitten off by small predators. He was still strong, but very tired, and because his umbilicus looked fresh and was still attached, he was given an infusion of elephant plasma to ensure that he has antibodies to cope with life, in case he had not been able to suckle his elephant mother before becoming trapped in the well. He has been named “Kauro”, the name of a place near the well into which he had fallen.

31 January 2014

The new baby spent a peaceful night in the Nursery, and woke up looking strong and feeding well. He was warmly welcomed by Kamok, Olodare and Ashaka, although Kauro was more interested in his Keepers than the other babies, constantly playing with their dust-coats.