The New Year began with a rescue, a very emaciated calf retrieved from Laikipia in Northern Kenya. He had obviously been stranded and trapped in a gulley for a very long time as he was in extremely poor condition on arrival. Initially adrenaline spurred him on, but he declined rapidly despite feeding well. His stomach simply could not hold the moment he fed on milk, and with no reserves he could not survive without it. He lapsed into a coma and slipped away peacefully a few days later, he was quite simply rescued too late. This was a sad beginning, but we were soon on the rescue mission again, this time another tiny calf from Northern Kenya, on the 3rd of January a baby bull was rescued from a well in Sera Conservancy. This tiny calf was in a bad state with terrible bruising and swelling having really battered himself while stuck down the deep well. He has been fighting a terrible lung infection as well as the infected wound on his back which as the month has proceeded continues to plague him, so little Hamsini’s month has been a difficult road so far. He shares a stable next to Ndotto who along with Lasayen who despite throwing their weight around initially provide him with great comfort now. Ndotto and Lasayen are putting on good condition and their ‘thing’ is to charge anything and everything. They are feeling like dominating despite being pocket sized! We hope they will grow to be fine young bulls in the fullness of time, but at the moment as the characterful tiny tots in the mix they are great attractions. Kamok, Ashaka and Mbegu, impart love and comfort to little Hamsini as their maternal instincts come to the fore despite being small themselves. Each of them came into our care as tiny infants so they know the challenges Hamsini faces.
Mud bath time when we are open to the public for the one hour has been enjoyed enormously through the hot month of January. This is a time for wallowing and showing off to an audience, dust bathing and general frolicking. Kithaka, Lentili and Lemoyian have been up to some dramatic displays spraying the unsuspecting visitors with mud in the process! Females Mashariki, Rorogoi, Arruba, Suswa and Oltaiyoni have been interested in the newcomers and showing tender care trying to give the new babies the will to live. The interaction of the Nursery orphans with the new babies we find is critical to success as their input helps the psychological state on the newcomers enormously.
On the 5th we rescued another calf this time from the Masai Mara. January was proving to be incredibly hectic. Thankfully Boromoko despite being very thin on arrival settled well, and his easy loving nature made our life easier. He is a very special little elephant who loves the company of people even more than the elephant orphans. As the month has progressed Boromoko has thrived. Roi and Kauro have a feisty relationship, and can never resist having fights, neither willing to be the first to give in. Sometimes this requires the Keepers input and there is the need to intervene. Ziwa continues to improve from his near death experience and it is wonderful to see him return to almost normal. Murit is another little elephant whose difficult beginning seems to be behind him thankfully as he continues to grow stronger with his blood works looking so much better in recent weeks. A well victim, we so nearly lost him to chronic infection, we assumed in the lungs, but thankfully between medication and his own body’s ability to fight we have overcome that.
Olsekki is a disruptive calf who can become annoying to the others this month, but is soon disciplined. Kithaka remains extremely naughty and sometimes can be quite a bully, and Sokotei has felt the brunt of Kithaka’s bad behavior recently. It will not be long before he along with best friends Barsilinga and Lemoiyan head to Ithumba. We will wait for the cooler season there, but they are busting out of Nursery life, and need the influence of the older bulls to spice up things. Bulls Ngasha, Faraja and Jasiri made the transition this month from Nursery to Umani Springs, our most recently built rehabilitation unit in the Kibwezi Forest, Chyulu Hills National Park. This went incredibly smoothly, and they find themselves in Utopia and are delighted to be there. We are missing the polite little albino boys Faraja and Jasiri but it is comforting to know they have taken the next step, and still remain with their beloved keepers and old friends Quanza and Lima Lima and are now exposed to the wild elephants of that area.
Balguda is a very polite elephant, as is Tundani and Nelion, and despite being the big bulls in the Nursery they never throw their weight around. Soon they too will be moving on in the cool season so as to free up space in the Nursery and of course they need the stimulation of an older orphans group now at the rehabilitation units. We have not totally decided on who heads where yet.
Embu and her satellites Dupotto and Enkikwe are doing well, with Embu finally putting on condition. She came to us so emaciated it has taken a good long while for her to come back from the brink. Despite her poor condition she has always had the time and energy to share with her little needy adopted babies, Dupotto and Enkikwe, who she shared a night stockade with for a good long time. Young bulls Sirimon and Kauro have been enjoying strength testing games which is a favorite pastime with the bulls. Endless hours are occupied pushing and shoving, clambering over each other and generally being physical.
On the 26th of January another call came in from KWS about a calf rescued near Narok. A female in a state of collapse was collected by the DSWT team from Narok airstrip and airlifted to the Nursery. We called her Siangiki. We managed to pull her through what was a potentially fraught beginning and it was not long before Siangiki was out with the others. We estimate her to be around 15 months old as well, and the reason for her being abandoned remains a mystery.
More details about what individual orphans have been up to this month can be enjoyed through the Keepers daily diary entries.