Keepers' Diaries, January 2015

Nairobi Nursery Unit

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.

01 January 2015

Kauro led the middle group out for a very playful morning in the Park. Murit and Kamok had a mounting game with Murit proving how strong and active h e is by climbing on Kamok. A call was received from Laikipia about a baby elephant that had fallen down a gully. A rescue team was sent out. The 10 month old male calf was waiting for them to collect at the airstrip but he was not in good condition, being skinny and emaciated. He took milk without any difficulty and was put on a rehydration drip for the journey back. On arrival at the Nursery he tried to fight and push the keepers but he was too weak. He was given plenty of nice fresh greens, which he loved, and more milk. His stockade neighbours, Lentili and Embu with Enkikwe, took very little notice of him.

02 January 2015

The new boy had a good night and in the morning Oltaiyoni came to say hello to him. She stretched her trunk through the stockade bars to comfort and reassure him. Mashariki and Arruba joined them and the three decided to spend a little time with him before heading off to the bush to join the others. Lasayen and Ndotto returned to the stockades at about 9am to keep the lonely boy company. Lasayan was very attentive through the bars although Ndotto was not really interested. Lasayen shared his soft greens, even taking some from his mouth.

03 January 2015

It was a very bright morning as the babies walked out of their stockades. Rorogoi was leading Faraja, Jasiri and Nelion. The new boy was moved from the stable into a stockade for the day but he looked very dull and had less appetite. A call was received at 10.45 from Sera Conservancy in Samburu about a baby that had fallen down a well. With 30 minutes the team were on their way, returning at 5.30pm with a 2 month old baby boy. He was bruised all over, very confused and had not been very interested in taking milk at the airstrip in Sera. He was very tired so was given time to rest with a rehydration drip. At 8pm he got up strongly and struggled to take some milk. This really helped revive him and he came back to life and started moving around the stable screaming for his mother most of the night.

04 January 2015

The new baby boy has been named Hamsini after the well from which he was rescued. In the morning he went out with Ndotto and Lasayen. They were not very nice to him and bullied him whenever he tried to get their attention. They kept pushing him away. Sadly the older male calf did not make it. He passed away at 10.30am having collapsed the evening before and been on a drip all night.

05 January 2015

Kamok’s team was very excited to meet Hamsini this morning having missed him yesterday when they left very early. Kamok, Ashaka and Mbegu were almost fighting for his attention, each trying to win him over as their special baby. This did not last long as they had to leave and go for a long walk out in the park with the older ones. At mudbath during the public visiting hour Kithaka, Lentili and Lemoyian were up to some naughty tricks. Kithaka and Lemoyian pushed over a water barrel close to the line of visitors then Kithaka had a fine time climbing on Lentili who was rolling in the mud that it made. The visitors enjoyed taking photos with them, getting splattered with mud in the process. Lemoyian thought this was great fun and started kicking another water barrel towards the visitors. As they cheered him on he became more and more crazy and excited. At lunchtime a team of keepers left for a rescue at Mara Triangle in the Masai Mara. An orphans had been seen a couple of days previously by himself without his mother. On arrival they managed to locate the calf and capture him without too much resistance. He was very dehydrated confirming that he had been several days without milk. He was given some milk and flown back to Nairobi. He seems to be about 16 months old and has been named Boromoko, the original area he came from. His mother is suspected to have been killed by poachers.

06 January 2015

Recently Roi and Kauro have been having play fights whenever they come across each other. Neither of them is willing to give in and today it was worse than ever. It is all because Kauro is jealous of Roi’s strong bond with Ziwa and Roi is not prepared to share Ziwa’s friendship. Kauro really likes Ziwa because Ziwa is very friendly and gets along with all the others. Until Roi accepts that she can share Ziwa’s attention with Kauro the two will continue to fight as Kauro is also very determined. Boromoko is settling in really well and is not aggressive to the keepers. He is still feeding well on milk and greens and has a good neighbour in Ziwa who was very comforting and reassuring overnight.

07 January 2015

The orphans were very subdued this morning. They all kept to themselves and at the public visiting hour the middle group just huddled together in a corner. The next group were also very quiet although they spread themselves throughout the area. Later in the afternoon it all changed. When the orphans came in for the 3pm private visit it was baking hot and after their bottles they all leapt in the mudbath to wallow. Faraja and Jasiri got out and started running up and down, turning a water barrel into a football. They spent a long time kicking and playing with it.

08 January 2015

Ngasha and Barsilinga gave Kithaka a hard time after he pushed Sokotei whilst he was having his bottle at the public visiting time. He is becoming rather a bully to Sokotei who has done nothing wrong. Previously Olsekki had been annoying everyone in his group. He was the first to arrive for milk, which he finished rapidly and then proceeded to push everyone around including the keepers. He kept on with this for a long time. He tried to snatch Ziwa’s bottle and when he was pushed away he went on to Oltaiyoni. She kept her cool as she watched him with one eye. After finishing her milk she wasted no time pushing Olsekki away into the mudbath. She watched him for the rest of the time, not allowing him out of the pool until it was nearly time to leave. Oltaiyoni always keeps Olsekki under control.

09 January 2015

Dupotto always goes out to the field with the older orphans first thing in the morning. Immediately she leaves Lasayen starts to rumble and complain, struggling to follow her. As it is too cold for him so early in the day he is transferred to be with Ndotto or Hamsini until the sun is up. Today however he decided to go in with Boromoko and they enjoyed playing together until the three small ones had to leave. Boromoko was not very happy at being left behind but he soon cheered up as at 9am the others came back to the stockades for their milk feed and he was let out to join them. He was very excited to be out with the other orphans. Arruba and Mashariki took him under their wing, one on either side to stop the bully boys like Lemoyian and Sokotei pushing him around. He mingled happily and behaved very well even at the public visiting time when no one would have know it was his first time out. In the evening he accompanied the others back to the stockades without any fuss and went into to a stable next to Lasayen who was very happy to have him as a neighbour.

10 January 2015

So as not to overwhelm Boromoko the orphans have been divided into three groups and he has been put with the middle age group of Kamok, Ashaka, Kauro, Mbegu and Murit. After the public visit Kamok’s team was reunited with the baby group; Ndotto, Lasayen and Hamsini. Mashariki noticed them and sneaked away from the older group of orphans. The keepers tried to send her back but she kept giving them the slip and finally they gave up and let her babysit the little ones, a job she loves the most.

11 January 2015

Balguda, who is a very quiet, polite and disciplined elephant had some fun playing with Barsilinga and Lemoyian. They played very happily together for almost the whole day. There were a few stops to browse but then it was back to fun and wrestling matches. It has taken Balguda a long time to engage in games like this with his peers. Solio has not been seen for a very long time, neither at the stockades nor out in the park. Just before 11am today the keepers spotted her whilst they were out collecting greens. She was happy to see them from a distance and when they called she came a little closer. She watched the keepers for a while before returning to her own business in the park.

12 January 2015

Oltaiyoni is partial towards some of the young orphans and unkind and bullying to those she does not like. When it comes to Olsekki he probably deserves all bullying he gets. He keeps misbehaving at feeding time and today was no different. He tried to snatch milk bottles away from the other orphans and pushed the keepers when they tried to stop him causing mayhem. It was Oltaiyoni who saved the day when she drove him off away from the feeding area. Afterwards however Oltaiyoni was very bad as she came back and charged at Kauro and Roi as they were enjoying water from a barrel. She knocked Roi over and pushed her, rolling her on the ground as she gave a big scream for help.

13 January 2015

The older orphans commenced training today to become familiar with the elephant moving truck. Faraja, Jasiri and Ngasha will be the next to be relocated and they took their milk happily on the truck with no suspicion. Happily this means that even if a transfer were to take place immediately it would not be a problem. Training however will proceed so that they are very familiar with the procedure and it then does not cause them any stress. The whole of the older orphan herd, and Sokotei who is with them because of his naughty and greedy character, had all their feeds at the truck and it all went smoothly.

14 January 2015

Boromoko has started to gain confidence and is now sticking up for himself. He has been challenging Kauro, Murit and Enkikwe, who have been giving him a hard time. Murit has capitulated and accepted Boromoko as an older brother but Kauro and Enkikwe are joining forces against him. He still needs to gain some weight and strength to defend himself against the two of them together. Hamsini is also still facing a challenge in the baby group as Lasayen and tiny Ndotto have not really accepted him yet and still try to push him around.

15 January 2015

It is the last day at the nursery for Faraja, Jasiri and Ngasha before they are relocated to Umani Springs. All the orphans were in a sombre mood as they headed out in the morning. Later on it seemed as if all the older boys were having a convention as they gathered together. Barsilinga seemed to be addressing them as he stretched his trunk from one to the other. The group consisted only of the older boys; Nelion, Tundani, Balguda, Kithaka, Lemoyian and the three soon to be graduates, Faraja, Jasiri and Ngasha. None of the girls or young boys were invited. Maybe they sensed the imminent departure and this was their way of bidding farewell. Kithaka was up to his favourite old trick today, sneaking round to the parking area to play and chase around the drivers waiting there after he had had his milk at the truck at 11am.

16 January 2015

The Nursery bade farewell to Faraja, Jasiri and Ngasha in the early hours of the morning. Wishing them well and sad that they were leaving but also excited for them going on to the next stage in their lives. They are going to the place that will become their permanent home where if they are lucky they might even meet some of their wild relations as Amboseli is not that far away. Preparations began at 2.30am with the mixing of milk. By 3.30am all was ready and just before 4am the three graduates were heading happily to the truck. They were completely unfazed and got on to the truck with their bottle of milk as they have done many times before. The doors were locked and the two albinos and their friend were on the move by 4.15am. Back at the nursery everyone got on with their normal routine as if nothing had happened. Maybe it was because the goodbyes had all been said the previous evening.

17 January 2015

Ashaka has been suffering from a lack of appetite and loose stools so a blood test was done. This showed a bacterial infection so she has been given antibiotics. Tiny Ndotto and Lasayen are now going to the public visiting time at 11am as they are now quite healthy having made it through the precarious teething process. New little Hamsini has not yet joined them there as he is still very bruised, but doing much better now.

18 January 2015

Just before the 9am milk feed Olsekki and Sirimon were busy having a strength testing game, pushing each other with all their might. This is a common pastime for young bull elephants and it drew the attention of little bull Kauro. He is always keen to try something new despite his young age and he joined in trying to push Sirimon. He didn’t get very far so decided to give up and go to play with Oltaiyoni who was happily soil bathing. As soon as it was milk time all four left their games and went to drink their bottles of milk.

19 January 2015

The orphans went out to browse quietly. Even the older boys, Kithaka, Barsilinga, Tundani and Nelion, who usually commence pushing games as soon as they leave their stockades, looked bored and concentrated on browsing. Olsekki, Sokotei and Enkikwe had a very busy time playing in a small gully just before the 9am milk feed but it came to an abrupt halt as soon as the keepers called them in for their bottles.

20 January 2015

When Ndotto comes to the mudbath venue at public visiting time he rushes straight to the loose soil and starts rolling there as he enjoys it so much. The keepers help him by shovelling up dirt as his tiny trunk is not yet able to pick the soil up. The public can only wonder at his dramatic rolling display and enjoy watching his energetic antics. Boromoko is very quiet and calm with a similar character to Tundani. He spends most of his time with Murit who is also very polite and welcoming so the two get on very well together.

21 January 2015

There were heavy downpours of rain during the night and the orphans were playful as they went out to the park in the rain-fresh air. Lentili, Rorogoi, Arruba, Lemoyian, Kithaka and Sokotei had a great time scampering around and bush-bashing as they expressed their happiness at the start of the day. Balguda, Ziwa, Nelion, Barsilinga, Embu, Dupotto and Enkikwe took the opportunity to mud-bathe. Due to the wet conditions tiny Ndotto, Lasayen and Hamsini stayed in their stables under their blankets until the weather warmed up.

22 January 2015

Hamsini has been suffering from diarrhea and a blood test was done, which revealed a bacterial infection. He has been very dull with no energy so he was given antibiotics and put on a drip, which helped to revive him. His appetite returned and he started to look stronger. Lasayen and tiny Ndotto are both doing well and are out in the bush most of the day. After their 9am bottle today they had a great time playing chasing games with the ostriches Pea and Pod. They chased around the bushes with Ndotto tripping over his own feet trying to keep up. The little elephants spread their ears wide and challenged the ostriches who ran away fast going in all directions and leaving the two little boys confounded. They gave up the game on realising that there was no way they were going to get anywhere near Pea and Pod.

23 January 2015

Roi, Dupotto, Ashaka and Mbegu had a lovely time in the morning soil bathing and bumping into each other. Their fun attracted Kauro’s attention and he went over to join in. He was very naughty though and seized the opportunity to mount Roi as she blissfully soil bathed. Roi quickly jumped up and head-butted Kauro away before chasing him off into the bushes. The chase continued for a while with Kauro occasionally challenging Roi back until she gave up the chase and returned to the others in the hope of re-joining the fun. Unfortunately they had given up and gone off to browse so she joined them browsing peacefully.

24 January 2015

The orphans were rather quiet at the public visiting time and mostly just fed on the greens provided for them. Tiny Ndotto, Lasayen, Murit and Mbegu had some fun soil bathing as their keepers shovelled earth over them. As the last group of orphans was leaving some warthogs appeared heading quickly towards the wallow. Their mission was rudely interrupted by Kithaka, Lemoyian, Suswa and Lentili, who charged at the warthogs, chasing them deep into the bushes where they lost them.

25 January 2015

Jasiri, Faraja and Ngasha’s stables have been vacant since they went To Umani Springs but last night Suswa, Lentili, Oltaiyoni and Olsekki were transferred around to fill them. Embu moved into Suswa’s old stockade and Enkikwe, who was sharing with Embu, moved into Lentili’s old stockade. All were very happy in their new accommodation. Dupotto, who initially complained about being separated from her beloved Embu when they come in for the night, now separates from her peacefully and settles into the stable without rumbling in discontent.

26 January 2015

Embu has been giving the keepers the run around with her milk bottle at the 9am feeding time. When she has the second bottle of milk she will not let the keeper hold it and moves a few steps away holding it herself. Even when it is finished she keeps it screwed firmly into her mouth and then runs away calling for her two adopted babies, Enkikwe and Dupotto, to follow her. They run alongside her reaching for the bottle but she then holds it high with her trunk to teach them the lesson that they cannot have it. The keeper then, of course, has to go running in pursuit to retrieve the empty bottle when it is finally dropped.

27 January 2015

A female calf of around 15 months was rescued from Narok today. The calf, who was looking desperately for her mother, was found alone by Save the Elephant rangers the previous evening. There were no elephant herds in the vicinity so they co-ordinated with KWS rangers to rescue the calf and keep it safe overnight. The DSWT rescue team was mobilised in the morning and flew to pick up the calf, arriving back at the Nursery at lunchtime. The elephant had been extremely weak but was revived somewhat by an intravenous drip on the way back in the plane. After arrival she managed to take some milk from the keeper and fed well on greens, a good sign. She was named Siangiki, a Maasai name meaning a girl. When the other orphans came back to the stockades Siangiki was happy to be greeted by Embu who has the adjoining stockade. Both girls entwined trunks, a sign of friendship, and put their trunks in each other’s mouths to communicate.

28 January 2015

Siangiki had a good night in the stockades. As soon as the other orphans were let out Arruba went straight to greet her and touch her through the gate. Arruba did not want to leave with the others and stayed with Siangiki who seemed much happier and more relaxed in her presence. Siangiki is taking milk well, which is vital for her survival, and also feeding well on greens. Amazingly she is not at all aggressive, as new orphans usually are, and seems more calm and relaxed as time goes by. Hopefully she will soon be out in the park with the other orphans.

29 January 2015

It was very hot at the 11am public visiting time so the orphans quickly downed their bottles of milk and rushed into the mudbath to cool off. Mbegu was the star of the show, first into the mudbath she slid deep into the mud headfirst. Everyone was watching her and she did some dramatic rolls which enticed Dupotto, Roi, Ashaka, Kauro, Olsekki, Enkikwe and Oltaiyoni in to join her antics. They slid down the sides of the muddy wallow entrancing the public visitors who must have wondered if they were even happier here with their human family than they would have been in the wild.

30 January 2015

Friday is coconut oiling day and as soon as they had had their bottles all the orphans went to be oiled and roll in the dust. Rorogoi, Sirimon, Roi and Enkikwe gave the keepers the run-around as they are not so keen on the oiling but tiny Ndotto, Lasayen and Hamsini loved it especially when their keepers helped them to soil dust afterwards. The orphans had a lengthy mudbath at the public visiting time as it was hot again. In the mud Nelion was roughly bumped by Barsilinga and Tundani causing him to cry out and forcing the keepers to intervene. When he got up Nelion head butted Barsilinga, driving him unwillingly out of the mudbath. Barsilinga went to seek consolation from Kithaka, his best playmate, and the two had an evenly matched pushing game that continued until after they left the public viewing.

31 January 2015

At around 9.30am, soon after the orphans had had their bottle feeds, Siangiki was let out to join them. The orphans eagerly awaited her, milling around outside her stockade until she walked out and was happily welcomed. Sandwiched between Arruba, Suswa, Mashariki, Oltaiyoni and Lentili, they touched and checked her out with their trunks. The boys, Kithaka, Barsilinga, Lemoyian and Tundani wanted to assert themselves and tried to be rough with her but the keepers warned them off. Settling down to browse Siangiki looked relaxed and peaceful with Oltaiyoni and Suswa staying close by her to comfort and reassure.