Keepers' Diaries, January 2016

Nairobi Nursery Unit

January has been a happy month, with the baby elephants enjoying some beautiful weather. This year January has been a gentle month; not too much wind, beautiful blue skies and soft showers with some unseasonable rain keeping Nairobi National Park beautifully green. Our Nursery elephants are a content and happy herd, with even our new arrival Naseku finding her feet and feeling more comfortable. She has her own group of cohorts, and surprisingly they are the unlikely combination of bulls Balguda, Olsekki, and Sirimon, sometimes with Oltaiyoni in the mix. We have watched Naseku’s confidence grow and her condition improve and she begins to thrive, playfulness always being a great barometer. Simotua, a little bull who has undergone immense suffering, due to a nylon snare having almost cut through his leg to the bone, and a spear through the honeycomb web of his skull, had a very difficult Nursery beginning. The decision was made early on not to keep him incarcerated in a stockade too long despite his severe wounds, since the psychological aspect is equally important and a pre-requisite to healing. This was clearly the right decision, because he has recovered remarkably well despite such severe injuries. However, this month Simotua has caused concern - off his food and obviously unwell with a marked loss of condition as well. We have been working hard to try to get to the root of his problems, having treated him for parasites and administered antibiotics, and thankfully, towards the end of the month, he has shown a significant improvement, thanks in no small part to Angela’s special concoction of all good things in an attempt to bolster up his nutrition.

01 January 2016

It’s the start of the New Year and the orphans are happy to begin the New Year with everyone looking fit and healthy. All the babies came out of their stockades this morning in a playful mood, led by Oltaiyoni, the leader of this orphan herd, followed by Mbegu, Dupotto, Sokotei, Olsekki, Boromoko, Enkikwe, Sirimon and Roi. This group of older orphans were happy and stamping around the bush, breaking down small bushes, which attracted the attention of the rest of the baby herd and they all charged and trumpeted together towards the forest! This happy moment came to an end however when bullies Enkikwe and Olsekki accidentally pushed little Murit who fell down and yelled, drawing the attention of Oltaiyoni who rushed over to Murit to see what was wrong. Upon arriving Oltaiyoni found Murit on the ground struggling to get up so she and Mbegu, who had also come to investigate, supported him up using their hind legs. Once he was standing Oltaiyoni and Mbegu escorted him away with him sandwiched in-between them, leaving behind the older boys who were still busy play-fighting and choosing who to fight with next. Their games soon came to an end when they realised they were being left behind and given ‘time out’ as Oltaiyoni led the herd away into the forest intentionally ignoring them and punishing them for their boisterous inconsiderate behaviour.

02 January 2016

During public visiting it was very hot which meant the orphans quickly drank their milk bottles and rushed into the mud bath to cool down. None were left out of this mud bathing event, even those that normally do not like to mud bathe like Balguda, Kamok and Simotua were seen fighting to get themselves a spot. Today the babies stayed in the company of Kiko the giraffe who very much does his own thing, ambling around free spirited. He does have a soft spot for the baby elephants, and prefers their gentle company rather than the bigger more rambunctious bigger orphans Best friend Ndotto and Lasayen are always seen together, inseparable and two great little characters who endear themselves to everyone. Another firm favourite is little Ngilai who is extremely affectionate.

03 January 2016

As the orphans were approaching the bush in the early morning, they encountered some giraffes that were busy browsing. Olsekki, Boromoko, Siangiki, Oltaiyoni and Sirimon were the first group who were leading the others out to the forest and they were the first to see these tall creatures making their way through the bushes to find the tall trees. Olsekki, Siangiki and Oltaiyoni got a fright and turned back running and yelling, drawing the attention of the entire herd and they all started running back to their keepers who were behind enjoying their morning tea! They all went silent with their ears erect facing the direction the giraffes were in. Oltaiyoni, Siangiki, Olsekki, Boromoko and Sirimon then mustered the courage to try and run charging and trumpeting trying to scare the giraffes away. But the giraffes just stared at them and because of all the commotion they decided to walk slowly away, leaving Oltaiyoni and company charging around on their own; their game soon came to an end though when the keepers began walking them deeper into the Park. Just before 1 o’clock a baby giraffe was brought to the nursery which had been found on a ranch just outside Nairobi. The fate of his mother and the cause of their separation were unknown but the baby was found walking alone alongside the road to Magadi. Upon arriving the calf looked very weak and could not hold its head up or even stand. The keepers managed to support him and feed him but his condition did not look promising and we did not know how long it has been without its mother. He was placed in a stable and given some antibiotics but around 4pm that afternoon he passed away peacefully.

04 January 2016

Tamiyoi woke up this morning looking a little more bright and active, although her stools are not quite normal. She is feeding well on her milk bottles although she still seems not to be quite right. During public visiting this morning as the older group were enjoying their milk bottles, Siangiki and Sokotei showed off their greedy side as they drank their milk bottles quickly and then ran from one individual to the next trying to get their milk bottles they had already finished and which were on the ground, to walk off with them and try and feed themselves what little was left in the bottle. Their greedy behaviour drew the attention of the visiting public who really enjoyed taking pictures of these two with their stolen milk bottles in their mouth. Siangiki and Sokotei are joining the club of greedy ones along with Olsekki, Enkikwe, Boromoko and Alamaya! We are very forgiving of greedy Alamaya as he has suffered enormously and our little eunuch is actually doing very well post his operation.

05 January 2016

Yesterday little Simotua spent most of the early morning hours looking a bit dull and not quite as active as he normally is. He didn’t want to interact as usual with the other babies and was found standing out in the bushes on his own not even browsing on the green vegetation. Because this was unusual behaviour a blood sample was taken and he was medicated accordingly. At one stage the keepers even found him resting on the ground and his eyes looked duller today. His friends Tusuja, Rapa, Alamaya and Mwashoti have been seen keeping him company out in the bush, even though Simotua would sometimes walk off to a quiet point looking for peace, but the others were concerned about his health. The wounds on his forehead and leg are looking pretty good so we do not think they are the cause for his ill health but we will embark on treating him for parasite first.

06 January 2016

Tamiyoi woke up this morning looking pretty strong and better than yesterday. Simotua also woke up this morning looking a bit better although clearly we have to give his treatment time. Soon after the orphans had finished their 9am bottle and gone back to browsing, Boromoko and Kauro engaged themselves in a challenging game of pushing each other to see who was the strongest. They did not manage to find out as before they could finish their game, Sokotei came over to join in but they had no interest in welcoming him into the game. As the two boys continued with the game Sokotei walked along next to them with his trunk high in the air, asking to be allowed to join; but they paid no interest! They turned around to ignore him and this made Sokotei angry so he jumped on Kauro and head-butted him hard, pricking him on the back with his tusks causing him to yell out in pain and end his game with Boromoko. They walked away from Sokotei to join Oltaiyoni, Dupotto, Mbegu, Kamok and the young boys who were all busy browsing in the forest. During public visiting at 11am the weather was cloudy so the orphans showed no interest in mud bathing so they all had a busy time feeding on the greens provided around the mud bath grounds for them.

07 January 2016

As soon as the orphans came out of their stockades in the early morning, little Naseku enjoyed leading the entire herd out to the bush, backed by Oltaiyoni, Siangiki and Roi and then closely followed by Boromoko, Olsekki, Enkikwe, Sirimon and Kauro. Boromoko and Kauro started having a pushing game that saw them scampering around the bushes. Kauro then tired to mount on Roi who resisted by running up to Oltaiyoni for protection, Kauro stopped pursuing her and turned back to play with Boromoko who was still waiting for him. Kauro ran up to Boromoko and put his trunk on his back, pushing him through the bushes and forcing Boromoko to crash into Naseku who was busy browsing just next to where the boys were playing. Playful Kauro then started chasing Naseku, holding her tail as she ran yelling out towards where Oltaiyoni, Roi and Siangiki were busy browsing. Oltaiyoni ran over to Naseku to rescue her from the playful and bullish Kauro, who upon spotting Oltaiyoni made a quick u-turn back to where the boys Boromoko, Enkikwe, Olsekki and Sirimon were busy browsing. Kauro tried to throw his weight against Sirimon but Sirimon bumped him hard which forced Kauro to finish his game and finally settle down to browse. Just before 2pm in the afternoon, little Kiko was visited by a wild, female giraffe but Kiko was shy to approach her. As the female tried to walk closer and approach him he ran back to his keepers where he stopped and they stood staring at each other. The wild female managed to approach Kiko and his keeper within quite close range, about 5 meters or so, but little Kiko just stared at her. The wild female waited for Kiko to come a little closer but he didn’t move and after half an hour of waiting the female finally started to walk away into the forest, leaving Kiko to browse with his keepers.

08 January 2016

Out during the public visiting hour, all the orphans in the first group had just finished drinking their milk bottles and were getting ready to go in the mud bath. Little Lasayen and Ngilai had a difference in opinion of whose turn it was to drink from the water trough. Lasayen was preventing Ngilai from drinking from the same trough as him and pushing him away, causing him to shout out and the keepers to come and intervene, taking Lasayen away to a different water trough and allowing Ngilai to finally have his drink of water. A few minutes after Lasayen and Ngilai had created that scene, Mbegu, Dupotto, Mwashoti, Tusuja and Rapa drew the attention of the entire visiting public by all walking into the mud bath at once and having a busy game of rolling, bumping and pushing against each other in the mud. Rapa had an energetic time scratching his behind on Mwashoti as he posed with his head in the mud and his rear in the air! Little Naseku then tried to scratch herself on Mwashoti too but bully Rapa didn’t let her achieve this aim and pushed her away. Naseku a recent arrival, a well victim from the north, is doing well, and growing stronger all the time, her little cheeks filling out as she puts on condition.

09 January 2016

Naseku is becoming more confident and really out going as she always wants to lead the others whilst out in the forest. She is getting used to browsing further in the park and those who usually accompany her are gentle Balguda, Sirimon, Oltaiyoni and Olsekki. Today for instance she has been leading these four in a direction only she knows to browse, and this feels good, she has the friendship of these big bulls who are deferring to her! Mwashoti and Boromoko took time out of their day today to teach Ndotto some wrestling techniques. Both of the older boys were gentle and not too rough wit Ndotto who likes to climb on things all the time. The two older boys were playing and then gave little Ndotto the opportunity to join in their game. They would take him on in a pushing game one after the other. It was so funny when we watched the little boy try to climb on the bigger boy’s heads whilst they were still standing. Then Boromoko went down on his front knees to give the little boy a chance at doing what he loves most – climbing! Seeing the gentle guidance the older orphans patiently give is a lesson we can all learn from. This extends to both the males and females. The little naughty one Rapa had a telling off from Tusuja today. Tusuja was in the mud bath trying to cool off and Rapa kept pulling his ears to suckle on them. Tusuja kept moving away from him so Rapa shouted in protest but Tusuja just knocked him down into the mud to make him be quiet! Today the group headed off onto the plains of Nairobi National Park where there are lovely grassy plains, and lots of wild ostriches. This was a safari undertaken by the whole group together with Pea and Pod to find some wild feathered friends for them. The orphans love it on the plains feasting of the fresh green grass.

10 January 2016

Sokotei and Kauro were fighting so hard to get to the milk feeding place but it was in vein. Today the keepers had decided to let the little ones go first; Ngilai, Godoma, Ndotto, Lasayen were allowed to go ahead and feed first before the older ones were allowed to proceed to get their bottles. Kauro and Sokotei kept trying to push against their keepers as they stood in their way but today the Keepers decided they needed a lesson in patience and they were the last ones allowed down to get their milk. The did behave and listened to instructions so it was a useful exercise and probably should be done more often! Oltaiyoni had a good time playing with Sirimon today. It was strange for these two to spend so much time playing together as they usually don’t seem to get on that well. We thought just like human children this is the way, they can make friends on a whim and one day decide to be friendly with each other. They engaged in a fair pushing game and pulling each other’s trunks and spent much of the day together, browsing close and communicating. Mbegu and Dupotto have been having some differences and today decided to settle it through a pushing game which Mbegu seemed to be winning.

11 January 2016

Kamok was promoted to the older herd some time back as she was proving too naughty in the younger group and needed some more disciplining from the older ones. Although the two groups often come together in the morning and afternoon. Kamok was quite a leader in the younger group though and Ngilai saw her as his little mama, so when she left he had to find another baby mother to adopt him. His best choice was Dupotto and she has proven to be very protective over him, but she doesn’t let him suckle her ears like Kamok and Elkerama used to. Dupotto normally does not like strangers to touch her baby and also she likes to interact with him the most. During public visiting today she would not let the public visitors touch him when he came to the rope cordon and she would push them away if they tried. This meant the keepers moved Ngilai away from the line for the safety of the visitors from Dupotto! It is so amazing to see the transformation of Dupotto who has been the needy one, being Embu’s baby to now stepping up to offer that same love and protection to Ngilai when the baby group is spending time away from the bigger group. Kamok’s behaviour has improved as a result of her promotion from baby herd to big herd! Balguda was in a very playful mood the whole day today. In the bush he kept playing with Olsekki in wrestling and mounting games and when the orphans came down for a private visit at 3pm he led them all into a lengthy mud bath. Whilst in the mud pool he was busy playing with a football with Sokotei. These are all wonderful signs as he was so ill for awhile that we were forced to return him from Umani to the Nairobi Nursery so as to give him the intensive care he required. We are seeing a huge improvement in him and his energy levels. Back home in the stockades this evening we saw some funny games from Ndotto, Ngilai and Pea and Pod– as every baby thinks that the ‘grass is greener on the other side’ and that their neighbours greens are always better than the ones provided in their own stockade. Ngilai’s stable is in-between the two and his greens were next to Ndotto’s wall, so Ndotto was stealing them through the wooden partition. Ndotto moved them to the other side of his stable but when the ostriches saw the greens next to their wall now they jumped and started pulling them onto their side of the wall through the window. Ngilai charged at them to scare them away from his greens but they were not afraid of the little boy and went on feeding on the leaves they could reach. Ngilai then gave up and had to seek the Keeper’s help who managed to get back some green branches for him and place the greens pile in the middle out of the way of both green thieves.

12 January 2016

The babies were very happy when they came out of their stockades today. Roi, Sokotei and Oltaiyoni led the herd in all their joyful fun. The whole area was full of trumpeting and stamping around the short bushes surrounding the stockades. The warthogs that were there were trapped in the middle of all the babies were very confused about which way to go. Murit took charge of the warthogs and tried to drive them away, but there was no gap between the elephants. Kamok then teamed up with Murit which made the situation worse for the warthogs. Kamok was smacking the little piglets with her trunk and the keepers had to jump in and make space for the warthogs to set them free . After public visiting today, it was so hot none of the babies wanted to go further into the thicket. All except Balguda as the heat was nothing to stop him from going deep into the forest and he headed off without the company of the others. By 3pm and private viewing he had not come back from the bush and when everyone returned to where they were browsing before, there he was with not a worry in the world, browsing contentedly, knowing full well the others had headed off for a private viewing and would be back in due course. He didn’t even show any interest in his milk he just joined the herd and continued browsing with the others. Whilst the other babies were at the private visit they had a wonderful time wallowing in the mud from the start to the finish. The mud bath lovers Mbegu and Mwashoti were the first ones to get into the mud pool which attracted the attention of all the others. In the end Oltaiyoni drove all the others out of the pool only for her to stay behind. She enjoyed playing with the football all alone in the pool, having a good game of holding the ball between her short tusks and her trunk.

13 January 2016

The tricky naughty little boy Sirimon has developed another naughty habit. He is not the only one in the family to do it but he has an even nicer style than all the others. When he finishes his bottle he has a trick of going to find an extra bottle by pretending he has not had his share yet. Today during public visiting he played his tricks and landed upon another bottle belonging to someone else fooling the unsuspecting Keeper who was not aware of his first bottle having gone down in a few short gulps. He has arrived for milk in the company of Kauro, Sokotei, Kamok and Boromoko – when they had all finished these four moved away to the water troughs for some water and Sirimon went with them but circled to stand a little way further up where the babies come in to the mud bath area. He wasn’t going to get some water, he was going there to wait for the next group to accompany them in when they arrived, rushing towards the bottles as if it was his first time. The premeditation of this act, and the lengths he goes to in order to out fox his Keepers in extraordinary. When the next group passed by him he followed behind them pretending to have just arrived as well. And was given another milk bottle by a keeper who had not seen him the first time! The keepers realised when he was in the middle of this extra milk bottle that he has already had his share! He was left to finish it because you could never snatch it away once you have given him. After finishing that bottle he was sent away and he did the same thing, walked over to the mud hole and waited there for the last group to come in. This time the keepers were aware of his little trick and he was sent away to join those that were enjoying their mud bath. Out in the bush, Alamaya who bullies the younger ones sometimes was given a rough time from Mbegu after pushing Ngilai. Ngilai was suckling on Kamok’s ear as the group was altogether, when Alamaya came over and pushed him sending him screaming which angered Mbegu enormously. When she arrived to find out what was happening Alamaya turned around her pushed her as well which made her fight back – it was a lengthy wrestling fight and Mbegu managed to overpower him, trying to sandwich him against a tree. Oltaiyoni then came over to intervene and help Alamaya from the very cross Mbegu sensing that enough discipline had been metered out for the act.

14 January 2016

Tamiyoi is looking very good and healthy today. For quite a few days she has been coming out later and all the time looks a little dull. But this morning she started pushing against her door from early, wishing to get out and join the others. As soon as she came out she saw Lasayen and ran over to him. She had to have an extra blanket because it was still early in the morning and quite cold. She communicated and exchanged trunks with Lasayen before heading out into the forest. As she got to the forest she started collecting and feeding on the seeds which had fallen from the tree. After that she located some loose soil and started dusting, rolling around on the ground. Eventually Murit came over to join her and the two had some fun together in the soil. The naughty little one Rapa, who is also a great complainer in the family, got another disciplining from the mini-matriarch Mbegu during public visiting. Earlier, she had spotted him trying to charge at and push a keeper when he had tried to stop him from pushing Godoma. Now he was trying to push Ndotto whilst he was drinking his milk and also push a keeper from behind wanting to steal more milk from the wheelbarrow. For Mbegu to react he then pushed Naseku while she was drinking water from the trough and this made her furious – she drove him hard away from the group and outside of the rope cordon! She didn’t even listen to the shouts of the keepers until her mission was accomplished and he was outside of the rope. Rapa tried to join the rest but whenever he tried to cross the rope back into the ground Mbegu was after him insisiting he have time out of the group, a serious punishment for baby elephants. Eventually the keepers had persuade Mbegu to let him join the rest of the herd. Simotua does not seem to be feeling well today. He is quite down and not very busy browsing as he usually is. Because of this he did not accompany the other orphans as they moved further into the forest and he and Murit stayed with little Tamiyoi for company. Later in the afternoon some blood was taken. His condition has deteriorated and his problem remains abit of a mystery. He is having extra special nutrition, different from the others to help boost him.

15 January 2016

For two days now, Lasayen has been having sleepless nights. Last night he was sleeping soundly when suddenly he got up hurriedly and started crying until late morning when he went back to sleep again. This made him sleep in late and come out a bit later too to join the others. It seems almost as if he is having nightmares which wake him up with a fright. By the time he left his stable this morning Tamiyoi was also going out into the bush. He spent some time talking to the young girl before heading out to the forest to meet the others. From a distance Ndotto spotted his friend and he sped away from the herd to go and greet him. When they met they said hello to each other then started playing in their best style – trunk crossing and pulling and climbing on each other – games they love playing best. They later played ‘hide and seek’ before heading out to have their milk. Kauro and Kamok have grown up together and it seems they understand each other very well. For that reason they seem to respect each other as well and it was unusual to see Kauro reacting angrily towards Kamok. They were both sharing water from a water trough close to the rope during public visiting. All of a sudden Kauro turned against Kamok pushing her quite hard. Kamok shouted out for help and the keepers had to run over to her fast to save her. At 3pm during the private visit it was Rapa and Boromoko who stole the show – they were the only ones that got into the mud pool and wallowed throughout. It was great fun for them as they ran after the ball, fighting over who was to kick it first and sometimes stopping to have a pushing game in the middle of the pool. Kiko has developed a new habit of not wanting to stay out in the park beyond 4pm – before the keepers would tell him what time it was to come home, now he starts pushing his keepers and does not stop until they allow him to return home to his special stable, taller than all the rest, but a stable he seems to absolutely love!

16 January 2016

When Kauro is out in the bush he sometimes wants to prove he is a big boy. Today he was spotted the whole day away alone and from the herd. The only time he would join everyone else was during milk hour. With their perfect memory, all the babies know where they feed from and at what time; time for going out to the forest and coming back home for bed. Today the visitors for the private visit came a bit late and before they arrived Naseku, Ndotto and Godoma had been putting up such a fuss to get their milk determined not to be delayed. Naseku started crying for her milk so loudly, knowing that her milk was sitting near the stockades. The keepers let the 3 go ahead to the feeding area to confirm there was nothing there yet. After realizing that they proceeded to the mud bath ground where they also found no milk – no keepers and no milk barrow with the milk bottles. They turned back to the forest where they had left the rest of the herd, Godoma and Naseku still shouting for their milk. Ndotto ran back to his keepers and settled on a keeper’s finger to suckle. By that time it was not long before the visitors arrived and all the babies were happy to proceed down and have their delicious milk.

17 January 2016

The most loving and caring baby girl Mbegu has been so nice to Murit today. Murit came out of his pen today and went straight over to Alamaya’s gate to say hello – exchanging trunks as a form of communication. He then moved on to Mbegu’s gate and started to greet her as well as she waited to come out. She seems to have told him to wait for her as soon as she came out she joined him and they both proceeded to Maxwell’s gate. Max was sleeping by his gate and they started feeding on Max’s lucerne together. Max heard them and got up and started playing with them but they paid no interest in his invitation to play today. They went on feeding on the lucerne and sometimes Murit would take the lucerne that Mbegu had in her mouth and she would lovingly let him. They eventually left Max and his lucerne to join the rest of the orphans in the forest where they remained browsing together as a pair. Mbegu then went to prepare some loose soil and started rolling and dusting herself, and after a short while Murit joined her, climbing on her back and she would accommodate what ever it was he wanted to do. When heading for milk, Mbegu would walk behind Murit and he really enjoyed her company, savouring every minute of her precious attention. Mwashoti got himself into trouble today when he bullied Ngilai. Females Dupotto and Roi pushed him away in order to protect the precious little boy Ngilai, and put Mwashoti in his place.

18 January 2016

Kamok has all the personalities – she can be good, she is friendly and caring to the other babies and she can be extremely naughty and sometimes even a bit of a bully as well. She has a new habit of coming out of her stockade in the morning and trying to hide from everyone, both the keepers and his peers. When she thinks no one can see her she sneaks around the stockade area to where all the compost is burnt. Here she scares away the warthogs and feasts on the keeper’s leftover ugali which is put there! One of the keepers went to chase her away from this new feeding point but because he was a relatively new keeper Kamok did not listen to his command but instead tried to chase him away. It wasn’t until a more experienced keeper came over and she heard the serious tone that she disappeared into the thicket to join the other babies. One has to have eyes in one’s head to keep tabs on Kamok when she is in one of these mods. When all the orphans were having fun in the mud bath today, two small warthog piglets ran into the area seemingly to have lost trace of their mother. Ngilai and Godoma spotted them but the others, Ndotto, Lasayen, Murit, Naseku and Mwashoti did not see them come in. Ngilai and Godoma took on the piglets, Ngilai raising his ears high and charging, Godoma running after the others. Ngilai drove them out of the rope cordon into the surrounding thicket whilst Godoma and Roi stood guard making sure they did not come back. Meanwhile the others carried on with their games – Lasayen was on his knees and Ndotto was climbing on his back and Murit was behind Ndotto! Naseku and Mwashoti were dusting themselves. We had some out of season rain around 3pm – Kamok enjoyed playing in the rain and prepared some loose soil to roll in. Ngilai and Ndotto were happy to roll on her back too having a great game. But the game came to an end when Boromoko came over to climb on Kamok. She got up with the two little boys leaving Enkikwe, Sokotei and Sirimon to enjoy her prepared soil – the four boys all enjoyed rolling and playing in the rain as well.

19 January 2016

Max has been very busy in his stockade since last night. This might be due to the rain which started last evening and went on up to this morning. He has been running from the top of his stockade right up to his covered bedroom as the bottom. He also had run rolling in the mud pool throughout the early morning hours – Max really loves the rain! All this running up and down really exhausted him and he went fast to sleep at 8am and didn’t wake up until 1pm. This is when he came down to his bedroom calling for lucerne. After all the rain Nairobi has remained beautifully green, and very thick! Because of this when the orphans go into the thicket to browse it is becoming harder to see them and follow them around, unless you trace their foot prints. Naseku led out her group today which consisted of Balguda, Enkikwe and Sirimon. They left right after public visiting and went into the forest for a long time – as the keepers looked for them, none of them responded to the keepers calling their names. A little while after 3pm, Naseku showed up in the bushes together with the two boys Sirimon and Enkikwe but Balguda wasn’t with them so he keepers continued to look for him. The arrival comes down to the perfect elephant memory again and sense of timing as they knew it was time for their next milk bottle. The trio ran to the mud bath area looking for their milk bottles but by the time they arrived all the others had already finished feeding. Some of them were enjoying a mud bath whilst others were browsing around the area. By the end of this private viewing visiting time Balguda had still not shown up and more keepers went now to go and look for him. He was eventually found browsing peacefully in the company of some buffaloes! The keepers found him with 3 bulls who were grazing and no one seemed to be bothered by the company they shared. Balguda spotted his Keepers and sensing it would not be safe for them to come any closer her walked to them and accompanied the keepers back to his orphan herd and by that time it was almost 5pm and time to return home to bed – what a nice day out Balguda had today, but how thoughtful and understanding he was too of his own Keepers safety. Elephants are truly the most amazing animals on the planet.

20 January 2016

What a happy day today for the orphans. As usual when they came out of their stockades this morning the majority of them were very active and interested in playing. They eventually settled down to browse though, not far from the stockade area because the weather was a bit misty. Kiko, Pea and Pod and the babies normally join them a bit later and today, when it was close to milk feeding time and the orphans all regrouped together, Sokotei decided he was not happy with the presence of Kiko within their group. Kiko read Sokotei’s look and body language and got ready as Sokotei raised his ears to charge at poor Kiko. As Sokotei charged at him, Kiko sped off with Sokotei following behind. Kiko was much faster and when he had run some distance he would stop and turn and see what Sokotei was going to do next. Sokotei kept charging at him but in Kiko’s mind he thought Sokotei was playing a game – as soon as Sokotei stopped Kiko would run back towards the orphan group running directly at Sokotei to entice him to play again. Sokotei would run back towards the keepers screaming for help from this long-necked animal. This chasing battle came to an end when the milk bottles arrived. After feeding Enkikwe and Olsekki started sizing each other up – Sokotei later intervened and took on Enkikwe in a pushing game until public visiting time. At public visiting they carried on with their strength games after finishing their milk bottles. Back in the forest Alamaya engaged Mbegu in the same kind of pushing game but Kauro intervened to stop Alamaya from playing with Mbegu – even though he later started playing with Boromoko anyway.

21 January 2016

Enkikwe has been initiating all the games it seems for the past 2 days. Yesterday he was playing with Sokotei and since this morning he has been playing with Oltaiyoni. Whilst the orphan family was out in the forest he went around everyone trying to get someone to play a game with him. In the end he chose Oltaiyoni who accepted his invitation to play. During public visiting today he also attracted the public’s attention when the two carried on with their game – pulling each other’s trunks, pushing each other and Oltaiyoni mounting on Enkikwe’s back. It was funny for the visitors to see that whenever Enkikwe would try to climb on Oltaiyoni’s back, she would turn around aggressively and stop him from doing so… but she enjoyed climbing on Enkikwe’s back whenever he went down onto his knees. This whole game went on until the end of the visiting hour. As they left the area Enkikwe ran in front in the lead and Oltaiyoni followed with her head on Enkikwe’s back, pushing him from behind. Whilst those two were showing off, Kamok and Kauro were busy interacting with the visitors along the rope cordon. Kamok was a good girl today and did not misbehave once and was even friendly with the visiting public! All the others were browsing on the green branches provided there with Roi having a good mudbath pushing her head in the mud with her bottom in the air.. Alamaya was out doing some research on how a black object somehow manages to speak like a keeper. He was walking around the bushes which hide the loud speaker that is used for public viewing time, so no one really understood what he was looking for. He stretched his trunk through the bush looking for the keeper which might be hiding in there, trying to get a smell, and then went round to an opening in the bush to look properly. He decided to pick up the black box with his trunk which spoke like a keeper, just to confirm all this information. A keeper saw him and ran over to save the speaker from the inquisitive Alamaya!

22 January 2016

Sometimes even the polite and most disciplined babies have bad moods. Boromoko seems to be in one such mood today and a bit selfish at the same time. Today anyone of his size or younger that passed in front of him he would charge at and head butt. He was drinking from a water trough when Alamaya went over to join him and share the water. Boromoko didn’t want to share the water and hit him on the head with his trunk before taking his ear in his mouth. Alamaya shouted with pain but Boromoko did not let go and they moved around in a circle before a keeper jumped in to save Alamaya. Ndotto was standing by himself when he turned to play with who he thought was his friend Lasayen, actually it was the cheeky, naughty boy Rapa who knocked him down. Rapa does not normally play with the younger ones and when he does he does not seem to play fair! He prefers to play in the mud bath or roll in the soil with the older ones, definitely not the younger babies. For the public visiting today only one ostrich accompanied the babies – Pea or Pod we are never sure which as they look exactly the same. It was the first time only one came for visiting and the other stayed behind as they normally travel as a pair. Earlier in the morning Pea and Pod had accompanied the older ones out, leaving behind Tamiyoi and Kiko. When it was time for them to come out later, the other orphans had already walked quite far into the park and Kiko, who likes the company of the ostriches, felt lonely. Without Pea and Pid to accompany him he ran back to the stockades. The keepers used a bottle of milk to entice him out to the bush which worked for awhile and he joined Tamiyoi, but only after 20 minutes he ran back to the stockades again and then he completely refused to go back out again until the end of the day when he was taken to his pen.

23 January 2016

Since Kamok’s naughty hide out was discovered she has relocated her bad behaviour to the car park area. This is the girl that has all kinds of characters including playing tricks on her keepers. She always pretends to be accompanying the rest to the forest and in the middle of the journey she sneaks out to the parking area; whilst there she will play with anything – warthogs in a running game or even with cars that might be parked there. Other times she just browses and in case she hears someone coming she will hide in the bushes without moving until the person has gone – and that is what she has been doing this morning! Simotua came out this morning looking a bit dull and down. He was avoiding his friends as well whenever they would approach him, he would walk away. Oltaiyoni and Mbegu tried to reach out to him a couple of times but he just moved away from them. Dupotto was having a nice day with her newly adopted baby Ngilai. She has prepared some loose soil for her and the baby to play with. As they were both playing and rolling in the soil, Roi felt jealous of her and drove her away from the dusting soil – Dupotto moved away taking Ngilai with her and she prepared some new soil again in a different place for her and Ngilai to continue enjoying. She is a very loving mini Mum to Ngilai and he appears incredibly satisfied in her company.

24 January 2016

Today in the mid morning, Kiko decided to visit the older babies who were a bit further out in the park when he left Pea, Pod and Tamiyoi to go and find them. Today he wasn’t received well by Siangiki who saw him from a distance and kept an eye on him. As he got closer to the herd she went after him but Kiko, as usual, just took this as a game and thought she wanted to play with him as he kept running and hiding in the bushes, only to reappear a few minutes later again. After a few attempted head butts which only came within inches of him he realised she did not want to play and he sped off back to his friends Pea and Pod. Today Roi got her got her own baby to care for and baby sit which was Godoma who she has been browsing with and playing with since morning. Tusuja lost his friend Rapa to Balguda and Naseku today as the three have been browsing together further in the forest since early morning. Tusuja instead accompanied Kauro who normally spends time on his own away from the rest.

25 January 2016

Today we discovered something new about Tamiyoi and little Murit – every morning as all the other orphans were walking out of their stockades to the forest to begin their day of browsing, these two young babies are walking to a particular tree close to Maxwell’s stockade and feeding on the berries currently growing on it. When baby Tamiyoi does not find enough of these berries on the ground, you can see her raising her little trunk in the air to the branches where she is trying to reach the ones that are too high! The girl then starts pointing to her keeper and up to the branches, pushing him, and he understands that she wants him to shake the tree and drop more berries on the ground for her and Murit. The two little babies really love eating these little berries which provide them with more vitamin C. During the 9 o’clock bottle feeding out in the field Roi and Siangiki were giving the keepers a hard time whilst they were trying to feed the others, because they kept running back and snatching other bottles from the wheelbarrow and running away with them, drinking whilst they ran. These two girls are becoming really greedy ones with strong characters, normally witnessed amongst young bulls!

26 January 2016

In the early morning as the orphans were busy walking out of their stockades and greeting each other, lovely Solio who has been roaming wild in Nairobi National Park decided to pay a visit to her old home. She first stopped by one of Maxwell’s gates where he was waiting to greet her and learn all about her wild news. They both smelt each other before getting into a busy game of locking horns and happily welcoming each other. They played for some time before Solio left again for the bush, leaving poor Maxwell so excited and wanting to play. At around 10 o’clock Pea and Pod were taken further afield together with the baby elephants to meet some wild ostriches in the Nairobi National Park – when they came across some they felt a bit scared and ran away from them to rejoin the keepers. The wild ostriches made another attempt to come and meet Pea and Pod and the keepers walked slowly away leaving them alone in the midst of the wild ones. However when Pea and Pod realised the orphans and the keepers were walking away and leaving them they walked off into the plains and by 12 o’clock they were back again to meet in the orphans in time to attend the public visiting! At 2 o’clock Kiko was given a fright by a lioness that was spotted close by but chased away by the keepers – nevertheless Kiko, Tamiyoi, Pea and Pod were taken back to the safety of the stockade compound for the rest of the day.

27 January 2016

During public visiting today it was extremely hot which meant all the orphans enjoyed a lengthy mud bath – even those who do normally not like mud bathing such as naughty Kamok, Murit, Kauro and Balguda were all seen going into the mud to cool down. Mwashoti, who is always a mud bathing fan, has been showing off a new trick of going back into the mud just as the first group are about to leave the feeding area to make room for the second group – when the keepers go after him to make him follow the rest he just rumbles really loudly and completely denies t follow the others, cleverly walking further into the mud pool so that the keepers cannot follow him! Thus clever Mwashoti is left in the mud pool to further enjoy his time in the mud bath with the second group.

28 January 2016

As all the orphans were going into the bush this morning, Sokotei and Boromoko started a lengthy pushing game that saw them be left far behind the others, as each one tried to dominate the other and win the play fight. In some of his attempts to win, Sokotei would go down on his forelegs to knock Boromoko over, without success. Then he would stand high on his back legs to try and scare Boromoko and still this did not work. He then even tried walking around the bushes and knocking and stamping them down to prompt Boromoko to turn away, and entwining trunks to assert his dominance. When none of these worked he then tried tricking Boromoko by attacking him and trumpeting at the same time but Sokotei just mounted on him – this in turn scared Boromoko and he ran away to seek refuge from Oltaiyoni, and that was the end of their game! Simotua is looking a lot better these days – not as dull or resting as frequently as he used to out in the bush. His browsing activity is going back to normal and he is feeding on good amounts of greens and managing to keep up with the other orphans unlike a few days earlier.

29 January 2016

Early in the morning the orphans approached the bush in a very playful mood, scampering about the bushes led by Oltaiyoni and backed by Mbegu the mini-matriarch. Roi, Dupotto, Olsekki, Sirimon, Enkikwe, Balguda and the little boys Ngilai, Ndotto and Lasayen all followed suit. They all spent a considerable amount of time charging and protesting against something that the keepers were not even sure of! However, their happy games soon came to an abrupt end when Enkikwe deliberately pushed down little Ngilai who was having a happy time playing with the others. His yelling out and struggle to stand again drew the attention of the girls and Oltaiyoni came running over swiftly followed by Mbegu, Dupotto, Roi and Kamok who all surrounded him and comforted him. Enkikwe by this stage had long gone and settled far out in some dense bushes to avoid being disciplined for his naughty actions

30 January 2016

Out in the field Tamiyoi joined Mbegu, Oltaiyoni, Dupotto and Kamok Roi. Everyone had a wonderful day heading deep into the forest browsing on the bountiful vegetation. The orphans split into groups and wondered off making matters challenging for the Keepers to keep tabs on the whole Nursery horde. Mudbath was enjoyable with Siangiki having a fun filled time wallowing enticing Kamok and ROi to join her. Sirimon was eyeing the milk bottles again hoping for a return circuit and more milk if he could fool his Keepers but today everyone was on the ball and his intentions were spotted early.

31 January 2016

As the orphans left their stockades this morning for the bush, most of them showed no major interest in anything apart from making their way to begin their day of browsing. Only Mbegu made several attempts of trying to return to the stockades to collect the little ones to escort them out. Mbegu was in luck however for on her final attempt of returning back to the stockades she met the babies coming out as well. She welcomed them warmly and stroked them with her trunk. Mbegu stayed with the little ones until 9am when she went back out to the bush to enjoy her milk bottles. During public viewing at 11am Ndotto, Lasayen, Ngilai, Mbegu and Naseku all had a lovely time playing after getting into the mud bath. Ndotto and Lasayen had a funny game of rolling in the loose soil – Ndotto having his fun mounting on Lasayen’s forehead, a position that really drew the applause of the visiting public. Little Ngilai was having his own fun bumping into the visiting public who were equally as happy touching him and posing for photos next to him. He would do this for awhile before running over to where Mbegu and Naskeu were soil dusting, playfully climb on them for awhile and slide down their backs before running back to bump against the visiting public again standing next to the rope cordon. The three little boys marked the day with their jovial and funny games, a warm welcome to the visiting public who wrapped up their visit with big smiles on their faces.