Keepers' Diaries, January 2018

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

The Nursery is almost split equally between boys and girls 13 to 17. With many of these females being over two years old, there is plenty of love doled out to all the babies in the Nursery, particularly by Mbegu, Godoma, Tagwa and Malima. All the females are affectionate towards the babies but these older females especially dote on the youngsters. They watch over them answering their every call.

As the matriarch, Mbegu has a lot on her plate in caring for all 30 orphans in the Nursery. At one time she only had eyes for Ambo and although he will always hold a special place in her heart, it is to the younger calves that she pays more attention to now. One baby the females don’t pay as much attention to is Maktao, but this is due to his tendency to ‘cry wolf’ on a regular basis. He often starts yelling if he loses sight of any Keepers, whom he is so attached to, and when he causes a fuss none of the other orphans pay him much attention now!

One very special relationship to witness is that between Musiara and Luggard. During the day Musiara has started accompanying some of the older orphans on their longer forays into the forest in search of tasty vegetation, whilst Luggard prefers to stay close to his Keepers. Come time for their milk bottles, Musiara will always make his way back to Luggard and together they will walk slowly for their milk. Musiara keeps pace with Luggard which is endearing and because they are walking slowly due to Luggard’s compromised leg, they sometimes get distracted. One day the duo did not arrive with the rest of the group for their bottles and, when a Keeper walked back to check on them, he found them happily dusting themselves half way down the path distracted by a tempting pile of red soil!

Baby Kiasa was a cause for concern at the beginning of the month when she suddenly became too scared to enter her stable. She would shout and yell and run back out to the forest to avoid going into her room in the evening although once she was coaxed inside, she was fine and had her milk bottle without any trouble. The Keepers thought she had a bad dream one night, or else saw something that might have frightened her like a big spider. After a few days of this traumatic bed time drama they tried another tactic and had the other orphans accompany her into her stable. Maktao was led in to enjoy his milk with her in her stable, and this seemed to work; since then Kiasa has had no problems going to bed!

There is always one! We had Wendi all those years ago, then Kithaka and then Kamok, and now if there is trouble we can almost always be certain that naughty little Esampu is at the root of it! Although she has a very caring side to her character as well, where she can be very compassionate towards the younger babies, she is undoubtedly the naughtiest orphan in the Nursery at the moment. If she is not deliberating pushing one of her friends, she is trying to score some extra milk during feeding times, no matter how much older the targeted elephant might be. When denied something, she will take out her frustrations on whoever might be standing close by but the older females are always nearby to dole out discipline when necessary. One day Mbegu got so angry with Esampu for pushing Sattao that she pushed her away from the rest of the group, and Esampu stayed away from Mbegu for the rest of the day. Sana Sana, as Esampu’s ever-suffering neighbour, is the one that usually tries to mitigate the naughty’s girls bad behaviour, and keeps a watchful eye over her.

Kiko has stayed around the stockade compound for a number of days this month due to the pride of lions who have lingered in this area. He was being kept in for a few days in a row but grew restless so was escorted out to the forest by his Keepers, where his behaviour was nothing short of disgraceful! Whether he was celebrating his freedom or just being naughty, he started running around kicking and disrupting the 3pm feeding of the elephants so much that some of them were afraid to come for their bottles! In the end, it was three year old Ndotto who sorted him out and together with Mbegu and Shukuru, they managed to chase him back to the compound, a relief for both the Keepers and the other orphans. He is naturally very anxious of the lions and will choose not to go out to the forest if he knows they are around.

Shukuru, our big eight year old orphan who was brought back from Ithumba in December for the extra care and attention she obviously needed to recover from her chronic illness, is doing very well and improving every day. She is even taking part in mud baths and demanding extra milk at feeding times, an obvious sign she is feeling better. She has been spending a lot of time with Ndotto and Ngilai who are very good at lifting her spirits and have made very good friends with her.

Maxwell has been celebrating the periodic rain showers we had this month and for which we were very grateful for. He loves it when it rains and will charge up and down from his bedroom to the far reaches of his upper stockade. It sets him off in a playful mood and it is during these times he will seek out someone to play with. When the warthogs aren’t in the mood he will turn to the elephant orphans if they haven’t already left for the forest, and playful ones like Ambo and Malima are always happy to oblige. They play pushing games through the bars of his gate and run up and down the side of his room on either side of the partition. Wild living Solio has been visiting with a very handsome male rhino boyfriend accompanying her. Maxwell of course gets extremely worked up by these encounters and huffs and puffs as he meets them across the bars.

January 2018 day to day

01 Jan

The orphans began the first day of the New Year with happy faces and in good spirit as they came out of their stockades in the morning. The only one who wasn’t so happy to venture into the forest was Kiko, who only got as far as the end of Maxwell’s stockade before stopping to stare out into the forest. The reason for his hesitation was the pride of lions that had been chasing warthogs yesterday in the area, so he was cautious not to venture any further. He spent the day wandering around the compound grazing on the acacia trees within.

Kiko is the bushes near Max stockade

Kiko in the compound

Maxi resting in his room

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