Keepers' Diaries, July 2005

Nairobi Nursery Unit

As anticipated, the transfer of Ndomot, Madiba, Galana and Sunyei to Ithumba on the 2nd unsettled the remaining five Nursery elephants, especially Naserian, who went round the empty stables looking for the missing members of the group, and who was reluctant to go out into the bush to feed. All the remaining elephants were somewhat subdued for several days, but now that Naserian is the only Matriarch in the absence of Sunyei and Galana, with whom she shared this duty, she is very attentive and caring, especially of little Lualeni, and Kora and has settled into the role pleasurably.

01 July 2005

All the elephants woke up looking bored, but they cheered up later in the day, although there was a feeling of uncertainty, with the lorries parked at the Loading Ramps, and the older elephants being fed actually in the vehicles. Later, Lualeni came to Sunyei and touched her gently on the forehead with her trunk. Sunyei stopped feeding and responded by touching Lualeni’s head, both standing motionless for a few moments. We wondered whether somehow they sensed that they would soon be parted.

02 July 2005

Early in the morning, Galana and Sunyei were locked into one truck, and Ndomot and Madiba in the other. The four elephants drove out from the Nursery at dawn. Naserian, Lualeni, Kora, Buchnuma and Rapsu, woke up looking worried and were scared to venture into the bush. Naserian went and checked the stables where Ndomot and Galana used to reside, and then went to inspect the ones previously occupied by Sunyei and Madiba, emerging looking puzzled. It took a lot of persuasion to get the elephants to go into the bush as usual, because they were wondering where the other four were.

03 July 2005

Missing his pushing mates, Madiba and Ndomot, Buchuma tried his luck on Naserian, and got taught a sharp lesson.

04 July 2005

We were very pleased at the mudbath to see little Kora playing happily with Lualeni, obviously feeling much better. During the mudbath, Buchuma tried to climb on Naserian, which was not popular. She pushed him away.

05 July 2005

Naserian has taken control of the babies following the departure of Sunyei and Galana. She is looking much happier today, but seems confused about what to do about pushy Buchuma, who wants to push Rapsu. Rapsu, who has small tusks, does not want to play, intent on feeding only.

06 July 2005

At the mudbath, Buchuma tried to fight Rapsu, but Naserian was watching him, and went in to separate the two after Rapsu had fallen down. Naserian then went to keep a close watch over Lualeni. Kora enjoyed wallowing in the mud, which made all the visitors very happy.

07 July 2005

Kora now takes his milk eagerly, bellowing for more when he has finished his three bottles. This is a very good sign, because before we had to persuade him to finish his quota. Lualeni put on a good show for the visitors by chasing the warthogs, trying to trumpet. Naserian followed behind, just to be there should any of the warthogs threaten her baby.

08 July 2005

Today, at the mudbath, Naserian wanted to lead the orphans back into the bush ahead of time, and refused to return. Out in the bush, all five were very subdued, possibly recalling their lost friends. Later in the evening, they regained their usual playfulness.

09 July 2005

Lualeni entertained the visitors well again today, by rolling the large tube up and down, watched by Naserian. In the evening Rapsu and Kora wanted to lead the others back to their Night Stables ahead of time today, being the two greediest ones. Kora pushed Lualeni, who screamed, and this brought Naserian at the double who wanted to punish Kora, but the Keepers intervened, not wanting her to hurt his sore jaw.

10 July 2005

This morning Naserian was very anxious, moving to each elephant to make sure they were all present and correct.

11 July 2005

Being greedy, Rapsu wanted to return to the stables, hoping for his milk, and had his trunk up hoping to learn if it was coming.

12 July 2005

It was amusing in the evening when Rapsu mistakenly went into Buchuma’s stable, followed by Buchuma, who objected loudly and tried to push Rapsu out! When the Keeper arrived, Buchuma held the Keeper’s leg to bring his attention to Rapsu’s intrusion.

13 July 2005

It was very cold this morning, so all the orphans crowded close to the Keepers for warmth, and did not want to go into the bush, each elephant wanting to be in the middle! Only Naserian refrained from trying to be in the middle, which was a good sign of maturity.

14 July 2005

Another cold and quiet day. The orphans fed close to one another, although Buchuma wandered off on his own. Suddenly he came rushing back, showing signs of fear which made all the others raise their trunks to try and determine the cause. The Keepers went to investigate and found two giraffes passing by.

15 July 2005

Rapsu is so fond of his food that he keeps waiting for the next round. At 9 a.m. he heard the milk wheelbarrow coming and ran rapidly to meet the milk on its way out into the bush. He then followed the wheelbarrow, crying loudly for his bottle and was joined by Buchuma. Naserian, Lualeni and Kora stood close to the Keepers, patiently awaiting the milk.

16 July 2005

Shida (the little rhino) has begun to behave like a grown rhino, not wanting to come back to the Stockade in the evening. Whenever he comes close, he runs back into the bush, and only agreed to go into his Night Stockade at 7 p.m. after all the Keepers persuaded him. It seems he would like to spend the night out in the bush, but he is too young to risk that, especially with Makosa sharing the same territory.

17 July 2005

Since the departure of Ndomot and Madiba, Buchuma has been the winner of pushing matches against Rapsu, but today Rapsu at the mudbath when disciplined him, prodding him hard with his little tusks which made his yell.

18 July 2005

Some visitors were allowed to come to the bush today, who took a great interest in Lualeni, touching her and focusing all attention on her. Naserian got jealous, and pushed them away. She did not mind them touching any of the other elephants, but Lualeni is her special favourite.

19 July 2005

It was amusing in the evening when all the elephants came back in single file according to their age, led by Naserian, their little Matriarch.

20 July 2005

It is Shida again causing a problem by not wanting to come back to his Night Stockade. He ran back as far as the Banda Gate, and all the Keepers had a difficult time rounding him up. By the time they got him in, it was dark, and the Keepers were afraid that they might run into a lion.

21 July 2005

Kora made all the Keepers laugh when he tried to push naughty Buchuma. He actually shoved Buchuma to the ground and then tried to mount on him! Lualeni and Naserian went to back up Kora, and they all mounted on Buchuma. When Buchuma eventually got up, he retaliated by pushing Lualeni, which prompted Naserian to push him, leaving Kora and Lualeni to walk away together. This was a good lesson for pushy Buchuma.

22 July 2005

It was very cold today, even at the mudbath hour, so all the elephants had their blankets in place. Then Rapsu decided to go into the mud, so the Keepers removed his blanket. Lualeni wanted to do the same, but because it was so cold, the Keepers prevented her from going in.

23 July 2005

Kora is very keen to take on Buchuma, and managed to push him to the ground, which made him feel very happy. Kora then ran around breaking branches to announce his feat. Buchuma then responded by running after Kora, but Kora held his own again. Lualeni kept following the two, very interested in the contest.

24 July 2005

Again Buchuma pushed Rapsu very hard, which infuriated Rapsu, who went after him. Buchuma ran away, but then waited in ambush, catching Rapsu unawares. The Keepers intervened to separate the two.

25 July 2005

This morning Rapsu rushed to meet the milk wheelbarrow, yelling loudly. This attracted the attention of all the others, who came rushing up to see what was wrong!

26 July 2005

Immediately after the mudbath, we ran into a large troupe of chattering baboons who were making a lot of noise. Naserian tried to chase them away by threatening them and trumpeting, and later Lualeni went up to support her, but every time the baboons advanced, she ran back to the Keepers. Eventually the baboons moved off.

27 July 2005

Naserian displays a lot of determination when it comes to defending her orphaned family members. When she first took over, she would charge up to visiting humans, seeing them as a possible threat, but now she has understood that their presence should be tolerated.

28 July 2005

Immediately Buchuma had finished his milk, he went and pushed Rapsu was was still taking his. This angered Rapsu, who pushed Buchuma away very hard. Realising that Rapsu would fight, Buchuma ran off screaming, which prompted Lualeni and Kora, who were busy feeding nearby, to follow events closely.

29 July 2005

Lualeni entertained all the visitors at the mudbath by running up and down with the football. Kora joined in, kicking the ball once, but then leaving Lualeni to take centre stage, which she did until the end of the mudbath visiting hour.

30 July 2005

Buchuma was determined to have a competition with Rapsu, which the Keepers were unable to break up. In the end Naserian intervened, separating them by pushing Buchuma hard, and then keeping him away from Rapsu. Kora and Lualeni were interested spectators!

31 July 2005

It was a chilly, and drizzling morning, so the elephants had a wonderful time playing in the small puddles and the mud, although they all still had their blankets on. We simply could not restrain them from doing so.