Keepers' Diaries, July 2007

Nairobi Nursery Unit

Nursery Elephants:- July has been another harrowing month for our Nursery babies and their Keepers, who have had to endure a cat-and-mouse act with the few remaining Nairobi Park lions who have been casing the Trust premises for the warthogs that frequent our compound. Two pigs have been killed within spitting distance of the Elephants’ Night Stockades, as has a half-grown giraffe killed on the rocks just opposite the mudbath. After the lions had become bold enough to chase our Keepers and their charges in the Visitors’ Carpark, we resorted to asking the Kenya Wildlife Service for two armed Rangers to accompany and protect the Nursery elephants and their Keepers out in the bush behind our premises.

01 July 2007

A very chilly morning for the youngsters, but this did not deter them from being playful. Zurura and Kamboyo indulged in their usual play-fight, which attracted the attention of Makena and Lenana.

02 July 2007

Due to the presence of the Nairobi Park’s remaining lions, all the elephants now spend their days together, which suits Shimba fine, because he loves suckling Lenana, but has not pleased Lesanju, who prefers to have Lempaute and Shimba to herself, without having to share them with the big elephants.

03 July 2007

Early in the morning, Lenana went to Shimba’s stable, and refused to leave. We felt it was too cold for the babies to be allowed out, and that Lenana would feel lonely if we took the other elephants away, but that did not happen! She insisted on remaining outside Shimba’s stable door, so in the end we had to give in, and let the three babies out to go with the older elephants. Chyulu would also love to monopolize Shimba, but Lenana won’t allow this.

04 July 2007

At the mudbath Makena put on a spectacular soil bathing display for the visitors, joined by Chyulu and then Zurura and Kamboyo, who began rolling around. Only Lenana remained aloof.

05 July 2007

Lesanju’s baby group were extremely playful as soon as they left their Night Stables in the morning. Led by Lesanju, Shimba raced around, breaking down small bushes, although at first Lempaute refrained, choosing to stay close to the Keepers but soon she could not resist, and joined in.

06 July 2007

At the mudbath, Lempaute was up to her usual tricks, scaring the visiting school-children by running under the cordon and trumpeting. This is the first time that she has managed a trumpet, and it made her very excited, refusing to obey the Keepers! All the visitors enjoyed the fun and this encouraged Lempaute even more!

07 July 2007

It was amusing when at about 3.30 p.m., Chyulu decided to try and take Shimba from Lenana. Lenana was not happy about this and followed, trying to push Chyulu away and when Makena intervened in support of Chyulu, Lenana was very angry and started a serious fight to get Shimba back. In this she was successful, forcing Makena and Chyulu to relinquish possession of him.

08 July 2007

Lesanju, Shimba and Lempaute entertained the visitors royally today, running around and playing real soccer with the ball, and managing to trumpet as well. All the visitors loved the show the three babies put on for them.

09 July 2007

As the orphans and their Keepers were heading out to the bush, they encountered 5 lions, 2 males and 3 females, seated on the rocks where we normally take our lunch. We and the elephants rapidly changed direction.

10 July 2007

As we were taking the milk out to the orphans in the morning, we came across a lioness and her 2 cubs feeding on a warthog they had killed earlier. She faced the Keepers, who were behind her, and we all stood very still and were scared. This lioness remained there the entire day, forcing us to take a detour back to the Stables in the evening. nearby, but could not see their mother. We hurriedly took another route and fed the elephants elsewhere.

11 July 2007

Lesanju was leading the baby group out in the morning when she abruptly stopped and retreated behind the Keepers and it was then that we saw some cubs playing in the bushes. We did not see the mother, but turned back very quickly and went to feed in another direction.

12 July 2007

After the noon mudbath, the babies joined the older orphans, and the three bigger girls were all desperate to commandeer one of the babies. It became very clear that Lenana had Shimba. Makena and Chyulu were not happy because neither Lempaute nor Lesanju wanted to be “smother-loved” by the older females. Makena and Chyulu then managed to extract Shimba from Lenana, which made Lenana angry. She retaliated to retrieve Shimba again, whilst Lempaute and Lesanju stuck to their Keepers.

13 July 2007

After the mudbath, whilst Kamboyo and Lenana were feeding apart from the others, they suddenly began to run to the Keepers. We went to see what had scared them and came across 2 lions, a lioness and her cub who were sitting watching us. We moved away slowly until the bushes hid us, and then rapidly took another route.

14 July 2007

As we were coming to the noon mudbath, using the usual route, none of the elephants wanted to follow, and ran back. We had to bring them another way. After the mudbath, we went to see what had scared them, and came across 2 lions feeding on a warthog they had killed just beside Jill’s old house.

15 July 2007

A terrifying day today when at 2 p.m., near the Carpark, we were charged by three lions, who ran towards us, one of them making a terrible noise. We ran, all the elephants close to us, and when the lion reached the open Carpark area, he stopped and retreated.

16 July 2007

Today, we had to take an entirely different route out into the bush. At 9 a.m. when we were giving the elephants their milk on the rocks near the mudbath, a cub came out from the bush towards us. We moved away from him, only to come across another three lions feeding on a giraffe they had kill the previous night.

17 July 2007

All the babies woke up early, because it was a sunny day for a change. They began playing mounting games. Lesanju did not approve of Shimba trying to mount onto Lempaute, and pushed him off, making him fall. This angered Shimba, who then began to fight Lesanju. Lempaute sided with Lesanju, but they did not manage to over-power Shimba, who emerged victorious and was very pleased with himself!

18 July 2007

Kamboyo often likes feeding apart from the other elephants whilst out in the bush. Suddenly a rabbit ran out of the long grass nearby where he was feeding, which gave him a terrific fright. Bellowing and trumpeting, he rushed to the Keepers. We all wondered why a tiny animal such as a rabbit could scare a big elephant like Kamboyo!

19 July 2007

Zurura today decided to single out Kamboyo for a fight which went on for most of the day, interrupting their feeding. Although Kamboyo has longer tusks than Zurura, Zurura would not give up. We wondered what had happened during the night to anger Zurura against Kamboyo.

20 July 2007

The three tiny elephants put on a lively display at the mudbath, Lesanju and Shimba concentrating on a game of soccer, whilst Lempaute had fun with the visitors, as usual going beneath the rope to scare the school-children, and lying down at the visitors’ feet. In the evening Lesanju enjoyed playing with Chyulu, Chyulu enticing her into the game by lying down in a dust-pile so that Lesanju could climb onto her.

21 July 2007

It was another very chilly day, but the babies enjoyed their usual playing games, the two groups together, with 2 armed Rangers with the Keepers to protect them from the lions. Zurura and Chyulu enjoyed a Pushing Game at the start of their field activities.

22 July 2007

Today, Chyulu attached herself to Lenana and Shimba, and Lenana tolerated this. Obviously, when Lenana leaves for Ithumba, Chyulu will take control of Shimba and the others, for she is very maternal, and loves the little ones more than Makena.

23 July 2007

At the mudbath, three warthogs came to join the big orphans. Makena left the mudbath and decided to chase the warthogs all around the cordon, making the tourists very excited, some of whom were screaming, whilst others were laughing and taking pictures.

24 July 2007

During the mudbath, Kamboyo and Zurura indulged in a play-fight, which excited all the tourists, who were cheering for Zurura, since he is younger. Lenana tried to separate the two contestants, but failed, so the battle went on for some time.

25 July 2007

Makena, Chyulu and Kamboyo enjoyed running up and down with the ball at the mudbath. Makena and Kamboyo breached the cordon, which excited the visitors, and Zurura kept on trying to mount onto Lenana during the visiting hour.

26 July 2007

For most of the day, Lenana and Chyulu were together with their shared baby, Shimba. At milk time, all three remained glued together, although Chyulu usually runs for her bottle. Today, however, she did not want to leave Shimba and Lenana and was in no hurry for the milk!

28 July 2007

A fun morning was had by the small babies, Shimba trying to mount onto Lempaute and Lenana trying to stop him by gently pushing him away. Chyulu and Makena came to be with Shimba, but Lenana kept them at a distance from him.

29 July 2007

Shimba stole the Show at the mudbath, running around with the ball and trumpeting, which excited all the visitors.

30 July 2007

Just after a Private Viewing session at 3 p.m., a lioness was seen just near Jill’s house verandah, hunting the warthogs. We all turned back, and fed the babies below Angela’s house, where we remained until it was time to return to the Stockades in the evening.

31 July 2007

At about 3 p.m., we could tell that the elephants were all scared, running to their Keepers, who also became scared, but could see nothing. Suddenly a lion came running in our direction chasing an Impala which it caught up with just before us, but the impala managed to escape just by a whisker. The lion kept looking at us, lashing its tail angrily. We were very scared, but did not run. The elephants kept running around us, all very frightened.