Keepers' Diaries, July 2008

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

The 3rd July was a red-letter day in the Nursery. It was the first day that “Wasessa”, the 2 year old newcomer who had proved problematical to calm, being so fearful and suspicious of humans, was allowed out with the other Nursery elephants for the first time, having been in the “Taming Stockade” for almost 2 weeks. We all held our breath, wondering whether she would flee, whether or not she would take her milk from the bottle held by a Keeper out in the bush and how she would behave at the noon mudbath hour when all the local school-children and visiting tourists come to view the orphaned elephants. She was returned to her Stockade for the mudbath hour on this, her first day out, but thereafter she was with the others during the Visiting Hour, and although she planted herself in the midst of the other elephants, and had ears out like dinner-plates throughout the day, she behaved impeccably, even though the presence of so many humans initially left her agitated and confused. However, taking a cue from the others, she accepted that they posed no threat, and every day appeared more accepting and calmer.

The 3rd July was a red-letter day in the Nursery. It was the first day that “Wasessa”, the 2 year old newcomer who had proved problematical to calm, being so fearful and suspicious of humans, was allowed out with the other Nursery elephants for the first time, having been in the “Taming Stockade” for almost 2 weeks. We all held our breath, wondering whether she would flee, whether or not she would take her milk from the bottle held by a Keeper out in the bush and how she would behave at the noon mudbath hour when all the local school-children and visiting tourists come to view the orphaned elephants. She was returned to her Stockade for the mudbath hour on this, her first day out, but thereafter she was with the others during the Visiting Hour, and although she planted herself in the midst of the other elephants, and had ears out like dinner-plates throughout the day, she behaved impeccably, even though the presence of so many humans initially left her agitated and confused. However, taking a cue from the others, she accepted that they posed no threat, and every day appeared more accepting and calmer.

Initially, Lempaute made a great effort to befriend Wasessa, but after a few days Siria turned out to be her best friend. Siria is a very caring little boy elephant, who seems to understand the need for smaller babies to have a mother figure, because he tolerates both Kenia and baby Kimana finding comfort suckling endlessly on his ears. Wasessa would rather have his undivided attention, and is sometimes visibly irritated by the two babies monopolizing the ears of her best friend. However, Siria doesn’t mind, and seems to have slotted into the role of male mother to the two smaller calves, sharing with Kenia and Wasessa empathy over their loss, both of whom, like him, have lost their elephant mother and family very recently. He also understands the emotional needs of tiny Kimana, who although orphaned too young to really understand the circumstances that deprived him of his natural mother, feels her absence deep down in his psyche.

Sinya, who is roughly the same age as Lesanju, has managed to take possession of little Dida who hitherto has always been attached to Lesanju. Lesanju doesn’t seem to mind too much, happy to share the affections of Dida, but demanding of Lempaute who remains very close to her, especially now that Siria has taken over Wasessa.

This month, Kimana has been cutting his first molars, something that always leaves the infants fractious and dull, definitely “off colour” (as the saying goes) so he has not been as exuberant as previously, only “pushy” towards little Dida, who is nearest him in size and whom he obviously views as a rival for the affection of the older elephants.

The current Nursery orphans, namely Lesanju, Lempaute, Sinya, Shimba, Dida, Siria, Kenia, Kimana and now Wasessa form an unusually peace-loving and well behaved unit, for they have few disagreements and refrain from the usual bouts of strength testing which often end up in one party losing his or her cool! Lempaute remains the impish member of the group, always on the lookout for some fun by scaring small human onlookers during the mudbath hour, something that Dida is beginning to emulate. When the orphans encountered a tortoise out in the bush towards the end of the month, only Lempaute was brave enough to go up to it and touch it with her foot, all the others retreating back to the Keepers and watching from a distance! The tortoise kept on his way, which intrigued Lempaute and focused her attention for a long time.

The Rhinos:- Towards the end of the month Maxwell was again cause for concern, initially with an upset stomach followed by severe constipation and no stool able to be passed for 3 full days, which left him decidedly uncomfortable, rolling around on the ground, and refusing all food and water. Having called the Vet, who proposed a glycerin and water enema, the Keepers managed to physically scoop out huge chunks of dung by inserting a hand, and this cleared the blockage, because then he managed to pass some without aid. By the next morning the stools were normal again, and later a bit too runny, so we are having to become pretty efficient at dealing with both rhino “squits” and then the opposite!

Shida continues to be a daily caller back where he grew up, often obligingly putting himself back in his old Stockade, usually during the noon public visiting hour, enjoying an audience of spectators. However, Max is the main draw, although the vehicles at the Trust Workshop also fascinate him, something that is not popular because he enjoys denting them. Hence a “hot wire” has had to be erected so that the Workshop becomes out of bounds to him!

July 2008 day to day

01 Jul

All the Nursery elephants came to greet Wasessa this morning, but she turned her back to them, and did not want to fraternize.

Some of the Nursery group which now numbers 9

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