Keepers' Diaries, July 2008

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.

01 July 2008

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

02 July 2008

Wasessa took her milk from a hand-held bottle today, rather than the bucket offered through the separating poles of her Stockade, so progress is being made, although she still wants to push the Keeper once the milk is finished.

03 July 2008

Today was the first day that Wasessa has been allowed out of the Stockade to join the others. She did not run away, as we had expected, but remained in their midst, but did not like the blankets covering the other elephants, repeatedly trying to pull them off! We managed to return her to her Stockade for the mudbath hour, because we knew she would not like all the visitors. In the evening, we succeeded in getting her back into her Night Stockade, which was a surprise.

04 July 2008

Lempaute has been trying to make friends with Wasessa, and Wasessa kept trying to push her away. However, when Lempaute refused to be pushed away, Wasessa accepted her proximity and gradually made friends with her. She came to the mudbath with the others today, and although her ears were always out, she did not charge any of the visitors, but was definitely very fearful of them.

05 July 2008

This is the second day that Wasessa has attended the mudbath, but is still not comfortable to feed from the bottle at this time, always turning around to make sure that no-one is approaching her from behind. Later, after the mudbath and once the crowds had dispersed, she took her noon milk feed.

06 July 2008

Today Wasessa was calmer during the mudbath and she took her milk from the bottle in front of all the crowds. Her ears were not held out as before, which is a good sign that she is becoming calmer.

07 July 2008

Wasessa was much calmer at the mudbath today, but still has an aversion to seeing the blankets over the other youngsters, always trying to pull them off. She refuses to have a blanket over herself, despite the chilly weather.

08 July 2008

Lempaute has become Wasessa’s best friend. Today they spent the day close together, feeding apart from the others.

09 July 2008

Today at mudbath, little Dida copied Lempaute, charging towards some children who were being noisy, and then enjoying the ensuing chaos!

10 July 2008

As we were heading out towards the usual place where the Keepers take their lunch, we came across a hyaena who was eating some meat. When the hyaena spotted us, he ran away with the meat in his mouth.

11 July 2008

As we were all heading towards the mudbath, Lempaute leading, she suddenly turned back and ran to the Keepers. We went to see what had disturbed her, and saw a dead guineafowl which had been dead for sometime and was smelling bad. We took the elephants on another route to avoid passing it.

12 July 2008

Lesanju seems to resent the friendship that Lempaute has with Wasessa, pushing Wasessa from Lempaute whenever they are close. Wasessa has decided to befriend Siria instead.

13 July 2008

Today, the orphans separated themselves into two groups. Wasessa, Siria, Kenia and Kimana all fed together while Lesanju, Lempaute, Sinya, Shimba and Dida comprised the second group and fed together. They were apart all morning, and after the mudbath hour, separated in the same way.

14 July 2008

Baby Kimana has attached himself to Siria, who allows him to suck his ears. Kimana always wants to suckle something, if not the ears of Siria, then the Keepers hands or clothing.

15 July 2008

As soon as Dida came out of her Night Stable, she rushed to Maxwell’s Stockade to greet him, but found him still fast asleep!

16 July 2008

Siria is proving to be a very caring little elephant. He takes care of both Kimana and Kenia, allowing them to always be very close to him. Because his mother was so ill for a long time, he understands how important it is for a tiny orphan to have a mother-figure!

17 July 2008

Sinya is vying for Leadership now, and has managed to take Dida from Lesanju.

18 July 2008

Lempaute and Lesanju spent most of the night play-fighting in their Night Stockade. The Keepers could not understand why they behaved like that, because it is not usual.

19 July 2008

Shimba has always enjoyed browsing on his own, slightly apart from all the others, but today he decided to join them, and fed in amongst them throughout the day.

20 July 2008

It was quite a hot day today; not the usual chilly July weather, so all the orphans thoroughly enjoyed their mudbath hour, rolling in the mud, and playing with the water. Even Wasessa joined in. Later they rested under shade until the heat subsided, when they went out to browse.

21 July 2008

Wasessa is now part of the Nursery group, but is usually always closest to Siria and with his satellites, Kenia and Kimana, even though she would obviously rather have the undivided attention of Siria. She tolerates the presence of the two babies when they are with him

22 July 2008

Both Kenia and Kimana enjoy suckling on Siria’s ears. The two babies are possessive of Siria and today Kenia pushed little Kimana away when he came to suckle on the same ear as herself!

23 July 2008

Today, the orphans encountered a tortoise out in the bush, which scared them all except Lempaute, who approached the tortoise and touched it gently with her foot! Throughout all this the tortoise did not retract its head, but simply kept on going, which fascinated Lempaute for a long time, the others all huddling close to the Keepers!

24 July 2008

Wasessa is becoming increasingly possessive of Siria. Today, she pushed Kenia away, which upset Siria, who ran away to distance himself from her. Little Kimana, who was left behind, then attempted to suckle Wasessa’s ears, but she was having none of it!

25 July 2008

Today Lesanju showed her leadership abilities by separating Shimba and Kenia who were busy fighting. As Kenia is smaller then Shimba she was very protective towards her.

26 July 2008

Lesanju spent most of the day trying to get Kimana away from Siria. However as Kimana has formed a strong bond with Siria, who was keeping a close eye on what was going on, she was not successful in taking him away.

27 July 2008

A group of baboons came upon the elephants as they were browsing scaring them. The orphans, with the exception of Shimba who stood his ground, ran to the keepers.

28 July 2008

Siria and Sinya spent most of the evening play-fighting in their Stockade. The Keepers could not understand what had caused them to play in this manner as they had not done so before.

29 July 2008

Wasessa is now much calmer and has fully integrated into the nursery group. Today she even followed her keeper to her night stockade.

30 July 2008

During a private visit Lemapute caused a scene by chasing a young boy into while he was petting her. She was so excited that she nearly pushed him into the bushes. The young boy got a fright but was otherwise not hurt.

31 July 2008

As it was a cold morning and there was a relentless drizzle we decided to keep the three younger babies, Kimana, Kenya and Dida in their stockades. Kenya and Dida were not happy with the situation and made a lot of noise forcing us to take them back to the bush. Kimana remained in the stockade until the rain let up.