The month brought two new elephants into our Nairobi Nursery, little 6 week old “Mumbushi” on the 4th, found all alone on Mt. Kenya with a deep machete wound across his face. The baby was rescued by KWS personnel and held overnight by the Senior Warden, Robert Robert O’Brien, who used to work in Tsavo and was familiar with our Elephant Programme. He immediately alerted the Trust, ensuring that the calf was not fed cows’ milk and kept warm overnight since it was too late for a Rescue Plane that day. The next morning little Mumbushi arrived, a baby who was totally trusting of the Keepers, despite the cruelty inflicted upon him by brutal tribesmen who were also likely to have been responsible for the death of his elephant mother. The one right eye was also cause for concern, weeping and with a white spot, so this needed urgent attention as well. (Poaching has escalated sharply throughout the country of late, in tandem with the arrival in large numbers of Chinese workers who now provide a lucrative outlet for illegal trophies such as ivory and rhino horn, so it can safely be assumed that Mumbushi could be yet another poaching casualty.)
The next arrival on the 8th was an l8 month old female calf captured near the Tanzanian/Kenyan border near Lake Jipe in Tsavo West National Park, probably another poaching victim who obviously lost her mother in Tanzania, since poaching is also rampant in that country, again driven by the Chinese demand for ivory. She was held at the Voi Stockades overnight and immobilized for the flight to Nairobi the next day, since she still had the strength to exact retribution for the crime that left her orphaned. By the morning of the next day when she began taking milk from a bottle, she became visibly calmer, but was still fearful of all humans. She was very emaciated, obviously having been without milk for some time, and also infested with body mites as well as stomach parasites, both of which had to be dealt with before she could be allowed to join the others. She was named “Kilabasi”, the name of an isolated massif in the general area of her rescue, and after 4 days in the Stockades, with the other elephants coming to greet and reassure her several times a day, she was sufficiently calm to be allowed out to join them, Ishanga instantly taking overall charge of her, as she had done with the previous newcomer, Ololoo. Like all newcomers who are grieving for their lost elephant family, Kilabasi was prone to wandering off on her own, but Ishanga kept a close eye on her, so that the Keepers could easily round her up again. She was then transferred from the Taming Stockade to the Stockade abutting that of Ishanga, but was still “pushy” towards the Keepers, so was held for another three days in that Stockade before being allowed out again to join the general herd. Understandably at first reluctant to come to the noon mudbath with the others being fearful of the audience during this one Open Hour a day, she has since calmed down and is a gentle and beautiful elephant, who prefers the company of Shukuru and the babies rather than being amongst the older group led by Mutara. The reason for this is likely to be the “pushiness” of Ololoo, who uses his stubby tusks freely to get whatever he wants!
Mutara has evolved into the overall Mini Matriarch of the Nursery herd, and is an extremely caring and proficient one as well, backed up by Tumaren who has Kainuk as her chosen favourite while Mutara is besotted on little Naipoki. She instantly wanted to take over Mumbushi as well, but her right of ownership of this baby was fiercely challenged by Shukuru who succeeded in claiming Mumbushi as her favourite (assisted by the jealousy of Naipoki who was averse to sharing Mutara with the newcomer). However, all the Nursery elephants adore the smallest member of the herd and by month end little Mumbushi’s face wound had healed well, and the eye was on the mend as well. He was beginning to assert his authority, pushing away Naipoki and even Tano whenever they came too close to Shukuru and has begun to play, which is always a good sign. He has also embarked on the teething process, which usually brings some problems.
Kalama, Chemi Chemi and Ololoo are currently being trained to go into The Elephant Mover for their transfer to Ithumba early next month. There Ololoo will be put in line by other Keeper Dependent baby bulls with tusks, not to mention the older females and the Ex Orphans as well! Both he and Chemi Chemi need to be taught good manners by older females and bigger boys and due to the close friendship Kalama has with Chemi Chemi, she will be going as well where she will join her previous Nursery peers that went before. It will be a wonderful reunion for her and Chemi Chemi, and a steep learning curve for pushy little Ololoo!
Turkwel adores Kainuk and Kainuk is very possessive of Turkwel. Sities also has the makings of a caring Matriarch, eager at all times to help either Mutara or Shukuru with the small babies. Likewise Makireti is beginning to show a caring nature. As usual, the Nairobi Park lions have caused a stir, chasing the warthogs who fled literally between the legs of the elephants, causing immense panic! It took the Keepers quite a while to round them up again. Several light unseasonal showers of rain have kept the pastures green and it has been a joyful month overall for the Nursery herd.
The Rhinos:- Solio continues to thrive, and is the light and love of Maxwell’s life. Every morning, she does the rounds of the entire Stockade compound, searching for signs of other rhinos, and engaging Maxwell in a sparring match between the Stockade poles of his enclosure, leaving him in a highly charged state, racing around his Enclosure joyfully. Solio came across giraffe spoor on one occasion, followed the scent trail until she caught up with the giraffes, and then sent them packing, which amazed all the Keepers. That such a small rhino should feel sufficiently confident to take on large animals such as giraffes left them astounded!
Solio has another trick. Having left her Stockade in the morning, she goes to the Guesthouse where the birds are feeding on their seed. There she enjoys charging the guinea fowl, and jumping up and down at them as they fly overhead, working herself into such a high state of excitement that even the Keepers give her a wide berth until she calms down!