Keepers' Diaries, July 2011

Nairobi Nursery Unit

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.)

01 July 2011

Solio always does the rounds of the Stockades in the morning when let out, so that she can monitor the spoor of any wild rhinos who may have visited during the night. Today she found some giraffe footprints, which she followed by scent until she came across the giraffes. She then charged them, chasing them away, and it surprised the Keepers that a small rhino like Solio should choose to try and scare a huge animal such as a giraffe.

02 July 2011

Mutara has become a wonderful Mini Matriarch, and the Keepers believe that when grown, she will be like Emily. She takes wonderful care of little Naipoki, who likes to remain close to her all day, and is allowed to suckle her ears.

03 July 2011

As orphans were browsing out in the bush during the afternoon, a lizard fell out of the tree upon which Mutara was feeding. She got a terrific fright and began running under branches to try and brush it off, but eventually came to the Keepers for help. We removed it for her.

04 July 2011

Today there was an Elephant Rescue alert from Mt. Kenya, this time a tiny male calf of about 6 weeks old who had a deep machete cut across his face. He was rescued at a place called Mumbushi and has been given that name. The rescue team fed the calf a bottle of milk, cleaned the wound and inserted antibiotic ointment and green clay before loading him in the Rescue Plane and bringing him to the Nairobi Nursery. He was very traumatized but trusting of the Keepers.

05 July 2011

The other orphans were brought close to greet little Mumbushi – all crowded around him, touching him gently with their trunks to welcome and calm him. At first the baby was slightly confused by the attention of all the others, and ran to his Keeper first, and then to his stable. He is very intelligent for his age.

06 July 2011

Today little Mumbushi joined the other Nursery elephants, all of whom wanted to take care of him, especially Mutara and Shukuru. They all followed the baby around for about 2 hours until both Mutara and Shukuru took over, fighting over who should have him, Shukuru determined to have him since Mutara has Naipoki.

07 July 2011

It is the second day that Shukuru has taken Mumbushi as her special baby, preferring to browse alongside him away from the others, and laying her trunk lovingly over his back. When Mumbushi went close to Mutara, Naipoki became jealous and pushed him away.

08 July 2011

At about 9 a.m. we received another Rescue Alert, this time from Joseph Sauni in Voi who had another rescued baby elephant which had been brought into the Voi Stockades the previous night. This time, it was a female calf of about l8 months from the Tsavo Conservation Area rescued near Lake Jipe having come alone from the Tanzanian side of the border where her mother had obviously been either poached or a victim of Problem/Animal control. She was very emaciated and traumatized but still strong, so was immobilized for the flight to the Nursery, where she arrived at about 7 p.m. since there was no charter plane that could leave earlier from Nairobi. She was named “Kilabasi” the name of a hill in the general area from which she was rescued and she spent the night in the Taming Stockade, because she was still very wild and traumatized.

09 July 2011

The new orphan, “Kilabasi” began taking milk this morning, but has been kept in the Stockade. Mutara and the other Nursery orphans came to greet her and be fed their milk within sight of her. Mutara laid her trunk on the newcomer’s head, which she appreciated and spent a long time near her before rejoining the others out in the bush. Whilst Mutara was occupied with Kilabasi, Shukuru enjoyed taking care of both Naipoki and Mumbushi

10 July 2011

Little Mumbushi is still having his face wound dressed, and also has a very bad eye which has to have drops three times a day. However, he is very settled into the Nursery elephant family now and enjoying the attention of Shukuru, his adopted elephant “mother”.

11 July 2011

Kilabasi is still in the Stockade, and was found to be infested with mites, which had to be sprayed with Frontline. She was also infested with stomach worms, so has been de-wormed. Ololoo is now settled within his human/elephant family, Ishanga paying him special attention. With small tusks, he is definitely the dominant bull of the Nursery, and is beginning to enjoy his status amongst the others! Chemi Chemi respects him because of his tusks.

12 July 2011

Kilabasi enjoyed her 9 a.m. milk outside of the Stockade and in amongst the other Nursery babies. They escorted her out into the bush where she kept on walking away, closely followed by Mutara, Ishanga and Shukuru who were doing their best to comfort her. During the public Visiting Hour, she would not come with the other orphans, so the Keepers took her milk out to her in the bush. In the evening she was also reluctant to return to the Stockades, probably remembering the injections that she had to have after arrival.

13 July 2011

As soon as the orphans are let out of their Night stables and Stockades, Shukuru always rushes to Mumbushi’s stable and embraces him very warmly as soon as he emerges, allowing him to suckle her ears. Again Kilabasi resisted the public viewing hour. Naipoki and Kainuk enjoyed climbing on the older elephants, Naipoki over Mutara and Kainuk over Turkwel, who is her adopted mother. During the 3 p.m. milk feed Kilabasi deliberately sneaked away from the Keepers, but Ishanga helped the Keepers locate her.

14 July 2011

Kilabasi is not fully settled yet with her new human family, tending to treat her attendant Keeper rather roughly whilst in the Stockade next door to Ishanga. She has therefore been confined back in the Stockade for another few days so that the Keepers can calm her more. Ishanga who has become her close friend took to “bush-bashing” out in the Park to demonstrate her displeasure when she noticed that Kilabasi was not amongst the group! After a while she settled on Ololoo as a close friend instead, but when the orphans returned in the evening, Ishanga rushed to greet Kilabasi.

15 July 2011

As soon as the orphans emerged in the morning, all gathered around Kilabasi’s stockade to greet her, Mutara, Makireti, Ishanga and Turkwel and Kainuk all trying to console and comfort her. Kilabasi acknowledged their concern, touching each one with her trunk. When the time came for the orphans to leave for the bush, Ishanga did not want to leave Kilabasi. During the mudbath hour, the orphans had a wonderful time, especially Naipoki and Sities, who enjoyed charging the cordon to scare the school children. The two babies fully entertained all the visitors of the day!

16 July 2011

Before being let out, Solio and Maxwell enjoyed sparring through the separating poles of their Stockades. By the time Solio emerged, Maxwell was highly charged, racing around his enclosure at speed until he realized that Solio had already left. At 5 p.m. in the evening, Max is waiting for her return, and as soon as she comes close, he begins to bang the bars of his enclosure to entice her to respond, but she has her milk feed in mind, after which she enjoys the Lucerne and greens in her Stockade. However, Max is happy just knowing that she is nearby.

17 July 2011

Kilabasi has now settled down well with the other elephants and the Keepers. Ishanga has played a very important role in calming her down. She is now part of the Older group of Nursery Orphans.

18 July 2011

Trumpeting and Rumbling filled the morning as the orphans played around the compound in the morning, Kainuk and Sities competing to see who is the stronger. Kainuk head butted Sities so hard that she fell down, and when she got up, Kainuk was waiting to engage her again. Turkwel, who loves Kainuk, rushed to separate the two, touching Kainuk with her trunk which the Keepers interpreted as a warning signal because Kainuk just walked off without a backward glance. Then Turkwel turned to Sities and did the same. Sities then rushed to Mumbushi, who was sandwiched between Mutara and Shukuru and all then went off into the bush to browse, Turkwel bringing up the rear of the column.

19 July 2011

As the orphans were browsing peacefully this morning, some warthogs rushed through them at speed with their tails in the air sending the elephants scampering in different directions. Some ran back to the Stockades, others to their Keepers, and yet others following the babies back to the Stockades. The Keepers split into three groups to investigate the cause which turned out to be 2 lions bent on killing the warthogs. The Keepers called to assemble all the orphans and lead them to a different location, where Mutara, Shukuru and Mumbushi remained very close to the Keepers and the others browsed close by.

20 July 2011

Out in the bush the orphans split into two groups. Ololoo, who enjoys browsing teamed up with Chemi Chemi, Kilabasi, Turkwel, Makireti and Kalama and moved deep into the forest while the rest remained close to the Keepers with little Mumbushi. Sities sought out Kainuk, with a score to settle, and as soon as the two met up, it was a strength-testing exercise to determine who is strongest. This time round Sities almost won but the contest was interrupted by Turkwel, which means that the grudge has not yet been resolved!

21 July 2011

Sities loves wallowing, and had a lovely time at the mudbath, rolling and splashing mud to entice Shukuru and Kainuk to join her. Sities has a trick. She then jumps out of the mudbath and runs to the cordon to smear mud on all the visitors before racing back into the mudbath again. The second milk sitting then arrived, and Kalama ushered her group into the mudbath where they all wallowed cheerfully.

22 July 2011

Ololoo and Kilabasi have become good friends, always browsing and resting close together, while Ishanga pays them both attention to reassure them that all is well at the Nursery. The rest of the group are afraid of Ololoo who is liberal with his tusks but little Mumbushi is in safe custody of Mutara and Shukuru. Today Shukuru was very angry with Ishanga who accidentally knocked Mumbushi’s bottle whilst running for her own. Kalama and Makireti had to intercede to help Ishanga from Shukuru’s wrath.

23 July 2011

Ololoo, having been a starvation case, has become greedy, which is not unusual, Kandecha being another like him whilst in the Nursery. Mumbushi’s head wound is healing well and the eye is also improving with the care of his Keepers and the love of Shukuru. He has begun cutting his first molars, which is always a painful process, but so far he is coping well.

24 July 2011

The orphans had a lovely time playing around the compound this morning. Ishanga is best friends with both Ololoo and Kilabasi, and has stopped butting all the others as she used to do when trying to wrestle bottles of milk from the others for herself. Now she is beautifully behaved.

25 July 2011

Mumbushi is the centre of attraction for all the older orphans. Shukuru, Mutara, Sities and even Makireti all want to be close to the little boy. At the mudbath today, having watched the others soil dusting and rolling around in the earth, Mumbushi began to copy them. Shukuru spotted him lying down, and rushed to lift him up, pushing up his head with her front legs, obviously thinking that he had fallen. Mumbushi began sucking Shukuru’s ear while she patted him on the head with her trunk. It was a lovely scene!

26 July 2011

Mumbushi is beginning to assert himself! The Keepers could not believe it when he pushed Naipoki. Tano who is also very interested in him, tried to console him, but he pushed her as well!

27 July 2011

The orphans woke up in a jovial mood, bush-bashing as they ran into the forest to browse. It was wonderful to see Kilabasi being active and playful amongst her peers today, indicating how happy she has become. Today, at the 3 p.m. feed, we began training 3 of the Nursery elephants to go into the Elephant Moving Truck, namely Ololoo, Chemi Chemi and Kalama who will be heading to Ithumba shortly where Ololoo will meet some bigger boys (and girls) to keep him in line.

28 July 2011

Kilabasi prefers being with the younger group than the older group to which she was promoted once she had become stronger. When she happened to see the younger elephants coming for the mudbath, she rushed to join them, and would not return even for her milk. Seeing how happy she was with Shukuru’s group, the Keepers decided to let her be.

29 July 2011

Solio has a new game. As soon as she emerges in the morning, she enjoys going to the Guest house where the birds enjoy their seed, and where the guinea fowl also congregate. Solio loves playfully rushing in amongst them to scatter them. Jumping up and down as the guinea fowl fly over her back. Today it was difficult for the Keepers to get her away, so in the end they just left her to it until she tired, and decided to join them!

30 July 2011

It has been a wonderful day for the orphans, particularly at the mudbath, where they all had a lovely time, Naipoki and Sities entertaining the audience by running along the cordon, being cheered on by the guests! The training of the three elephants soon to be moved to Ithumba is going very well, all going into the Truck without any problem.

31 July 2011

Finally Kilabasi has been moved to the Younger Group permanently, since she has been sneaking away to join them every day, perhaps due to Ololoo and Chemi Chemi who enjoy bullying her. All the elephants are afraid of Ololoo because of his long tusks, even Kalama who is bigger than him.