July brought several newly rescued orphaned elephants into the Nairobi Nursery, and even having hurriedly constructed some new Stockades, the Nursery began filling up rapidly. On the 11th an a young bull from the Gazi area of Northern Tsavo East, (named “Garzi”) came in and was put into the Stockade abutting that of Laragai, who was largely instrumental in comforting and calming him down so quickly.
The 20th saw the arrival of a tragic orphaned baby named “Karibu” from one of the Ranches abutting Tsavo, but who arrived in a state of collapse and could not be revived despite intravenous drip infusion. This calf passed away two days later, on the 22nd, but there was barely time to even grieve, for another severely damaged orphan who had been rescued by the Voi Keepers the previous evening and had spent the night at the Voi Stockades, needed to be brought to the Nairobi Nursery urgently. This 8 month old female calf given the name “Duruma” was in a heartbreaking condition, unable to move both the front and back legs on the left side of her body and crashing to the ground on her face each time she attempted to charge the rescuers. Her trauma, terror and suffering was painful to witness. This tragic calf was the victim of some mysterious accident that had taken place on the notorious Taita Ranch abutting Tsavo, a longtime poaching hotspot abutting the Park.
Duruma’s elephant mother was still beside her when the Voi Keepers and the KWS/DSWT Mobile Veterinary were called upon by KWS to rescue her. What could have caused such a severe injury to this calf still remains a mystery, an obvious assumption being having collided with a passing vehicle, but no other abrasions or bruising of the body was evident. After arrival at the Nairobi Nursery on the 22nd, our newly donated Mobile X-ray Unit, was put to good use. The bones of the front leg appeared intact, but there had obviously been extreme tendon and ligament damage near the shoulder to render the front limb immobile. The femur of the hind limb on the same side of the body was completely shattered, so damaged that our Nairobi Vet recommended euthanasia to alleviate such terrible and irreversible suffering which was so distressing that even our seasoned Elephant Keepers suggested that she be humanely put to rest. She was given milk, and pain relief before this took place, and with very heavy hearts this tragic baby was laid to rest in the Park Forest, joining all the other tragic victims of human cruelty and greed.
The 31st saw the rescue of yearling “Vuria” from the Taita Hills Sanctuary, believed to be a poaching victim, who was airlifted from the Salt Lick Lodge Airstrip, who has since joined the other Nursery babies and is doing well.
The Health of Kwale has remained a concern, but we continue to do all we can for him, and thankfully towards the end of the month his appetite has approved enormously, which is a positive sign. Laragai and Tundani are Kwale’s closest friends, who always afford him special attention, and remain close to him throughout the day. For a while Balguda also seemed “off colour”, his blood indicating a severe bacterial infection for which he was treated. He has since responded well and is now himself again.
Meanwhile, the Nursery baby “Ajabu” has managed to push out her second molar, though not without the usual teething indicator problems which are always cause for concern in the very young. Sonje adores little Ajabu, allowing the baby to comfort suckle her ears – a special privilege allowed to the “special” babies of older females.
The month has been dominated by overcast, cloudy days which are usually too chilly to tempt the orphans into their midday mudbath during the public viewing hour. However, the odd sunny warmer day is always celebrated by playful “bumping” games and excited “bush-bashing” when all rush around trumpeting and knocking down small shrubs. However there was a good reason for the bush-bashing when it was used as a threat after a bushbuck ran through the Nursery herd, scaring them all witless. At such times bush-bashing is led by the Matriarchs, namely Kihari, Sonje, Ishaq-B and Naipoki backed up by Big Boys such as Orwa, Bomani, Teleki, Jasiri and Ngasha. Bomani and Teleki are Orwa’s chosen Pushing Partners, with Jasiri rapidly becoming another Big Boy contestant now that he is stronger than his half-brother Faraja in this favourite male sport. Arruba has been watching these Boys’ Games closely, and has enjoyed trying her luck against Ngasha, Barsilinga, Kithaka and Tundani while Narok, Lima Lima and Quanza enjoy hanging out together, usually slightly away from the keepers, but together as a trio of close friends who are sufficient unto one another, and who are obviously not altogether trusting of any humans after what they have witnessed when living wild.
Most independent of all, however, is Big Girl Murera, who simply does her own thing, often peeling away from the main herd to feed on her own, sometimes, but not always, with best friend Sonje in tow. This month she has been in the habit of bringing herself back earlier than the others to her Stockade in the evening, anxious to be first to get her milk feed ahead of all the others.
|Inevitably new arrivals necessitate changes to the Sleeping arrangements of the Nairobi Nursery elephants, and this is never popular. Jasiri, Faraja, Barsilinga, Kithaka, Tundani and Lemoyian have all been moved, none of whom took too kindly to this and who had to be physically shoved into their new quarters, protesting loudly! The Nursery elephants enjoy a fixed routine, but newcomers learn the routine very rapidly, often heading back to the milk mixing area hoping for extra rations.
Within just a day after his arrival, little Garzi was sucking on the Keepers’ fingers and began accepting milk having observed all the other Nursery occupants fed their milk just outside his Stockade. Kihari, Ishaq-B and Naipoki were usually the first to greet him each morning, all rushing to his Night quarters and extending their trunks in greeting. By the l5th he was out and about with the herd with mischievous baby boys Lemoyian, Faraja, Kithaka and Barsilinga, all eager to take him on in strength testing “pushing” bouts, that had to be discouraged by the keepers. Instead the newcomer remained glued to Laragai, gentle Tundani and Kwale.
Kithaka is rapidly catching up in size to Lemoyian, Barsilinga and the other small boys, but remains with what is described as the usual attention seeking “little man syndrome”- in other words overly pushy and mischievous, as a means of getting more attention, especially before an audience. On the l9th he pushed Lemoyian, who was busy drinking his milk, to the ground during a Private Visit, but made his escape so swiftly that Lemoyian punished poor newcomer Garzi instead, who happened to be closest to him at the time! During the Public Viewing noon hour, Kithaka has taught Lemoyian and Barsilinga how to run along the line of the separating cordon, and deliberately playfully “bump” visitors, or even put a muddy trunk against them! The laughter this triggers is music to their ears!
Although July has been an extremely stressful and busy time for the Home Team reports of the Trust's many Tsavo successes during this month have alleviated the lows of the month.
The Rhinos:- Solio is becoming ever more independent. This month she has been absent for many days on end on three occasions. The behavior of Maxwell is a good indicator that all is well with her, for prior to each return he becomes overjoyed anticipating their usual sparring bout through the separating poles of their two Stockades. If anything untoward happened to Solio, we have become convinced that Max's mysterious perception would alert us, having observed his behavior when Shida was removed from the Nursery.