Keepers' Diaries, July 2019

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

The Keepers have been continually confused by the polar opposite characters of rascal Kiasa. She can be a nightmare around feeding times and quite the little madam, not sharing nature's toys with the others for example, but at the same time she can be so loving and devoted towards little Larro.

The fact that our Nursery babies have older orphans to learn from and nurture them is therefore both a blessing, when it's a patient tutor, and a curse when it leads to influencing bad behavioural traits! Larro is lucky to have so many older female elephants to glean from, which includes Kiasa, but also Tamiyoi, Enkesha and Maisha who want to look after her, but this means she can also pick up on any unruly behaviour as well, such as Kiasa’s over exuberance at milk feeding times. Because Larro has picked up on this naughty streak around feeding times, she is held back with KIasa, until most of their friends have been fed, which also means there are no more bottles to come out for them to get worked up about!.

Enkesha is a sweet little girl who is always very happy doing her own thing. She often wanders off to browse on her own while all the others are enjoying another activity such as a dust bath. If she is brought back to join the herd, she just wanders off again to enjoy the bushes in a different area, but she is quite comfortable and happy. She is very popular and much loved, she just savours her own company.

The orphans had some funny incidents with other animals this month. Baby elephants can be very timid and they are quite often scared of other much smaller creatures than themselves. Some animals are wonderful to chase such as warthogs or baby impalas and they usually cannot resist, as demonstrated by Larro and Dololo one afternoon this month, as they chased some impala babies around until the Keepers came to their rescue and reprimanded the naughty elephants. Sometimes however something small like a chameleon or a tortoise is too much and will send the Nursery babies running and yelling for help from their Keepers. It seems these interactions need to be on their terms! One day Maktao was looking for soft fresh grass to eat and stretched his trunk around the base of a small bush, in search of soft shoots. At one point his trunk touched a tortoise and as a result it made a loud hissing sound. This combined with the fact the tortoise started to move sent Maktao running away in fear. Dololo saw Maktao running away from the small bush and went to investigate, and when he too saw the tortoise, the ‘moving rock’, he took off as well!

Maxwell, the black rhino, had a very interactive month too, taking great delight in chasing some of the warthogs, that come into his area to share his Lucerne pellets. While he can be remarkably gracious around his food his love of chasing them up and down his stockade and kicking the soil with his feet to really frighten them is irresistible sometimes. Lucky for them they always find an escape route at the last minute. He has enjoyed exploring the new section to his stockade as well, which still has many bushes and trees intact that he can browse from and enjoy for shade. Small barriers have been made to prevent him flattening these over time.

Dupotto has been a struggle and sadly things are not improving in her case. We have had many tests taken and treated her for many different possibilities. She had a select group of friends that she liked to lead separately out in the forest. Nabulu, Kiombo and Sattao were all happy to follow her, delighted with the love, care and protection she offered them. This she was always able to provide despite being poorly herself. Dololo is one little elephant that is happy to move between groups – sometimes he is with Tamiyoi’s herd, and sometimes with Dupotto’s. When Mukkoka accompanies Dololo to Dupotto’s group they both spend a long time with her group. If Mukkoka doesn’t accompany Dololo then it isn’t long before Dololo leaves the herd to go and find him, as these two boys are very good friends. Further into the month Dupotto’s condition declined and more in depth blood tests were taken and she is receiving ongoing treatment. Since she started not feeling well Dupotto has preferred to browse with Ziwadi and Luggard who are a little slower and she can keep up with them.

Luggard knows that Sattao often tries to show off his dominance amongst all the bulls, and likes to test his strength, so Luggard has to make sure to keep him in line. As although Luggard is older than Sattao, due to his broken leg his is not much bigger than Sattao, his growth rather stunted due to his protracted challenges, all of which he has stoically handled. So Luggard wants to make sure Sattao maintains his respect, as he does not see his disability as inability, and asserts himself to young bulls like Sattao when necessary. He is still a gentle bull though and does not fight with any of the others. Often the other babies are even afraid to play with him, because of his long sharp tusks that might poke them, and it is usually only Musiara and Sattao that will agree to play with him. 

Kiombo has always been such a quiet and gentle boy but this month he evidently decided to put Mukkoka and Dololo in their place. Mukkoka and Dololo have bullied Kiombo in the past, and it seems Kiombo has finally had enough of it. Kiombo spent one entire morning chasing them around pushing them in the back. Mukkoka and Dololo seemed to accept it as well, as they know they haven’t been very nice to him in the past. At one point Enkesha and Maisha had to step in and save the duo from Kiombo! 

Kiko, the giraffe, has been eager to get out to the forest this month, and runs off to find where the orphans are browsing whenever he can. The elephant orphans were slightly more tolerant of his presence this month too; perhaps because he chose not to terrorise them or annoy them as much. One day he managed to browse right above Maisha’s head as he selected the high branches, and she browsed quietly below – this was very interesting to watch given Maisha has never thought much of Kiko in the past. Kiko also managed to evade his Keeper one day and make his way to the mud bath area while there was the public visit going on, but his Keeper quickly managed to lure him back into the forest with a milk bottle. Kiko is just so curious and loves meeting new people, always wanting to be where the action is, but we encourage this not to happen simply because Kiko marches to his own beat, and sometimes this can mean he simply marches over you!!!

July 2019 day to day

01 Jul

After the orphans had settled down once again to browse after their 9am milk feed, we watched as Dupotto walked off with her select group of friends like Nabulu, Kiombo and Sattao. They walked off deep into the forest. She is often seen with this little herd walking off on her own, separate to the others, which shows she is forming her own little group somewhat. In return, the others like Nabulu love Dupotto and are happy to follow her, delighted with the love, care and protection she offers them. Dololo is one little elephant that is happy to move between groups – sometimes he is with Tamiyoi’s herd, and sometimes with Dupotto’s. When Mukkoka accompanies Dololo to Dupotto’s group they both spend a long time with her group. If Mukkoka doesn’t accompany Dololo then it isn’t long before Dololo leaves the herd to go and find him, as these two boys are very good friends. 

Dupotto and Dololo

Kiombo, Dupotto and Tamiyoi

Nabulu

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