Keepers' Diaries, July 2019

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.

01 July 2019

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. 

02 July 2019

Dupotto woke up not looking very good this morning and it was clear she didn’t have a very good tummy. Due to this unexpected change Dupotto missed the public visiting time so she could be monitored, and she stayed with Luggard and Ziwadi in the forest. 

During the public visiting time, the orphans had fun rolling and sliding down the fresh heaps of soil which were the perfect platforms for their games. Little playful Larro and one of her caretakers, the naughty Kiasa, were the centre of attention has they happily showed off their playful poses and games atop the soil piles. They stood and buried their heads in the soil with their bottoms and hind legs pointed up in the air in a head stand which was so funny for everyone to watch. 

03 July 2019

Although being very well known for her naughty character, Kiasa also has a loving and caring side, which no one expected from her before. Today during the public visiting hour, as the first group of orphans were busy playing on the loose soil, little Larro got trapped between Musiara and Dololo which meant she couldn’t get up as they blocked her way. She had no other option than to yell out for help, which brought Kiasa running to her aid. Kiasa adores Larro and came running to her rescue, pushing Musiara to one side to allow Larro the space to get up. When Larro showed difficulty getting her balance to stand up, Kiasa went down on her knees to act as a prop for Larro to lean against and stand up. When Larro made as if to go and play on the soil pile again, it was funny to watch Kiasa deny her this opportunity and push her away from the soil so that she didn’t need to worry about her getting stuck there again! 

04 July 2019

Luggard woke up this morning in such a playful and happy mood. As soon as he came out of his room he was witnessed initiating a pushing game almost immediately with his best friend Musiara. They took their happy game of pushing each other around from the stockades right out to the forest, where they continued pushing each other and playing hide and seek in the bushes as well. Moments later their game attracted the attention of Sattao, and he tried to join in their games. He was unlucky however, as Luggard had no interest in playing with him as well, and he tried to drive him away by poking poor Sattao with his long tusks. Sattao walked away, as he realised he was not welcome, and left Luggard and Musiara to continue their game. Luggard knows that Sattao often tries to show off his dominance amongst all the bulls, and likes to test his strength, so he has to make sure to keep Sattao in line as although he is older than him, because of his broken leg he is almost the same size at Sattao. 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.

05 July 2019

At 11am it became very sunny after a cloudy beginning to the day, which meant the first group of orphans to the mud bath dived into the water after finishing their milk bottles. Kiasa, who always loves mud bathing even when it is chilly, was the first one to wade into water. This sparked interest in Maktao, Larro and Dololo who decided to join her for a mud bath. As these babies rolled and splashed around looking like they were having the best time, Enkesha and Musiara also became interested and decided to walk into the mud bath as well. Baby elephants rely on these fun games to build important relationships with one another as well as social skills, and it was great fun to see them playing altogether. Musiara and Maktao were very busy climbing on top of whoever they came across lying down in the mud pool. Whenever one of them was climbing on one of their friends, the other would push them off in order to have their own opportunity of climbing – these two are always pushing and challenging each other. 

06 July 2019

During the public visit today, the orphans were not as playful as yesterday, and browsed calmly on the fresh cut green branches the Keepers had laid out for them. When the first group of orphans settled back out in the forest after the public visit, Maktao and Mukkoka had a fight over a tasty shrub over who should be able to enjoy it the most. Mukkoka was over powered by Maktao, leaving Maktao with the opportunity to feed on the shrub, but Mukkoka took his vengeance by taking Maktao’s tail in his mouth and biting down, promptly Maktao to run off very quickly! Mukkoka even chased after him, to make sure he ran as far away as possible into the forest and would not come back to eat the shrub that Mukkoka wanted so much.

07 July 2019

In the evening when the orphans had come home to the stockades for the night, the foster parents were happily viewing them eating and sleeping in their rooms. Black rhino Maxwell was eating his fresh greens on the other side of his stockade, and sometime later walked over to one of his gates where some foster parents had gathered to watch him. For some time he then walked up and down looking agitated, with his tail in the air, and when he went back to spray his stockade and some of his branches, the Keepers knew there must be another rhino from the National Park nearby, as Maxwell was being defensive of his territory. When poor blind Maxwell walked back over towards the gate where some of the foster parents were still standing, he decided to lift his tail and spray there as well, hitting some of the foster parents that were standing there unaware of what was about to happen. They jumped back, and Maxwell walked off content that another area of his territory was secure with his scent.

08 July 2019

In the morning as the orphans were settling out in the forest to browse, Dupotto was spotted keeping Luggard and Ziwadi company and not walking out with the others deeper into the forest as she normally does. She is such a gentle girl and all the orphans are always happy to be around her.

Musiara decided to spend most of the day on his own today, deciding not to really spend any time browsing with the others, even his friends Luggard and Sattao. This little elephant likes to consider himself a much older bull, happy to be independent and on his own away from the other elephant orphans; sometimes he keeps walking further and further into the forest, so the Keepers have to physically go and get him and bring him back. This usually causes him to rumble in disappointment at having to do something he doesn’t want to do, as he is happy walking off on his own and doesn’t want to be told what to do. He needs to spend time with the others though and he is still far too young to be acting independent! He always appears to be gentle, calm and determined too; he is not afraid, and he is not like any of the other babies in the Nursery. 

09 July 2019

When the orphans came out of their night stockades early in the morning, as many were entwining trunks and greeting each other, or initiating pushing games to welcome the new day, it was funny to watch Enkesha and Kiasa busy struggling to decide between them who should be the one to escort little Larro out into the forest for the day. The two sandwiched Larro between them as neither one wanted to give up. As they approached the forest, each one expressed their love and care for Larro. Enkesha lay on the ground and tried to appeal to Larro to come and play and climb on her, while Kiasa gently and affectionately lay her trunk across Larro’s back to express her affection. With Enkesha showing off and playing on the ground in the most extravagant poses however, she soon won Larro’s heart, and she went to go and play with Enkesha on the ground. She climbed on Enkesha’s tummy, but Kiasa was jealous and tried to push Larro off Enkesha. Larro didn’t leave however, and Kiasa resorted to playing on the ground next to Enkesha to try and entice Larro to come and play with her instead. Due to her larger body frame and tummy however, Larro enjoyed climbing and sliding on Enkesha as she provided a good playing point and climbing frame, so poor Kiasa was left disappointed. 

10 July 2019

Kiombo and Nabulu, some of our most recent arrivals who might still have the memory of a life in the wild fresh in their mind, are quite courageous and independent, and are happy to walk deep into the forest together. They are very close friends and often do things in each other’s’ company. Early this morning as the elephant orphans were coming out of their night stockades, Kiombo and Nabulu sneaked off away from the herd and after a long search were found quite happily settled very deep into the forest, browsing and quite content, and they had completely forgotten about their 9am milk feed. These two orphans have very similar characters and they don’t like to be suddenly approached by anyone. When they saw the Keepers who had gone out to look for them, they took off and ran deeper into the thicket, and the Keepers had to run around them and corner them in order to walk them back to the rest of the herd so they could have their milk bottles too. 

11 July 2019

It was a lovely start for the elephant orphans today when they arrived out in the forest. Musiara and Maisha were the most playful ones, despite the fact they are not very good friends nor play mates. Today, however, both of them came across some fresh loose soil that had been dug up by some warthogs in the night, and this was their new playground. Maisha was wallowing and dusting in the soil and Musiara was on his back rolling around. It didn’t take long for Tamiyoi to join them, and as usual, once the matriarch Tamiyoi joins in then all the others like to get involved as well. Larro arrived and then Sattao, Luggard, Maktao and Enkesha all followed as well, and it became everyone’s game. Browsing was completely abandoned as all the orphans enjoyed rolling in the soil apart from Dupotto and Kiombo who carried on browsing. These two have become quite close and enjoy browsing together. 

Larro is such a brave and clever girl who knows who to hang around with whenever she feels like having protection from some of the more boisterous orphans, as she is still the smallest in the Nursery. Kiasa loves her but Tamiyoi and Enkesha are older and can protect her from any of the others in the herd as most of the orphans respect them too, and will not mess with Larro if either of them are there.

12 July 2019

It’s always easy for the Keepers to read the elephants’ mood, if they are happy or sad or dull and perhaps not feeling well. Sattao used to be a very calm and quiet boy, but he is character is slowly changing slightly, which it does in most bulls. This morning he was wrestling with Maktao for most of the morning and they didn’t stop to browse at all. Dupotto has been very quiet today compared to previous days. She came for her bottle as she loves her milk, but just like at the 9am feed today, she wasn’t actually interested in her milk. She walked to the milk feeding point, and then just walked on to where the group were standing who had already had their milk.

During the public visit today, Kiasa, Larro and Musiara had a lengthy mud bath, but it was Maktao who was the best of all. First of all he enjoyed a lengthy dust bath all to himself on the fresh, loose soil while the others were in the mud bath, and then he got into the water when all the others had left. Kiasa joined him at the last minute, and Maktao was showing off such amazing swimming styles, and in the end the two babies didn’t want to leave the water at all. The Keepers had to push Maktao out of the water in the end to get him to go back to the forest.

13 July 2019

Kiombo has always been such a quiet and gentle boy, but today seemed to be the day he 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 all morning chasing them around and not being very nice to them at all. Mukkoka and Dololo might just 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 was in a good mood today when he visited the elephant orphans and the Keepers out in the forest. Even though Musiara, Kiasa, Maisha and Tamiyoi were already prepared for him when they spotted him approaching and raised their ears to warn him away, he was very well behaved and didn’t annoy them at all. He just browsed on the nearby trees and minded his own business until it was time to return to the stockades later in the afternoon.

14 July 2019

It is so funny to watch sometimes how the babies copy some characteristics from their friends. Dololo was another bull who was always very quiet, but recently he has started copying his close friend Mukkoka, and now and then decides to test his strength against Maktao. Today was one of those days, and Dololo has been measuring himself up against Maktao, and Musiara came in at one point to separate them when it became a little serious. 

Enkesha is always very happy doing her own thing. Today after the bottle feeding at 3pm which took place around the mud bath, she decided to wander off and browse on her own while all the others were enjoying a dust bath. When she was brought back to join the herd, she just wandered off again to enjoy the bushes in a different area, but she is quite comfortable and happy.

15 July 2019

Today was one of Luggard’s very happy days. When he came out of his stockade in the morning he started chasing Musiara around the stockades. Upon arriving out in the forest he was very playful, but a lot of the other youngsters are actually quite afraid of him and didn’t want to play, and that is only because he has quite long sharp tusks. Whoever he ran up to to play with mostly tried to avoid him, but he will still very excited and running all over the place. In the end it was only Musiara and Sattao who engaged him in a pushing game for a short while.

Day after day Kiasa is proving to love, care and protect little Larro. During the public visiting time today, she didn’t allow any of the others to spend any time with her. She even started a fight with Enkesha in order to stay with Larro on her own. 

Luggard’s happy mood carried on the whole day and during the 3pm milk feed he even decided to go in the mud bath as well. He waited for all of the others to come out before he moved in with Musiara, Kiasa and Maktao, and he really enjoyed a lengthy mud bath.

16 July 2019

There was a bit of drama today when a warthog emerged from nowhere and ran through the group of elephant babies. Almost the whole herd had surrounded a bush and were browsing from it when the warthog came barreling through, which gave Maktao, Kiombo, Nabulu and Sattao quite the fright. They ran away screaming for help from their Keepers and it took them a long time to settle down again. Tamiyoi, Kiasa, Enkesha and Musiara took the initiative of rounding up the group and convincing them that everything was fine, as the Keepers walked beside them and reassured them as well by calling all of their names.

Kiko really wanted to go out to the forest today. He attempted to sneak away from the Keepers when they were walking him to his big boma where he spends his morning hours, and later he was let out to the forest where he didn’t want to go out to see the elephants, but instead chose to browse around the stockade compound area.

17 July 2019

Musiara is quite a peaceful boy and always wants peace within the herd as well. Today Enkesha had been having a good time playing with Maktao, rolling in the dust for awhile, when Kiasa joined them and the game took on a different tone. She started climbing on Maktao’s back and instead of Enkesha stopping her, she started sliding on him as well. Musiara had been watching them from a distance for some time, until he decided to jump in and rescue Maktao. Kiasa didn’t want to give in just like that without a challenge, and as she saw Musiara walking towards them she raised her ears ready to charge. Musiara was very determined and was not going to give up on his mission, even with Kiasa’s warning. He moved on majestically and just shoved Kiasa to the side, making it easier for Maktao to stand up. Kiasa was very surprised and turned back to challenge Musiara – so it then became a fight of boys against girls. In the end, Kiasa gave up as Enkesha just started playing with Musiara and Maktao as she always does. She started rolling in the dust as Musiara and Maktao climbed on her back and slid into the dust. Musiara and Sattao seem to be going back to how they always used to be – playing wrestling games at length.

18 July 2019

Before Dupotto arrived back in the Nursery, Kiombo was Nabulu’s close friend. The two elephants went most places together and spent a lot of time together, but now Dupotto is in the Nursery Nabulu and Kiombo have spent less time together. Today out in the forest Kiombo tried to reach out to Nabulu but she ignored him. Kiombo left and joined Dupotto who was standing quietly to the side away from the herd for awhile.

There was a funny incident today between Maktao and a tortoise. Maktao was looking for soft fresh grass to eat and stretched his trunk around the base of a small bush looking for all the soft grass he could find. At one point his trunk touched a tortoise that was resting under the bush, and when the tortoise felt Maktao it made a loud hissing sound. This gave Maktao such a fright he lifted his trunk very quickly and raised his ears in shock. The tortoise, which just looked like a rock to him, suddenly started walking off at quite a pace, which gave Maktao even more of a fright and he quickly ran away. Dololo saw Maktao running away from the small bush and went to investigate, and when he too saw the tortoise he ran away as well!

Larro and Dololo had some fun in the forest in the afternoon when they came across a herd of impalas. Two baby impalas found themselves caught up amongst the baby elephants, and Dololo and Larro took it upon themselves to chase them around up and down, until the Keepers came to their rescue and drove the two naughty elephants away. 

19 July 2019

The spoiled girl Larro has many older girls around to protect and care for her. The orphans always arrive for milk feedings in small groups so that there are enough Keepers to feed them when they arrive. Due to the fact that Larro has recently become a bit naughty around feeding times, having learnt this from her friend and mentor Kiasa, she has to come at the back of the group just like Kiasa as well, so that most of the others have already been fed when she arrives. This morning Larro had been left until last with Tamiyoi, Nabulu, Kiombo and Sattao and when the others took off towards the feeding area, Larro started complaining and yelling out for Tamiyoi to wait for her. Maisha and Enkesha had already finished their milk share and were waiting for the others to finish so they could all walk out to browse. When they heard Larro yelling they went running to find her to find out what was going on, and escorted the unhappy baby to the milk feeding point.

Just like human children with a new toy, sometimes there can be a fight amongst the elephant orphans over something that is new. Today we used a new football at the mud bath area and Kiasa was the star, kicking the ball all over the place, but she wouldn’t allow anyone else to play with it as well. Maktao and Musiara tried to play with the ball as well but she wouldn’t let them, which resulted in a pushing fight over the right. In the end Maisha came and took the ball away to play with herself, which brought an end to Kiasa’s game and the fight as well.

20 July 2019

When it was time for the orphans to have their mid-morning bottles of milk, Kiasa decided to chase all the other orphans apart from little Larro. The Keepers are always amazed to see Kiasa’s compassion towards Larro, especially when she seems to enjoy stealing milk from all the other orphans so much. The Keepers had to usher her away so that the rest could finish their bottles.

After their midday bottles of milk, Tamiyoi walked straight over to the dust mound where she began having a dust bath and lay down to roll around. Maisha, who appeared happy that she was lying down, walked straight over to dust mound and began to climb on Tamiyoi’s back and roll around with her. Enkesha also decided to join the two in their fun. 

Today, Kiko headed out a bit further out into the field looking for some fresher greens. When it was time for him to come back in the evening, he spotted the vehicle carrying all the greens for the orphans and decided to chase it back, making his Keepers run to keep up. 

In the early evening, Maxwell was spotted having some fun charging around his stockade with the warthogs. 

21 July 2019

It was a beautiful sunny morning when Kiasa, Maktao and Ziwadi, came out of their stables, excited to start their day and head out to the bush. Lately, Kiasa has become very protective of little Larro and this morning she decided to wait for the little girl before heading off into the bush. Maktao and Ziwadi decided to head off with the other orphans, all walking together, and browsing along the route. Once out in the field the orphans enjoyed a full morning of browsing before making their way down to their midday mud bath. 

22 July 2019

In the morning, Luggard always makes his way to the forest slowly and a little behind the rest of the Nursery herd, who more often than not are charging off ahead. Recently, Dupotto has been keeping him company as she too has been taking her time when heading off to the forest. Musiara has always enjoyed Luggard’s company and is often seen browsing with him. 

When it is time for the orphans mid-morning bottles, Luggard and Dupotto more often than not will receive their bottles away from the other orphans so they do not have to walk up and down in the field. Normally when they are finished their bottles they head off back into the bush leaving the rest of the herd to head down and have their bottles. 

Tamiyoi who appears to have adopted the new role of matriarch, seems to really enjoy having the entire herd together whilst they browse in the field and always wants to make sure they are okay.

23 July 2019

It was quite a chilly morning when the orphans came out their stables and stockades to head to the bush. Enkesha headed straight over to the store where the Lucerne pellets are kept and found Mukkoka and Dololo already there stealing some of the pellets on the ground. When it was time to head out into the bush the Keepers had to usher the three away from the store. Dololo and Enkesha went running towards Maisha, who also began to run as she seemed to be unsure as to why everyone was running. 

When it was time for the orphans' midday bottles of milk, Mukkoka who is known to trumpet loudly for his milk was charging down to the mud bath area. Despite his best efforts, he was unable to catch up with Larro and Kiasa whom were just in front of him and had to wait a little bit to get his own bottle. This caused him to rumble even louder. 

After the midday feeding time, Kiko enjoyed walking out to the bush to join the orphans in their browsing activities. 

24 July 2019

Maxwell was having a wonderful morning this morning walking around and enjoying the sunshine. He would walk to whichever corner of his stockade was the best for the sun and enjoy a short nap there, before walking to enjoy his Lucerne pellets as well. When he was done with his Lucerne he decided to walk to the new extended area of his stockade which he is still exploring, but enjoying all the fresh bushes on that side which he has not had the chance to knock down yet. Some warthogs came to visit Maxwell as well, but Maxwell was not in a welcoming mood today and the warthog had to run for its dear life and look for a place where it could escape as Maxwell charged around after it. Maxwell ran up and down kicking up the sand but eventually the warthog managed to escape through the back. Nabulu was feeding on some bushes close to Maxwell’s stockade and was quite upset with all the commotion going on inside. She decided to walk off and join Musiara and Luggard who were browsing a short distance away, then stand close to Maxwell’s where there was so much going on inside.

25 July 2019

In the morning the visitors were happy watching the elephant orphans playing in the mud bath during the public visit. Unbeknownst to his Keeper, Kiko managed to walk off away from him in the forest and wander over to the mud bath area. Kiko walked over to inspect the visitors and they were not sure what to do. Luckily Musiara, Maktao and Luggard decided to stay in the mud bath and not escalate the situation either. Kiko’s Keeper was called and he came immediately with a milk bottle to lure Kiko back into the forest, which seemed to work. The elephant orphans enjoyed being at the mud bath for another thirty minutes, before Nabulu and Ziwadi started walking back out to the forest and everyone followed.

26 July 2019

Usually when the orphans go out to the bush in the morning they are grouped together and follow the Keepers in the direction they suggest to take for the day. Dupotto and Luggard are slow walkers and they were following the group slowly at the back, browsing as they walked. Enkesha, Kiombo and Musiara were in the lead and were taking the herd in a direction they thought they would find lots of green vegetation, and as the Keepers thought that Dupotto and Luggard would soon get left behind, they decided to stop the herd to allow them some time to catch up to go to this lovely green area for browsing.

27 July 2019

Maxwell woke up in a very good mood this morning and went straight to the large open area of his stockade where all his Lucerne pellets are placed, to have breakfast there. The sun was out and he was enjoying walking around the large area instead of just lying down and having a nap somewhere. The elephant orphans were browsing close to one end of his stockade as well and some were helping themselves to some of the Lucerne pellets that had spilled through the gate of his stockade, on their way out to browse. When Maxwell heard their footsteps he decided to walk around his stockade to where Mukkoka was standing close by browsing on the bushes. As Mukkoka saw him approach he decided to move off to a different area and joined Kiombo further out in the forest.

28 July 2019

Maisha is normally afraid of Kiko, but today she was browsing very close to him out in the forest and seemed much happier to be around him. Kiko was browsing on the branches of trees that were high up, and Maisha was feeding on the shorter branches and grass growing below. Sometimes she would pick up the leaves that Kiko was dropping as a result of him browsing higher up, which worked well for Maisha. Eventually Kiko and his Keeper walked off to a different part of the forest, leaving Maisha to join up with the other elephant orphans until the 3 o’clock milk feeding time.

29 July 2019

It was a sunny morning when the orphans came out of their stockades this morning looking bright and happy. Maisha was in a very excitable mood, running up and down the stockade compound and Tamiyoi joined her, blowing happy trumpets with their ears raised up in excitement. Sometimes the Keepers take this as a sign that a new orphan might be arriving soon, and sure enough in the afternoon a little orphan that was rescued from Tsavo arrived at the Nursery after a terrible rescue ordeal and a scare injury to its front foot. Throughout the whole day the orphans were excited however. Tamiyoi kept up her happy spirit and Nabulu eventually joined in as well. Dupotto was happy as well but because she was not feeling well still she did not run about like the other orphans.

30 July 2019

It was another sunny morning today and Ziwadi, Maktao and Kiasa came out of their stables at the front of the compound and walked up to join the others who were already making their way out to the forest to browse. Kiasa and Maktao went together for the 9am feed while Ziwadi joined Musiara and Dololo. 

Kiko was taken out of this stockade around 10am and once again he tried to sneak away from his Keeper to walk down to the mud bath area where he know he will find milk bottles and visitors to inspect. Luckily this time his Keeper on duty today was wise to his tricks, and led him in a different direction in the forest so it was harder for him to sneak down to the mud bath area and interrupt the visiting hour.

31 July 2019

Mukkoka is known to be a close friend of Dololo and they are often spotted browsing together in the forest. Sometimes they will sneak away from the rest of the herd and go their own direction to browse. Today Mukkoka seemed to spend most of the day with Maktao however, and just before it was time to return home at 5pm today, Mukkoka and Maktao could not be found anywhere with the rest of the herd. This would not bother Mukkoka who often likes to browse some distance away with his buddy Dololo, but Maktao likes to be close to the Keepers and the rest of the herd, so when he realised he could not see any of the others and he knew it was drawing close to milk feeding time, he started yelling out for help. Luckily for him Tamiyoi was not that far off, and she came running to find him together with one of the Keepers. As soon as Maktao saw Tamiyoi and the Keeper he was happy and settled down, eager to follow them back to the rest of the herd and prepare himself for his milk bottle which he knew was coming soon.