Keepers' Diaries, July 2020

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

It’s our winter time in Nairobi which brings about chilly days and quite a few days have been overcast this month, so the orphans have had very little interest in mud bathing. They have been spending most of their days browsing and dust bathing to keep warm. On cold days the orphans only walk to the open areas when it is time for their milk bottles, but as soon as they are all done with their milk, they head back to the shelter of the forest and thickets. The truth is that winter in the tropics on the equator means a cool season, very mild all things considered but enough to keep them out of the water!

Our latest rescue Olorien is growing healthier by the day as she continues to put on condition and adapt to her new life in the Nursery. She, like all the orphans, loves her milk and has learnt very quickly when it is time for her bottle, and will even try to sneak past her Keepers to rush to feed.  She has even worked out where the milk-mixing area is and one day made the Keepers laugh by coming to check in on them and inspect the mixing process; they could see her eagerly looking for her bottle which she was only going to get at the next feed but she very cleverly pre-empted the process, finding her way home to do so!

Olorien spends most of her days moving between the orphans as she continues to build her own friendships within the Nursery herd. She does, however, spend quite a bit of time browsing near Ziwadi and they have become quite close friends, as Ziwadi is always welcoming and gentle and will happily keep her company as they walk through the forest. As of late, Ziwadi appears to be followed by several orphans when she wanders off to browse on her favourite greens, and can often be spotted in the company of Mukkoka, Maktao, Nabulu and Olorien of course.

Larro and Kiasa will come over to check on Olorien from time to time, but Nabulu seems to have taken on the role as her main guardian. She will spend a good part of her day looking after Olorien, watching over her when she takes a nap in the forest and keeping her under her belly, protecting her from the sun when it is very hot. It is always amazing to watch the older females grow into such caring wardens of the younger orphans.

Naleku is a tough little girl and the Keepers are always pleased to see her standing up for herself when the bulls are trying to push her around, which is often spirited Roho. These calves are similar in age and size and love a good tussle. Maisha, the oldest female in the Nursery and the current matriarch who dotes on Roho, is often very good at picking up on when their wrestling matches are becoming a little too rowdy, and will come between the two babies and rumble for them to settle them down.

Since her arrival at the Nursery, Naleku has always taken a shine to Mukkoka, a young bull who initially was confused by the little girl’s friendly attachment to him and didn’t reciprocate Naleku’s affection. Over these past few months however his attachment to Naleku has grown more evident and he is always very affectionate with her, wanting her to be happy. Mukkoka normally likes to run really fast and be the first at any milk feed, but sometimes he takes it upon himself to slow down and walk slower just so his adopted little sister Naleku can keep up, as she still doesn’t always feel the need to run towards her milk bottle! Both babies seem to have adopted Ziwadi’s adventurous ways as well wandering off into the bush together. The Keepers are never worried however, as they know Mukkoka will always be back for the milk feed, that is guaranteed!

 Maisha is always so comfortable around Roho and will allow the little boy to do anything around her – he can extend his trunk into her mouth to see what she is eating, stand below her when she is having her milk bottles to suck up any milk that spills, even climb all over her when she is rolling on the ground, but the one thing Maisha denies Roho is suckling on her ears – something which most of the matriarchs in the past have allowed younger babies to do for comfort. She simply walks off when Roho tries to suckle on the bottom of her earlobe, as she evidently dislikes it! Roho is very protective of Maisha and he doesn’t seem to want to share her attention with any of the other younger orphans, Naibosho, Naleku, and Olorien and will chase them away if they try to come too close to Maisha.

Naboishu is still shy to come too close to the Keepers and will often get lost amongst the other orphans as he is still small and cannot easily be seen when all the orphans are standing together. Despite his smaller stature, he is very loud, and can often be heard by his Keepers before he is seen. He is especially loud when it comes to milk feeding times, and has recently been greedier than our speedy-Mukkoka, yelling at his Keepers to let him run down for his milk, and even trumpeting at them as he arrives. 

Kiasa and her greedy character often means she is relegated to last in the group at milk feeding times, so she is held back until the end, the reason being so she can feed on her own and not cause any trouble or disruption for the other orphans when they are feeding. One morning however she ran fast and reached the milk feeding area before Naiboishu was done. She finished her milk bottle in lightning speed before Naboishu too. As soon as she finished, she left her bottle and ran over to Naboishu who was still drinking his, and started demanding his share. The Keepers had a hard time moving Kiasa away she was so determined, but eventually they succeeded, leaving Naboishu to finish in peace. 

Maxwell the blind rhino has been full of energy this month, often emerging from his bedroom in the morning full of beans. He has been enjoying the new dust pile in his room, and after a morning of exploring his stockade and enjoying his fresh greens and lucerne pellets, he can be found napping in the sun enjoying a mid-morning doze. He is clearly recovering from his bout of anaemia and getting back to his normal routines and condition. It is great to see him so full of energy again and he has been thoroughly enjoying the vast variety of greens we cut for him throughout the day, always eagerly waiting for his Keepers to bring in the fresh branches cut especially for him.  

July 2020 day to day

01 Jul

Mukkoka and Naleku seem to have adopted Ziwadi’s adventurous ways and lately they have taken to wandering off together, further into the forest, to browse away from the others. This morning, after their 9am bottles of milk, they snuck off together and walked further into the forest. The Keepers kept a watchful eye on them making sure they didn’t wander off too far away. The Keepers also knew that greedy Mukkoka would always come back with little Naleku when it was time for their milk and sure enough just before 11am they reappeared, ready to have their milk. 

Roho seems to be gaining his confidence with the older bulls and it is amazing to watch him play with them and challenge them during their strength testing matches. He seems to prefer to challenge Mukkoka but will sometimes challenge Kiombo and Maktao, who are both bigger in size. These are all important lessons for him as he learns to grow in both confidence and strength and learns the important skills he will need to survive in the wild. 

Naleku resting her head on Mukkoka after her milk

Ziwadi enjoying the fresh greens

Mukkoka and Roho wrestling later in the day