Keepers' Diaries, June 2005

Nairobi Nursery Unit

For little Kora, his broken jaw has been an ordeal indeed. The cleaning of the wound now only happens once a week, with diminishing amounts of pus exuded but is something he clearly dreads. He has shown remarkable progress this month, and is beginning to become playful, which is always a very good sign. Rapsu’s eye is now perfect, and he has settled in to become a fully integrated member of the unit, who always seems hungry, having been a starvation case, and who is capable of disciplining bumptious little Buchuma using his tiny tusks! This has relieved the pushing pressure on Ndomot, who up until now has born the brunt of Buchuma’s quest for dominance, whilst Madiba tries to keep out of the way, having formed a strong bond of friendship with little Lualeni. He is a very gentle and loving elephant who is always well behaved. Galana shares the Matriarchal duties with Sunyei and Naserian, but being the oldest of the three, assumes leadership whenever the inclination takes her. Naserian is a very caring Assistant Matriarch, whilst Sunyei, who is much more self centred and independent, is also a Leader as well as a very good disciplinarian, insisting on good behaviour within her unit.

01 June 2005

A Keeper was feeding Buchuma and Madiba milk at the same time, which made Buchuma very jealous, since he always wants a Keeper to himself during milk feeding times. Initially, he tried to knock Madiba down, but then pushed the Keeper. Buchuma is a very jealous and naughty boy!

02 June 2005

Although it was not yet time for the 3 p.m. milk feed, Sunyei, Madiba, Naserian and Lualeni went to wait for the Milk, and when the Mixer appeared, they all trumpeted with joy, calling the others who came running. Even little Lualeni managed a trumpet.

03 June 2005

Being a Friday, all the orphans were anointed with Coconut Oil, which always makes them very playful. Even Kora played, trying to mount Naserian, and rushing around the bushes trumpeting happily and breaking down small shrubs, which is what they all do after “oiling”. This was the first time that Kora joined in this game. At visiting hour he also moved close to the rope and interacted with the visitors, which again, is a first for him. He shows great improvement, although small amounts of pus still come from the wound in his jaw, but now it is syringed out just once a week.

04 June 2005

Being a Saturday, there were a great many visitors today. Sunyei moved close to the rope, and wanted to go through to join the visitors, which made some afraid, and others very happy. Sunyei always enjoyed a good crowd.

05 June 2005

Buchuma tried testing Rapsu today, until Rapsu lost patience with him, and pushed him using his small tusks. The Keepers intervened to restore peace.

06 June 2005

Lualeni bumped Kora accidentally, making him cry. Immediately Naserian ran very fast to see what the problem was, putting her trunk first into Lualeni’s mouth, and then into the mouth of Kora, as though to warn Lualeni and then comfort Kora.

07 June 2005

Makosa (the rhino) was in a very bad mood today and began charging the elephants early in the morning. Then he began to follow Shida and his Keeper, appearing unexpectedly from the bush in an aggressive mood. The Rhino Keeper had great difficulty trying to keep Shida out of the way of Makosa. When Makosa returned to the Stockade in the evening, and the Keeper tried to treat his filarial wounds, he charged the Keeper, sending him running right up into the bushes, and interrupting the passage of the elephants, who were on their way home.

08 June 2005

Having been charged by Makosa yesterday, all the elephants were in a high state of excitement today, running up and down, trumpeting and breaking small bushes. Rapsu, Kora and Lualeni went running to the mudbath ahead of time, expecting to find their milk there. When it was not ready, they began shouting, which amused all the visitors.

09 June 2005

Galana tried to chase off a group of impalas, who did not respond as she expected. Only when reinforcements came in the form of Madiba and Sunyei and all three elephants charged the impala herd, did they move off.

10 June 2005

Today provided another example that elephants can be very jealous of one another. Sunyei, who shares the care of Lualeni with Naserian did not want the Keeper who fed her the bottle of milk, to move over to feed Lualeni. She came and pushed Lualeni away, which is a very unusual thing for Sunyei, as a Matriarch, to do to a baby.

11 June 2005

Kora found himself in amongst a troupe of baboons. He tried to intimidate them by flapping his very big ears, and lifting his trunk high, but the baboons continued their approach. He then screamed, running to the Keepers for protection, which brought all the others to his aid.

12 June 2005

During the mudbath, Galana pushed Rapsu, wanting his share of the milk having finished hers. Having taken his milk at mudbath time, Kora decided to go back into the bush, and spent 45 minutes hiding. In the evening, when we called the orphans to have their blankets put in place, Kora ran away, thinking that we wanted to catch him to syringe out his jaw wound.

13 June 2005

The orphans were all very excited this morning, rushing around trumpeting and breaking small bushes. The Keepers did not know the reason for this, but suspected that the orphans had smelt a lion, because there was one direction in which they refused to go.

14 June 2005

Kora seemed very disturbed today for reasons not known. He kept on going off on his own in a different direction to the Keepers and the other elephants. Galana and Lualeni kept following him, but he kept on running away, and at mudbath time he was far from the others, so two Keepers had to remain behind with him. At 11.30 a.m. he calmed down and came to the mudbath, the Keepers trailing behind.

15 June 2005

Out in the bush, as usual Buchuma decided to take on Rapsu, and Rapsu responded to the challenge, pushing Buchuma away. Buchuma then came grumbling to the Keepers as though to report Rapsu for bad behaviour!

16 June 2005

With confidence and pride Galana assumed the role of a Matriach today. As we were coming to the mudbath, all the orphans were pushing each other for space on the narrow path, none of them wanting to be at the back. Galana stopped and let them all pass, then slowly followed Lualeni and Kora. This showed a great sense of maturity and responsibility for the welfare of her family

17 June 2005

Rapsu is now an established member of the group, playing happily in the tyre at the mudbath time. Lualeni, Sunyei and Ndomot joined him today, which delighted all the visitors.

18 June 2005

Galana and Sunyei enjoy a friendly gentle pushing game. Buchuma was an interested party today, and would have liked to join in, but Galana’s tusks proved the deterrent!

19 June 2005

During the mudbath hour, Kora was quiet, with Lualeni feeding close buy. The football was kicked by a Keeper and stopped at Kora’s feet. He raised a foreleg to half the passage of the ball, and then kicked it towards Lualeni which made everyone laugh, cheering him on!

20 June 2005

Madiba loves Lualeni, and spends most of the day feeding near to her. He lies down and allows her to climb over him. At times Lualeni will insert her trunk into Madiba’s mouth to see what he is eating, as a calf would her mother.

21 June 2005

Whilst the orphans were approaching the mudbath today, Buchuma tried to pass in front of Rapsu. Rapsu admonished pushy Buchuma, who then bellowed, but returned to the back of the queue!

22 June 2005

Again whilst approaching the mudbath, Buchuma tried to pass ahead of Rapsu, who responded angrily, forcing Buchuma back to the end of the queue.

23 June 2005

Kora provided an exemplary warthog chase today. He raised his huge ears when he spotted the warthogs approaching, and then raced after one of the youngsters, attempting a trumpet which turned out to be hoarse. Meanwhile the other orphans took a keen interest in Kora’s brave chase.

24 June 2005

Rapsu entertained the visitors well today, trying to play with the large tube, rolling around on it, then rushing off into the bush, and reappearing in charging mode to fall into the tube again. This prompted the other elephants to join in, making all the visitors laugh. Buchuma provided the climax by initiating a play fight with Ndomot, which the Keepers could not control, but Sunyei managed.

25 June 2005

The two huge trucks are now in position in preparation for the proposed move of four of the Nursery elephants on the 1st July. Madiba and Ndomot entered the trucks without a problem to take their morning feed, but Galana was reluctant, standing half in, and half out. Sunyei provided no resistance, and Rapsu strolled in happily as well, although he will not be going this time.

26 June 2005

The morning was very cold, so the elephants had fun chasing the warthogs around before going into the bush.

27 June 2005

Kora and Lualeni began a play fight. Upon noticing this, Sunyei came very fast to separate the two warring babies.

28 June 2005

Naserian and Lualeni are puzzled as to why some of the orphans are now fed in the two parked trucks, and some are not. They went around investigating the vehicles, and even trying to push them down! Sunyei led the entire orphan family in a charge against Makosa, who was approaching them. Later Kora again engaged Lualeni to prove his strength now that his wound is healing.

29 June 2005

Naserian is taking over the role of mini Matriarch of the Nursery, choosing to always feed close to Lualeni and Kora. Buchuma was with Rapsu, whilst Madiba was with Ndomot, and Sunyei and Galana were further afield. Naserian is very curious about the trucks, continually going around smelling them.

30 June 2005

Sunyei led the orphans to the mudbath today, with Kora trailing behind. He screamed when he noticed that the others were taking milk. Sunyei and Galana refused to change trucks with Ndomot and Madiba, since they were now used to going into the first truck.