Keepers' Diaries, June 2006

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

The main event during June was the transfer of Challa, Orok and Sidai to the Ithumba unit. Challa and Sidai, at just under two years of age, were starvation victims having been deprived of their mother’s milk at a critical still milk dependent stage in life. Orok arrived in better shape, but since he would have none of being protected from the cold by a blanket, it was felt prudent to move him to a warmer climate before the cold season set in, besides which all three elephants are now fully recovered and in good condition ready to take the next big step. The move went very smoothly, and the three newcomers were embraced lovingly at the other end by the Big females, particularly Nasalot, who has taken them under her wing. It is always those left behind who suffer the greatest emotional upset and on this occasion it was Lualeni and Kora, especially, who were affected, and searched endlessly for their missing friends for several days. The younger elephants, Makena, Zurura, Kamboyo, Sian and Loijuk didn’t seem to mind much, preoccupied with each other and their three hourly milk feeds!

The main event during June was the transfer of Challa, Orok and Sidai to the Ithumba unit. Challa and Sidai, at just under two years of age, were starvation victims having been deprived of their mother’s milk at a critical still milk dependent stage in life. Orok arrived in better shape, but since he would have none of being protected from the cold by a blanket, it was felt prudent to move him to a warmer climate before the cold season set in, besides which all three elephants are now fully recovered and in good condition ready to take the next big step. The move went very smoothly, and the three newcomers were embraced lovingly at the other end by the Big females, particularly Nasalot, who has taken them under her wing. It is always those left behind who suffer the greatest emotional upset and on this occasion it was Lualeni and Kora, especially, who were affected, and searched endlessly for their missing friends for several days. The younger elephants, Makena, Zurura, Kamboyo, Sian and Loijuk didn’t seem to mind much, preoccupied with each other and their three hourly milk feeds!

The ongoing rivalry between Makena, who is Lualeni’s favourite, and Zurura, who resents her privileged status, continues, and he never misses an opportunity to “niggle” her by trying to mount onto her in a demonstration of superiority. This usually ends up in a mini-punch-up, with Lualeni intervening to push Zurura away, when Zurura is consoled by both Sian and Kora. Unwisely he once gave Sian a push, and found himself pinned to the ground for this insult, and having to be rescued by the Keepers. Sian seems to be evolving as the next mini Matriarch who will take over Lualeni’s position when she and Kora are promoted to the Ithumba unit. Meanwhile, there has been an adjustment in the Nursery sleeping arrangements with Lualeni transferred to Challa’s ex Stockade next door to Kora, allowing her more space, and Sian moving to Lualeni’s stable next to Makena, something that disturbed Makena for a few nights, who missed the proximity of Lualeni.

Kora’s jaw continues to be a worry, exuding small quantities of sepsis periodically. We are still awaiting the return of Deiter Rottcher from Europe who will be entrusted with the anaesthetic and are also trying to arrange that a South African Vet conversant with elephant dentition be present to help insert the slow release anti-biotic “beads”into the injured jaw. Meanwhile, Kora has had the benefit of regular visits from a homeopathic doctor, and has benefited from the expertise of alternative experts from many overseas countries who are as anxious as we to try and help him. Kora is a great Nursery favourite with a gentle, calm and loving temperament and everything humanly possible will be done to heal him.

In all, June has been a peaceful healing month for our Nursery babies, marred by the loss of little Mosso, a tragic starvation case from Laikipia, who was with us only for a few hours before losing the battle for life. Little Kamboyo continues to gain weight and strength, as do Sian and Loijuk. Makena, Zurura and Lualeni look the picture of good health, as, indeed does Kora, apart from the concern over the infection in his right jaw. Encounters with the resident baboon troupe, the giraffe who are regular visitors and the regular warthogs all provide daily entertainment for the Nursery elephants, as does Kora’s obsession with trying to un-tie the shoe laces of all the visitors during the open mudbath hour! As the tourist season peaks for the spectacle of the annual wildebeest migration in the Mara, the Nursery elephants have drawn the crowds, helped of course by their raised profile through the screening of “Elephant Diaries” world-wide and the 60 Minute American slot on the Trust, a Programme that is watched by some 60 million viewers.

June 2006 day to day

01 Jun

The elephants came across a long line of baboons out in the bush today. Kora charged them in an attempt to disperse them, but one of the males stood his ground, forcing Kora to change his mind!

Kora out in the bush

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