Keepers' Diaries, June 2006

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!

01 June 2006

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!

02 June 2006

Following the 3 p.m. milk feed, Lualeni lay down so that Makena and Zurura could climb over her. Sian joined them, but Lualeni got up and pushed her away. Sian went to Kora, who obliged by lying down so that she and Loijuk could enjoy climbing over him, but Sidai came to push them away.

03 June 2006

The Keepers were happy to see Orok entering the Travelling Truck parked at the Loading Ramp in preparation for the move of him, Challa and Sidai to Ithumba later on in the month. Challa was the first to agree to go in on the first day the trucks arrived, followed by Sidai a day later, but Orok has always been reluctant.

04 June 2006

Shida was very restless today for some unknown reason, continually running back and forth and breaking down small shrubs, and even disappearing from the scene sporadically.

05 June 2006

At noon, Lualeni was in a hurry for her milk, and took a short cut to the mudbath, startling all the visitors who were waiting there by running through them!

06 June 2006

Shida seemed to be bothered by something up his nostrils this morning, then began rubbing the base of his horn against the trees and rocks, at the same time becoming restless and aggressive. The Keepers kept at a safe distance because he seemed in such a strange mood.

07 June 2006

Shida spent the entire night trying to dislodge his horn by rubbing it against the poles of the Stockade. Out in the bush he continued doing the same, isolating himself from the Keepers.

08 June 2006

This is the third day that Shida has been working on his horn, causing abrasions around the base and his mouth. However, he seemed a little calmer today.

09 June 2006

Today is the final rehearsal day for the move to Ithumba of Orok, Challa and Sidai. However, the elephants seem to sense something, because for the first time Challa became reluctant as did Sidai in the evening. Orok has never been comfortable going into the truck.

10 June 2006

At dawn, Challa, Sidai and eventually, Orok, were all loaded into the Travelling Trucks and left just as the sun was appearing. Kora and Lualeni mounted a search for them immediately they came out of their Night Quarters, spending a lot of time where the trucks used to be parked. The smaller elephants seemed not to have noticed the absence of the three, but Kora and Lualeni were very anxious. After mudbath Shida approached 4 giraffe who began to move away, quickening their pace in response to him doing the same until it ended up with him chasing the giraffes off down the hill. This made him feel very brave and it also made all the visitors laugh.

11 June 2006

Kora kept to himself today, missing Challa, Orok and Sidai, and continually scenting the wind by raising his trunk to see if he could detect where they were. Similarly, Lualeni continued the search, not even distracted by the presence of Makena who was upset at not receiving enough attention.

12 June 2006

Zurura and Makena seem unconcerned by the absence of three of their unit, and played with Zurura trying to mount onto Makena, and Makena chasing him away. Lualeni remains distracted by their absence, paying little attention to the two rival babies.

13 June 2006

Lualeni was moved into the Stockade vacated by Challa, whilst Sian took possession of hers next door to Makena, who kept waking up throughout the night to sniff her neighbour, wondering whey it was not Lualeni!

14 June 2006

During the morning Zurura kept following Makena, laying his trunk along her back as though wanting to mount her. She tolerated this for some time, but then turned on him and pushed him away. Zurura did not take this seriously, and continued to bait Makena, who became irritated and knocked him to the ground, so he knew she was not joking!

15 June 2006

Something scared the elephants during the morning, prompting Lualeni, Makena, Zurura, Sian and Loijuk to rush back to the Keepers. Kamboyo and Kora followed, but seemed less concerned, so the Keepers thought maybe it was they who had scared the others.

16 June 2006

The Mixer who was bringing the orphans’ 9 a.m. milk feed out on the wheelbarrow ran into Magnum, abandoned his wheelbarrow and fled! However, Magnum was not interested in either the wheelbarrow of milk, or the Keeper, but on investigating Shida. He went into Shida’s Night Stockade, and spent time there, huffing and puffing, before heading back out down the hill to his usual beat.

17 June 2006

Makena and Zurura were having their usual play fight during the morning, but Lualeni was not happy about it, and pushed Zurura away. Sian went to console Zurura.

18 June 2006

Whilst browsing out in the forest, Loijuk noticed some baboons in a tree and threatened them with her trunk, but to no affect. In the end she gave up and moved location.

19 June 2006

It is now three days that Kora has had no sign of pus coming from his sore jaw, which seems to have healed, the opening now closed. It seems also to be itchy because he keeps trying to scratch it with his trunk.

20 June 2006

Zurura is becoming quite pushy in his playfulness, taking on Sian, who is not fond of pushing games. She pushed him down and pinned him to the ground with her tiny tusks as a punishment, until the Keepers intervened to rescue him!

21 June 2006

Kora has a new trick at the mudbath. He enjoys trying to un-lace all the visitors’ shoes, which amuses everyone.

22 June 2006

Kora demonstrated the fact that he is not a coward, when two young warthogs raced through the herd being chased by an older female pig. All the orphans began to run to their Keepers, but Kora turned, tested the air, and charged the warthogs without hesitation.

23 June 2006

Sian, Loijuk and Kamboyo have had their milk ration increased to 5 pints per feed, instead of the previous four. Only Sian, who is not a greedy baby, had difficulty in finishing her share, but the others had no problem.

24 June 2006

Shida escaped from his Keepers very early in the morning, and eventually turned up at the mudbath alone. The Keepers came to collect him and escort him back to the forest.

25 June 2006

It was a misty, drizzly morning, which made Shida very playful, even at the mudbath when he wanted to interact with the visitors, so was taken away early

26 June 2006

Kamboyo was very brave today when he refused to be pushed around by Loijuk. He stood his ground, and retaliated with a hard shove before rushing to Kora for protection.

27 June 2006

At dawn, Sian was the first out of her stable followed by Makena and Zurura, who then began their usual antics by intertwining trunks and then wrestling just outside Lualeni’s Stockade, waiting for her to be let out.

28 June 2006

Loijuk, who was a starvation case when she was rescued, is never satisfied with enough milk, and spends time begging for the other babies’ share. Kamboyo joined her and got shoved away by Loijuk, who was reprimanded by the Keepers, and ran away guiltily.

29 June 2006

Shida was in a playful mood this morning as he followed the Keepers out into the bush. He came upon some warthogs sleeping near a sandy patch, and promptly approached them. They began circling him, enjoying the game until Shida decided that he had had enough, and charged them chasing them away.

30 June 2006

Makena and Zurura were feeding close to Lualeni out in the bush, and when she realised that they were too small to reach the green branches, she pulled the branches down so that they could feed on them. All the others also converged to enjoy the feast. Washing Kora’s jaw each day, we are noticing less and less pus, which is a good sign.