Keepers' Diaries, June 2007

Nairobi Nursery Unit

It has been a very exciting month for the Nursery contingent, the proximity of the lions causing a great deal of disruption, especially one night when they were roaring right around the Stockades and Stables, so much so that the Night Milk Mixer’s 3 hourly milk run became suffered severe disruption. This in turn affected the elephants, so all in all, it was an extremely disturbed night. With very little for lions to eat in Nairobi National Park these days, and the remaining warthogs seeking protection around the Trust premises, the lions have come far too close for comfort, steadily depleting the warthog population and terrifying the elephants and their Keepers. As a precaution the Keepers now take with them a red blanket hoping that this will leave the lions believing they are Masai, who have habitually speared lions for centuries, and of whom lions generally are very wary! At the end of the month the lions killed two warthogs, one just behind the Stockades, and the other also very close. Watching out for the lions has become a daily hazardous routine!

01 June 2007

Lenana led the orphans out, all the babies in a jovial mood, chasing one another running after the warthogs and breaking down small bushes. Makena and Chyulu enjoyed a friendly pushing bout, closely monitored by Lenana. Suddenly, at around 9 a.m., two male impalas rushed past the orphans at high speed, which sent all the youngsters to their Keepers for protection.

02 June 2007

Lesanju and Lempaute enjoyed playing with the Keepers, whilst Shimba busied himself browsing before the 9 a.m. feed. Shimba became impatient waiting for his milk feed, and rushed to intercept the Milk Mixer as he was on his way, whilst Lesanju and Lempaute rushed to their blankets and began to suckle the blankets.

03 June 2007

Very early in the morning Shida planted himself in front of the Stockade housing Zurura, who began pushing him. Kamboyo joined in, but both orphans were no match for Shida, so in the end the Keepers intervened to encourage Shida away. Shida has been spending more time around the Stockades, since he is very interested in little Max, and also because of the proximity of the few remaining lions in Nairobi National Park, who have been targeting the warthogs that hang around the Stockades and the elephants and their Keepers.

04 June 2007

In the evening, just as the Keepers were preparing to take the elephants back to their Night quarters, a lion roared close by, which terrified everyone, including the Keepers! The elephants all gathered around their Keepers, none of them wanting to be exposed.

05 June 2007

Again, in the evening, a lion roared close to where the Keepers were with the elephants, and immediately afterwards two lionesses walked across an open patch, heading towards the sound of the roarer.

06 June 2007

There was high drama of another sort today. Makena and Chyulu moved from the mudbath into the bushes, and soon came rushing out, stamping their feet, and running up and down the cordon near the visitors, as though wanting help. It turned out that they were being bitten by Safari Ants, who were climbing all over their legs and body. The Keepers rushed to remove the ants.

07 June 2007

Today, Lenana kept very close to little Shimba when the tiny elephants joined the bigger ones. Meanwhile, Makena and Chyulu were contesting possession of Lempaute, who couldn’t make up her mind whether to remain with the Keepers, or be “taken” by either Makena or Chyulu. Lesanju is not interested in being “taken” by an older Matriarch, looking upon herself as the Mini Minor Leader, so she always remains close to the Keepers, ignoring the antics of the other elephants.

08 June 2007

Kamboyo is very gentle with the three tiny babies, taking a particular interest in baby Shimba. When Shimba is not with Lenana, he is with Kamboyo, who rests a trunk lovingly over his back. This sometimes causes dissention between Kamboyo and Lenana, both of whom adore little Shimba.

09 June 2007

Zurura is giving both Makena and Chyulu a hard time, always trying to mount them. Makena capitulates, but Chyulu will have none of it, making Zurura become a little bullying. The Keepers intervene to keep order.

10 June 2007

It was another frightening night, with lions roaring and fighting around the Stockades, which interrupted the Milk Mixer bringing the orphans’ milk throughout the night at 3 hourly intervals. Everyone had a very disrupted night because of the lions and the fact that the milk routine had been interrupted, something that did not escape the notice of the elephants.

11 June 2007

As usual, Lempaute wanted to show off in front of the mudbath visitors, charging towards the rope, and then lying down at their feet. This entertained the visitors greatly, who were charmed by her antics!

12 June 2007

A group of warthogs came to the mudbath just ahead of the elephants. Makena spotted them from a distance and came charging at them. The warthogs ran into the visitors behind the rope who began screaming and running, which made Makena very excited. She broke through the cordon and continued chasing the warthogs, trumpeting which brought Chyulu in support, realizing that things were getting hot! The Keepers soon managed to regain control of the elephants, and the tourists enjoyed the encounter very much.

13 June 2007

The older elephants ran out of the Stockades, and began a chasing game with each other. Kamboyo pursued Makena, wanting to mount onto her, so Makena kept turning round and giving him a shove. The Keepers had to discipline Kamboyo. He and Zurura enjoy dominating the young females, and Lenana seems unconcerned when she should intervene to discipline them. Instead, this role falls to the Keepers.

14 June 2007

Lenana lavishes a great deal of concern over Shimba, touching him with her trunk and gently feeling him all over his body. Shimba enjoys suckling her. Makena tried to take Lempaute, but Lempaute chose to follow Lesanju instead. Makena became irritated by this, and ended up pushing Lempaute.

15 June 2007

Lempaute always targets the young school children at the mudbath, rushing towards them, and ignoring adults. Having broken through the cordon, she lies down at the kids’ feet, and when they get used to touching her, she enjoys pulling their hair. She always wants to play with the children.

16 June 2007

The morning was chilly, and all the elephants assembled at Zurura’s Stockade. Zurura was reluctant to come out, and when the Keepers pushed him, they noticed that he had a very sore right fore-limb and was limping badly. We think that he either sprained his joint, or perhaps had trodden on a thorn. He did not like anyone touching the painful leg and was very lame.

17 June 2007

We remained close to the Stockade today, since Zurura’s foot is still swollen and painful, though slightly better than it was yesterday. We applied Fastum.

18 June 2007

Makena persists in trying to commandeer Lempaute, with Lempaute resisting, which again irritated Makena, who became a little rough. The Keepers intervened to reprimand her.

19 June 2007

The warthogs around the Trust Headquarters are very used to humans. At the mudbath today, they entertained the visitors before the arrival of the elephants, and then walked calmly in amongst the crowd.

20 June 2007

A troupe of baboons passed by the orphans today, which scared them. Makena was very disturbed, and ran up and down breaking small bushes, as though to try and frighten the baboons, who had long gone.

21 June 2007

As the Keepers were walking along a path with the bigger elephants, a lioness with 4 cubs passed a glade ahead of us. One of the cubs was very interested in us, and kept turning its head to stare. We remained stationery until the lions had disappeared.

22 June 2007

Today, at last, Lenana intervened to discipline Kamboyo and Zurura, who were again trying to mount onto Chyulu. Lenana gave the two boys a hard shove, and sent them away from the girls.

23 June 2007

During the public visiting hour, Makena became very excited because the warthogs were again present at the mudbath. She kept running around after them, trumpeting, and Chyulu then joined in the pig rodeo, which greatly entertained the spectators.

24 June 2007

At noon, the older orphans arrived at the mudbath only to find the babies still there. Lenana immediately ran towards little Shimba, who is her favourite and the little elephants remained with the older group until 3 p.m., when they were needed for a Private Visit. The Keepers had difficulty separating Lenana from Shimba, and later Chyulu wanted to join the babies, rather than the Big Group. Again, the Keepers had a hard time persuading her otherwise.

25 June 2007

The two Nursery groups joined for a Private Visit at 3 p.m., and afterwards Chyulu wanted to be with the babies. Again, the Keepers had a difficult time persuading her to join Makena and the older elephants, who go further afield to forage. The three small elephants are being kept close to home because of the presence of hungry lions, who don’t have much wild game to eat in the Park these days.

26 June 2007

At the noon mudbath Lempaute was very excited and happy by the hordes of school children spectators, whom she enjoyed scaring, as usual. She loves it when they retreat screaming since this makes her feel very important.

27 June 2007

Shimba wanted to dominate the two little girls in the Baby Group today, which did not go down well. Lesanju took control and was soon backed up by Lempaute, so together they engaged Shimba in what turned out to be a serious battle, in which the Keepers had to intervene to separate the warring parties!

28 June 2007

The three little babies were very active and playful today. Lesanju began the game, running away into the bush, followed by Lempaute. Finding himself alone, Shimba then joined in the game, as did the Keepers, and great fun was had by all, as they ran around, in and out, of the thickets.

29 June 2007

It was scary for the Keepers and the elephants as the Keepers were sitting down having lunch, when a lioness and a cub erupted from the next door bush!

30 June 2007

Early in the morning, on the way out into the bush, the Keepers found a lioness who had killed a warthog just behind the Stockades, and was feeding on it, along with her cub. This prompted the Keepers to change direction. Whilst coming to the mudbath at 11 a.m., we came across another 3 lions feeding on another warthog they had just killed near the Trust Headquarters. All the elephants were very scared, running around with their ears wide, and at the mudbath Makena and Chyulu continued running up and down.