Keepers' Diaries, June 2008

Nairobi Nursery Unit

Invariably, it always seems to happen on a Sunday, when it is most difficult to mobilize what it takes to airlift a desperate orphaned elephant from the back of beyond! However, during the morning of Sunday 8th June we were faced with no less than two rescues, both from Laikipia.

01 June 2008

The older elephants, namely Lenana, Makena and Chyulu rushed to the babies’ Night quarters hoping to see Kimana, the new baby, but the babies’ stables were still closed, it being a cold morning. Out in the field the older elephants were restless, running up and down and breaking small bushes until they ran back to the stables, by which time the babies were out. They remained with them for some time, after which they settled down.

02 June 2008

Makena slipped away from the older group and went to the babies, who were feeding nearby, without the Keepers noticing.

03 June 2008

It was amusing today to witness a play fight between the two tiny babies, Dida and Kimana. Although tiny, Kimana proves his masculinity by being very pushy.

04 June 2008

Out in the field, the older elephants came across a herd of impalas, who were enjoying the sunshine. Lenana decided to chase them off.

05 June 2008

The older orphans put on a spectacular mudbath for the visitors today, all rolling around in the mud, climbing on top of one another, and then playing with the football. All the visitors were very happy.

06 June 2008

Shida, the big rhino, paid a surprise visit to Lenana, Makena and Chyulu as they were feeding out in the bush. Lenana ran off but Makena and Chyulu wanted to charge at Shida in an attempt to deter him. Shida did not mind, but just stood there watching them until they decided to follow Lenana’s lead and move elsewhere.

07 June 2008

Dida always runs to greet Maxwell, the blind rhino, when she leaves her night stable. Maxwell is always standing at his door when the babies emerge, and thoroughly enjoys being touched with their trunks.

08 June 2008

A new baby was flown to the Nursery today from Ol Jogi Ranch in Laikipia district. However, it was very thin and weak, but took milk, and desperately wanted to be with the other elephants. We had to keep her in because she was very feeble. She was named Namalok.

09 June 2008

Early in the morning, the older orphans turned up desperate to have the new baby with them. We decided to let her out so that she could be with them. Lenana immediately loved and comforted her, never leaving her side throughout the entire day.

10 June 2008

It was a very sad day in the Nursery, because the new baby died during the night. She arrived too far gone for us to be able to save. We buried her this morning and we were all very upset.

11 June 2008

Today, the trucks arrived and were parked at the Loading Ramp in preparation for the training of Lenana, Chyulu and Makena who will be leaving the Nursery for Ithumba soon. Lenana went straight into the truck to take her milk but Makena and Chyulu were very suspicious, and refused to go inside.

12 June 2008

Now the second day of training. Chyulu followed Lenana into the truck to take her milk, but Makena still refused to step inside.

13 June 2008

We tried to train Chyulu to go into the small Canter, rather than one of the bigger trucks which has been identified for Makena and Lenana, but Chyulu flatly refused. She only condescends to step into one of the two bigger trucks.

14 June 2008

Lenana is very compliant, and happy to go inside either of the two larger trucks to take her milk. Chyulu agrees to follow her lead, but remains suspicious, while Makena simply does not want to have anything to do with the trucks.

15 June 2008

Today is the last day of training the elephants to go into the trucks and still Makena refuses to oblige, even if it means not having her ration of milk!

16 June 2008

It was a very early start this morning for the three big Nursery elephants, Lenana, Chyulu and Makena. Because Makena has refused to cooperate by going into one of the trucks, she was given an injection of Stressnil by Robert to make her drowsy. Lenana and Chyulu went in to one of the big trucks, but Makena still refused, and eventually had to be physically pushed inside, after which the truck was towed away from the loading bay so that she could not force her way out before the door was closed. Eventually, the trucks left the Nursery at 5.30 a.m., all the Staff waving a sad farewell to our three Big Nursery Girls. At lunch time we heard that they had arrived safely and were settling in at the other end.

17 June 2008

There was a change to the sleeping routine. Lesanju and Lempaute went into the Stockade vacated by Makena and Chyulu while Siria was put into Lenana’s Stockade and Sinya went into the large stable with Dida. The babies seemed confused about the change, and noticed that the older elephants were no longer there.

18 June 2008

It was a very cold morning. All the Nursery elephants immediately went to the Loading Bays and were very subdued throughout the day, none of them wanting to rush around and play as they normally would. They missed the presence of the older orphans.

19 June 2008

Lempaute undertook her own investigation this morning. She was with the others as they crossed the road at the back of the Stockades, then went running back to the Loading Bay, and searched all around, fumbling and bellowing before eventually joining the others who had remained on the road waiting for her to return.

20 June 2008

Kenia is usually the first one asleep in her stable in the evening, having taken her milk, but today she remained awake until the next milk feed at 9 p.m. which was unusual.

21 June 2008

Sinya is very attached to Lesanju and Lempaute, and has not settled on her own in with Dida, walking round and round the stable the entire night without sleeping, and also making a lot of noise, which unsettled Dida, who likewise was deprived of sleep. Obviously yet another change in the Nursery sleeping arrangements was necessary.

22 June 2008

After a good day out in the Park, we decided to put Sinya next door to Lesanju and Lempaute in Lenana’s old Stockade, and move Siria in with Dida.

23 June 2008

At 4.30 p.m. a new orphan arrived in the Nursery, this time one of just under two years old. She was extremely wild and aggressive. As soon as her legs were un-tied, the Keepers had to climb the escape ladder with alacrity because she was strong and wanted to crush them! She was named “Wasessa”.

24 June 2008

As soon as the orphans were allowed out, they were taken to greet the newcomer, but she was not interested in them, concentrating on all the people with her ears out. However, she was friendly to Maxwell in the next door Stockade. Whenever anyone appeared at the Gate to her Stockade, she charged and rammed the Gate until the bars bowed outwards, and threatened to break. Thereafter we were told not to stand at the Gate, but try and encourage her confidence from behind the poles of the Stockade which were stronger. In the evening Siria was put in with Sinya, and Shimba moved to be with little Dida, because Kenia is more independent, and likes the Keepers more than Shimba.

25 June 2008

After the mudbath, the orphans were again brought to greet Wasessa, who remains very wild and aggressive. Siria was very curious and tried to touch her with his trunk, but Wasessa was focused on the Keepers rather than the other elephants.

26 June 2008

Wasessa eventually agreed to take milk from a bucket, but today for the first time she took it from the bottle, offered from behind the protective poles that separate her stockade into two.

27 June 2008

Little Kimana has now attached himself to Siria, who allows him to suckle his ears. Having been cut, Lesanju’s ears are too short for his liking so now Siria is his favourite elephant.

28 June 2008

Today a small fight developed between Sinya and Siria. Sinya has never been overly fond of Siria, pushing him away whenever he gets too close to Lesanju, of whom she is very fond. However, today Siria stood up to Sinya and was not a push-over, so Lesanju had to intervene to separate the two.

29 June 2008

Wasessa is now beginning to show some interest in the other orphans, whereas previous she was focused only on keeping a close eye on the men, always with her ears out. However, today she stretched her trunk out to them when they came to see her. However, she still will not take milk from a man unless he is standing behind the poles of the Stockade and having taken the milk, she then retreats rapidly, or charges the man.

30 June 2008

Dida decided to put herself in Lesanju and Lempaute’s Stockade today, and refused to be coaxed out. In the end, we had to force her out and into her the stable she shares with Shimba.