Keepers' Diaries, June 2009

Nairobi Nursery Unit

On the 4th June, yet another orphaned elephant arrived in the nursery, bringing the total in the Nairobi Nursery to a record 19! This 5-6 month old female calf was found by Samburu tribesmen down a well near Archer’s Post in the Kalama Conservancy of Samburu and was rescued by the Kalama Conservancy Scouts, who immediately got in touch with us. The calf arrived in good condition, and has been named “Kalama”.

01 June 2009

It was a very hot day, so the baby group enjoyed their noon mudbath today, Kudup being the first to get in, soon followed by the rest.

02 June 2009

The Senior Nursery group left their Night Quarters in a jovial mood today. Once out in the bush Kimana and Taveta enjoyed a pushing game, which was interrupted by Dida, who tried to join in, but instead succeeded in ending the game of the two boys.

03 June 2009

Once out in the bush, the orphans were divided into three groups, because Chaimu kept pushing Kilaguni from behind, urging him to walk faster, which hurt his sore tail. Tassia and Taveta kept pushing Chaimu and Kilaguni out from the rest of the group, and this prompted the Keepers to separate the two.

04 June 2009

Since Suguta has taken responsibility for the Baby Group, she is proving to be a good Matriarch, not favouring any particular member. Sabachi and Mawenzi are usually following Suguta, and Kudup is promising as a potential leader. Suguta, Mawenzi, Sabachi and Chaimu often browse some distance from the Keepers while the smaller babies such as Nchan, Kibo, Isiolo, Kalama, and Olkeju like to remain close to the Keepers.

05 June 2009

It was a cool, misty morning. Maalim was lying a few metres from the Keepers, when some half-grown warthogs had an argument nearby, scaring him. The vanquished pig ran towards Maalim, and this un-nerved him, so he retreated to the Keepers for protection.

06 June 2009

When the Baby Group of orphans left their Night Quarters early this morning, the smallest ones such as Kilo, Nchan, Isiolo and Olkeju lagged behind. Suguta was concerned, and kept running back to check on them before hurrying forward to see that the rest of the group were intact. This proves that she is a very capable little Mini Matriarch.

07 June 2009

Kenia’s group of older orphans enjoyed challenging a group of half-grown warthogs on their way back to the Stockades in the late afternoon. Only Kilaguni and Chaimu did not join in. They usually have their own agenda!

08 June 2009

Taveta and Tassia, the two Pushy Boys of the Senior Nursery group, engaged one another in a test of strength today. Taveta was the victor.

09 June 2009

Mawenzi behaved in an unusual way today, running up and down, and pushing all the babies. She even managed to trumpet, which made her even more excited. The Keepers could not determine the reason for her unusual behaviour today.

10 June 2009

Nchan is usually with Isiolo, Kibo and Olkeju once out in the bush whilst Suguta takes charge of the rest of the group. Nchan is a promising Mini Matriarch and is very caring of the small babies.

11 June 2009

Nchan and Kalama enjoyed a wonderful game today, running up and down, pulling up small twigs and downing little shrubs. They obviously love each others company.

12 June 2009

There was an anxious moment for Kenia, Shira, Bhaawa and Taveta when 2 giraffes strolled past them as they were browsing out in the bush. All were transfixed with their ears standing out, wondering what to do, but the giraffes paid no attention to them and merely continued on their way.

13 June 2009

Little Kilaguni’s tail stump has become extremely itchy, which is a good sign of healing, but which has been causing him a great deal of discomfort. Today he spent all day trying to scratch his rear end against trees, and whilst sitting in the mudbath. Chaimu, who has become a close friend of his, but who is still inclined to be pushy, kept on pushing him from behind every time he stopped, and this also irritated him.

14 June 2009

Today, the Keepers had a busy day trying to round up Kilaguni and Chaimu, and return them to the rest of the group whenever they wandered off. Chaimu kept on pushing Kilaguni from behind, so he kept on walking away. Suddenly the Keepers noticed them moving towards the Stockade, so one Keeper ran to round up Kilaguni and return him to the group, but Chaimu, who is still quite new, ended up back at the mudbath op her own, which left Mrs. Sheldrick very anxious.

15 June 2009

Mawenzi is very pushy towards the young ones and seems to enjoy shoving them around. The Keepers had to speak sharply to her and discipline her by giving her a push!.

16 June 2009

Chaimu and Kilaguni are becoming good friends, and like remaining together apart from the main group. Chaimu comes behind Kilaguni, and helps him by rubbing his tail stump to alleviate the itching.

17 June 2009

After spending the whole day browsing in the Stockade, the new elephant whom we named Mkali, (because she was very aggressive), suddenly collapsed. She was put on a Dextrose drip and rallied, and by dawn was browsing again and looked better.

18 June 2009

Having been hopeful that Mkali was going to recover, suddenly at 5.30 a.m. she collapsed and died, which shocked her Keepers. We were told that at the Ranch from which she had come, a lot of young elephants aged between 2 and 4 years old were dying. She would have been the oldest female in the Nursery, and as such probably a very good Matriarch for the 20 others, relieving Kenia of that responsibility.

19 June 2009

Shida, the rhino orphan who is now integrated into the wild community of Nairobi Park, has not turned up for the past two days, which is a good indication that he is occupied elsewhere.

20 June 2009

Both elephant groups joined up this morning and headed out into the bush together, Kenia leading the way, with Suguta leading her group of babies. They were happy to be together, and once out in the bush, began to play, rushing around and knocking down small bushes. From the Big Group only Kilaguni did not join in, but kept apart, while the small babies such as Kibo, Isiolo, Nchan, Olkeju and Kalama remained beside their Keepers, and were onlookers.

21 June 2009

Kenia has been very motherly towards the newcomer Naimina, not retaliating even when Naimina pushes her, but continually beside the side of Naimina.. Kenia understands that Naimina is disturbed and upset about losing her elephant mother.

22 June 2009

Isiolo has been becoming ever weaker, and crying whenever he lies down or gets up, often screaming for help. It is as though he has some joint or muscle pain.

23 June 2009

Maalim is always very excited when it comes to mudbath time, walking ahead of his Keepers, anxious to be there. He walked up and down the cordon separating the visitors, and then began running here and there, and spinning round. Later the Keepers made a little muddy patch for him, which he loved, rolling around in it and then jumping up and down and challenging his Keepers to a play fight. The Keepers moved him away from the visitors, because he was getting somewhat unruly.

24 June 2009

Today there was yet another elephant rescue, this time from the Tsavo ecosystem bordering the Park itself. The calf had been found by our De-snaring team lying beside a path. The rescue was mobilized, but unfortunately the elephant died before the plane landed.

25 June 2009

Today the Keepers decided to separate Suguta’s group into two, because the older elephants kept on pushing the small babies around, and Kibo had a sore leg as a result. Isiolo, Kibo and Olkeju were separated, but they joined Suguta’s group at the mudbath.

26 June 2009

Kibo, Isiolo and Olkeju spent the morning nearer the Stockades today, because Kibo was still limping, and Isiolo seemed weak, but was still feeding well. As the Keepers were having lunch, there was another phone call from Ziwani in Tsavo West that a rescue was needed to airlift the calf from the Finchatten Camp airfield. The calf who was over 1 year old, arrived and was very calm, which is never a good sign. She collapsed during the night and was put on a Dextrose/Saline drip.

27 June 2009

The Ziwani elephant, who had been named “Kidong” was on a drip all day, but was never able to stand up. She died during the night. Also little Isiolo suddenly collapsed out in the bush, and was brought back to his stable on the rescue tarpaulin. He was also put on a Drip. That afternoon the Vet came and listened to his heart, but could not detect anything wrong with that organ. The mystery was that Isiolo fed well, despite being in a state of collapse, and has normal stools. In the afternoon he rallied, and walked around the yard, seemingly better, but collapsed again during the night.

28 June 2009

Isiolo was again put on a drip and kept in his stable. Meanwhile the body of Kidong was buried, because being a Sunday, there was no facility open to undertake an autopsy. The Vet believes that the cause of death was sheer milk deprivation coupled with vegetation starvation due to the prevailing drought conditions in Tsavo, coupled with competition from livestock illegally grazing in the Park. Hippos, Impalas, giraffes and zebra are also dying in Tsavo because of competition from illegal livestock. Tassia is also being very pushy to Baarwa because of him being close to Kenia. It has been difficult to try and separate Baarwa from Kenia. Kimana, Ndii, Taveta and Dida hang together in their own group while Shira takes Naimina and Kilaguni.

29 June 2009

Sabachi is proving to be the naughty boy of the baby group, intent on bullying the others and always trying to mount onto Suguta and Mawenzi in one-upmanship. We tried to take him to the big group, but they were not interested in him, and kept pushing him out, making him cry, so we were forced to take him back to Suguta’s group. Also he is very attached to Suguta.

30 June 2009

It was a very misty morning, with low cloud, so the orphans did not want to even venture into the bush, but kept close to their Keepers, probably never having witnessed such weather in their short lifetime. Eventually it was Shira who plucked up the courage to lead the group out.