Keepers' Diaries, June 2010

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

The 7th June 2010 saw the transfer to Ithumba from the Nursery of Kilaguni, Chaimu and Sabachi and on the l8th June, the arrival of yearling “Kandecha”, rescued from the Aruba area of Tsavo East National Park having been spotted amongst 25 very large bulls, with no female herds anywhere nearby. The IMAX film crew were positioned at Ithumba to film the arrival of Kilaguni, Chaimu and Sabachi, after their grueling eight hour truck journey having left the Nursery at 5 a.m. and on the appalling wash-away rutted road from Kibwezi to the Northern Area Park entrance beyond Ikutha, arriving there after mid day to an enthusiastic welcome from both the Keeper Dependent Ithumba orphans plus all the Ex orphans led by Yatta, Kinna having peeled off from Yatta’s unit deep in the bush, and run to the Stockades, as soon as the trucks drove through the Gate – again that mysterious elephant perception in play!

The 7th June 2010 saw the transfer to Ithumba from the Nursery of Kilaguni, Chaimu and Sabachi and on the l8th June, the arrival of yearling “Kandecha”, rescued from the Aruba area of Tsavo East National Park having been spotted amongst 25 very large bulls, with no female herds anywhere nearby. The IMAX film crew were positioned at Ithumba to film the arrival of Kilaguni, Chaimu and Sabachi, after their grueling eight hour truck journey having left the Nursery at 5 a.m. and on the appalling wash-away rutted road from Kibwezi to the Northern Area Park entrance beyond Ikutha, arriving there after mid day to an enthusiastic welcome from both the Keeper Dependent Ithumba orphans plus all the Ex orphans led by Yatta, Kinna having peeled off from Yatta’s unit deep in the bush, and run to the Stockades, as soon as the trucks drove through the Gate – again that mysterious elephant perception in play!

Everyone expected Kibo, who has long been Kilaguni’s very best friend, to miss him sorely, but after a cursory search, he seemed to understand that Kilaguni was no longer there, and simply accepted it, as did all the others.

The rivalry between Suguta and Olare for possession as “favourite calf” of little Sities continues, but the two older females have come to a good compromise, Olare allowed possession of Sities by Suguta until the older Nursery elephants separate from the youngsters to browse deeper into the forest when Suguta takes over possession of the coveted “baby”. Sities is flourishing, putting on condition rapidly and is a very playful and forceful little member of the gang. The “Baby Group” of the Nursery incorporates Kalama, Tano, Mutara, Shukuru and Sities, all under the main leadership of Suguta while the Senior Group comprises Olare, Kibo, Kudup, Melia, Tumaren, Turkwell.pushy little Chemi Chemi, who, although a lot less pushy than previously, still finds it difficult to resist head butting whoever presents a target. They have now been joined by the Nursery newcomer, “Kandecha”.

Upon arrival in the Nursery during the morning of the l8th June, Kandecha was extremely aggressive and fearful of all humans, charging on sight and refusing both milk and water. Soon ;the “shakes” took hold - always a dangerous precursor to collapse, and when he collapsed in a coma, l packet of Dextros drip infused into an ear vein brought him round again, when the Keepers surrounded and held him in order to persuade him to take some milk. Having got the taste, he downed it hurriedly along with rehydrants, and both gave him renewed strength. Thereafter, just the sight of something white which could be a bottle of milk tempts him to come and take a closer look, and within two days he was out and about as part of the older group, at the noon mudbath in amongst all the visitors, and very much part of the herd. However, he was riddled with worms, so after a few days when he was visibly stronger, he was de-wormed and since then has thrived. He is a very good looking little elephant, and a very lucky one as well, to have been discovered in time to save him becoming yet another bundle of bleached elephant bones in the immensity of Tsavo.

There is still concern over the health of Mawenzi, who seems to be suffering from some chronic condition, and is not thriving as we would like. There is nothing obvious to account for this, other than a heightened white cell count in the blood, indicating some sort of infection. Thinking that perhaps she might also be suffering from a duodenal stress ulcer (as did Nchan) we tried to administer oral medication in her milk, which she rejected. There is an injectible equivalent but that would entail two weeks of daily injections. Having concluded that both scenarios could prove counter-productive, we are currently embarking on the homeopathic route for ulcers and simply have to wait and see if this will help.

Four Nairobi Park lions have been around during the month, hunting the opportunistic warthogs that hang around our premises hoping for a hand-out from the Staff canteen, and who also like to feed close to the orphans and their Keepers out in the bush where they feel a little safer. One warthog was taken by the lions just behind Suguta’s Stockade one evening when the orphans were ensconced for the night. The victims screams whilst being killed left all the elephants too fearful to even lie down and sleep that night as well as giving the Keepers an adrenalin rush! Three other lions positioned themselves on the rocks beside Daphne’s home, and were on view for the evening foster-parent visitors!

But for concerns over Mawenzi, the month of June has been a happy month for our Nursery elephants. Being able to rescue and save the life of little Kandecha has made it especially so, and the progress of baby Sities has also been rewarding following her teething which took its toll as usual.

June 2010 day to day

01 Jun

Early in the morning, as soon as the orphans were let out of their Night stables and stockades, Mutara, Kudup and Kalama, who were following the rest of the group, were diverted upon spotting a family of warthogs consisting of 4 piglets and their mother. The three elephants decided to give chase and thoroughly enjoyed themselves because the warthogs ran in all directions, disappearing behind bushes, leaving Mutara, Kudup and Kalama combing the bushes hoping to encounter them again. After the mudbath Sukuru and Mutara enjoyed playing on an incline, climbing up and then sliding down again, while all the others browsed.

Warthog baby

Kalama playing with the others

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