Keepers' Diaries, June 2011

Nairobi Nursery Unit

Having received news on the l9th June, 2011 that a lone orphaned elephant calf had been spotted in the Masai Mara by tourists at a place called OleSukut (“Salty Place”), the calf was subsequently captured near the Ololoo escarpment, after which the Nairobi Nursery Rescue Team was mobilized. The orphan, a young bull with tusks between 2 and 3 inches long arrived back at the Nursery at about 5.30 p.m. on the 19th June. He was dehydrated, weak and very thin, obviously having been without his mother for some time, and was passing a lot of worms in his dung. He was unbound in the Taming Stockade, and that evening all the other Nursery elephants were brought back to take their milk in front of him, so that he would understand that he was not alone, and hopefully take his cue from them. This, he did, settling down amazingly rapidly. By the very next morning he was taking milk from a hand-held bottle, sucking the fingers of the Keepers, and very calm, which is not always a good sign in an orphan of that age. We anticipated a collapse, and had all the intravenous life support at hand, but mercifully it did not happen

01 June 2011

During today’s noon mudbath Kalama joined Chemi Chemi and Ishanga in being very pushy towards all the others. In the end the Keepers punished them by sending them to spend “time out” away from the others, but when they returned they resorted to the same tactics.

02 June 2011

Ever since the transfer of Olare to Ithumba, Kalama has taken over Leadership of the Nursery Orphans, and is a very proficient Mini Matriarch, keeping the group together and expelling those that step out of line with unacceptable behaviour, such as Chemi Chemi and Ishanga, who at present are the two naughty ones. As the orphans were heading out to browse, Chemi Chemi attempted to mount Tano, but Tano was clever enough to run to Kalama, who warned Chemi Chemi off!

03 June 2011

Soon after entering the browsing area, Sities and Shukuru stirred up the entire group, rushing around the bushes trumpeting. During the mudbath hour because it was cold, none of the elephants wanted to wallow, but instead Sities and Tano played with the Soccer ball, after which Sities entertained the visitors by running along the line of the cordon, playfully bumping into whoever was close.

04 June 2011

It was a cold morning, so Naipoki, Kainuk and Sities wore double blankets today. Out in the forest the older orphans browsed, closely watched by the younger babies, who were trying to copy them. Shukuru loves the mattress in her stable, playing with it every evening, folding it and squeezing it between her legs. Then, when she is ready to lie down and sleep, she uses it like a pillow, resting her head on it.

05 June 2011

Solio played with Maxwell this morning after leaving her Night Stockade. Both locked horns through the separating poles. Maxwell thoroughly enjoyed this interaction, expressing his approval by galloping round his Stockade, while Solio expressed hers by digging her small horn into the ground. After Solio was escorted out into the forest, Maxwell began mewing to try and entice her back but Solio had other things on her mind! At noon she enjoyed a wonderful wallow in her exclusive little mudbath behind the Stockades and later enjoyed chasing the warthogs she encountered on her way back to browse.

06 June 2011

After the mudbath Shukuru led the orphans back into the forest to browse, followed by a lioness who turned back as soon as they reached their destination. The Keepers noticed the lioness but the elephants were oblivious to her presence. Chemi Chemi enjoyed trying to mount onto Shukuru, who was having none of it. Meanwhile Mutara began again to push down a dead tree she tried to fell yesterday, and was very proud of herself when the mission was accomplished today!

07 June 2011

All the older elephants love little Naipoki very much indeed. Even Makireti is now very fond of the baby, always keen to be with her whenever she is away from the others. Turkwel was very put out at the mudbath simply because her milk bottles were not where they usually are. She refused to take her milk, instead running to the cordon causing all the mudbath visitors to move back! She settled down eventually and the rest of the day passed peacefully.

08 June 2011

Naipoki was met at the door of her stable by Shukuru first thing in the morning, and escorted to greet all the other Nursery elephants. Mutara and Makireti then took over from Shukuru, who engaged Chemi Chemi in a Pushing Match. Turkwel and Kainuk browsed calmly outside their stables until the Keepers summonsed them to go to the bush to feed. En route Kalama and Tano spotted the warthogs, and a “Cat and Mouse” game ensued, the warthogs dashing from bush to bush, trying to escape the elephants. The chase was joined by Turkwel and Kainuk, and soon excited trumpeting filled the air. Even little Naipoki joined in, making short rushes but returning to the Keepers for protection! Following all the fun the orphans settled down to browse.

09 June 2011

Although the day started out cold, it soon warmed up, and by the time of the mudbath, all enjoyed a lengthy wallow to entertain the guests. Naipoki had her own small mudbath on the side to avoid being knocked over in the melee. Kainuk is beginning to be another handful. At the mudbath, she didn’t want her bottles of milk, but instead wanted those of the others, and ended up pushing Turkwel into the pool. She then settled down, but it was a puzzle to understand her behaviour today!

10 June 2011

At dawn, when the orphan head out of the stockades for the day, Shukuru continues to meet little Naipoki at the entrance to her stable, and take her to the others, irrespective of whether Mutara is there or not. Later she does her best to entice Naipoki away from the other older females, picking up grass and handing it to the baby, teaching her gently how to wrestle and lying on the ground so that Naipoki can climb over her. Again Kainuk caused a problem at the mudbath, wanting the milk share of all the others rather than her own, and charging around.

11 June 2011

A shower of rain during the night left the orphans in a jovial morning mood. As they were led out by Mutara & Kalama, Mutara passed by Maxwell’s enclosure and patted him on the head with her trunk. Maxwell loved this, and instantly began happily running around playfully. Ishanga found a puddle in which she began wallowing until she noticed a warthog passing by, which prompted her to get up rapidly and charge the intruder, her ears outspread and trumpeting. Makireti then joined in the chase. Having made sure that the intruder had been dispatched, both then rejoined the others who were also wallowing in the mud puddles.

12 June 2011

On a cool wet morning, the orphans enjoyed playing around the Compound, Chemi Chemi challenging Turkwel to a Pushing Match. Turkwel ran off with Chemi Chemi in pursuit until he slipped and fell, screaming. Turkwel immediately turned round and came to his rescue, helping him to his feet. After this he concentrated on browsing, fearful of another fall.

13 June 2011

As the orphans browsed calmly out in the bush, Makireti and Ishanga had a disagreement, Makireti charged Ishanga and head-butted her sharply several times, even after she surrendered, Makireti expelled her about 20 yards from the rest of the herd. Thereafter Makireti kept a close eye on Ishanga, and refused to allow her back for the next 2 hours until the next milk feed appeared!

14 June 2011

Kainuk has begun to behave in a puzzling manner, especially at the mudbath, when she refuses her milk and begins to push her best friend, Turkwel, as though wanting Turkwel’s share instead. Hence the Keepers have a difficult time getting Kainuk to take her quota with a lot of pushing and shoving from her. Today she started bellowing during this process, which made Turkwel abandon her bottle and go to investigate the problem and this seemed to solve the problem because Kainuk then immediately downed her milk.

15 June 2011

At around 2.30 p.m. Kainuk and Sities stopped browsing and confronted one another to sort out some problem. Kainuk, who is stronger than Sities, usually is the victor, but today Sities stood her ground, and under the close supervision of the Keepers, pushed one another backwards and forwards until a truce emerged, and the two began browsing again. At the 3 p.m. feed Kalama and Naipoki enjoyed playing soccer, with Naipoki chasing after the ball, but often missing a kick and falling down. Nevertheless, both enjoyed the game!

16 June 2011

As soon as the orphans reached the browsing area, they all took to bush-flattening games. Even Naipoki, Sities and Kainuk were very interested and active in the game, closely monitored by Mutara, who was paying special attention to little Naipoki.

17 June 2011

Trouble-making Ishanga was at it again today, screaming for her milk, which attracts the attention of the visitors who all begin to laugh! In the middle of the night a car belonging to the Security Company passed at high speed in front of the Stockades which upset Shukuru, Sities and Tano, who are in the nearest stables. The Keepers had to calm them down, so that they would settle for the rest of the night.

18 June 2011

Before leaving her Stockade, Solio began playing by jumping up and down and running around to attract the attention of Maxwell, who paid no attention. As soon as she was let out, she ran off as though heading for the bush, but then turned round and returned to Max, who was sleeping near his Gate. Solio banged the Gate with her horn, which startled Max who jumped to his feet, ready to retaliate aggressively. However as soon as he smelt Solio, aggression turned to play. They played for about half an hour, and were reluctant to part because Solio has replaced Shida in Max’s affections.

19 June 2011

Just before mudbath we received a message from the mobile Vet team that a young elephant calf had been spotted by tourists on its own in the Mara. Having received confirmation that the calf had been successfully captured, the rescue team left by air for the Mara at 1 p.m. The calf looked in a stable condition, although dehydrated. It was a 2 – 3 year old bull with tusks about 2 – 3 inches in length, and he arrived at the Nursery at about 5.30 p.m. Having been carried into the Taming Stockade, his legs were unbound. His dung was infested with worms. He took some rehydration from a bucket, but was still wild, kicking out with his hind leg, trying to climb out and under the Stockade bars and charging the Keepers. The other orphans were brought back early to take their milk beside his Stockade, so that he could follow their example, and calm down.

20 June 2011

This morning there was a lioness in the Car Parking area, hunting the warthogs who sleep in the Hay Store. Luckily, they managed to escape. Whenever there is a newcomer in the Nursery, Mutara immediately goes to greet it, and today was no different – she went straight to the new arrival’s Stockade and spent a long time there communicating with him. The new orphan, who has since been named “Ololoo” after the escarpment in the Mara close to where he was found, had a good night and has calmed down considerably. Seeing Mutara in the morning made him much calmer, and now the Keepers are able to handle him, and he is taking milk from a bottle.

21 June 2011

The new orphan has settled down very well, and is a very gentle and friendly little elephant. Tomorrow he will be de-wormed, after which he will be allowed to join the other Nursery elephants out in the bush. Once out browsing, Kainuk spotted a family of warthogs and ran back to alert the others. Mutara and Turkwel immediately responded, chasing the warthogs away. When the youngsters return for the night, they all pause by his Stockade, Mutara patting him on the head with her trunk, and giving him a trunk kiss to reassure him. Chemi Chemi will be happy to have a Pushing Mate, no longer the only boy in the Nursery!

22 June 2011

Due to Ishanga’s bad behaviour, Makireti has become intolerant of her. At the 9 a.m. feed, as Makireti was taking her milk, Ishanga head-butted her from behind, making Makireti bellow and the bottle drop. After finishing her milk, Makireti went after Ishanga, who stood her ground, and got head-butted twice before the Keepers intervened. Sities and Shukuru enjoyed a rolling game which attracted Naipoki, who climbed onto Shukuru’s tummy. Sities stood close to ensure the baby didn’t fall off and hurt herself.

23 June 2011

Today Ololoo joined the other Nursery elephants for the first time, warmly welcomed by Makireti who fondled him with her trunk and gave him a trunk kiss. Soon all the others were all over him. Amazingly, Ishanga showed a lot of affection for Ololoo, leading him out into the forest, and remaining close to him as he explored his new browsing area. Chemi Chemi made sure he remained away, obviously daunted by the newcomer’s tusks, as were the others whenever he pushed them away. After the lunch break, Ololoo decided to take a nap behind a bush, and Ishanga stood beside him and even climbing over him. It is the first time we have seen Ishanga so happy.

24 June 2011

This was the second day’s outing for Ololoo, who, for the first time was at the noon mudbath surrounded by all the visitors. While Kalama entertained the visitors, Ishanga stood very close to Ololoo. In the evening, he was put in the Stockade next to that of Ishanga, which made them both very happy.

25 June 2011

The Keepers picked soft grass to feed Ololoo, who is very skinny. Kalama and Mutara give him plenty of reassurance and loving, and Ishanga is never far from him, but he likes to be slightly apart from all the others, which is normal during an orphan’s grieving for his lost mother and family.

26 June 2011

It is difficult to persuade Ololoo to return to his Night Stockade in the evenings. He has to be enticed with milk, Ishanga always at his side. She is very fond of him.

27 June 2011

As the bigger elephants were approaching the mudbath and the smaller ones about to leave, Ololoo appeared from behind a bush and scared them all, making it difficult for the Keepers to control them. Mutara and Kalama were trumpeting and running around, in amongst the entire Nursery herd, Naipoki keeping close to Mutara. The guests were highly entertained, and got some good elephant shots.

28 June 2011

Ololoo is settling down well, sucking the Keepers’ fingers and spending time rumbling to Ishanga next door before sleeping each night. However, whenever a plane passes overhead, he becomes very scared, obviously remembering his aerial rescue journey.

29 June 2011

Ololoo prefers to browse apart from the others, but Ishanga monitors him closely. When bringing the orphans to the noon mudbath, the Keepers have to walk ahead, because Ololoo does not like anyone behind him, anxious that he will be getting another injection.

30 June 2011

At about 7.30 a.m., as the orphans were browsing in the forest, a fight broke out between some warthogs who were feeding nearby, scaring all the elephants, especially Ololoo who ran to Ishanga for help. Ololoo is becoming very greedy. Whenever the Mixer passes by with water so that the Keepers can wash their hands, he thinks that it is time for another feed, and pushes the Keeper with him out of the way!