Two new Nursery Elephants this month – tiny 3 week old “Lorian” from the Rumuruti Forest, who was flown in on the 25th (either a poaching or “problem animal control” victim) who tried to attach himself to a terrified African child. The faster the child ran trying to escape, the faster the baby elephant also ran in an attempt to catch up, until the child’s screaming attracted the villagers who in turn alerted a KWS patrol in the area! After some initial stomach problem becoming accustomed to the artificial milk formula, this baby is, so far, thriving.
On the same day another rescue was also in progress, this time from the Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy in the far North. This rescue was more problematical since it entailed weaving a route through difficult scrub terrain and getting stuck in a lugga there being no access roadsto the remote “manyatta” who had reported the presence of a lone elephant calf. By the time the elephant had been located it was too late for an aerial rescue that day, so the calf – a young yearling bull, already more dead than alive, who was being trailed by hyaenas bent on making a meal of him in his weakened condition, had to spend the night at Sarara Lodge and flown to the Nursery the next morning, already on life support for the journey back. Being too weak to even lift his head in order to suckle, the Keepers had to hold it up for him. He survived just one day before collapsing again, and dying. He had been named “Ndondo”, and while we thought “Orwa” was in bad shape upon arrival, “Ndondo” was even worse, far too far gone for us to be able to retrieve, so another little grave in the Park forest joins the many others who have also not made it.
It has been such a relief to have Kithaka, Barsilinga and Balguda now thriving again, after their teething problems, although little Barsilinga was still in the process of cutting his last baby molars and during the month had “off” days. He and Kithaka, although good friends, are very competitive over the hung blanket during milk feeds. Kithaka is now gaining weight again, and even up to trying to play football, although he butts the ball with his head instead of kicking it, which delights the mudbath audience!
This month Turkwel somehow sprained her foot out in the forest, and had to spend a couple of days keeping Murera company near the Stockades since she was too lame to be able to accompany the others as usual. This was the first time that Kainuk had ever been apart from Turkwel, whom she adores, but amazingly she seemed to understand the necessity and did not search for Turkwel, which surprised the Keepers.
While Murera’s partially paralysed right back leg is showing marked improvement, she developed another abscess, this time on the good leg just above the foot. As we were contemplating possibly having to immobilize her in order to deal with this latest set-back, since she was intolerant of anyone getting near the wound, the swelling subsided, so we decided to just monitor events since Murera has suffered so much and for so long already. Thankfully, it looks as though the wound is healing well. Every morning all the other elephants make a point of spending time with Murera, especially Sonje and Ishanga who have had problems of their own and therefore empathize fully with Murera’s predicament.
According to this month’s Diary, Ishanga, Kasigau and Kilibasi, are prone to misbehaving during the Mudbath Hour. Ishanga is a tail biter and bit Turkwel’s tail, while Kasigau can’t resist giving Kanjoro a shove as he takes his milk and Kilabasi is prone to prodding Kainuk with her sharp little tusks for no good reason! Also Sities, who normally entertains the visitors, touching them gently with a muddy trunk, gave a lady who touched her ear a harder slap than usual and had to be warned by the usual tone of voice and waggling of a finger. Apparently this had the desired affect, because Sities wandered away from the cordon with her head down!
Tano obviously remembers being tossed by Ex Rhino Orphan Shida, and was extremely jumpy when Solio unexpectedly emerged from the bush on the 14th . So disturbed was Tano that the Bush Keepers had to radio their colleagues to come and remove her in case her reaction excited the other elephants, and Solio herself!
The Rhinos:- The fact that Solio has a mind of her own is again demonstrated in this month’s Diary. For two days of the month she has opted to spend more time than usual actually inside her Night Stockade, refusing to emerge as usual at 6 a.m. and warning the Keepers who come to coax her out with a threatening snort! On other occasions, she surprises her Attendants by being perfectly obedient, but she obviously enjoys giving them the slip, usually then returning to spend time interacting with Maxwell through the separating poles of the Stockade. Should these visits happen to coincide with the public viewing hour, she is locked in. Her proximity next door is always a source of immense joy for Max. who is now quite at home in his extended enclosure, paying particular attention to the sturdy fence protecting the one sizeable tree in the midst of the extension against which he sharpens his horn!