Keepers' Diaries, June 2012

Nairobi Nursery Unit

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.

01 June 2012

Kihari hates the Coconut Oiling of the orphans’ bodies, which usually happens every Friday. Today, she ran far off into the bush and managed to avoid being anointed along with the others.

02 June 2012

Sities usually entertains the mudbath visitors very gently, but today when one tried to touch her ears, she smacked the visitors face with her little trunk. The Keepers reprimanded her by the wagging of a finger, and she understood that she had misbehaved inappropriately, and walked away to join Kihari with her head down.

03 June 2012

Orwa began to get fond of Sonje until she began to push him around. Now her prefers to remain close to the Keepers, and avoid the mudbath if the others are romping around in it. However, today the elephants decided against the mudbath since it was cool, so Orwa went in, and had a lovely time, while the others just walked along the line of visitors.

04 June 2012

Previously, it has been Kilibasi who has been very fond of Balguda, but today Tano wanted to have him to herself, pushing Kilibasi away when she came close. At the mudbath Tano remained next to Balguda, and would not leave his side. In the evening, when the orphans returned for the night, Tano wanted to go into Balguda’s stable, so the Keepers had to attract her back to her own with her share of the milk.

05 June 2012

Just like human children, it can sometimes become problematical controlling the babies. Lately Kasigau, Kilabasi and Ishanga are the problem children. Today, Kasigau came in after the others for his noon milk, and went behind Kanjoro and pushed him making him almost fall onto the Keeper who was feeding him. Meanwhile Kilibasi poked Kainuk with her tusk as she passed by, and at the same time Ishanga grabbed Turkwel’s tail and bit it! All three incidents happened at the same time, so the Keepers did not know who to help first!

06 June 2012

A light drizzle prompted the Keepers to return the little boys, (i.e. Balguda, Barsilinga and Kithaka) to their stables to avoid them getting chilled. Balguda tried to climb over his stable door, bellowing to be allowed out. When the Keepers let all three out again, Balguda continued bellowing, which was heard by Kilibasi deep in the forest. She began running up and down searching for Balguda and then ran to collect the babies at the Stockade. She was so excited and relieved to retrieve them and escort all three out again into the forest to join the others.

07 June 2012

Although Solio’s Stockade door was opened up for her at 6 a.m., she decided to remain inside until 8.30 a.m. when she emerged to join her Keepers. Today, she was very obedient to her Attendants, and didn’t sneak away from them, instead spending the entire day with them, and coming for a mudbath at 2 p.m.

08 June 2012

Babies Kithaka and Barsilinga had a disagreement over the hanging blanket during their noon milk feed, Kithaka jealous of Barsilinga taking his milk at the blanket Kithaka feels should be exclusively for him! Another blanket was hung up, but Kithaka always wanted the one being used by Barsilinga! Kithaka kept pushing Barsilinga until Barsilinga retaliated, and emerged victorious despite being so much younger!

09 June 2012

Today, Kainuk had to spend the day without Turkwel by her side, which is the first time ever. Turkwel had sprained a foot the day before, and this morning was too lame to accompany the others out to browse, but amazingly Kainuk understood, and did not complain, or go in search of Turkwel. Turkwel spent the day with Murera who still has to drag her partially paralyzed back leg and consequently does not go far from the Stockades.

10 June 2012

There has been a great improvement in the condition of little Barsilinga, who normally remains close to the Keepers. Today Naipoki came to collect him, and he pushed her away. Naipoki, not respected his age, pushed him back and it turned into a wrestling match in which the Keepers had to intervene. Orwa, who is a very gentle elephant came to help Barsilinga. As the orphans were coming for their noon milk feed and the open mudbath hour, Barsilinga wanted to lead the three small orphans, refusing to be overtaken.

11 June 2012

Turkwel’s injured leg has improved sufficiently for her to be able to come to the Open Mudbath hour today. She spent the day browsing close to the three little ones, of whom she is very caring. She allowed Kithaka and Balguda to suck her ears, while Barsilinga remained beneath her neck with her trunk laid lovingly across his back. Naipoki rolled in the long grass next to her, hoping to attract the babies.

12 June 2012

The mornings now are usually chilly, but temperatures rise by noon. Today all the larger elephants enjoyed their mudbath while the three babies had a dusting session instead. Today, unusually, Solio decided to remain in her Stockade, feeding on a hand-out of Lucerne. She only came out to take water, and then went back in, which made Maxwell extremely happy, because he could be close to her all day long.

13 June 2012

The morning passed uneventfully. However, as the Keepers were settling down to enjoy their lunch out in the bush, a warthog family with small piglets turned up, and this prompted enormous excitement amongst all the elephants, who rushed around trumpeting and downing small bushes as they dispersed the warthog family. Eventually, Turkwel responded and calmed the others down.

14 June 2012

As the elephants were browsing out in the forest, they heard a large animal approaching. All ran to their Keepers, and out of the bush emerged Solio, who had given her Attendants the slip again. The elephants were very scared, especially Tano, who recalled being tossed by Shida. Other Keepers were summoned from the Stockades to remove Tano, who was extremely nervous, since Solio wanted to remain near them. Once the other Keepers arrived, Tano was happy to go with them, even though she wanted to be with her elephant peers. However, instead, she followed them happily just to put distance between herself and the rhino, due to the sinister connotations that remain with her about the Shida incident.

15 June 2012

There was a huge mudbath crowd of visitors today, who were enjoying watching the orphans wallow until two giraffe turned up on the nearby rocks to take the mineral salts put out for the wildlife. All the elephants instantly vacated the mudbath and stood with ears out watching the giraffe. Once the giraffe wandered off, they resumed their mudbath, so the visitors had a wonderful day.

16 June 2012

Little Barsilinga is still teething. Today he was not his usual self, and instead of remaining near Naipoki and Sities, he was glued to the Keepers, and appeared dull. This was a concern because the teething process can cause life threatening problems such as diarrheoa and fevers. All the elephants, and the Keepers, focused their attention upon him, to cheer him up.

17 June 2012

As soon as the orphans emerge from their Night Stables each morning, having greeted one another, Ishanga and Sonje run to Murera and remain with her until the 9 a.m. milk feed. Murera’s injured leg is showing marked improvement, and she can now put a little weight on the partially paralyzed leg. She is so much happier, glad to be able to spend time with the other orphans and walking with them for a short distance as they head out to browse. Sonje understands the pain that Murera has had to endure, since she also obviously once also had a serious leg injury, which had already healed by the time she was rescued, leaving her with a large, hard lump on one back leg.

18 June 2012

Once again, Solio decided to remain within her Stockade rather than come out. When the Keepers went in to encourage her out, she warned them off with a loud snort, and since rhinos have very strong instincts, the Keepers respected that warning and left her to it. Later she did emerge, but returned again just before 9 a.m. to engaged Maxwell in a play sparring match between the separating poles of their respective enclosures. At 11 a.m. she appeared on the rocks near the mudbath to introduce herself to the visiting public, who were very excited by her presence. She then returned to her Stockade, so the Keepers locked her in so that the public could come and see her at close quarters, and give her a scratch. Max was delighted to have her next door again!

19 June 2012

Now that Orwa is becoming stronger, he enjoys challenging the smaller girls such as Naipoki, Ishaq-B and Kihari to show dominance, but has a difficult time because the small girls usually team up to defeat him.

20 June 2012

Murera, who has endured so much pain already developed an abscess on the right side of her good foot which burst today, exuding some pus. The Keepers managed to spray it with saline in an attempt to clean the wound, although Murera would not allow anyone to get too near it. Since the abscess burst, the swelling of the leg has subsided, so it was decided to monitor rather than risking immobilizing Murera in order to intervene further. Whilst returning in the late afternoon the orphans were scared by two giraffes who were browsing near the Stockades. Kanjoro and Ishanga ran into Makireti’s stockade seeking her protection, and had to be calmed down by the Keepers.

21 June 2012

Murera’s boil looks a lot better today, and she is able to exert more weight on that foot. We have been able to put Green Clay on the foot when she lies down to sleep at night, because she does not tolerate anyone near it whilst standing, and being a big Elephant, cannot easily be restrained. Interaction between Mutara and Kasigau during the Visiting Hour was interrupted by the appearance of two giraffe on the nearby rocks. This diverted attention from the orphans.

22 June 2012

After the 9 a.m. milk feed, it was Coconut Oiling today. The small elephants such as Kithaka, Barsilinga and Balguda were anointed separately to the bigger orphans, who become a bit too exuberate during the soil dusting that always follows oiling. During this process Kanjoro and Orwa engaged one another in a pushing match, which attracted Kasigau, who, because of his longer tusks, proved a deterrent to the smaller boys! All enjoyed the mudbath today, little Balguda splashed by Tano, Sities and Kihari a process he greatly enjoyed while Kithaka and Barsilinga were dusted by the Keepers. Meanwhile, Murera had her own mudbath prepared by the Keepers after her oiling, and the abscess on her foot is showing signs of healing daily.

23 June 2012

At the mudbath little Kithaka and Barsilinga enjoyed rolling in the loose soil. Kithaka likes pushing anyone who bends down in front of him, and is also proving a good soccer player, although instead of kicking the ball, he head butts it instead, something that delights the audience!

24 June 2012

Upon exiting her Stockade, Solio again gave the Keepers the slip, only to reappear later back in the Stockade, where she enjoyed playing with Maxwell until the visiting hour of 11 a.m. She was then locked in, in order not to disrupt the Open Visiting Hour when the public come. She was allowed out after all the visitors had left.

25 June 2012

This morning, following a Rescue alert from Rumurti in Laikipia, where a very small elephant had followed a small boy, scaring him. The Keepers headed to Wilson to board the Rescue plane, armed with all the necessary paraphernalia. The baby was about 3 weeks old, and a male, in good shape. He was back at the Nursery by 2 p.m., too young to know the meaning of fear, in good condition and eager for his milk. He has been named Lorian.

26 June 2012

Baby Lorian has been very warmly welcomed by all the Big Girls, Mutara, the Leader of the family, Makireti, Shukuru, Tano, Turkwel and Kilabasi. The younger females such as Sities, Kihari, Kainuk and Naipoki were also eager for the attention of the baby but respect the right of their elders. Another new orphan arrived in the Nursery just before noon, this time from Namunyak Conservancy in the North, completely emaciated and on life support before even being airlifted to Nairobi. The drip continued until he revived at 4 p.m. and could be lifted to his feet for a milk feed, but was too weak to lift his head up in order to suckle, so the Keepers had to do this for him. Ishaq-B’s Stable had to be partitioned to accommodate him, and when the orphans arrived back in the evening, Ishaq-B was very interested in the new arrival, touching him with her trunk to reassure him. He has been named “Ndondo”, the name of a small seepage near a hill at Namunyak where he was found.

27 June 2012

After spending the first night in the Nursery, little Ndondo appeared much sronger and took his milk feeds well, remaining close to Murera being too weak to join the other elephants. Little Lorian is responding well to the Keepers, the centre of interest for all the Big Girls.

28 June 2012

Ndondo collapsed again and was put back on life supporting drip infusion, but died a few hours later, surrounded by his grieving Keepers, who had struggled so hard to save his life. Sadly, he arrived too far gone to be able to retrieve but at least he had a comfortable end.

29 June 2012

Being a Friday, it was Coconut oiling day again. Kilabasi, Sonje and Kihari tried to escape the oiling by running away, but were rounded up by the Keepers, who suspected that they would try to do this. Little Lorian had his first oiling today, excitedly scampering around the Keepers attempting to scratch his body against their legs. The Keepers gave him, Kithaka and Barsilinga a soil dusting, which they all enjoyed. At the Open Public Viewing hour, between 11 a.m. and 12 noon, little Barsilinga and Kithaka, being the smallest, are the centre of attention.

30 June 2012

As soon as the stables were opened up this morning, Makireti and Shukuru ran to little Lorian’s stable, vying with each other to be first to embrace him the moment he emerged. Lorian settled the dispute by choosing Makireti, suckling her ears, so Shukuru went to Barsilinga’s stable instead and escorted him out to join the others. Ishanga again misbehaved during the mudbath hour, head butting Kilabasi as she was finishing her last bottle which annoyed Kilabasi. The Keepers intervened, disciplining Ishanga by sending her off to spend time out away from the others. After a while she was welcomed back, and thereafter behaved well.