Keepers' Diaries, June 2013

Nairobi Nursery Unit

At 7 p.m. during the evening of the 7th, word came from Oserian Ranch in Naivasha that a baby White Rhino had been extracted from a hole, and having been subsequently rejected by its mother, was on its way to us. The calf, a newborn female, arrived at the Nursery at 11 p.m. and having been comfortably settled into a stable, and put on intravenous life support, accepted a feed of formula milk before being wrapped warmly for the rest of the night. However, by dawn the condition of the calf had radically deteriorated – it was unable to stand unaided, and yellow fluid was exuding from both the nose and mouth. Still on life support, she was given injectible Penicillin and surrounded by hot water bottles, but sadly died within an hour. The post-mortem revealed that as a result of the fall, a rib had broken and pierced one lung and that the damage was such that there was nothing we could have done to save her.

01 June 2013

As soon as the orphans were let out this morning, they all crowded around the Gate of the latest arrival, one year old Arruba. Kihari and Sonje gave the new elephant most caring and compassion, while Quanza, Lima lima, Teleki and Laragai were more interested in the soft greens that were in Arruba’s Stockade! Kwale, who has been slightly unwell over the past weeks, is more active today.

02 June 2013

Kithaka and Lemoyian are best friends. Whoever is out first in the morning rushes to the other’s stable, holding each other’s trunk in a sign of friendship before indulging in their favourite Pushing Game, which, today was interrupted by Ishaq-B.

03 June 2013

Arruba is still refusing the milk, tasting it and then spitting it out. However, she is becoming calmer, which is a good sign and even beginning to approach the Keepers after watching the others take their milk just outside the Gate of her Stockade.

04 June 2013

Today, at last, Arruba took her first bottle of milk just before 2 p.m. which made us all extremely happy.

05 June 2013

Kihari, Naipoki and Ishaq-B all ran to Arruba’s Stockade as soon as they were let out at dawn, touching her mouth with their trunks in a token of reassurance and friendship. When the three girls left for browsing in the forest, Arruba protested and wanted to join them, but she is not yet sufficiently calm to risk being let out.

06 June 2013

Little Ajabu is still doing well, but has yet to cut her first molars, which usually promote problems. She charmed all the visitors during the mudbath hour, throwing soil over herself and rolling in it before walking along the line of the cordon so that the visitors could touch her. Ajabu loves her Keepers more than the other elephants, despite Kihari, Ishaq-B and Naipoki paying her a great deal of attention.

07 June 2013

Following the 3 p.m. milk feed, Arruba was allowed out of her Stockade to join the others, which made her, and all the orphans, extremely happy. Kihari, Ishaq-B and Naipoki all went into her Stockade the moment the Gate was opened, to escort her out to join the herd, which she did, sandwiched between the Big Girls. Naipoki was jealous of Kihari and Ishaq-B and occasionally tried to push Arruba, but the others protected the newcomer. Just before 7 p.m. there was a report from Naivasha that an orphaned baby White Rhino was on its way to the Nursery. The baby, a female, arrived at 11 p.m. and was very weak, its umbilicus still moist. The calf had apparently fallen down a hole, and having been pulled out, the White Rhino mother showed no interest in it. The calf took a bottle of milk before being put on life support.

08 June 2013

The baby white rhino was in a critical condition this morning, still on the drip but unable to stand unaided, and with mucus and blood coming from the nose. She died at l0 p.m. The body was taken to the Vet for a post-mortem examination to determine the cause of death, and it was discovered that, as a result of the fall, ribs had pierced one lung, so there had been no hope of being able to save her.

09 June 2013

Arruba has settled down very well, and is happy amongst all the other orphans, taking her cue from them. Kwale, who has been looking sad and dull, has a happier face today!

10 June 2013

As the orphans were making their way out to browse this morning, they spotted several giraffes browsing in a thicket. All the elephants stopped, and Kihari, Ishaq-B and Sonje trumpeted, which scared the giraffe and sent all the other orphans scampering away. The Keepers calmed them, and the day proceeded as usual.

11 June 2013

Tundani has befriended Kwale and Ngasha, both of whom have had a course of antibiotic medication due to signs of feeling unwell. Tundani is a very polite little boy, and a great favourite of everyone. He loved the Keepers from the start, with no sign of aggression, and will accept milk from any human, while the others insist on being fed by their Keepers.

12 June 2013

All the orphans woke up happy today, the little boys such as Kithaka, Lemoyian, Barsilinga, Ngasha and Tundani enjoying their Pushing Games. Only Kwale looked dull and bloated, so he was given an injection of Buscopan which made him feel a lot better. A blood sample was also taken from him for analysis.

13 June 2013

Ajabu’s stool has changed in consistency, so she has probably begun the teething process. She will be kept under very close surveillance over the ensuing days.

14 June 2013

Being a Friday, it was Coconut Oiling day for the orphans, which took place after their 9 a.m. milk feed, Ajabu being anointed with oil separately from the others, since boys like Kithaka, Barsilinga, Lemoyian and Ngasha like bumping into one another during the oiling process. Arruba tried to escape the oiling, but returned when she saw Big Girl Murera accepting it. During the mudbath hour only Kwale and Ajabu avoided the water, but all the others enjoyed wallowing, Kithaka and Lemoyian entertaining the onlookers with their soccer skills!

15 June 2013

As soon as the Stockade Gates are opened each morning, all the Big Girls go to check on the small elephants who occupy the stables. Naipoki, Ishaq-B, Narok, Lima lima and Laragai all went to check on Kwale, who has been unwell of late and who is still undergoing medication, his white blood cell count indicating a bacterial infection.

16 June 2013

Kwale seems much better today, although with elephants one can never be sure, because they are very fragile in infancy. In the company of Tundani Barsilinga, Lima lima and Laragai he seemed a lot happier than yesterday. The condition of baby Ajabu also seems improved today. She has been very loving towards her Keepers.

17 June 2013

On the way out to browse today, the orphans encountered a herd of buffaloes, who stood looking at the elephants while the elephants stood looking at them with outspread ears. Murera, Sonje and Kihari tried to approach the buffaloes, who did not budge, so the three Big Girls began bush-bashing. The Keepers decided to round up all the orphans and take another route!

18 June 2013

Little Ajabu’s stools are firmer today, which is good news, especially as her appetite remains good. At 2 p.m. the Orphaned Herd enjoyed a visit from Kenya’s First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta who was accompanied by the Cabinet Secretary in charge of the Environment. Both visitors were warmly welcomed by Angela Sheldrick and Head Keeper Edwin Lusichi. The First Lady enjoyed feeding Murera and Tundani their milk, after which she fostered Tundani. Tundani has won a lot of human friends due to his loving nature. She was also amazed at how small baby Ajabu was compared to the other elephants in the Nursery. She and the Cabinet Secretary enjoyed the experience enormously.

19 June 2013

Some of the older Nursery elephants, (such as Murera, Orwa, Bomani, Teleki, Quanza, Sonje, Kihari, Ishaq-B and Naipoki) now have milk every 6 hours, rather than 3 hourly as before. Only Kihari, Ishaq-B, Sonje and Naipoki escort the younger elephants to their 3 hourly milk feeds and enviously watch them as they feed! The 6 hourly feeding is in preparation for their initiation into the Rehabilitation phase of life’s journey. Murera and Sonje, whose movement has been compromised of the poaching that left them orphaned, will be transferred to a new Rehabilitation facility which will be constructed within the Trust’s concession of the Kibwezi Forest where the environment is more forgiving than that of Tsavo.

20 June 2013

Just before 9 a.m. Jasiri and Faraja engaged one another in a Strength Testing exercise, which attracted the attention of Balguda, Tundani, Kithaka and Barsilinga all of whom relish such Games. Having taken their milk, and following the lead of Jasiri and Faraja, all the smaller boys also took to Pushing one another!

21 June 2013

Lima lima and Laragai paid special attention to Ajabu, Barsilinga, Tundani and Lemoyian as soon as they were let out this morning. However, during the Visiting Hour Laragai began shaking and had a very loose stool, which worried everyone. She was given activated charcoal and an injection, and by the evening appeared normal once again. We suspect that she may have mistakenly eaten a poisonous plant. Thankfully by nightfall she appeared O.K. again.

22 June 2013

Having been slightly unwell yesterday, with a bloated belly and loose stools, Laragai is better today, with a happy face, much to the relief of everyone. At the Public visiting Hour today, Kithaka and Lemoyian put on a good performance for the visitors, engaging one another in their favourite Pushing Game along the line of the cordon, and deliberately bumping into anyone within reach during the process, which caused a great deal of mirth!

23 June 2013

This morning it was Balguda who looked slightly unwell, and was subjected to a blood test which found that his white cell count was on the high side. He put on an injectible course of Nuroclav as a precaution against pneumonia, because the weather has been very cold.

24 June 2013

Kwale seems to be picking up slowly, but at other times he appears dull and refuses a milk feed. He is on medication for a possible ulcer. Arruba, having refused milk for the first eight days in the Nursery, has turned into a greedy girl like Lima lima and Laragai, pushing any other elephant who comes close away, irrespective of size. Today she pushed Faraja as he was feeding. Immediately, he abandoned his bottle and chased Arruba around, attempting to punish her by biting her tail, which made her bellow for help. The Keepers intervened, but Arruba has to learn that the boys are not to be trifled with! She then settled next to Naipoki for protection.

25 June 2013

Balguda is much better now, his appetite and stools back to normal. Ajabu has one molar ready to erupt through the gum in one lower jaw, but is still feeding well. We pray that she will be able to come through the critical teething period successfully.

26 June 2013

It was a red letter day for blind Maxwell, who had an early morning visit from Solio which left him wildly excited, tearing around his Stockade with an erect tail before engaging Solio in their usual sparring game locking horns through the gaps between the poles of Max’s Stockade. The game ended when Maxwell did an about-turn and sprayed Solio’s face with urine, which made her abandon the game! Her departure angered Max, who demonstrated his displeasure by charging and knocking the Posts of his Stockade!

27 June 2013

At l0 a.m. today a pride of lions killed a warthog not far from the Orphans’ Stockades, which scared the Orphans who were feeding about 2 kms away. All rushed back to their Keepers for protection. Following that incident all kept close together and near their Keepers and were nervous for the remainder of the day.

28 June 2013

Our two albino elephants, Faraja and Jasiri, are very competitive, Faraja wanting to try and dominate Jasiri, (having been first to arrive at the Nursery) even though Jasiri is older. After the mudbath today Faraja again challenged Jasiri and found himself the loser, after which he vented his frustration on little Lemoyian, knocking him down, which brought a strong reprimand from the Keepers.

29 June 2013

Little Ajabu continues to do well, and is still without teeth, although the gum on one side is swollen. She is firmly attached to her Keepers, although Naipoki and Narok have been doing their utmost to gain possession of her. However, Ajabu remains obsessed with her human family.

30 June 2013

Balguda is back to his normal self after his course of injectable Nuroclav but 5 days of evening injections have left him somewhat reluctant to return to his Night Stable in the evenings. He, Ngasha and Tundani had fun chasing the warthogs after their 3 p.m. feed today.