Keepers' Diaries, June 2015

Nairobi Nursery Unit

In the Keepers daily entries you can read details about all the individuals in our care. Here are some stand out details from this month summarised.

01 June 2015

It was 6:30 am when the older orphans made their way out to the park this morning, leaving a little later than normal due to some bad weather. It was chilly and misty as they headed out and for this reason Ngilai, Ndotto, Lasayen and Murit were kept back longer before joining their friends in the field. Alamaya is a polite and quiet elephant and gets on well with all the orphans. Her wound has been troublesome with the scar tissue causing a blockage for her when urinating. Mwashoti on the other hand seems to have a few problems with the older orphans and we think that this is because he was used to being with the keepers in the company of Ndotto, Ngilai and Lasayen. This afternoon Dupotto and Roi were busy playing together when Embu came out of the bushes, where she had been browsing, and decided to check on Dupotto. Mwashoti came forward with his ears spread wanting to charge at her and she was quick to retaliate, ready to push him if need be. The keepers intervened and prevented her from pushing Mwashoti who is still recovering from his snare wound .

02 June 2015

It has been an awful day today for the nursery babies as well as the ostrich chicks. It has been pouring since last night and as such the babies remained behind in the stockades as the older orphans headed out to the bush where they stayed huddled close together under some tall trees. Once it had stopped raining Ngilai, Lasayen, and Ndotto together with Pea and Pd left the stockades and made their way out to the bush. Ndotto decided to engage Lasayen in a wrestling game while Ngilai, Pea and Pod played a chasing game, all of which was being watched by three lionesses who were hiding in the bushes. As the games progressed one of the lionesses jumped out. The keepers saw this and sensing the danger took the group back to the safety of the stockades where they remained for the rest of the day.

03 June 2015

Kauro and Sokotei seem to have taken on some of Kithaka and Lemoyian’s bad habits and characteristics. The two play wresting games all day long and are always trying to mount their female peers. As the older boys were recently moved to Ithumba the younger ones have become naughtier and more boisterous which can at times be a disturbance to the rest of the group. Newcomer Elkerama is still wild and can be aggressive with the keepers so we have devised a way to feed him through tree branches so that the keepers have a separation between them and Elkerama should he decide to become pushy when getting his milk. Ndotto was in a very playful mood today and was full of energy as he chased the warthogs around the stockades as well as out in the bush.

04 June 2015

As soon as the orphans leave their stockades in the morning Kamok and Mbegu make their way to the young babies to spend some time with them. Kamok likes to stay by Ngilai who enjoys suckling Kamok’s ears, whist Mbegu stays close to Ndotto and Lasayen and lays on the ground so that the babies can clamber over her. She is a favourite of the younger boys due to her calm, caring and protective nature. Alamaya and Mwashoti are both showing marked signs of improvement and their wounds are healing very well.

05 June 2015

Kauro has become a bit of a bully towards his younger peers especially just before and during the milk feeding times. He has been bullying Boromoko, Mbegu, Dupotto and Alamaya and even throws his weight around with Sokotei who will have none of his antics and lets him know that. Today during the public visiting hour he downed his milk bottle and decided to head butt Boromoko who was still enjoying his milk feed. The keepers had to reprimand Kauro and send him off to the bushes abutting the mudwallow until the milk feeding was over. He tried to sneak back to the group but was prevented from doing so by Oltiayoni who has become the bossy one in the group. Kauro went of crying a sign that he had accepted his punishment and as such was allowed to rejoin his friends. Sadly today Ura was euthanized following confirmation from several vets that his broken hind leg would never heal properly due to the severity of his break.

06 June 2015

It was a wet morning as the orphans made their way to the browsing fields where Alamaya, Mwashoti, Suswa, Mashariki, Sirimon and Siangiki all decided to have a mudbath in the rain pools. Mwashoti and Alamaya made sure to pick a spot at a short distance from the rest so as not to be pushed or bumped by them which with their injuries could cause them some pain. During the public visiting hour the orphans were very subdued and quiet as it was a cold and miserable day. Dupotto and Enkikwe did spend a few minutes chasing Pea and Pod enjoying a game with them which all the visitors were happy to witness.

07 June 2015

Kamok seems to always have a lovely time with the visitors at the 11am public visiting hour. After downing her milk bottle she heads straight to the rope cordon walking along it and leaning towards the visitors who are more than happy to touch and rub her which she loves, leaning in closer and sometimes pushing them as she does so. She is always the most playful orphan at the visiting hour and loves to give the visitors a show to ensure that they have enjoyed themselves and the time with the orphans.

08 June 2015

The orphans had a peaceful morning spent browsing on the fresh green shoots following all the recent rains. Rorogoi, Arruba and Embu took the lead showing the rest of the group where to go to get the best vegetation. Although out in the bush with the rest of the orphans Elkerama is yet to come down to the mudbath during the public visiting hour as he is still a little nervous around strangers. He is also quite greedy and stays close to the keepers in order to try and get his milk first and sometimes after finishing his milk he charges the keeper who was feeding him to try and get more.

09 June 2015

Today the orphans accompanied by Pea and Pod walked further out into the park than normal as the two ostriches have started the rehabilitation process and tend to want to go further away from the stockades in search of wild ostriches that they can interact with, taking the orphans with them on their jaunts. Once out in the plains today, the orphans together with Pea and Pod all seemed to be a bit lost and unsure of which direction to take. As they were unsure of the wide open space and where they were they stuck close to the keepers. Kamok, Mbegu, Siangiki, Roi, Enkikwe, Sirimon and Kauro kept trying to scare the rest of the group in an effort to get them back to familiar territory. Exposure to the lovely grass was good for the elephants, but they were definitely not entirely comfortable in this new environment. Pea and Pod were enjoying themselves and took off in all directions.

10 June 2015

The process of rehabilitating Pea and Pod back to the wild is one that involves the older orphans who always escort the two ostriches. Today at around 10am the two chicks separated themselves from the elephants and walked further a field as they fed on weeds and insects that they found in the long grass. Sadly they did not encounter any wild ostriches and returned to the orphan herd. At around 2pm the orphans once again escorted Pea and Pod to the plains to try and locate wild ostriches. Kamok who is not fond of the area broke away from the group and ran back towards the stockades trumpeting and rumbling loudly before finding and Joining Ndotto, Lasayen, Ngilai, Mwashoti and Alamaya who do not venture so far into the park. Her actions left the rest of the group unsettled and it was not long before they also ran back trumpeting and bush bashing as they went. After joining the babies, Suswa, Arruba, Embu, Rorogoi and Oltaiyoni were still a little unsettled and charged around before enjoying a wallowing session in a mudpool that they found nearby.

11 June 2015

Once the orphans had settled out in the bush this morning Boromoko decided to chase Dupotto and try to mount her. She was having none of it and ran into the thickets to try and deter him. Boromoko caught up to Dupotto and grabbed her tail making her cry out which got the attention of Oltaiyoni and Embu who came to see what was going on. Boromoko quickly dropped Dupotto’s tail and ran off leaving Dupotto in Embu’s care. At around 10 am as the older orphans were browsing in the plains Pea and Pod walked off further into the park and would not listen to the keepers who tried to call them back, choosing instead to run off which made the keepers run after them. It took the keepers about an hour and a half to capture the two and bring them to their stable where they appeared a little unsettled due to the chase but it was not long before they were back to their normal selves.

12 June 2015

After the orphans had finished their 9am milk bottle all were all given a coconut oil rub which most of them seem to like although Rorogoi, Siangiki, Enkikwe and Elkerama were not interested in having a coconut oil bath and tried to run away to avoid getting one. They then enjoyed a soil and dust bath with Suswa, Arruba, Mashariki, Rorogoi and Embu all of whom rolled around on the ground to try and entice Dupotto, Roi, Kauro, Sokotei, Boromoko and Sirimon to play with them. The youngsters were happy to oblige and had a lovely time bumping them as well as climbing on them and sliding off. Due to their size and health Ndotto, Lasayen, Ngilai, Mwashoti and Alamaya were given an oil bath separately from the others after which they also enjoyed a dustbath.

13 June 2015

Early this morning the orphans left the stockades and settled to browse in the fields. Mwashoti had an enjoyable time playing strength testing games with Boromoko. This activity shows that Mwashoti is healing very well and no longer has a lot of pain from his snare wound enabling him to enjoy more physical activities with his peers. Murit has not been feeling well today and a blood sample was taken and tested. The results showed that Murit had a viral infection and was treated for this accordingly. Today at 3pm while the orphans were at the private visit with some guests the keepers noticed a rhino approaching and were happy to see that it was Solio who had come to visit. She stayed on the rocks abutting the mudbath and did not come and join the orphans. She looks well and healthy which was good to see. She spent some time on the rocks watching the keepers and the orphans before disappearing back into the bushes.

14 June 2015

There was a film crew filming the orphans all day today beginning from when they exited their stockades early in the morning before heading to the bush. Kamok was very curious about the visitors and was the first to go up and greet them touching and sniffing them, something which the crew really enjoyed. Elkerama has calmed down considerably and no longer charges the keepers making it much easier for them to feed him his milk bottles. He is now accepting of the keepers who have shown him so much love and care since his arrival. He is still close to Mwashoti and Ngilai and the three are often seen together. Ngilai and Elkerama have yet to be brought down to the public visit. The keepers have noticed that Elkerama has developed a huge swelling around his chin. He is being watched closely but is feeding very well on both his milk and fresh greens and continues to be as strong as ever.

15 June 2015

It was a sunny morning as the orphans made their way out to the forest for the day. The temperatures continued to climb and by the public visiting hour it was very hot and all the orphans enjoyed a lengthy mudwallow in an effort to cool down. As the orphans were busy mud wallowing Kauro, Enkikwe and Boromoko were busy mounting Roi and Siangiki in play a game which Kauro and Boromoko absolutely loved. Oltaiyoni who is the leader and caretaker of the nursery herd tried stop to Kauro, Enkikwe and Boromoko from their climbing game by chasing them away, but the three boys were in a defiant mood and just kept making their way back to the mudwallow from a different direction. The public thoroughly enjoyed watching what was taking place.

16 June 2015

At the 11am public visit the orphans were all running in to get their milk. Roi was lagging behind the other orphans and ran faster to catch up while trumpeting very loudly which made the visitors laugh in excitement as they watched her wade through the mudbath to get to her milk bottle. After the orphans had drank their milk they all engaged in different activities. Some browsed on the cut greens while others had a mudbath. Mbegu, Roi, Boromoko and Siangiki all played a pushing game while in the mudwallow which got the attention of the visitors. Mbegu was happily splashing water with her forelegs with such force that she got it all over the visitors. She then charged out of the mudbath to chase Pea and Pod who were feeding nearby. The two ostriches were quick to run off and Mbegu returned to the mudbath area where she joined Lasayen, Ndotto and Kamok all of whom were busy walking up and down the cordon so that the visitors could touch them.

17 June 2015

Ngilai is doing well and is slowly growing stronger. He takes all his milk and the wounds on his back inflicted from falling down the well are healing. However we are keeping a close eye on him as he has yet to go through the teething process which we all know can cause problems with the babies. Alamaya’s wounds have also healed very well although she does sometimes have difficulty urinating due to the scar tissue that has formed as her injuries healed. Despite this she is doing well and is looking strong and has put on condition. We will probably have to perform a small operation on her tomorrow.

18 June 2015

The orphans settled at the browsing fields early this morning and enjoyed feeding on the green shoots that they could find that had sprouted with all the recent rain. Enkikwe seemed a little dull and was not his usual active and playful self. His tummy appeared bloated and he did not seem to have much appetite when it was time for the 9am milk feed. He was given a buscopan injection to help with the bloating and by 3pm he was feeling much better and at the private visit was seen playing a pushing game with Olsekki and Sirimon so we were able to relax.

19 June 2015

This morning Solio paid us another surprise visit and came to the rocks near the mudbath at about 7am and enjoyed the little bit of salt lick that she found there before looking for more. She then made her way to the stockades where she stopped briefly at Maxwell’s stockade, smelling his midden, before heading back to the bush. Kamok tends to not like to play with her age mates and goes off in a rant when they do try to engage her shouting and trumpeting her displeasure as she prefers to play with the orphans who are either older or younger than her. However today seemed to be the exception and she had a lovely time playing with Boromoko, choosing to do so for the majority of the day and the two were also joined from time to time by Kauro and Mbegu. Kauro, as usual, would try and mount the others something Boromoko tried to mimic with Kamok and Mbegu.

20 June 2015

Today Boromoko has been a bully to Mwashoti. Whenever the two crossed paths Boromoko would chase Mwashoti and try to mount him. In the beginning it started as more of a pushing game which due to Mawahoti’s injured leg had to be stopped by the keepers who could see how rough Boromoko was getting as he was charging and pushing Mwashoti who kept trying to run away from him. Today while Pea and Pod were out in the bush with the younger orphans a lioness who was hiding in the bushes jumped out and tried to grab one of the chicks. Thankfully there was a keeper very close by who saw the lioness just as she was about to pounce and was able to shout and scare her away sending her running by the older orphans who were browsing a few meters away. Kauro, Mbegu, Siangiki and Enkikwe all saw her as she passed by but remained calm. The keepers brought all the orphans closer to the stockades for the rest of the afternoon.

21 June 2015

Today Elkerama was brought down to the 11am public visit for the first time. Due to the large amount of visitors the keepers made sure to keep a close eye on him standing close to him to ensure that he knew he was safe and to prevent him charging the crowd should he become uncomfortable. He behaved very well and seemed very happy to be able to be part of the public visit with the rest of the orphans. It was as if he had been well forewarned. Mbegu wanted to show her love, guidance and protection of Ndotto and Lasayen by running to Ndotto when he cried out due to Boromoko’s exuberance during soil dusting games bumping the younger ones. She charged at Boromoko pushing him away but he only pushed her back. Thankfully Oltaiyoni had also come to see what had happened and helped Mbegu discipline Boromoko by separating him away from the babies.

22 June 2015

Enkikwe was in a bad mood today and went around head butting most of the younger orphans whenever they came near him. He has been most aggressive to Kamok, Kauro, Roi and Mbegu and has been pushing them around the entire day. At the noon mudbath Mbegu led the rest of the orphans to the mudwallow where she was the first to enter and start bathing while the rest watched for a while before Suswa, Arruba, Mashariki and Embu joined her. Elkerama kept his distance for a while before also deciding to join the others for a mudbath. Soon after he got in Embu decided to mount him which made him exit the mudbath. At the 3pm private visit he pushed Kamok sandwiching her between him and a bench. Kamok cried out and the keepers came to her rescue moving Enkikwe away so that she could get free. Enkikwe then went and pushed Kauro knocking him to the ground and continuing to head butt him as he tied to get up. The keepers once again had to come to the rescue and chased Enkikwe away from the group, keeping him separated from the rest, until the end of the visit.

23 June 2015

It was chilly as the orphans headed out to the park this morning. Ndotto and Lasayen had fun chasing the warthogs around and after sending the piglets running into the bushes they then had a dustbath enjoying rolling around in the loose earth. At around 12 noon we received a phone call from a flower farmer in Rumuruti about an orphaned elephant calf that had been spotted by his wife. The orphan had been seen with a snare around his leg and we immediately sent a rescue team all of us hoping that the wound was not as bad as Mwashoti’s. After an hour’s flight the team landed and was drive to where the calf had last been seen. After a few minutes they were able to locate the calf and capture him. Aside from the snare wound the calf also had a horrendous spear wound in the skull. The snare was removed and some first aid treatment administered before the calf was loaded and flown back to Nairobi, arriving at the nursery at little after 6pm. Before the restraints were removed the snare wound and spear wound in the head were both cleaned and dressed The calf is understandably very aggressive and charged the keepers before settling on enjoying some fresh cut greens. He is about 18 months old and is quite thin. When the orphans returned to the stockades in the evening there was some confusion as some of the orphans had been moved around. Arruba, Mashariki, Rorogoi and Suswa were all moved into the bigger stockades vacated by Kithaka, Barsilinga, Balguda and Lemoiyan and it was exceptionally difficult to get Rorogoi and Suswa to go to their new quarters.

24 June 2015

Following yesterdays stockade change which caused some confusion the orphans once again settled as they exited their quarters in the morning. The new orphan that arrived yesterday has been named Simotua. He had a good night, taking milk from a bucket and feeding on the greens that were placed in his stockade. The females of the Nursery group all went to greet him before they headed out to the bush for the day. Mashariki, Oltaiyoni, Arruba, Suswa, and Roi were all pushing one another to get as close as they could to the new comer so as to be able to stretch out the trunks and get as close to him as possible. However Simotua was still very wary and stood towards the back of the stockade not wanting to get to close to the orphan herd. Elkerama is still not very comfortable when with the older orphans and tends to separate himself walking into the thickets making it difficult for the keepers to find him and keep him with the rest of the group. Embu’s dislike of Elkerama does not help the situation as she always seems to bully him. Rorogoi and Suswa are still not very happy about their new quarters and it took some persuasion by the keepers to get them into their stockades this evening. Elephants are such creatures of habit and they never like change.

25 June 2015

Simotua has started to calm down slightly and is now accepting milk from the bottle given to him through the stockade bars as he is still too wild for the keepers to be in the stockade with him. At 3pm Mwashoti and Ngilai returned to the stockades whilst the rest of the orphans were taken to the 3pm private visit. Simotua was very happy to have the two orphans around as company and interacted with them smelling and touching them in greeting as he got to know them. Mwashoti then tried to go to his stockade but as it was still very early the keepers prevented him from doing so by leading the two back to the bush where they rejoined the rest of the group. Kamok has taken a real liking to Ngilai and often steals Ngilai away from the rest of the group hiding with him in the bushes so that she can play with him and have him all to herself. This afternoon was no exception and no sooner had Ngilai and Mwashoti rejoined the orphan herd when Kamok stole Ngilai away. After an hour’s search the keepers found the two hiding in a thicket with a small opening where Kamok and Ngilai were enjoying a dustbath. The two were returned to the group who then made their way back to the stockades.

26 June 2015

The orphans left the stockades in a jovial mood this morning and had a coconut oil rub before heading to the bush to spend some time browsing in the fields before the 11am visit. Olsekki and Siangiki did not seem happy to have an oil rub and kept running away from the keepers. The keepers eventually managed to corner them and they got a good oiling. Suswa, Mashariki and Embu took the lead at the mudbath, splashing and rolling around. Lasayen, Ndotto and Alamaya all enjoyed a dustbath. Due to the oil the red earth stuck to their skin making them appear redder than normal. This afternoon, following a call from the Olare Orok Conservancy last night, a rescue team was sent out to bring back a young orphan that had been captured yesterday but had managed to jump out of the tractor trailer where he was restrained for the night and had to be found before the rescue team could be sent. The team arrived at the airstrip at about 3 and managed to recapture the calf. The rescue team arrived back at the Nursery at about 7pm. The calf is estimated to be a year old. He is quite thin having been alone for a long time. He was placed in the stockade next to Roi and immediately began feeding on the greens that had been cut and put into his stockade.

27 June 2015

The new orphan that came in yesterday has been called Tusuja. Roi was diligent in communicating with him and making sure that he did not feel alone which helped him to stay calm and settled. Throughout the night the two orphans would meet at the gate separating the two stockades. Roi would reach out her trunk and touch the newcomer reassuring him and giving him lots of love and attention. In the morning all the females in the orphan herd crowded around Tusuja’s stockade with Oltaiyoni, Arruba, Mashariki and Suswa at the forefront welcoming the new baby to the group. This little calf was remarkably tame for a newcomer.

28 June 2015

Ndotto has become quite attached to the older females in the Nairobi herd. He loves Arruba and Oltaiyoni the most and will take any chance that he can get to spend time with them. He sometimes sneaks away from Lasayen and the others in his group to go and join his surrogate mothers. Ngilai seems to have become attached to Elkerama and whenever the babies are with the older orphan’s one can always find Ngilai right by Elkerama. The two often separate themselves from the rest of the group and can be found browsing together at a distance from the others. The past two days the two groups have become one as some of the keepers have had to stay at the stockades to remain with Simotua and Tusuja who are not yet ready to be out with the rest of the orphans. Ndotto and Ngilai have been the happiest about this development. Ndotto has been enjoying his time with the older girls never leaving their side while Ngilai enjoyed a dustbath in the park with Elkerama.

29 June 2015

Simotua and Tusuja continue to remain in the stockades when the other orphans head out for the day. They are both still wild and not completely trusting of the keepers. Tusuja is the calmer of the two and we are hoping that in a few days he may be able to join the orphan herd in the park. Simotua still tends to charge the stockade gate whenever anyone passes by. He is however feeding well and his wounds are slowly healing. The 9am milk feed was taken down at the visiting area today as the orphans had a special visitor. Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o came to see the orphans together with Wild Aid who are doing a film about poaching with Lupita. Mbegu and Boromoko both were very interested in Lupita interacting with her during the visit and stealing her heart. At the public visit today Sokotei and Sirimon had a falling out when Sirimon took a branch of leaves that Sokotei was feeding on. A pushing match between the two began which was broken up by Arruba and Suswa who intervened and disciplined them as the two boys were ignoring the keepers.

30 June 2015

Last night a hyena managed to get into Simotua’s stockade. When the 3am milk feed was brought by the keeper the hyena ran out of the stockade by squeezing through the stockade bars. Simotua was thankfully unharmed and unaware of what had happened as he was fast asleep and had not woken even when the predator left his stockade. At the 9am milk feed, which was taken out in the bush, Murit and Lasayen had some fun with Pea and Pod and the four played chasing games. Lasayen would chase the chicks towards Murit who would then chase them through the bushes and back towards Lasayen. When the ostriches reached an open area they ran around in a circle before lying down and scratching their necks on the ground. This exited the two boys who trumpeted loudly which brought Oltaiyoni and Sokotei charging towards the ostriches who upon seeing the bigger orphans ran towards the keepers.