Keepers' Diaries, June 2016

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

In the absence of Olsekki and Enkikwe, who were moved to our Ithumba Relocation Unit last month, Sokotei, Boromoko, Tusuja and Sirimon have filled their ‘naughty boy’ place wholeheartedly with boisterous, bullish behaviour. The young bulls wasted no time at the beginning of the month indulging in back and forth tussles over some tasty tubers – something that has continued throughout the month. Kauro and Dupotto are prone to charging games and bush bashing early in the mornings as they celebrate the new day, although it seems that the friendship of Boromoko and Kauro could be waning since Boromoko is becoming more assertive these days.

In the absence of Olsekki and Enkikwe, who were moved to our Ithumba Relocation Unit last month, Sokotei, Boromoko, Tusuja and Sirimon have filled their ‘naughty boy’ place wholeheartedly with boisterous, bullish behaviour. The young bulls wasted no time at the beginning of the month indulging in back and forth tussles over some tasty tubers – something that has continued throughout the month. Kauro and Dupotto are prone to charging games and bush bashing early in the mornings as they celebrate the new day, although it seems that the friendship of Boromoko and Kauro could be waning since Boromoko is becoming more assertive these days.

Orphan ostrich Pea has been attempting to join the orphaned elephants whilst they are out browsing and playing, but often prevented from doing so by the older orphans, especially the females. On the 17th Matriarch Oltaiyoni was adamant that Pea was not welcome with them at the mud bath and kept chasing her away, whilst Pea all the while tried to manoeuvre and approach from another direction, utilising cunning tactics such as pretending to feed. Eventually Pea got her way and Oltaiyoni was prevented from chasing her away by the Keepers.

Because he is gentle and kind, Murit often befriends the newcomers and this certainly applied to the lovely little female elephant orphan called Sana Sana who joined the fold last month. Both are often seen browsing contentedly together. However, Sana Sana has been inclined to disappear when out in the forest; sneaking off on her own which necessitates a search by the Keepers. Surprisingly, Rapa has been getting a fair share of his own medicine, meted out by none other than Ndotto! Ndotto seems to have grown in both strength and confidence recently, and is up to taking on Rapa as though to settle the score for all the times he and other young friends such as Godoma, Lasayen, Galla and Naseku have been bullied.

Ndotto and his fellow musketeers, Lasayen and Ngilai, have inadvertently been entertaining the visitors during our daily one hour open Visiting hour. Ngilai likes running up and down the rope cordon allowing the public to touch him and Lasayen adopts extraordinary poses on the plastic water tubs, causing laughter amongst the visitors. One day a visitor’s hand bag fell off her shoulder during one such posing session, and a tug of war resulted between the owner of the handbag and lively Lasayen!

Due to incessant rain throughout much of this month, the Nairobi Nursery has become a muddy quagmire, especially around the mud bath area where milk feeding takes place. At times the elephants have had a difficult time staying upright as they rush to their milk bottles, slipping and sliding in the process. Spring water seepages have been popping up everywhere and one day it took the combined effort of both Mbegu and Dupotto to help Ngilai to his feet when he slipped whilst playing with Lasayen. Needless to say that whilst such conditions have been extremely challenging for the Keepers, the elephants have savoured every moment, the vegetation abundant and lush, adorned with wild flowers and soft fresh grasses everywhere. In fact, Nairobi National Park has never looked more beautiful.

Our blind rhino Maxwell has been enjoying the downpours this month, running round his stockade and churning up muddy pools. He always enjoys the Elephant Foster Parents’ visiting hour each evening, positioning himself by one of his Stockade Gates to bask in endless attention and back and body rubs that send him into ecstasy. One day when Kamok and Roi decided to stop by his stockade on their way out to browse. Roi reached out to pull Max’s ear with her trunk as he slumbered, and this made him jump up in fright and embark on racing around his stockade, whilst Kamok and Roi ran outside alongside trumpeting, which excited Max even further! This game continued for some time until the orphan elephant girls decided that they should join their friends who, by this time, were deep in the forest, browsing.

Our new baby boy, “Ambo” is a character full of life which has attracted the attention of the older females, especially Oltaiyoni, who dotes on this young newcomer adopting him as her own. He has thrived basking in her constant attention. Whenever the older orphans are together with the babies, Mbegu is always beside baby Jotto while Oltaiyoni seeks out Ambo, mothering the two youngsters as though their own; running to comfort them whenever they hear a “peep” from them.

The on-going presence of numerous lions within the area our orphans frequent has generated much excitement and anxiety this month, especially for poor giraffe orphan Kiko and ostrich Pea who have had to be shut away in a stable whenever the lions are around. The Keepers of the baby herd have to be on their guard too with the Keepers donning a red coat, hoping the Masai shuka colour will be a deterrent. Much of the time the lions ignore the elephants but make their presence felt when targeting the resident wild warthogs which are what they are after. The mere smell of them is enough to send Kiko running back to the stockade area sensing danger. Orphaned ostrich Pea, who is very much part of the herd, had a terrible scare one morning when terrified warthogs rushed past pursued by an airborne lioness attempting to catch one! The pig took a sharp right angle turn which caused the lion to land next to Pea who dashed towards the Keepers who, by this time, were shouting at the top of their voices and waving their hands furiously, saving both Pea and the warthogs in the process. On another occasion as the orphans were leaving the midday public viewing and mudbath session, Sokotei, Oltayoni, Boromoko and Sirimon happened upon another lion hunkered down in the bush. The group charged the lion, bush bashing and trumpeting loudly, and managed to get it to move away, but it was a long time before the elephants settled down, continuing to trumpet and charge around to ensure that the big cat would stay away. The older elephants then chose to hang out close to the baby herd, knowing that their presence helped to keep the young ones safer.

It is always enlightening to watch the orphans’ reactions to things they happen upon while growing up in the Nursery, learning about the wild world around them. Even small harmless creatures can cause a stir amongst the orphans as well as Pea and Kiko. For instance on the 13th a tortoise found itself amidst the group of orphans, and was subjected to much scrutiny and investigation!

The struggle to save orphan Balguda spanned many years, but sadly his condition slowly deteriorated and finally the battle was lost and Balguda passed away on the 24th. This has been heart-breaking for everybody, and he is sorely missed by the others who immediately noticed his absence. Rest in peace our special friend.

June 2016 day to day

01 Jun

Out in the browsing fields this morning Sokotei and Sirimon had a disagreement over some tasty tubers that they both wanted to feed on. Sirimon was putting in a lot of hard work digging up the tubers so that he could then enjoy them, when Sokotei came in and started to try and push him out of the way so that he could reap the benefit of Sirimon’s efforts. Sirimon was not a push over and would not give up his tasty tubers. He pushed Sokotei back and turned his back so that he could pick up his tubers before Sokotei could grab them. Sokotei was angry about being denied access to the tasty treat and pushed Sirimon hard, knocking him to the ground. Sirimon quickly got to his feet and charged at Sokotei pushing him back just as hard as he had been pushed. The two were soon engaged in a battle of strengths, clashing together as each tried to show that he was stronger. This battle went on for about 15 minutes until Sokotei, who has the longer tusks of the two, managed to overpower Sirimon, showing that he was in fact the stronger one and is the dominant male in the group. Neither Sirimon nor Boromoko are really strong enough to be a big enough challenge for him.

Sirimon had a lengthy fight with Sokotei today

Sokotei is the biggest boy in the herd!

Sokotei has the bigger tusks

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