Keepers' Diaries, June 2016

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.

01 June 2016

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.

02 June 2016

As the orphans were exiting their stockades this morning Pea joined the group which is rare as Pea normally prefers to be in the company of Kiko and the baby group. Once out in the browsing field some of the orphans settled to browse while others like Naseku, Kauro, Rapa, Tusuja, Mbegu and Dupotto charged around, running in and out of the bushes to welcome the new day. Pea, who just watched the orphans playing at first, decided to join in and started spinning around, wings spread, having fun with the orphan elephants. Upon seeing what Pea was doing Naseku and Dupotto took to charging at the ostrich, making her run off so that she could get as far away as possible from the charging youngsters. The two girls gave chase but were not able to catch up to Pea and thus took to bush bashing to show their disappointment at not having been able to catch Pea. The girls bashing around caught the attention of Kauro who joined the two. He did however have a different motive in mind and started to chase Naseku, grabbing her by the tail in an effort to get her to slow down so that he could play with her. His efforts were brought to a quick end when Naseku cried out for help, which brought Oltaiyoni running to her rescue and taking her away from Kauro’s antics.

03 June 2016

At about 9am, which is a feeding time for the orphans, Murit and Sana Sana decided to make their way to the 11am mudwallow. Despite being a new orphan at the Nursery, Sana Sana took the lead. Murit is still a rather weak little elephant but is always very welcoming and gentle with any orphan, and the two are sometimes seen spending the day in one another’s company. Upon arriving at the mudbath the two were surprised to find that there was no milk bottle waiting for them. Sana Sana cried out in protest while Murit led his friend to the bottle feeding area in the forest where the two, despite their detour, arrived just before the other orphans and as such, were the first to enjoy their milk feed. At the public visiting hour the first group of orphans quickly downed their bottle of milk, after which Ngilai and Ndotto took to playing with the school children. Ngilai approached the children with his trunk outstretched in welcome making them scream in delight. He then started walking along the rope cordon so that they could touch him. Ndotto then ran up to Ngilai and tried to climb on him, all of which took place in front of the children who were so happy to have this lovely experience of the two orphans playing before their eyes.

04 June 2016

This morning as soon as Lasayen walked out of his stockade he made a bee-line for Ndotto’s stockade. Once there he found that Ndotto, his best friend, had not yet been let out and he started knocking at the door with his trunk. This prompted Ndotto to reach his trunk over the door to see who was knocking. Upon realizing it was his friend Lasayen he reached as far as he could in greeting and the two entwined trunks pulling each other in a kind of tug of war. As the stockade door was still closed Ndotto tried to climb over the door in an effort to reach Lasayen, while Lasayen continued knocking. When the keepers opened the door Ndotto ran out and the two friends engaged one another in a pushing game which continued all the way to the browsing field, where it was brought to an end by Rapa who came and interrupted the two forcing them apart, ending their fun.

05 June 2016

At the public visiting hour this morning the first group of orphans were quick to down their milk bottle after which they fed on the greens cut for them by the keepers. Lasayen caught the attention of the visitors when he sat on the water trough, located close to the rope cordon, scratching on the edge of it while they all tried to get a picture. One particular visitor was so busy trying to get a photo that her handbag fell off her shoulder at which point Lasayen grabbed it with his trunk, trying to pull it out of her hands which made everyone laugh. Godoma and Ngilai enjoyed a strength testing game close to Lasayen during which Ngilai tried to climb on Godoma. Godoma was not happy about this and pushed Ngilai who landed on Lasayen sending both elephants and the water trough tumbling over. Lasayen and Ngilai both cried out which brought Mbegu and Dupotto running to see what was wrong and help them. They helped the two youngsters to their feet. Ngilai was the most in need of help as he seemed unable to keep his balance and kept slipping on the wet earth. The two older girls were finally able to stabilize him and he went on his way.

06 June 2016

It was a quiet start to the morning as the orphans headed out to the browsing fields. At about 8:30 a lion was seen walking in the forest past the point where the orphans were busy browsing on greens. Thankfully it did not stop and the elephants were not even aware of its presence and proximity to them as it passed by. Later in the morning, at 10am a lioness scared Pea who was enjoying some quiet time with the nursery babies when the warthogs the lioness was chasing ran right through the baby group and past the keepers. As the warthogs tried to get away the lioness charged after them and lept to catch one. It managed to turn at the right moment causing the lioness to land next to Pea who in fear ran towards the keepers who started shouting and waving their arms to scare away the lioness, saving Pea and the warthogs in the process. As the orphans were leaving the public visit at noon, Sokotei, Oltayoni, Boromoko and Sirimon all came across another lion that was hunkered down in the bushes. The group charged at the lion bush bashing and trumpeting loudly and managed to get it to move away. They then ran to rejoin the rest of the orphan herd but it was a while before they settled down and for about 20 minutes they continued to trumpet and charge around to make sure that the big cat would stay away and thus keep the younger orphans, Murit, Ndotto, Lasayen, Godoma, Rapa, Sana Sana, Ngilai and Mbegu safe. The bigger group then settled down for the rest of the afternoon with the babies knowing that they would all be safer if they stuck together.

07 June 2016

This morning once the orphans were already in the bush for the day’s browsing session Oltaiyoni, the matriarch of the group, began her daily inspection of the group, starting from the youngest and ending with the oldest boy Balguda. Once she reached Balguda she decided to stop and spend some time browsing with him and the two fed side by side for a while before engaging in a gentle pushing game. Kauro can often be found playing with Ndotto and Lasayen who are good friends. Today he pulled the two younger orphans away from the rest of the group so that he could enjoy some fun and games with the two boys and after playing they then browsed together until it was time for the 9am milk feed. Since the move of Olsekki and Enkikwe, Sokotei has become less of a bully towards Kauro which is positive to see although sadly Boromoko and Kauro’s friendship seems to be waning slightly and the two playmates do not spend as much time together as they used to. Today Ndotto had a serious strength testing and pushing game with Tusuja who is bigger and stronger than he is, and as such he was not able to overcome his older peer. When the exchange became quite heated the keepers stepped in and brought an end to the game, separating the two so that they could calm down and relax a little.

08 June 2016

Over the years we have found that some of the orphan’s behaviour is copied from their older peers. A good example of this is Ndotto who from an early age loved to push and wrestle with his keepers and we believe this comes from the fact that even when little he loved to spend time with the older elephants Enkikwe, Sirimon and Boromoko with whom he used to play pushing and strength testing games. Ndotto is also a good playmate and friend to Kauro. Since Tusuja was moved up to the older group Ndotto has started playing strength testing games with Rapa, Tusuja’s playmate. Rapa has a reputation as the naughtiest orphan in the nursery herd and can be a bit of a bully so we were not quite sure what Ndotto’s intentions were; it seems that Rapa is now being put in his place a little by Ndotto who is a tough little cookie. This morning Ndotto was able to overpower Rapa and win their strength testing game and despite the keepers trying to keep the two apart Ndotto kept going after Rapa seemingly to try and get Rapa back for all the times he bullied Ndotto, Lasayen, Godoma, Naseku and Galla.

09 June 2016

Sana Sana, who is one of the newer orphans in the nursery, is not yet fully adapted to life at the Nursery and has been causing a few problems for the keepers when the orphans are out in the bush. Sana Sana has yet to form any strong bonds with any of the orphans and is still not 100% trusting of the keepers and often sneaks away to browse deeper in the forest causing panic as the keepers can’t find her and have to mount a search. Yesterday afternoon Sana Sana wandered off on her own and was found soil dusting and did not show any interest in the keepers when they found her, and she did not seem to mind being on her own. Today as the younger orphans were making their way back to the forest after the mudbath Sana Sana separated from the herd and pulled a vanishing act. The keepers began searching for her immediately but it was not until much later in the afternoon that they were able to locate her. The found her sleeping in the forest quite a way away from where the orphans usually liked to browse. She was completely relaxed and oblivious to the trouble and worry she had caused. At first she tried to run away but the keepers were able to get her to follow them back to the stockades by enticing her with a bottle of milk. Today Balguda spent most of his time in the company of Kamok and Kauro and even tried to accompany them to the mudbath at 11am. The keepers tired to prevent him from doing so as he is not feeling well at the moment and directed him to the baby group. He managed to thwart their attempts however and make his way to the mudbath. Once there he did not want to cross the mud and stream and chose to instead remain browsing in the surrounding area. At the end of the public visit he followed the rest of the group back to the forest.

10 June 2016

The lions from the park continue to be seen in the forest which means that Kiko has not been out in the forest for the past few days out of fear that the lions may try to attack him. Today however, he accompanied the babies and Pea out to the bush. Luggard who loves to browse was bringing up the rear of the group, walking just in front of Kiko. Once he got to the first bushes he stopped and started to feed on the vegetation where he was joined by his tall friend who was a bit anxious and was constantly looking around checking for signs of movement or anything unusual in the bushes. A few minutes later Kiko took off running back to the stockades where he felt safer and thus was much calmer. While heading to the public visit today Ndotto, Lasayen and Sana Sana were all together with Ndotto in the lead. As they walked Ndotto would move ahead and would then stop to let Lasayen catch up to him at which point he would turn and gently push Lasayen. Once they got to the mudbath he let Lasayen overtake him but did not allow Sana Sana to pass. Each time Sana Sana tried to get past him he would push her and she cried out in frustration which brought the keepers coming to her assist her, making sure that she was able to get by him and get to her milk bottle.

11 June 2016

It was a crazy day today as the lions were everywhere. The first encounter took place mid morning as the orphans were coming for the 11am milk bottle. Godoma was leading Murit, Sana Sana and Naseku when the group came across a large pride of lions lying on the rocks near the mudbath area, sunning themselves. Upon seeing the orphans coming past they quickly got up and ran into the bushes. During the public visit Naseku was very funny as she dust bathed and rolled around in the loose, red soil which attracted the attention of Lasayen, Godoma and Ndotto all of whom went to join her, and they started playing some wrestling games. Naseku was the last one to leave the area, dust bathing all the way to the end of the public session. More lions were seen resting and playing in the park about 20 meters from where Balguda and the nursery babies were waiting for the rest of the orphans and keepers to return from the public visit. Pea seemed to be unaware of the danger that was close to her and even though the lions seemed disinterested in her, the keepers were taking no chances and returned her to the safety of the stockades. At around 4:30pm Kauro, Sirimon and Oltaiyoni bumped into a group of 5 lions that were resting in some long grass. The three orphans started giving out an alert by rumbling loudly which caught the attention of the keepers who saw the lions and quickly led the group away and to the safety of the stockades.

12 June 2016

Normally when the babies move into the forest when they come out of their stockades, they first begin browsing in the bushes beside Maxwell’s stockade. This morning they all assembled at the end of Maxwell’s stockade and were all busy browsing and some were playing as well. Three lions, one carrying a fresh piece of meat, walked past the orphans further down past the stockades. They did not bother the orphans and the orphans did not seem to mind them either. Lasayen and Godoma are two babies that cannot be left alone together for long. Godoma always wants to pick a fight with Lasayen and Lasayen does not take this lightly; he certainly fights back! During public visiting she attacked Lasayen when he tried to share the branch she was feeding on. Naseku came in between the two as a mediator – she managed to separate them and take Godoma away for a dust bath. They enjoyed this mud bath until the end of the visiting time. It was so hot at the 3pm private visit today, that when the 19 orphans who came down for this visit came they all participated in a lengthy mud bath, except for Ndotto who only decided to get into the mud bath at the end of the visit! Pea was given some time out with the orphans to browse after it was confirmed the lions were not in the area anymore.

13 June 2016

Kiko and Pea went out early in the morning with the babies to the forest today. At first Kiko seemed like he didn’t want to go out, but he changed his mind and started to follow the group. There was a bit of excitement when a big tortoise came over amongst the babies. The whole herd had gathered together waiting for their 9am milk bottle. When the tortoise came close to Pea the ostrich, she ran at it with her wings spread wide ready to attack. The tortoise of course did not pay any attention to Pea, even when she tried to jump on its back! When Pea moved away a bit Kiko also came over as he was curious too. He spread his front legs apart so he could smell the tortoise. He also then tried to kick it but he kept missing, so he just walked away. The tortoise proceeded on his way, eventually meeting Boromoko and Naseku. They looked down at this, what seemed to be, moving stone, and raised their ears high to charge at it. When they realised it wasn’t a stone they turned around and ran away, shouting for help. It took the intervention of the keepers to calm everyone down again because their shouting had scared everyone else! Balguda is still looking a bit slow and not as active as before. A few minutes before 3pm Kauro stumbled into a pride of sleeping lions again. He has become almost a lion-seeker of late, and the keepers heard him reacting with angry rumbles and trumpeting. The high tone trumpet meant it was something serious and he was not playing around and the keepers ran to him. As the keepers approached him they found the lions resting on the ground and Kauro raising his ears high about to run into the group of lions. As soon as the lions saw the keepers they got up and ran away into the thick bushes. All the other babies were scattered – some came to assist Kauro, others ran to look for the baby group. Murit and Galla got confused and slightly lost in the thick bushes and it took a few minutes for the keepers to find them. They were very relieved and happy to see the keepers! Kiko and Pea were taken back to their stables with the lions around and the elephants were taken to the mud bath for their milk and the private visit time.

14 June 2016

It was a sunny and warm morning as the orphans left the stockade compound for the forest. On their way out Kamok and Roi decided to stop by Maxwell’s stockade to visit him. Kamok arrived first and stared to feast on Maxwell’s Lucerne where she was soon joined by Roi. Roi reached out with her trunk to touch Maxwell and grabbed his ear which made Max jump and start running around. He ran to the top of his stockade followed by Kamok and Roi who were trumpeting loudly exciting Max further and he ran around pushing at the gates to his stockade to get to the two girls. The game went on for a while before Kamok and Roi decide it was time to rejoin their peers. As it was a lovely hot day the orphans enjoyed a lengthy mudbath at the public visiting hour. Dupotto, Ngilai and Mbegu led the middle aged group to the mudbath while Sokotei and Boromoko took the lead of the older group. Boromoko remained in the water the entire time he was at the visiting area and had to be cajoled out once the visitors had left as he did not want to leave the mudbath. Sirimon has taken to behaving a little like Boromoko in the evenings. When it is time to return to the stockades for the night neither orphan wants to walk in front of the keepers. This evening they started out ahead of the keepers and when they reached the edge of the stockade compound they stopped and waited for the keepers to pass with the other orphans before making their way to their respective stackades.

15 June 2016

It was a wonderful morning for the orphans as they exited the stockades in a jovial mood and made their way to the park. Ngilai, Ndotto and Lasayen played a game of hide and seek while they walked. Oltaiyoni and Sokotei played pushing and mounting games while Roi, Boromoko, and Kauro played strength testing games. Oltaiyoni has become very attached to Ambo who is now her favourite baby with Jotto being Mbegu’s favourite. When the older groups are together with the babies Mbegu will always be seen with Jotto and Oltaiyoni with Ambo mothering the two youngsters as if they were their own “babies”, coming running as soon as a cry was heard from either one to make sure that everything is ok. Today Ambo cried out for no particular reason which brought Oltayoni running as soon as she heard him. She pulled him under her neck and comforted him. Once he had calmed down he started sucking on Oltaiyoni’s ears while touching her all over with his trunk.

16 June 2016

What an exciting day for Kiko – all of yesterday and today early morning there has been no sign of the lions so he has been out and about in the forest early in the morning with the babies. When he got to the end of Max’s pen his head was raised in the air, smelling that it was safe to go further. It wasn’t long once he decided it was safe that he sped off into the forest. He was running up and down whilst the babies ate their breakfast. The elephants were all crowded together from the babies to the older ones. Kiko was running between them, jumping long and high. Oltaiyoni, Roi and Mbegu got worried about the little babies and the three of them came out of the crowd and separated the babies from the larger group. They stayed with them to protect them from being kicked by the excitable Kiko. His running exercise went on and on without a break until Roi and Oltaiyoni decided to bring his naughty games to an end. They left Mbegu who stayed behind with the babies as they went after him. Kiko, upon seeing the big girls run towards his with their ears spread wide, decided to widen his running pace and run away fast, proving how fast he could run too. Having had to stay in his pen for some time due to the lions around, he was obviously free and happy. The two girls had to call off their chase after a while, and they decided to continue browsing instead. Kiko eventually stopped his running game when the babies went for their milk feed. The little naughty boy Rapa has actually been quiet for some days now and he has not been picking on anyone. Today however during public visiting, he confirmed that it was only a break in his behaviour and not a complete change! Godoma was playing a little game with Lasayen when Rapa came over and pushed Lasayen over. Godoma sensed danger and left immediately knowing that after Lasayen she might be next. Lasayen was saved by the keepers who separated Rapa from the others and sent him away for his bad behaviour.

17 June 2016

There was a lot of rain last night from about 8pm and this mean Lasayen and Naseku had a bit of a sleepless night. Balguda enjoyed the company of Mbegu, Kauro and Murit this morning. As most of the other orphans kept pushing on deep into the wet bushes, these three decided to stay behind and keep Balguda company, and also have a bit of fun with him too! Being a Friday, after the 9am milk feed it was time to apply coconut oil to all the orphans – and not everybody likes it! Naseku, Galla and Sana Sana kept their keepers on their toes by running around in every direction before they could put the oil on. A short while later the weather warmed up a bit and Godoma lead Sana Sana, Murit and Ngilai to a mud pool in the forest. These four has a lengthy bath which lasted until it was time to go for their milk and the public visit. There wasn’t quite the same action during the visit though as it started to cloud over, and all the orphans concentrated on browsing rather than bathing in the mud. Pea, who had spent most of her morning with the older orphans, also decided to accompany them to the public visiting session, though she did not have a very smooth arrival. It is well known that the matriarch of the herd is the one that makes all the decisions and no one is welcomed to the herd without her permission. On their way to the visit, Oltaiyoni was ahead leading the last group to the mud bath area. When she came out of the bushes into the open she stopped and watched the orphans walk past her; Pea was the last one in the line. Oltaiyoni blocked her and sent her back into the forest but Pea played a trick and came around from a different direction. Oltaiyoni ran back to block her once more and Pea pretended to be feeding on the rocks. Oltaiyoni thought she had accomplished her mission but as soon as Pea saw her starting to drink one of her bottles of milk she ran over to join the other orphans who were browsing on the greens laid out around the area. By now nothing could stop her from being with the elephants as the keepers were there to help her with Oltaiyoni, so she was allowed to stay!

18 June 2016

What a long night of rain for all the babies. The orphans always stay in their pens until between 6-6.30am, depending on the weather. By 6.30 today though all their stockade doors were wide open but none of them had any interest in coming out – they didn’t want to get wet! Oltaiyoni would even rather not have her milk than walk in the rain. Whilst the elephant orphans were trying to stay out of the downpour, it was the opposite for Maxwell! Max was having a great time in his pen. His stockade was getting very wet and muddy and he was having fun making a lovely mudbath. He had even more fun when a warthog got inside and he tried to chase it away, pretending to charge at it. She became very frightened when she was trying to run away and got stuck in-between the bars of the stockade! Max ran towards her as if he was going to push her through, but instead he turned around and started jumping around in high circles. The orphans finally started coming out of their stockades at around 7am. Ndotto, well known for his love of climbing, had a lot of fun climbing on tree trunks as soon as he arrived in the forest. Ambo is growing into a very demanding boy, shouting all the time for whatever it is he wants – attention, milk or anything! Today he was following Roi around and bellowing to suckle on her wars like he does with Oltaiyoni, but because she would not let him he went on shouting away.

19 June 2016

It was a bright day today when the orphans were heading out to the forest. One very happy and jovial little boy was Jotto in the baby group. He was happy and playing around but unfortunately one of the other babies thought he was going to wrestle with her. She head-butted him badly and the little boy fell down to the ground. He started screaming and his noise reached the ears of Mbegu who was browsing not far away. Mbegu came running to find out what happened to the baby but by the time she reached there the keepers were already helping him up. We are not sure how she knew which baby it was that hurt little Jotto but she went ahead to discipline her, as the keepers tried to call her name to prevent her. She did not pay any attention until the keepers ran to block her. Mbegu in the end decided to take the little naughty one back with her to the main group. As the time drew closer to the main visiting time, Mbegu, Ndotto and Kamok escorted the little one back to her baby group.

20 June 2016

Last night around 11.30 it was a hard and difficult time for Balguda who lay down to rest but later it proved difficult for him to stand again and walk around his stockade as usual. It was a very difficult moment for his human family who fought to get up upright again but without success as his hind legs seemed to weak to hold him up. We gave him a drip and comforted him throughout the rest of the night. In the morning poor Balguda was looking livelier and again the keepers decided to try and help make him stand – by 8am they gathered all their strength and eventually Balguda stood and immediately drank his milk bottle which was waiting for him. He browsed on lots of nice greens that were brought for him. Around noon he fell over again but again we assisted him to stand and he again carried on feeding on his greens as we ran some tests and gave him some medicine.

21 June 2016

It was a chilly morning after rain that fell throughout the night right into the morning. The young orphans like Murit shied away from exiting their comfortable stables into the chilly weather and they retreated further inside! Murit then saw all of his friends leaving their stockades and heading out to the bush; but he just stood by his door and shouted as he wanted to join them but was afraid of getting rained on! It was still raining during public visiting and after the young orphans had drank their milk bottles they ran to the rope cordon to try and stand under some of the umbrellas the visitors were carrying! Clever little Ndotto was so funny as he posed alongside the rope cordon and enjoyed shelter from two different umbrellas – he drew even more attention to him as a tried to pull the umbrellas towards him, as if trying to get even more cover for himself. Murit and Ngilai were huddled shoulder to shoulder under one of their keepers umbrellas – Murit then started bullying Ngilai so he could have more of the cover to himself! It was so funny when Murit started bellowing when the keeper who was holding the umbrella over him tried to walk away – Murit tried to grab hold of his leg with his trunk when he realised he was about to walk off. The visiting public thought this was very funny and they were amazed to see how clever as well as attached to the keepers the orphans are!

22 June 2016

Balguda has collapsed again this morning after he spent the whole night standing and just resting his legs on the wooden posts in his stockade – perhaps he knows that when he lies down it is hard for him to get back up. The swellings in his body are ever present and even growing in size – a bad case of edema which we are treating. He is still really enjoying feeding on his greens though as well as his milk bottle; his general body condition is deteriorating but we are still hoping for the best. Meanwhile it seems that the little girl Godoma is starting to dominate the younger boys such as Ndotto, Lasayen, Ngilai and Murit. Out in the field during bottle feeding time, she has been seen roughly fighting with them whenever they walk by close to her. We think this is because in the past they have tried to climb on her and pick on her in general, and now this is something she is saying a big ‘no’ to! Now the boys have realised that Godoma is not an easy target and thus they do not bother her as much anymore. Godoma usually likes hanging around with Mbegu and Dupotto as well as little Sana Sana.

23 June 2016

When the orphans came out of their stockades this morning the older ones were all busy greeting and checking over the younger ones before heading out into the bush. We watched as the leader of the orphan herd, lovely caring Oltaiyoni was seen walking from one baby to the other taking an in depth look at them. It seemed she was looking for her little adopted baby Ambo and she walked from the stockades she was close to, to the ones at the front of the compound after she heard her little baby rumble – Ambo was trying to come out of his stable but another young one was blocking the way for him! Oltaiyoni walked over to the scene as fast as she could and she was happy to help Ambo out of his stable. Soon after the first group of orphans settled back into the forest after the public visiting time, a drama unfolded when a lioness was witnessed trying to ambush a warthog who was near the orphans! It was a scary moment when we realised the lion as about to ambush the warthog right next to Galla who was busy browsing and completely unaware of the lioness! The keepers shouted out to scare the lioness away from the orphans and the female warthog was then lucky enough to smell the big cat and all of a sudden leave at a very fast pace away from the area. The orphans all trumpeted and stamped around the area as a show of defiance and the keepers breathed a sigh of relief that Galla and the others were safe.

24 June 2016

Today very tragically at 1.05pm, Balguda breathed his last breath, watched over by his loving human family who tried all means necessary to save him, with input from numerous vets. Poor Balguda will be so missed; he was a lovely gentle elephant, and after so long with us his passing is extremely hard to take. We have to focus our attentions on the living, Balguda’s friends, and take comfort in the fact that Balguda is now resting in peace probably by his mothers side. It seems now that Ambo is the big favourite amongst all the older females. When the orphans went back out into the bush after public visiting, Ambo was sandwiched between Oltaiyoni, Mbegu, Dupotto and Roi who were all vying to give him the most attention. Ambo is such a determined and interactive young boy and it seems his character has really captured the attention of the older females, especially Oltaiyoni and Mbegu of course. As all this was going on the two lovely best friends Ndotto and Lasayen were busy driving warthogs who always browser next to them away. It was such a fun game for Ndotto who tried to frighten the female warthogs but without much success! He resorted to trying to pull their tails which provoked the warthogs into turning around and making Ndotto do a quick u-turn, running away from the warthog and her tusks and shouting for the help of the keepers! Lasayen was also frightened and their game quickly came to an end as they both went to hang out beside their keepers instead.

25 June 2016

Soon after the orphans had settled into their stockades yesterday afternoon, lovely Oltaiyoni, the leader of the orphans family, and Dupotto showed some unrest at the fact Balguda was not in his stockade anymore. Oltaiyoni bellowed which drew the attention of Dupotto who responded by rumbling as well. Their noise only lasted a few minutes but it was still so touching and sad to see that Oltaiyoni too has noticed the loss of Balguda from the herd. Big Boy Sokotei is proving more of a handful these days, like his friends Enkikwe and Olsekki, especially during bottle feeding times. He always seems to be a menace and when the keepers try to warn him away from where the milk bottles are waiting for the babies, sometimes he approaches them with his ears spread wide and proudly displaying his tusks, but the keepers are not afraid of him because they know he will not do anything, and they keep warning him away! He is becoming a big boy now and trying to show off his size and dominance, even though he knows his keepers are still in charge.

26 June 2016

Sana Sana is normally a gentle and quiet girl though when it is bottle feeding time she can show some aggression towards the other young ones like Ngilai, Ndotto and Lasayen. Today during public visiting she quickly drank her milk bottle and then rushed over to Ngilai yelling, whilst he was also having his bottle, and tried to hit him down and snatch the bottle he was drinking from. The keeper warned her away and said she had had her share, but as she walked away she bellowed loudly, clearly not satisfied by that! Her shouting drew the attention of the visiting public, who marveled at the similarity between these babies and human ones in age, behaviour and characters! When the orphans were back in the forest again after their milk and that visiting time, Tusuja and Boromoko had a busy time sizing each other up and enjoying moments of charging and pushing each other which attracted Kiko’s attention, who started happily running in and out of the bushes in his own game. As the two elephants were trying to play, Kiko started running in between them, prompting them to end their game and start shouting at Kiko’s antics. Tusuja and Boromoko started running away when they saw Kiko running towards them very fast; the boys chose to return to browse close to their keepers where they thought Kiko would not bother them as much. It was quite funny to see Boromoko being afraid of Kiko, and the two boys ran towards the herd of orphans when Kiko started running towards the keepers as well!

27 June 2016

Out in the field early this morning young ones Sana Sana, gentle Murit and Galla as well decided to walk all the way to the little baby group. Jotto found Galla and has a fun time trying to suckle on his ears. When Pea came over though the little baby left Galla and as usual went to suckle on the ostrich’s feathers! Sana Sana tried to chase the ostrich away though as she did not understand that the little babies like the company of the ostrich! During public visiting Ndotto and Lasayen were their usual playful selves and had wonderful games of rolling on the ground and on each other. At one stage Ndotto was trying to climb on Lasayen’s head as they both rolled on the ground. Rapa came over and tried to interrupt their game, but as soon as he came over and tried to make trouble Dupotto and Mbegu came over and intervened, warning Rapa away from the two playful boys. The visiting school children also watched in awe these two young boys; their first time up close and learning all about elephants which is very important to us too.

28 June 2016

Today the three big boys, Boromoko and Sirimon lead by the dominant Sokotei, have been walking away from the orphan herd and spending time browsing on their own. Today soon after walking out of their stockades in the early morning, they quickly left the compound and walked far off into the bush until it was nearly bottle feeding time. After getting their 9am milk bottle they again walked far off into the bush until it was nearly 11am when they were found very busy browsing and reluctant to turn up for their 11am milk bottle. The three boys are really displaying more independent characters now compared to the females who are trying to create their own family units and care for the little babies. Sana Sana has not yet fully settled into the orphan herd and shows on and off behaviour with the other orphans. Today she had frequent moments of walking away from the other orphans and spending time on her own; the keepers always have to be aware of her movements and cannot keep their eyes off her for a second in case she disappears into the thick bushes. At one stage she walked all the way back to the compound and straight to the milk mixing area looking for more milk! She has become quite a greedy little girl. When she spotted the keepers she yelled loudly to draw attention to herself and when she was retrieved by one of them she happily followed behind rumbling with content.

29 June 2016

Kamok, a girl of all characters, during the public visit spent some time entertaining visiting school children by walking along the cordon and playfully greeting them by touching their faces – an encounter that scared some of the children causing them to shout and run away, and some of their teachers too! As the children shouted, playful and naughty Kamok appeased them by lying down along the cordon and allowing them to touch her; but the keepers were close by watching her every move to make sure she did not do something naughty. She is friendly one minute and naughty the next, the trick she always pulls and as is her character! Today funny Kiko showed no interest in spending time close to the baby orphans but the keepers still kept a close eye on him due to the threat of lions around. When the keepers try to control him and get him to move in a certain directions sometimes he runs away from them.

30 June 2016

When the babies walked out into the forest today to meet the older orphans they were welcomed by all of them especially the big females. Oltaiyoni happily walked over and greeted her adopted baby Ambo as Mbegu came over too and showed great concern and interest in Ambo too. Mbegu walked up and down and was quite restless as she appeared to want to take Ambo away all for herself, rumbling and putting her trunk in his mouth, but Ambo was showing great interest in Oltaiyoni and didn’t seem to want to leave her side. When Oltayoni realised Mbegu was trying to take Ambo away she walked Ambo away from Mbegu and the rest of the group. Poor Mbegu who loves to socialize with the babies started bellowing, and this lasted for quite a few minutes! She then stopped and realised the other babies were there and she happily attached herself to them. Ambo, who is always happy when attached to the older orphans, spent the morning hours with the older group browsing shoulder to shoulder with his beloved Oltaiyoni. He only left the group when the older ones had to leave for their 11am bottle of milk.