Keepers' Diaries, June 2017

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

The main event in June was saying farewell to Ukame, Wanjala and Galla from our Nursery as they set off for the next phase of their journey in Tsavo destined to our Ithumba Reintegration Unit stockades early in the month. Ukame got gradually better at getting closer to and finally boarding the relocation lorry during the preparation for the move alongside her friends. Nevertheless on the day all the orphans suspected something was up and became increasingly suspicious and needed to be coerced onto the lorry but there were no delays and by 3.30am they were on their way.

The main event in June was saying farewell to Ukame, Wanjala and Galla from our Nursery as they set off for the next phase of their journey in Tsavo destined to our Ithumba Reintegration Unit stockades early in the month. Ukame got gradually better at getting closer to and finally boarding the relocation lorry during the preparation for the move alongside her friends. Nevertheless on the day all the orphans suspected something was up and became increasingly suspicious and needed to be coerced onto the lorry but there were no delays and by 3.30am they were on their way.

The next day Mbegu, Maramoja, Pare, Lasayen, Rapa, Ndiwa and Mundusi looked rather sad, as they were all dull and subdued clearly missing the company of their older friends. On that day they all browsed close to their keepers and none wanted to walk very far from the group. Later in the month Maramoja, Ndiwa, Mundusi and Mteto regrouped and were back browsing further afield again, now under the leadership of Maramoja and Ndiwa, in the absence of the older Ukame, Wanjala and Galla.

One character that has been predictably stirring up trouble this month is Esampu. We know she is a naughty girl, and despite coming into the Nursery skin and bone as a tiny baby she has been a force of nature from the outset. Sometimes she gets into a very bad mood and then there is nothing even the keepers can do to control her! Sometimes the others just ignore her and walk away but others like Ambo always stand up for themselves and push her back, which is when more serious fights break out! What is interesting though is that despite her grumpiness, Esampu is also growing into a caring girl for the younger babies, particularly for Musiara and Sattao. Tagwa and Maramoja too have been expanding their baby-sitting duties over and above what Godoma, Mbegu, Malima, Tamiyoi and Malkia already do as doting carers of the little ones.

Mteto is another girl that can be a bit grumpy and to date does not show any tenderness towards the babies or lame Luggard either. She especially seems to dislike Luggard and pushes him whenever she comes across him, which of course the Keepers guard against and look to prevent. But for all our grumps in the Nursery herd there are those that like to mess around and make everyone smile too. Ndotto is one of course, but little Jotto is also growing into the next big joker constantly playing and initiating new games. Kuishi and Tamiyoi are two others playful girls, looking to take advantage of situations. For example, Kuishi persistently jumped on Esampu’s back when she was playing with a football and kept falling over the ball every time she missed, another day she fell asleep on the top of a soil heap with her front and back legs sticking out to the side. Tamiyoi one day walked quietly up behind Jotto when he was standing on the edge of the mud bath and pushed him in, before turning around and looking quite innocent of the crime!

Malima is quite a strange little girl with her love for mud! It’s natural for elephants to use mud to cool their bodies and sometimes just for fun too, but often she is the only one that will get into the mud hole out of the group, especially when it is a cold morning and none of the others show any inclination, little Malima is predictably there. Baby Musiara seems to love the water just as much and launches in without a care in the world, and sometimes finds himself completely submerged. It falls on the older girls like Godoma and Mbegu to keep an eye on him.

What surprised us somewhat this month was Rapa’s reaction to the new arrival from the Mara, Sopat. Unfortunately this little one succumbed to his poor condition towards the end of the month, riddled with worms and blood parasites, but Rapa, who is known to be a bit of a bully, hid inside the stockade compound when all the others went out to the forest in order to communicate through the stockade bars when the little one first arrived. We were quite perplexed but also happy to see him being such a caring boy. Murit is the most caring boy in the Nursery and had enjoyed playing with all the others this month; it is so good to see him so healthy and strong compared to a year ago. He was certainly a struggle to save, but he is now thriving and we have seen so much improvement in this young bull which is a triumph.

Kiko the giraffe has had a few visits from wild giraffe this month. One day a wild female approached him in the stockade compound but he ran away and later, when Kiko did not go out into the forest for a few days, two wild females decided to return and check on him. They walked right up to him before he noticed their presence and then he stood watching them for some time before running off to hide again! This almost two year old boy is still shy around other giraffes.

Our Ex Orphan rhino Solio visited twice this month from the Nairobi National Park which was exciting for our Maxwell. They greeted each other through the bars of his stockade and played by locking horns. The second time Maxwell got so excited that Solio was back he knocked so hard on one of his gates that it broke down! He came wandering out at dawn and surprised the Keepers who found him standing disorientated outside his stockade! Robert and Angela were immediately called and Robert was able to improvise by making use of Maxwell’s boma door and with the lure of sugar cane he was quickly back inside his stockade and immediately went to lie down relieved that normality prevailed. Thankfully Solio behaved throughout the drama and remained preoccupied with the lucerne provided for her by the Keepers.

June 2017 day to day

01 Jun

The translocation process for Ukame, Galla and Wanjala continues and so far Galla and Wanjala seem pretty happy and ready for the day to come, unlike Ukame who was putting up some resistance to bottle feeding within the translocation lorry. For the past two days however she has shown some improvement and some interest in entering the lorry and having her bottle there. Her confidence has grown since she has watched Galla and Wanjala repeatedly enjoy their bottles in there with no problem at all. She is much more confident to even approach it, when before she would turn around and run yelling towards her stockade, and will now even board it. We hope that come the day of her move that she will be happy to board the lorry and begin the first step of her amazing return to the wild.

Ukame's lorry training is going well

Ukame out browsing

Galla browsing nicely

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