Keepers' Diaries, March 2006

Nairobi Nursery Unit

We welcomed the l0th Nursery inmate in the evening of 28th March. This young bull, aged approximately 8 months, was found crossing a road in the Tsavo Triangle by our Mtito De-Snaring team on their way to book two arrested poachers in Mtito Andei. Having completed this task, they returned to capture what was quite obviously an orphan, since the calf was all alone, and very emaciated. He has been named “Kamboyo”, the name of the nearby Tsavo West Headquarters from whence he was flown to the Nairobi Nursery. Placed in Challa’s “taming stockade” overnight, he interacted with Kora next door, and by the morning had tamed right down, taking milk from the bottle held by a Keeper. The other orphans came to meet him in the morning, when Makena, Zurura, and Loijuk paid him particular attention, as did the Nursery Matriarch Lualeni, who greeted him lovingly. By the afternoon, he was sufficiently docile to be allowed out with the other elephants, and spent the afternoon quietly amongst them, never attempting any escape. Only Sidai was a bit pushy towards him and did not want him close, but Lualeni and Loijuk were extremely loving and compassionate towards him, comforting him when he went aside on his own, and trying to bring him back into the fold, one on each side of him, reassuring him by placing their trunk in his mouth and across his back. He now occupies the Nursery Stable next door to Loijuk, and is proving a very easy Nursery inmate, although still obviously grieving for his lost elephant family. As usual, he has a load of worms, which will be dealt with when he is a little stronger.

01 March 2006

Newcomers Sidai and Orok have already grasped the timing of milk feeds, and when the time is approaching, they become very watchful, lifting up their trunks to try and smell the approaching bottles of milk. Zurura entertains all the guests every day at the mudbath by his mischievous behaviour, trying to climb on the others lying down in front of him. When he tried this on Kora, he was thrown off!

02 March 2006

Zurura and Makena are very competitive because of the blankets. Each one is jealous of the other having a blanket, so they are always having a battle. If it were not for the intervention of Lualeni, they would probably have fought all day! Makena lost her temper and after they have been separated by Lualeni, she followed Zurura, trying to push him.

03 March 2006

There was a slight drizzle after the mudbath, so the Keepers covered the babies with their raincoats, but the rain made them very jovial, and they kept on rolling in the mud with their raincoats on. The Keepers had a difficult time trying to keep Makena, Zurura and Loijuk out of the mud, for fear of the cold.

04 March 2006

Shida became very frisky due to the rain. He jumped up and down, and wanted the Keepers to join in his game. All of a sudden he rushed off into the bush and was away 45 minutes before returning. When he came back he seemed fatigued, and lay down next to the Keepers.

05 March 2006

Loijuk is a very loving little elephant. She likes to spend time near the Keepers, wanting to be close and as though showing appreciation for their hard work.

06 March 2006

There was rain last night, so the elephants wallowed happily in the mud when they were let out of their night stables. A passing giraffe scared them, forcing them to run to their Keepers.

07 March 2006

Sidai’s strength has returned, and she is now enjoying pushing people, including the Keepers, probably because she was too weak to do so when she first came in. Zurura tricked Makena at the mudbath by lying down, and when Makena came close, he jumped up and tried to mount her. This started the usual fight!

08 March 2006

Orok is becoming a little less aggressive, but still refuses to have the blanket over his back. He pulls it off and kneels on it. When we tried to put it over him during milk feeding time, he ran away through bushes until the blanket came off. When he returned he was furious and pushed Sian down.

09 March 2006

Zurura loves playing close to Kora, but today Kora became annoyed by his mischievousness and bit his tail. Zurura screamed loudly, and this brought Lualeni at the run. Having been rescued by Lualeni, naughty Zurura began trying to mount onto Makena, who did not like it. Lualeni pushed him away.

10 March 2006

After we all arrived out in the bush this morning, Zurura pretended that he had forgotten something at the Stockade, and began retracing his steps. A passing warthog and her piglets scared him making him trumpet loudly and come running back to the Keepers.

11 March 2006

The orphans and their Keepers enjoyed a football match today. Kora and Zurura were the star players. Lualeni did not like the match because Makena kept on screaming whenever the others came running close to her. Sidai and Orok did not appreciate the game either. They kept running to the end of the pitch, confused as to what was going on.

12 March 2006

Today Sidai had a disagreement with Challa over some leaves which both wanted.

13 March 2006

It was hot today, so the orphans all enjoyed their mudbath. Challa normally does not like lying down in case one of the others mounts him, but today he was happy to do so, and did not seem to mind. The mudbath was very action packed, so the babies were not interested in the football today.

14 March 2006

During the mudbath, Zurura spotted a mother warthog and her babies. He left the mudbath to chase the warthog with his ears out and a trumpet, but in the process slipped in the mud, which made all the visitors laugh.

15 March 2006

A troupe of baboons passed close to where Shida was feeding. He went to investigate, and later the Keepers found him feeding happily in amongst them!

16 March 2006

Shida enjoyed his mudbath today, but became very frisky when it was time to leave, rushing around and going towards the visitors. The visitors retreated.

17 March 2006

Being Friday, it was Coconut oiling day for the orphans, but Orok objected. He went into the middle of all the others, but when the Keepers put a few drops on his back, he rushed off, knocking down Sidai in the process.

18 March 2006

After the 3 p.m. feed, Kora went off on his own. He found a puddle and splashed water onto his wounded chin. The Keepers thought that perhaps he felt some pain there.

19 March 2006

There was a struggle at the mudbath when the Keepers put up one blanket but before he could put up the other one, Makena and Zurura converged on the one, and started a serious fight, which needed the intervention of both Lualeni and the Keepers.

20 March 2006

Lualeni found a puddle early in the morning, which she and Makena wanted to get into. The Keepers prevented them because it was too cold for them.

21 March 2006

Shida was badly behaved at the mudbath today. Having had his milk, he ran towards the visitors’ rope, so the Keepers took him away.

22 March 2006

Today, Shida was again badly behaved, wanting to go towards the visitors. The Keepers took him to take salt on the rocks, but he wanted to return to the visitors, even when the elephants were there.

23 March 2006

Lualeni had a tough time trying to separate Makena and Zurura, who again got into a fight. In the end Lualeni managed to push Zurura away. He screamed loudly, and this brought Kora who stood between the all, ending the disagreement. Zurura and Kora share a strong bond of friendship.

24 March 2006

Very early in the morning, Zurura came and stood very close to the Keepers, feeling his foot with his trunk. The Keepers thought he could have been stung by an insect, but on close examination, saw a small thorn sticking out of his foot. This shows that Zurura knows that the Keepers can help him.

25 March 2006

The Keepers were brought early to the mudbath so that Robert could get some pictures of them for the Keepers’ Diary. Kora thought it was milk time, and rushed to the mudbath. Makena and Zurura followed and began fighting, so Lualeni stepped in to separate them. Challa then came to comfort Zurura, because Lualeni had Makena.

26 March 2006

Kora and Zurura enjoyed a pushing game today. Kora understands that Zurura is just a little baby, and does not use his strength against him, allowing him to think that he is the winner.

27 March 2006

It was a very anxious day for the Keepers because Zurura declined his milk in the morning, again at 9 a.m. and yet again at noon. After mudbath, Mrs. Sheldrick decided that he must have an antibiotic course of Sulphadimidine in case he was suffering from the ailment that took little Ndololo from us. Having had the first dose, he began to feed again in the evening, which filled the Keepers with joy.

28 March 2006

We had an elephant rescue today. Edwin, Steven, Hassan and Atanash went in the rescue plane to collect a baby bull of about 8 months, who had already been caught by the Trust’s Mtito de-snaring team. He was flown to Nairobi from Kamboyo Airstrip in Tsavo West, and has been named “Kamboyo”. He was put into Challa’s Stockade, Challa into Orok’s Stockade, Orok went in with his friend, Sidai. During the night, the new baby calmed down, and interacted with Kora next door, intertwining trunks. By the morning, he was quiet, and taking his milk hungrily.

29 March 2006

Very early in the morning all the orphans came to Kamboyo’s Stockade to greet him. Lualeni, the Matriarch of the Nursery, kissed him and welcomed him lovingly. Makena, Loijuk and Zurura especially enjoyed being near him. In the afternoon, after the mudbath, little Kamboyo was allowed to join all the other elephants, and was calm amongst them, although Sidai kept pushing him away. Loijuk very quickly became his best friend. He never made any attempt to run away, and is taking his milk well. Also when he has his prophylactic injection, he never cries or makes a fuss.

30 March 2006

It rained at dawn, so all the orphans moved out with their raincoats on, including Kamboyo. This morning he seemed more stressed, and kept apart from the others. Lualeni and Loijuk were very concerned and kept following him, one on either side. Loijuk kept facing Kamboyo and “kissing” him, trying to get him to come amongst the other orphans, but he preferred to remain slightly apart.

31 March 2006

Being a Friday, it was the day when all the elephants have Coconut Oil applied to their bodies. Kamboyo did not resist, but Orok kept on running away and did not want it. Kamboyo loves his milk so much. When he has finished his share, he goes to the wheelbarrow to try and suck up more from the other bottles using his trunk. Tonight, we put him in the empty small stable next door to Loijuk, who has become his best friend.