Keepers' Diaries, March 2013

Nairobi Nursery Unit

Four more elephant Rescues during the month - first a yearling female named “Laragai” from Borana Ranch in Laikipia, first seen alone on the 28th February, and flown to the Nursery on the 2nd March. Next came the yearling bull named “Danissa” from Galana Ranch on the 12th, who had to be on intravenous life support for the flight. He was too far gone for us to be able to retrieve, and developed uncontrolled diarrheoa with no reserves left to cope. He died during the early hours of the morning of the 15th. The third newcomer was another “albino” Amboseli calf, obviously fathered by the same Albino Big Bull as Faraja. He was named “Jasiri” (the Swahili word for “brave”) and was born in December 2011 to “Jemima”, the Matriarch of the Researchers JB Study Group who was found dead in December 2012, suspected to have been gunned down by poachers. “Jasiri” was flown to the Nursery on the 27th, the first albino calf documented in Amboseli during their 40 years of study, older than Faraja but probably fathered by the same albino Bull. He had not been seen since the death of his mother, and being a milk dependent candidate, was presumed dead, so the Amboseli Researchers were amazed to suddenly come across him again 3 months later, much enfeebled due to milk deprivation, alone but still alive. (Jemima’s daughter, Jalila, and grand daughter, Jasiri’s age-mate have never been seen again.) The fourth rescue was on the 29th - a tiny calf just days old from the Imenti Forest found abandoned near a waterhole, the previous day, and held overnight at the Meru Park Headquarters where, unfortunately, he had been fed cows’ milk overnight, which is death to baby elephants. Having been rescued by a member of the Orma tribe, he was named “Bosha” meaning “God’s Creation” in the Orma dialect, but the survival of this tiny calf hangs in the balance.

01 March 2013

The orphans had a wonderful mudbath today, Kithaka and Barsilinga sliding in the mud and deliberately bumping into one another while Kainuk put on a spirited display of her footballing skills, kicking the ball with her front and hind legs. As the orphans began to leave, Orwa found himself bogged and cried for help, but eventually managed to emerge unaided and catch up with all the others. Lima Lima, grieving for her lost elephant family deeply, chooses sometimes to spend time apart from the others, which is normal during this painful process.

02 March 2013

Just before 1 p.m. an Elephant Rescue alert came from Borana Ranch involving a lone calf which had first been seen alone on the 28th February The calf - a female aged approximately 1 ½ years - arrived emaciated from milk deprivation, and very wild. She has been named “Laragai” - the name of an adjunct to Borana Lodge on the Ranch.

03 March 2013

Newcomer “Laragai” accepted milk from a bucket during the night, which is a hopeful sign. She was welcomed very warmly this morning by all the resident orphans, who rushed to the Gate of her Stockade, extending their trunks through the bars to touch and comfort her. She is still too aggressive for the Keepers to be in with her, but was obviously delighted to find that she was not alone amongst “the enemy”.

04 March 2013

Today, the advance guard to greet Laragai included Naipoki, Sities, Ishaq-B and Turkwel. Laragai was very eager to accompany them out into the bush, but is still not sufficiently calm to risk being let out.

05 March 2013

Tiny Lemoyian and Barsilinga enjoyed a Pushing Game this morning soon after the orphans emerged. This attracted the attention of Ngasha and Kithaka, who tried to join in, but the game ended when Ngasha tried to mount onto Lemoyian who immediately went to Sities for protection whilst Kithaka sought out Turkwel and Barsilinga, the Keepers, leaving Ngasha on his own!

06 March 2013

This morning Ishaq-B was particularly interested in the newcomer, Laragai, spending a long time with her after the others had walked off. Ishaq-B was reluctant to leave her, even then, constantly laying her trunk on Laragai’s head in a gesture of reassurance and comfort.

07 March 2013

Lima Lima is a very loving elephant. Now she adores the Keepers, sucking their fingers for comfort and happiest remaining near them. Barsilinga also enjoys close contact with his surrogate human family, and has befriended Lima Lima as a result. However, Lima Lima is popular with all the resident orphans and has settled in very well.

08 March 2013

As soon as the orphans were let out, the girls all ran to Laragai’s stockade, while the little boys engaged one another in Pushing Matches. Teleki and Orwa became embroiled in a tough contest while Barsilinga and Faraja also welcomed the day with a Pushing Contest, Barsilinga eager to learn a few tricks from Faraja. Barsilinga’s two favourite friends are Faraja and Lemoyian.

09 March 2013

Lima Lima is already very much at home in her new surroundings, often sneaking away back to the Stockades, where the milk mixing is taking place taking Barsilinga along as well.

10 March 2013

This morning Laragai was greeted by Lima Lima, Barsilinga, Naipoki and Quanza, and Naipoki all of whom entwined trunks with her in a gesture of love. Laragai is now a lot calmer, accepting the presence of a Keeper in with her, so she will shortly be allowed to come out and join all the others.

11 March 2013

Laragai was let out of her Stockade at the 9 a.m. milk feed, warmly welcomed by Turkwel, Kainuk, Naipoki and Ishaq-B, all of whom surrounded her as she emerged. At first she looked slightly confused, charging the Keepers, but out in the field, Naipoki managed to control her, closely escorting her to the Public Viewing Hour, where she behaved impeccably despite being surrounded by a sea of humans. In the evening she returned to her Stockade with ease, having thoroughly enjoyed this, her first outing at the Nairobi Nursery.

12 March 2013

At 9 a.m. there was another Elephant Rescue alert, this time from Galana Ranch. The orphan was back at the Nursery by 4 p.m., a yearling male of about 1 year, who was extremely emaciated, and had to be put on life support during the plane journey. He was unusually calm - never a good sign for a calf of that age and was named “Danissa”- after the area in which he was found.

13 March 2013

The newcomer had a peaceful night, and was warmly greeted by all the other orphans in the morning, especially Sities, Ishaq-B, Naipoki, Turkwel, Kainuk, Balguda and Ngasha. He took milk during the night - am encouraging sign.

14 March 2013

Danissa’s stool changed to become very watery as soon as the other orphans left him in the morning. Thinking that this could be due to stress, he was allowed out to join the others, but kept close to the Stockades. As he became visibly weaker, he was returned to the Stockades and put on a drip.

15 March 2013

Danissa died at 5 a.m.. It was a very sad day in the Nairobi Nursery for both all the Keepers who had tried so hard to save this calf, and also for the orphans themselves, who understood what had happened, and were visibly depressed throughout the morning. We simply could not control the diarrheoa and he lacked the reserves to cope. Today, Tano was returned to the Nursery from Ithumba, where she had not been doing well. She was warmly welcomed by her human family, as well as the orphans who had known her previously, especially the girls - Turkwel, Kainuk, Sities, Naipoki and Ishaq-B but also by Orwa.

16 March 2013

Laragai and Lima Lima have struck up a close friendship, always close together, overseen lovingly by Naipoki, Ishaq-B and Narok, who is showing signs of becoming Matriarchal.

17 March 2013

Ngasha has been slightly unwell lately, passing loose stools and remaining close to the Keepers alongside his friend, Barsilinga. A sample of blood was taken from both him and Tano for analysis and the results sent to Dr. Clay in the U.S.A. as well as our local Veterinarian, Dr. Sanjay. Tano was found to be suffering from a bacterial infection and was anaemic with signs indicating muscle damage as well. She was put on an injectible medical cocktail course to deal with the infection, the muscle damage and help boost her immune system. Ngasha was found to be suffering from a viral infection, and also received vitamins to help his immune system overcome the virus.

18 March 2013

Tano seems much improved today, as does Ngasha. Further blood tests will be taken after Tano has completed her medication course, which will cover the next 7 days.

19 March 2013

Ngasha’s medication will also cover the next seven days. At the Public Viewing hour today, little Kithaka and Barsilinga entertained the guests with a spirited game of football, in which the Keepers also played a part. Everyone loved seeing the elephant babies so contented and playful, a sure sign of happiness.

20 March 2013

After the Public Viewing hour today, the orphans encountered a troupe of baboons. Quanza led the charge, backed up by Kwale, Faraja and Balguda forcing the baboons to take to the trees, screaming, un-nerving the three boys who fled back to their Keepers, deserting Quanza! She then also lost her nerve and ran back to the Keepers for protection.

21 March 2013

This morning Orwa and Teleki had a Pushing Test of Strength in which Sities intervened, bringing the contest to an end!

22 March 2013

The translocation training to the Elephant Moving Truck has begun for Turkwel, Kainuk and Sities, who will shortly be upgraded to the Ithumba Rehabilitation Centre. Turkwel and Kainuk went into the truck obediently to take their milk, but Sities was reluctant while Orwa, Naipoki and Kihari instead also walked in freely. They enjoyed exploring this new strange environment.

23 March 2013

Today Ngasha completed his medication course, and has a happy face, feeding well, with stools that are again normal. Orphaned rhino Solio did not return to her Stockade during the night.

24 March 2013

Tano has also now completed her course of medication and appears much better, an indication that she is healing. She is much more active now, and also has a happy face, whereas previously she looked depressed and sad. Solio again did not return to her Stockade during the night, although this is not unusual nowadays that Solio is enjoying her birthright of freedom and has befriended a Black Rhino cow who has a calf of her age. Most of the rhino activity now takes place at night.

25 March 2013

At midnight Solio returned to her Stockades, having spent two consecutive days away – a relief for us all. She was in good health. The training of Turkwel, Kainuk and Sities to the Elephant Mover is now going well. Although at first reluctant, Sities is now also going in, having seen Orwa and Naipoki enter the truck to take their milk inside.

26 March 2013

Another blood sample was taken from Tano today, which indicated much improvement with her white cell count down, and muscle damage also improved. Lima Lima and Laragai are very similar to each other, in temperament, height and face etc., so it is sometimes still difficult to identify them apart. Both are very greedy for their milk, crying when they see the empty bottles being taken away!

27 March 2013

There was another Elephant Rescue alert today, this time from Amboseli and for another “albino” calf, obviously sharing the same father as Faraja and perhaps a half brother to him! The mother was found dead in December 2012, suspected to be another poaching victim. The Researchers were surprised to find him still alive after such a long time without milk. He took milk soon after arrival, but is very weak. He is named “Jasiri”, the Swahili word for courage.

28 March 2013

Jasiri Was happily greeted by Sities, Naipoki, Turkwel and Kainuk but collapsed later and had to be put on intravenous life support again, which brought him to his feet again and in charging mode. He took milk and began feeding on cut greens, but his survival hangs very much in the balance still.

29 March 2013

A report was received this morning about a baby elephant from the Imenti Forest, who had been found by the community and held overnight at the Meru National Park KWS Headquarters, its mother either a human/wildlife or poaching victim. The calf, which is only days’ old, and a male, had obviously been without milk for sometime, because it was weak and emaciated. He has been named “Bosha” (the Orma word for “God’s Creation”) He took milk upon arrival, but apparently had been fed cows’ milk at Meru, which will mess up his digestion, but we hope for the best!

30 March 2013

Jasiri spent a peaceful night, enjoying the company next door of Laragai, but remains very weak, although he is enjoying his milk and feeding on the greens, but is still not comfortable with the presence of a Keeper actually inside his Stockade.

31 March 2013

Little Bosha is taking his milk well, but has had and upset stomach having had cows’ milk prior to arrival. However his stools improved later. His back ankle joints are too weak to support his weight and collapse, so he walks awkwardly on the side of his back legs which would be the reason he was abandoned.