March is a month filled with tragedy for the Nairobi Nursery, beginning with the arrival of the 2 week old baby female elephant named “Lekupeh” from the Meibai Conservancy near Wamba in Laikipia on the 12th. This baby arrived with a raging white cell count and suppurating foot pads, having obviously walked for many miles before falling into an erosion gulley. Despite our best efforts, we simply could not control the septicemia, or the pain, and she passed away on the 23rd March, the same day that we lost the battle to save precious little Olodare, who suffered complications with his umbilical hernia and a new mysterious overnight swelling on one hind leg, which we suspected might have been a snake bite. However, the postmortem revealed a heart defect, that would have cost little Olodare his life eventually anyway. He had always been a fragile baby, but managed to come through teething, and was beginning to play, so we hoped that he was through the woods, but it was not to be. It was extremely distressing to have to bury two of our infant Nursery babies on the same day, and just a few days after another devastating blow that left us all undone and extremely distraught – the snatching of our precious little orphaned Thomson’s Gazelle, Geri, right before our eyes in Daphne’s front yard at 5 p.m. in the evening by 3 lions. It was all over in a matter of seconds, and on this occasion there was nothing we could have done to save her.
Geri was a family treasure, whose life we had saved on three previous occasions, initially as a newborn fawn who would have made lunch for a bushmeat poacher in neighbouring Ongata Rongai, then from a dog baboon who leapt through Angela’s bedroom window and snatched Geri as she lay on the carpet, and finally from those same lions, who snatched her from Angela’s front porch, when Angela (bravely but foolishly gave chase, confronted the two lions who had seized Geri, and forced them to drop her.) Geri healed completed from that lion attack, held lovingly in the arms of her favourite person on earth, Angela eldest son Taru, as the Vet stitched her up and was sure that she would die of shock. However, when she saw Taru, suddenly she wanted to live and eventually recovered completely from that lion attack. She spent the nights sleeping in the safety of Angela’s Office, and was free during the hours of daylight to fraternize with her many friends - the resident warthogs, the impalas, the resident bushbuck, the giraffe and “Shabby Sheik” the orphaned Sacred Ibis. After shed copious tears and grieving deeply for all three precious orphans, like the elephants themselves, we had to turn the page and focus on the living, giving thanks that our two baby elephants enjoyed a comfortable end surrounded by those they loved, which would otherwise not have been the case, and precious little Geri had 4 good and happy years as an integral part of the human family she loved beyond all else. She was cherished by all the Staff and her many wild friends and will be sadly missed.
It then took an elephant to remind Daphne of her age! A loving trunk hug round her neck by mischievous little Kithaka when she greeted him in his Night Stable left her with a pinched nerve in the neck, and incapacitated for the next month, complicated by a subsequent chest infection! Hence, March has been an unforgettable month for us all, though not without the good news as well.
The three remaining tiny infant Nursery babies, Kamok, Ashaka and little Kauro are all thriving, Kauro having sprouted one molar without the usual complications, which is a “first” for us. Kamok is the self appointed Mini Matriarch of the three, anxious not to share that roll with Arruba, Mashariki and Suswa, all of whom want to “mother” her along with her two satellites. The moment the Big Girls begin to take an interest in the babies, Kamok steers them back to the Keepers! By month end, the three miniatures were up to partaking of the noon Public Visiting Hour, when Kamok, like mischievous Kithaka and his side-kick, Lemoyian, enjoys running along the visitors’ rope, bumping into anyone within reach, deliberately targeting the young African school children who never fail to deliver the reaction she wants, making her feel very important and in control!
Murera has always tended to be somewhat of a loner, separating from the main group to browse further afield. Recently she has taken to persuading her favourite, Lemoyian to join her, along with Sonje (her best friend) and Oltaiyoni who is Sonje’s chosen favourite calf. Faraja, Teleki, Rorogoi, and Quanza sometimes opt to tag along too, all often reluctant to return in the evenings when the Keepers go in search of them to round them up for the night. Both Murera and Sonje will shortly be going to the new Umani Rehabilitation Centre in the Kibwezi Forest, a facility designed for the orphans left compromised by poaching, who would have difficulty coping with the tough conditions of arid Tsavo. There they will be joined by Mbirikani from the Voi Unit, whose front foot was almost severed by a poacher’s cable snare, and who, like Murera and Sonje, has been left somewhat handicapped. It is gratifying now to see Murera lying down and rolling in the mudbath on hot days, whereas previously she has always opted to stand on the side, and throw mud over herself with her trunk. A light shower of rain on the 25th relieved the March heat, and left all the orphans extremely happy, but for an unexpected scare from a lion pursuing a warthog who ran right through the orphans and that way, managed to escape, but which left the orphans visibly shaken.
Bomani and Ziwa are new best friends, and Pushing Partners, while Teleki is up to taking on Big Boy Orwa and during tests of strength, gives a good account of himself. Kithaka was upset by being defeated in a Pushing Match by Barsilinga, and vented his frustration on his best friend, Lemoyian, something that left Lemoyian surprised and not best pleased either, since these two are usually allies! Oltaiyoni is competitive with her Night Neighbor, Barsilinga, “miffed” because he has a tendency to try and snatch her greens through the separating bars. And Ngasha has joined the ranks of the Pushy Greedy Boys at milk feeding times, downing his ration hastily, and then trying to hijack the share of others.
The month ended on a dramatic note when Kithaka, feeling very “grown up” decided to browse on his own in a separate thicket to the others, and disturbed a huge python which suddenly unraveled itself, scaring him witless! This triggered a mass Bush-Bashing session by all the others which took the Keepers a while to bring under control!
The Rhinos:- Solio has made several excursions back to base this month, to greet and play with Maxwell, and let us all know that she is well and happy being now living independent as a wild rhino accepted by the wild resident rhino community of Nairobi National Park.. Max is always wildly excited by her arrival, galloping round his Enclosure with tail erect long before she comes into sight in anticipation of interaction with her. She is his pride and joy, but he also receives visits from Nairobi Park wild rhinos during the hours of darkness as well, which he also obviously relishes. Max enjoys the attention of the visiting public as well, and is content within his dark world, well fed, enjoying treats, his mudbath and dustbath and visits from others of his kind.