Keepers' Diaries, March 2017

Nairobi Nursery Unit

Sadly this has been a busy month, one punctuated with rescue missions with no less than seven orphans coming to us and on two occasions and having to accomplish two rescues in one day! The pressures of the prolonged drought have obviously taken a toll on the creatures of the Natural World, both great and small, and incidences of human-wildlife conflict resulting in all too frequent separation of young babies from their mothers as well. The older females in the Nursery, namely Mbegu, Godoma, Dupotto and Ukame, as well as little Malkia, are the most welcoming and loving towards these newcomers seeking any given opportunity to be with them. Malkia has been a revelation with her caring nature coming to the fore this month, and we are sure that she will follow in the footsteps of Godoma and Mbegu, ultimately becoming a Matriarchal Leader for the nursery young in the future. Mbegu’s qualities as a potential Matriarch of the herd continue to astound us, as it has become clear that she knew each individual baby in their little herd, and would go out of her way to look for them if she could not see them.

01 March 2017

The first day of the third month of the year and all the orphans walked out of their stockades in a happy mood. The big females Ukame, Mbegu, Maramoja with the young girls Godoma, Sana Sana, Tagwa, Malkia, Esampu, Kuishi, Malima and tiny Tamiyoi were all busy welcoming the three little babies Musiara, Chumvi and Enkesha with the bad trunk. Mbegu, Godoma and Ukame were all struggling between them to be the one to take little Chumvi off into the forest, but the little one was presenting a challenge to them as he kept running back to his keeper. Seeing that he was not going to follow them anytime soon, Ukame and Mbegu decided to go over to Enkesha instead, leaving Godoma still vying for Chumvi’s attention. When he kept ignoring her preferring to suckle on his keepers fingers, she walked off and yelled in protest, but soon settled next to little Musiara . These days Kiko is showing less interest in spending his day out in the forest with the elephants like he used to. Today when he came out of his stockade, he only walked as far as the end of Maxwell’s stockade and just watched the warthogs who were grazing in the bushes there. His keeper tried to lead him out with a milk bottle but he only drank it and returned back to the stockade area! From there he walked from one stockade to the next, peering inside; what he was looking for we were not sure.

02 March 2017

As the orphans were busy walking out of their stockades this morning, Karisa and Pare were seen running, chasing after Malkia and Sana Sana as they had found the girls busy enjoying their own game and they wanted to join in too. Their happy game came to an end though when these two boys came running over and started pushing them and trying to climb on them! The game of chasing them around then went on for some time and right out past the end of Maxwell’s stockade, though eventually Sana Sana managed to challenge Karisa by running and turning back into the stockades, leaving Karisa with no option but to join Pare in chasing poor Malkia who was being run around the bushes. Poor Malkia was just running and yelling, unable to shake off the two naughty boys. When she started yelling however, Mbegu, Godoma, Maramoja and Ukame came running and the two bully boys shied away. This left Malkia able to walk away, rumbling, with Mbegu and Godoma for company. Sometimes Karisa and Pare can be such bullies to the little girls like Malkia, Tagwa and Sana Sana – but this is quite common behaviour in young bulls as they get older.

03 March 2017

Settling out in the field, most of the orphans were out and about busy browsing but it was funny to watch Lasayen and Rapa arguing over who could dig up the tasty tree root they had both set their sights on – they were shoving and pushing each other to get to the shrub. Rapa then went down on his knees to try and cut the root with his teeth, having failed to pull it up with his trunk. Lasayen took advantage of Rapa’s pose and abruptly head butted him down. When angry Rapa got up he ran into Lasayen who was now busy himself trying to cut the root, head butting him hard in the side prompting him to fall over the shrub. Rapa tried to push him again into the shrub but Lasayen yelled out, forcing the keepers to run over and intervene, to chase the naughty Rapa away. When Lasayen got up he walked off quietly and went to settle down next to gentle Murit and Luggard who were enjoying a gentle pushing game. Rapa tried to turn back to collect the prize root they had been fighting over, but he was not in luck as big boy Kelelari had come over and was digging at the root himself. Rapa had to respect the big boy and just enjoyed picking up little pieces of the tasty root dropped by Kelelari as he enjoyed and munched away!

04 March 2017

Luggard has been spending his days with the baby group as he is unable to walk as far as the others in the older group, but he has come to accept and even enjoy this. When all the orphans are let out of their stockades in the morning, he just waits beside his stockade, happily buying time to wait for Enkesha, Musiara and Chumvi. Today Luggard walked out as far as the end of Maxwell’s stockade, close to Kiko’s barrier, before he stopped and sneaked back to walk to Chumvi’s stable to buy some time. When the babies came out of their stables he was so happy and followed them, playfully swinging his trunk as he walked and happy to be with this little group. His gentle nature has made the little babies like him too and they like being with him throughout the day.

05 March 2017

During the public visit today the orphans were enjoying their mud bath when some warthogs arrived and went into the mud to cool down from the hot sun. Their presence prompted little Malima, Jotto and Esampu to run out of the mud pool in fright, although this proved tricky for little Malima and Jotto as the sides of the mud pool were sticky and wet. It was too slippery for them to get out quickly! The two young ones started yelling in protest at being unable to get out since they had watched Esampu exit with no trouble! Sana Sana and Malkia who were not shaken when the warthogs came in, attempted to charge at them, but this proved very difficult in the thick mud. They trumpeted, trying to reinforce the charge, but the warthogs were very hot and reluctant to move. This reaction now saw Godoma confidently enter the mud hole and start spinning around, splashing mud everywhere and forcing the warthogs out of the mud pool. Sana Sana and Malkia then began a chase after the warthogs, forcing them to disappear into the bushes. When the orphans went back to the mud pool, the warthogs tried to come in again but Sana Sana spotted them and ran out of the mud pool to chase them back into the bushes. She started trumpeting and bashing around, which drew the attention of the entire herd and they all ended up running off into the bushes a few minutes before it was their scheduled time to leave!

06 March 2017

Walking out into the forest this morning we watched as Kelelari tried to chase Maramoja and climb on her. He tried hard to chase and play with her but Maramoja kept running away and challenging him. It was funny to watch Ukame running after Kelelari as he tried to chase Maramoja as well! Ukame was trying to protect the younger elephant from being bullied by the older boy. Kelelari kept chasing so Ukame yelled out which prompted him to quickly fold up his game and turn to Ukame to see what was wrong. She rumbled loudly at him which drew the attention of Mbegu and some of the others as well. They all came together, rumbling loudly and inspecting each other. Maramoja stood far away from the group, hiding from the troublesome Kelelari. She rejoined the group later when she thought that Kelelari had settled down and would not annoy her.

07 March 2017

As the orphans approached the forest this morning, they were in a playful mood. Some were spotted playfully bashing down the bushes and trumpeting and bumping into one another. Little ones like Tamiyoi, Jotto, Malima, Esampu and Ambo couldn’t really trumpet as they are too small, although they were trying! After such a lovely start to the day, it turned into a long day as we had reports of two orphans that needed rescuing – one from the Tsavo Conservation area and the other from Baringo County. The calf had got stuck in a waterhole along the Mzima-Mombasa pipeline and was rescued by the Voi unit. He was under a month old and called Bahati after being so ‘lucky’ to be found! The other from Baringo was found fallen down a gulley by KWS personnel and they could not locate the mother anywhere. It was also a male under 1 month old and seemed in good health apart for some bruises. He was called Baringo. The new elephant calves both arrived at the Nairobi Nursery in relative health and responding well to the milk formula.

08 March 2017

The two new babies spent a peaceful night in their new surroundings and were happy in the company of the keepers; their new surrogate mothers for the next few years. In the morning they woke up fine and were happy to join Musiara, Chumvi and Enkesha – though Musiara and Enkesha were jealous of them to begin with after seeing how much attention they were getting from the keepers. They kept trying to push the new arrivals, but that matter was soon sorted with some more hanging blankets which provided a motherly figure. Mbegu, Godoma, Malkia, Maramoja, Malima, Sana Sana, Tagwa and Esampu were seen milling around with Baringo and Bahati, touching and embracing them and trying to mother them as best they could. The babies were confused who to attach themselves too with so much attention, so just milled amongst the whole group. Enkesha went to her first public visiting time today in the company of Luggard who had gone for some days without attending that visit either. Upon arriving at the mud bath they immediately drank their milk and were the first ones to walk to the mud pool – they really enjoyed their mud bath, especially Luggard who loves it so much and had missed it over the past few days. Enkesha proved to love the mud as well as she only came out when it was time to leave the area – she was reluctant to leave and the keepers had to keep calling her, as she wanted to spend longer in the nice mud.

09 March 2017

When the little babies walked out into the bush this morning, they had the chance to join up with the older orphans for a little bit- they were happily greeted by Godoma, Tamiyoi, Mbegu and Malkia. Mbegu spent a bit of time with all of them before leaving to look after the rest of the herd, leaving the other three busy looking after the little babies. Bahati and Baringo were trying very hard to reach Godoma’s ears so they could suckle on them. As they were trying to reach for Godoma’s ears, Malkia was busy trying to pull them away from her, which was a funny scene to behold. She tried to pull Bahati away from Godoma but he went running back to her, with Malkia following to try again, but each time she failed to get the little one away and eventually she ended up yelling in protest at not being able to have the little one to herself. As it was nearly bottle feeding time at 9am, Godoma left the babies and joined up with her own group to have their bottles, but Malkia refused to leave them and was at last able to pamper the little Bahati all to herself. When the orphans had finished their bottles and were all walking out back into the forest, Malkia was forced to have her bottle so she could go to join her group, but it was funny to watch her finish her bottles as fast as she could before running back to the babies again! She was very reluctant to join her own herd and spent some time yelling in protest at having to leave the baby group. She is going to be a lovely caring one just like Mbegu and Godoma.

10 March 2017

Young Enkesha is doing so well and as soon as she comes out of her stockade she looks for a finger to suckle on, or another milk bottle to enjoy! She is very greedy over her milk and will always yell and remain restless until she has had it. Today as she came out of her stockade, yelling for her milk as usual as she was following along behind Esampu, naughty Esampu turned around and pushed her, though she was quickly reprimanded by the keepers and ran away. Godoma heard the shouting and came back to investigate what was going on. During the public visit Enkesha walked in yelling as Jotto, Tamiyoi and Malima ran past her speeding towards their milk bottles. She took her milk bottle whilst she was still yelling! As the last group arrived for their milk bottles she was walking around looking restless and looking for more milk bottles. She was still shouting which annoyed Esampu who drove her into the mud pool; once in the mud amazingly she settled down and was quite happy playing in the mud!

11 March 2017

As all the orphans were browsing deep in the forest in the early morning, all of a sudden Ndotto, Lasayen, Pare, Karisa, Maramoja, Ukame and Kelelari were frightened by some buffalo bulls that were fighting each other in the bushes. This made the orphans scamper out of the bushes trumpeting and running back to their keepers and the others in the group. It was close when Ndotto, Pare and Lasayen ran in the wrong direction and found themselves behind the fighting buffalos. All of a sudden one of them broke away and ran in their direction, and the three boys yelled out in fear with the buffalo running behind them. Their commotion caused the buffalo to take a different direction and Ndotto was wise enough to lead the others towards the safety of their bottle feeding area.

12 March 2017

Soon after the first group of orphans had settled out in the visiting area after their milk, some were busy drinking water from the water troughs and others were rolling around in the red, clay soil, like Tamiyoi, Malima, Enkesha and Jotto. Ngilai, who was the oldest boy amongst the group, was chasing after Kuishi and trying to climb on her, though she was thwarting his attempts by facing him and confidently pushing him. This saw Ngilai fold this game and go after poor Enkesha who was happily enjoying a soil bath alongside Tamiyoi and Malima. These are very gentle and peace-loving girls who have been very welcoming towards Enkesha since she joined the slightly older group. Ngilai’s attempts were pretty soon quashed by the keepers who forced him to keep away from Enkesha and the others in the group if he was going to be annoying. After being cautioned by the keepers he had no other choice than to go into the mud pool where he settled down to wallow. He clambered and slid on the sides of Godoma and Sana Sana who were busy enjoying a lengthy mud bath.

13 March 2017

After the orphans settled out in the bush in the early morning, little Luggard and Murit who are both calm and gentle boys and good playmates, were seen engaged in a pushing game that saw Luggard running around the bushes. The two boys were obviously very happy and welcoming in the new day! Their game earned the interest of little Jotto who came over and gently started pushing Murit. They all played nicely together until Luggard started trying to climb on Jotto, but he could not manage very well because of obviously balancing on three legs, and just went back to pushing him. Little Jotto is a young bull who is pretty adventurous and interactive and is always eager to learn new pushing tactics, even at this young age. This is unlike Ambo who is much quieter and attached to his adopted mother, Mbegu. Today he was so envious and cried out when he saw Mbegu giving the four babies a lot of attention. Sometimes he tired to come between those babies and Mbegu so that he could keep all her attention for himself.

14 March 2017

As the orphans were heading out deeper into the forest today, Ukame, Kelelari, Karisa, Maramoja, Galla and Wanjala encountered a herd of giraffes and their young. When the young giraffes turned and ran back towards their mothers, the orphan elephants also got a fright and turned to run back towards their keepers. The noise they made caused the giraffes to all take off at once and this promoted the entire orphan herd to run into the bushes bellowing for the little ones to come to them. We watched as Godoma took the smaller group into the bushes near the stockade whilst Mbegu and the older, big individuals held themselves next to the keepers. Godoma was wise enough to take her group to near where the little babies were and upon arriving there she, Sana Sana and Esampu rumbled to the little ones. Their rumbling and greeting caused Mbegu, Ukame, Dupotto, Maramoja and Kelelari to come running over, trumpeting and stamping their feet. The big females were busy checking over the little babies but baby Baringo took a shine to Pare and was running after him, and it was funny to watch Pare running away from him, yelling, not wanting the baby to follow him! His reaction made Malkia come over and keep Baringo from following Pare. Thus Pare was able to walk away and avoid interacting with the little babies which he doesn’t seem to be interested in. Karisa, Galla, Wanjala and Kelelari also walked away and avoided the baby interaction!

15 March 2017

Soon after the orphans arrived in the forest, Maramoja, Godoma, Ukame, Sana Sana, Kusihi, Pare, Lasayen, Ndotto and Malkia were all busy scampering about, trumpeting and stamping their feet in excitement for the new day. Their playfulness attracted the attention of the entire herd who joined in the game, all except for Luggard and the four little babies who were with their keepers and enjoying their attention. We rescued another orphan today from the Tsavo Conservation area when the Mtito desnaring team found the calf wondering all alone and confused and obviously very dehydrated. It was kept in Tsavo overnight until the nursery keepers could fly to retrieve her the next morning. It was a young female just over one year old and we are not sure what happened to her mother or the herd, which could not be located. She responded well to the milk formula right away and was airlifted to the Nairobi nursery.

16 March 2017

The new arrival spent a peaceful night in the nursery and seemed very settled. She was not very aggressive and just enjoyed her milk formula a lot. Murit is in the stable next door and is doing his best to communicate and reassure her of a loving environment. Early in the morning she was greeted by Malkia, Ukame, Dupotto, Mbegu, Rapa, Ndotto and Lasayen; though the three boys kept scaring her as they knocked on her gate so hard, prompting her to shy away rather than greet them. The boys did not stay long though as they lost interest and walked away, so the little girl happily interacted with Mbegu, Dupotto, Ukame and Malkia. It was so funny to watch Malkia lying down on the ground right at the entrance to her stable, trying to entice the baby to come and play. The new baby looked happy and eager to join the orphans but she needs to stay for a little longer inside her stockade.

17 March 2017

During the public visit today, soon after the first group of orphans had finished their milk bottles, some were drinking water from the water troughs and others were standing together wondering what to do next. Esampu and Ambo were tussling with each other over who could suck the milk from the empty bottles lying on the ground. Esampu got hold of Ambo’s tail and pulled him away from the wheelbarrow where the empty bottles were. Ambo turned to head butt her Esampu grabbed his forelegs with her trunk leaving him unable to do so – he yelled in protest and the keepers came over to intervene and separate them. They ran back to each other ready to start pushing each other again when Esampu saw the wheelbarrow being wheeled away and quickly ran after it. She was unlucky though as by the time she reach it, the keeper has already taken it to the other side of the rope cordon. Esampu was so annoyed she turned and took her frustration out on Malima by pushing her, but when she was cautioned she settled in the mud wallow where she then started playing spinning games and scratching herself on the sides of the mud bath, forgetting all about the lost milk!

18 March 2017

Malima and Jotto are becoming good play-mates and we have seen that normally whenever they are seen together they are engaged in some kind of pushing-game. As these two were playing this morning, Luggard kept trying to come between them, wanting to play with Jotto as well. Jotto wasn’t ready to invite him into the game though and kept running away from him. He might have been afraid that Luggard wanted to push and bully him, or he was just preoccupied with his game with Malima to engage him as well. The two were relieved when Enkesha came over to where they were playing as when Luggard saw her coming over he abandoned his efforts at trying to join their game and started chasing Enkesha around with the intention of trying to climb on her. She is much faster than him though and she ran back to the main herd for protection. Maramoja saw her running towards the group and Luggard following behind. She raised her ears high and waited for Luggard to arrive, but when Luggard saw she was ready to discipline him he stopped and changed his direction. Malima and Jotto had already come together by this time and carried on with their game without disturbance.

19 March 2017

Out of all of the babies, the older girls seem to like Musiara the most. Whenever he screams or complains about something, Esampu, Malkia, the little Malima and Mbegu all run over to him to find out what is troubling him. Musiara is known to hang at the back of the baby group when they head out in the morning and today as well he was left a few paces behind Chumvi, Bahati and Baringo. He came around a corner and couldn’t see his friends and the keepers who were a few paces in front in the bushes. He started yelling and looking for the path that his friends had taken. Mbegu heard him from a distance and together with a team of young girls including Esampu, Malima and Malkia she came running and calling trying to find where Musiara was and why he was shouting. Along their way they came across a warthog and her piglets and Esampu drove them away into the bushes. The other three went directly to Musiara and Mbegu pulled the little boy under her neck to comfort him, as Malkia and Malima stood on both sides. They later led him to where the other little ones were and spent some time with the babies, before re-joining the main herd.

20 March 2017

The playful boy Ngilai must have been dreaming about Maxwell the rhino over night as when he came out in the morning he ran straight over to his stockade gate. He wanted to have some fun with him, but Max was still sleeping beside his gate. Ngilai did not give up though and started pushing and pulling on the gate, making a lot of noise. Max got up and started playing the game, knocking on the gate with his horn – he then got really excited and started running up and down and around in circles as well, encouraging Ngilai to do the same. The game didn’t last too long though as Ngilai saw Enkesha coming out of her stockade and rumbling as she always does, to alert everyone she is out and on her way to the forest. Ngilai went running over to her and put his trunk on her back, ready to try and climb on her. Luckily however, Godoma was waiting for Enkesha nearby and she chased after Ngilai, sending him back in the direction he had come from. Ngilai managed to dodge Godoma’s charge though and made his own way into the forest. Little baby Musiara always falls asleep under the trees when he is avoiding the scorching sun. Today it seems he had a bad dream as he woke up suddenly yelling out, and it was Godoma and Ndotto who came to his rescue. They both charged over with the trunks and ears held high but when they arrived, Musiara has already made his way to his keepers. Godoma seems to know and understand each baby’s voice as she led Ndotto straight to Musiara, and after finding that he was okay, they walked back to join the rest of their group. Last night we rescued a new baby from Voi area in Tsavo called Satao. With the arrival of this baby Esampu was moved to a bigger stockade to make room for the new baby, but when it came time to return home in the evening to the night stockades, Esampu did not want to go into her new room. She fought hard to get back into her usual room which forced the keepers to swap her with Godoma.

21 March 2017

Despite the hot weather, it was only Malima and Tamiyoi in the first young group that decided to go into the mud wallow, the others kept themselves bust browsing on the greens. When Malima was finished mud bathing, she decided to keep messing around and engaged Jotto in a pushing and wrestling game. It went on for some time and only ended with Ngilai came over to join them. Malima tried to avoid the rough boy who was quite strong, and was the first one to walk away, followed by Jotto. Whilst she was being fed today, Esampu kept raising her ears and trying to push and charge at the keeper that was attending to her. Sana Sana was just standing nearby, watching her bad behaviour. When Esampu had finished her last bottle of milk, Sana Sana came over to push her away – she took ger right away into the mud bath and forced her to wallow there, even if she was not yet prepared for one! She wanted to keep her out of trouble. When the second group arrived for mud bath, again there were only two that decided to go into mud and that was Mbegu and Rapa. They stayed in the mud from the beginning up until the end of their feeding time there. Ndotto and his friend Lasayen enjoyed a wrestling game from start to finish as well! In the afternoon we received a call that there was an orphan found all alone in the Irima area near Voi in Tsavo. A team of keepers prepared for the rescue mission and left as soon as possible, and by 6pm they were back at the nursery with a little girl that was nearly 1 year old. She was names Ndiwa and the poor girl was very skinny and dehydrated, proving that she had been without her mother for some time. It took her some time to settle and she was charging around, but in the night she took some milk from a bucket placed in front of her stockade. With lots of fresh vegetation provided for her in her stockade, she fed very well throughout the night and Kuishi, who was her naighbour, helped her settle down as well.

22 March 2017

Enkesha loves the little babies but a few days ago she was promoted to join the older herd. Sometimes she still wonders off to try and find her way back to the little ones who she has spent most of her time with since arriving at the nursery. In the morning, she left the stockades in the company of the older ones, but after learning that Musiara’s baby herd had arrived in the forest in their usual playing place she took off to go and join them. She did not leave alone however as Jotto, who had been standing beside her, decided to go with her as well. When Jotto saw her running of we think he thought she was making her way back to the stockades. He tried to overtake her running in that direction, but when he saw her divert towards the babies, he followed her. One thing Enkesha never goes without doing is screaming! When they arrived where the babies were she was so excited she started yelling, but this only attracted Tagwa and Mbegu who also left the main herd trumpeting and running towards the babies. When Mbegu started running, the whole family got involved and the air was filled with rumbling and trumpeting. The big boy Kelelari was left standing alone and confused wondering what the commotion was all about. He too eventually came over to the babies in a strong, low rumbling voice. In the end everybody was with the little babies all interacting and those that were less interested in the babies today, like Ukame, were dusting in the loose soil for the babies close by. They all had a lot of fun together, only leaving when it was time for the 9am milk feed. After the public visit today, some of the elephants came to escort new arrival Mteto out to the forest – it was a very smooth transition as all of the orphans were so nice and welcoming to her, especially Godoma, Sana Sana, Tagwa and Mbegu.

23 March 2017

It was the first day for Mteto to join her friends out in the forest in the early morning. Murit was by her side the entire time this morning. At one stage Maramoja and Mbegu also came over to protect her, especially from boisterous Rapa! He had already tried numerous times to push her and that was why Mbegu and Maramoja took on that role. Kelelari, the biggest boy, was also not being very nice to her, whenever she came close, but otherwise she had a very enjoyable and relaxed morning, and that is why we decided it would be okay for her to attend the public visit. During the visit she acted as if she had been going there for months and behaved very well, avoiding Kelelari as much as she could! She had a wonderful time at the mud pool when she joined Mbegu for a bath. As the public visit went on we received another phone call from the Voi keepers that a little baby girl had been found trapped down a water hole. As the keepers prepared to leave, there was yet another phone call from the Ziwani anti-poaching team that they had rescued another male calf of about 16 months. The teams left immediately to retrieve the two orphans, with the plan that the baby from Ziwani would be rescued first before flying to Voi airstrip to collect the youngest. The plan went accordingly and both babies arrived safely at the Nairobi nursery shortly before 4pm. The girl was in a terrible condition and had been without her mother for some time. She was put on a drip to help her recover. The boy has a bit more fight, though he was also tired, but he ate some of the browse that was placed in his stockade. On the way home today the orphans were released in their small groups to make their way back to their stockades, but it seems that half way to the stockades Enkesha was bullied by one of those accompanying her, perhaps Rapa! She diverted off course without anyone’s knowledge and it was only realised that she had not returned home with the others when all the orphans were already in their stockades. The keepers in the forest knew she had been allowed to head for home and they were about to go and look for her in the forest when she came running in yelling for her milk.

24 March 2017

Mbegu, Dupotto, Sana Sana, Malkia and Godoma were very interested in the new arrivals this morning and stretched their trunks to smell and interact with them. After spending some time there they proceeded to walk out to the forest for their browsing time. Enkesha is continuing with her shouting behaviour – and sometimes it is for no reason at all. Whenever she comes out of her stockade in the morning, she starts shouting as if just to announce that she is awake and ready to walk to the forest. Today she was screaming so loudly when she came out, that Godoma came over to find out what was wrong. Godoma found her shouting and rubbing her healing trunk on the floor, but she just watched her and walked away. Enkesha walked behind Godoma and followed her out to the forest where the others were already browsing.

25 March 2017

Musiara and Chumvi seem to like and understand each other very much and because of that they respect each other compared to the other little ones in their group. While beside their hanging blanket in the forest, they do not mind if each other share the blanket, but not anyone else from their group. Because they have been there together they think everything belongs to them and not to the other new arrivals in the group – Bahati and Baringo. Chumvi is even behaving a bit like Rapa and when either of these other two approaches the blanket he runs over and pushes them away. Sometimes he and Musiara team up to do that as well! Today Mbegu made it very clear during the public visit that she doesn’t like to hear people making a lot of noise. Today during visiting there was a group of young girls who were talking loudly and shouting as well. Mbegu was enjoying a mud bath and they were right there in front of her. At first she warned them by waving her trunk and spraying them with mud but when they did not stop she physically came out of the pool and smacked them with her muddy trunk, before going back to the mud pool. She was almost about to go up to another lady who was making some noise and get her muddy as well, but by that time there was a keeper there who prevented her from doing so. As the matriarch she wants to make sure that there is nothing around that will disturb her herd.

26 March 2017

Kiko is proving his very naughty character all the time and he did so again today during the public visit. These days it is very hard to get him to listen to the keepers and just before 11am he walked to the mud bath ground and didn’t want to leave. The keepers tried calling and persuading him with milk and his favourite vegetation to get him to leave before the public came but nothing worked. He remained busy feeding on the acacia trees around the area paying no attention to anybody. From a distance he watched the public as they began to walk down to the mud bath area where the elephants come for their milk. After they had all settled and the first group had finished drinking their milk, some of the orphans were rolling in the mud and the others were dusting in the loose soil. Kiko started trying to move around to the public but three keepers got in his way to block him from getting close to the rope cordon. He stopped and changed direction but made further attempts to get to the crowd, though they were all in vain. Eventually he went back to the acacia trees and carried on browsing. Malima has now has a little sister who loves mud bathing as much as her, in the form of Enkesha; Enkesha even fell asleep inside the mud bath today! She had to be woken up by the keepers as all the others were already leaving the area.

27 March 2017

Enkesha is loved by almost everyone in the family and even the older boys! In the morning Ndotto was running after her and trying to climb on her back. During the public visit today it was the rough and playful Ngilai who was running after her. The keepers tried to keep him from bothering her, but he persisted and kept following her even when she went to the mud pool to play. Kiko for the second day in a row came down to the public visit but he did not stay long and left after a few minutes. Soon after the visit a few orphans were walked back to the stockade to escort little Ndiwa out to the forest. Godoma, Malima, Jotto and Kuishi were at the front of the group sent to collect her out. When the gate was opened, she was not in a hurry to come out! Malima was the first one to enter her stockade to help her out but she did not pay any attention. Malkia approached her when she was finally walking out and gave her a little push in the direction of the forest. The others followed behind them. When she arrived in the forest she looked very happy and set about eating all the different types of vegetation. Mbegu and the older orphans joined her later. She was being escorted by Dupotto and Sana Sana when the mother of the family came over to greet her and welcome her to the forest. Ndiwa’s first day out in the forest went very well. Because it was her first day out, the whole herd stayed close to the stockades in case there was any trouble with her, and Mbegu used this opportunity to go and visit the baby group. She was accompanied by Karisa. She went on greeting the little ones and enjoyed her time with them, but it was cut short when Karisa pushed Musiara when the babies went over to greet him. Mbegu charged and drove Karisa away back to the main herd, prematurely ending her time with the babies.

28 March 2017

Finally we received some rain last night and this morning the orphan babies had something to smile about! In the early morning sun rays Enkesha, Ndotto, Mbegu and Kuishi all enjoyed rolling around in the small puddles formed in the forest overnight. Enkesha is a great fan of mud bathing and will not pass any puddle without splashing or rolling in it, so this morning she got the opportunity to lead her older peers to wherever there was mud or water. Ndotto was following Enkesha wherever she went, trying to climb on her back, but Mbegu kept an eye on her to protect her from Ndotto’s games. Eventually Mbegu invited Ndotto to a pushing game which distracted him from bothering Enkesha, which went on for some time. This made room for Kuishi to have fun with the little girl and roll around in the mud with her. Little Ndiwa made her first visit to the public visiting time at 11am today, and throughout her time at the mud bath she stuck close to Mbegu and Dupotto. She stayed next to one or both of them the entire time, and did chose not to follow Mbegu into the mud bath but stayed beside Dupotto who was busy browsing. Three boys decided to hide themselves away in the bushes today for nearly 2 hours! Ndotto, Rapa and Ngilai went missing but they were soon found happily browsing away around the corner on some thick bushes.

29 March 2017

Sometimes in nature we find there are just born leaders, and we believe that Mbegu is one of them. She will not only protect and care for all the herd, but she also knows who is who and her day will never be complete without visiting all of the little ones. Today when she found the opportunity she visited the baby group with Jotto, Enkesha and Mteto. She went over them checking they were okay, and found that the two babies Musiara and Chumvi were missing, as they had not come out of their stockades yet. She waited around with the babies for some time, but must have lost her patience in not knowing where the other little ones were. She took off and ran back to the stockades to find them, and not even the calls of the keepers could stop her. On her way back however, she met up with them coming out and met them with joyous rumbles. She pulled them under her neck and walked them to where the other babies were in the forest. After spending some time with them all there, she walked Jotto, Enkesha and Mteto back to where the main herd was. Last night at around 9.30pm, we received a call that a woman in Turkwel had found a young baby all alone along the Turkwel River. The KWS reported to the woman’s home the following morning to confirm that she had rescued a young elephant baby and that it was still alive. A rescue team left immediately and returned by 3pm with the baby – a very tired looking 1 month old baby boy. He rested and after a short while devoured his tasty and nutritious milk formula.

30 March 2017

The little boy who arrived yesterday who we have named Takaywa, has already attached himself to his new human family. When babies Bahati and Baringo came out of their stables this morning to welcome him, he didn’t seem to pay any attention to them, though they are still too young to understand. Baringo seems to have realised however that Takaywa is new in the Nursery and tried to approach him, but the new baby didn’t want anything to do with him and looked to his Keepers, following them wherever they went. This afternoon Enkesha was running all over the forest to and fro and we were not quite sure why. Suddenly she just ran off and the keepers thought she was still there, but when they looked behind the bushes she was not there and she had truly run off. She must have wanted a mud bath! As within a few minute she was found down at the mud hole enjoying wallowing with Mteto and Malima. Malima was in the mud pool too, whilst Mteto was standing on the edge of the mud bath watching them. They were escorted back to the forest until the 3pm private visit when they returned for the proper mud bathing session. After the 3pm visit Malkia and Esampu were taken to meet baby Takaywa for the first time and they didn’t want to leave his side until they were escorted back to their herd to return home later in the afternoon.

31 March 2017

We has quite a surprise today when one of the big elephants was seen running all over the place, ears high and alert, stomping and flattening all the grass and bushes and trumpeting in real excitement. No one was really interested in joining her game as they were all crowded together in the same thicket enjoying some browse, and when she came close to the keepers they realized it was Ukame! It was a real surprise to find Ukame in this kind of mood as she is not usually this excitable. Perhaps every once in a while but she is never the one to initiate this kind of game, normally she is following someone else. Ambo was the first one to join her and assisted her in driving away the warthogs that had come close too close to the herd. Rapa and Wanjala quickly followed suit! This happy moment really reach its momentum when the professor of trumpeting, Esampu, joined the choir however. Her trumpeting is so loud. It was only those that had gone to see the little babies, Mbegu, Pare, Mteto, Sana Sana and Malkia who were left out of the game. All the rest enjoyed the trumpeting and game at length –with today’s architect being the unlikely Ukame! After all the noise and running around, Galla with his friend Wanjala joined engaged Ndotto in a wrestling game. The experienced Ndotto tackled both of them with all of his pushing knowledge, shoving one away and then the other. They took lots of time playing, before settling back to feed. With all the poor new babies we have received recently, there have been lots of changes to the orphans night rooms. When Takaywa came in Malima gave up her stable to him and she was promoted to a bigger stockade. Her first and second night were fine, but this evening she fought so hard, wanting to get into her old stable. Wanjala and Ukame were also moved rooms to the other side of Maxwell’s stockade, and they have been giving the keepers a hard time about entering those as well. Ngilai and Pare have had no complaints about their new rooms – which belonged to Ukame and Wanjala before!