Rama is very popular among the rest of the Nursery herd. He is gentle yet outgoing, which immediately puts the others at ease. His sweet demeanor eventually won over Olorien, and by the end of the month, she had welcomed him into her little group of Ziwadi, Kindani, Kinyei, and Bondeni. Rama loves to spend time with sweet Ziwadi, who also walks at a slower pace.
Ziwadi continues to march to the beat of her own drum. In fact, she is the only calf we know who is happier to be browsing on greens than enjoying her milk bottle! She is all business about browsing, and the moment she finishes her bottle, she makes a beeline for the vegetation. The Keepers can always tell when friendships are blossoming amongst their little charges, and it appears that Ziwadi and Kinyei are becoming a dynamic duo. Ziwadi has also become fiercely protective of her friends, which adds an extra dimension to this already extraordinary little calf.
Maktao, Mukkoka, and Maisha remain close friends. Maktao seems to have different buddies for different occasions. While his neighbour, Kiombo, is his preferred playmate, he has a kindred spirit in Mukkoka. Both bulls are remarkably gentle and love to look after the babies. However, they are equally fixated on building and showcasing their strength. The elder bulls spent much of March engaged in friendly wrestling matches, swapping opponents so their games continued all day long. Kiombo, Mukkoka, Maktao, and Naboishu were the most enthusiastic wrestlers, but occasionally they enticed Maisha to join in on their fun, too. Whoever got to wrestle the mini matriarch seemed to take it as a great honour.
Naboishu has selected Mukkoka as his special friend and sparring partner. Although Mukkoka is one year his senior, he never throws his weight around with Naboishu. As young Roho grows up, he is also showing a desire to join in these games. Several times this month, we saw him challenge Naboishu and Mukkoka to strength testing matches. It is good to see him gain some independence from the older females, just as would happen in the wild.
The orphans always love to greet Maxwell the rhino as they come out of their rooms for the day. Nabulu, Kiombo, and Kiasa enjoyed a fun moment with him one morning, charging at his gate before quickly running off. Max playfully reciprocated, standing his ground and kicking up dust to defend his territory. Kinyei is still not sure how she feels about the rhino, and prefers to keep her distance when the others play with Maxwell just in front of her stable. In terms of non-elephant playmates, she finds the wild warthogs to be a more accessible size and delights in chasing them around.
All three ‘Kaluku’ orphans, who came up to the Nairobi Nursery late last year, are thriving. While Kinyei, Kindani, and Bondeni remain an inseparable trio, they have very distinct personalities. Kinyei is still the quiet one, but she gets along with everyone in the Nursery herd. Little Bondeni is cheeky and playful, always seeking out something fun to do with his peers and Keepers. Kindani, however, remains very selective as to who she spends her days with. She is the mini matriarch of the trio and isn’t always eager to follow the older orphans, perhaps because she wants to retain her own leadership status.
Kiasa’s mood swings continued to keep the Keepers on their toes this month. One day, she is so naughty and even a bully; the next, she is ever so caring and gentle with all the Nursery orphans. During a rather hectic feeding, she roped Nabulu, Mukkoka, and even Larro — who is usually so polite — into her antics. They barreled down to the milk feed, pushing each other all over the place like unruly teenagers. The Keepers eventually had to usher them away from the group, so the others could have their bottles in peace. We do hope that Larro isn’t picking up any delinquent habits from Kiasa, as she is an excellent mini-matriarch and future leader of the Nursery herd. The Keepers often remark on how proud they are of Larro, noting how she treats the younger orphans with such care and affection.
The rains finally arrived at the end of the month, bringing about a much-anticipated drop in temperatures and leaving a network of muddy pools in their wake. This meant endless fun and games for the orphans, which they will continue to enjoy over the coming weeks. Now, many of our youngest babies are bundled up in their cozy blankets again, which ward off the morning chill as they explore Nairobi National Park.