Nairobi Nursery Unit
March began with some big changes for our ‘Kaluku trio.’ Kindani, Kinyei, and Bondeni have grown up sleeping in enclosed stables, but the time has come for them to move into open-air stockades. This is an important step in their reintegration journeys, as they will be sleeping in similar bedrooms when they graduate to a Reintegration Unit. While Bondeni and Kinyei seemed excited about their upgraded spaces, Kindani had no interest in her new accommodations. She stood defiantly by her gate, making it clear that she wanted to return to her old stable. Not all orphans welcome change, but the Keepers are confident that Kindani will settle in eventually.
Interestingly, these new accommodations seemed to spur a change in Bondeni. Although he is still the naughtiest member of the Nursery herd, his move into a ‘big boy bedroom’ brought out a much calmer side in him. Perhaps he feels that he is now part of the older crowd, and must behave accordingly. We will see if this is a temporary or permanent change!
Overall, it was a scorching hot month in Nairobi. Even our newer orphans, who are still quite shy and thus hesitant about wallowing, felt the need to cool off. One morning, our quiet boys Mukutan, Choka, and Taabu were the first to dive into the muddy waters. It was great to see them leading the charge.
Taabu is an unusually gentle bull, but he is very protective of his new herd. If he feels that wild impala or the Nursery’s resident warthogs are too close to the orphans, he does not hesitate to run forward and chase them away. This usually initiates a wonderful game, in which the entire herd bands together to drive off the interlopers.
Choka loves to hang out with Taabu, but this month, he began spending time with some of the older orphans. Bondeni, Kindani, and Kinyei, who continue to be the best of friends, invited Choka to join their group. They are very happy for the little bull to follow them on their daily adventures, and it has been good to see Choka spending time with some of the older members of the Nursery herd.
Although he is not the youngest orphan at the Nursery, Mukutan continues to behave like the ‘baby’ of the herd. Probably because of his traumatic rescue, he scares easily and often makes a big fuss over nothing. He has a voracious appetite and behaves exactly like Naboishu during feedings, yelling when it is time for milk. Mukutan has been spending a lot of time with Sagateisa, Choka, and Taabu, which makes the Keepers very happy to see.
Down at the mud bath, Mukutan, Choka, Taabu, and even Kamili and Latika avoid little Kerrio, because they know she can be so naughty. Mukutan is often the target of Kerrio’s mischief, because he always reacts and yells out when she chases him, which only eggs her on even more. The Keepers always step in, ushering Kerrio back to the older girls.
Although Naleku is a very capable matriarch and diligently looks after the entire Nursery herd, little Kerrio has stolen her heart. One morning, Naleku couldn’t find her as everyone was walking out into the forest. She proceeded to cause the most tremendous scene, charging around and trumpeting. She then proceeded to inspect everyone one by one, until she found Kerrio standing between Kindani and Kinyei.
Our little Sagateisa is going from strength to strength. Although she is still quite weak, she thoroughly enjoys her afternoon mud baths. She is always among the first to finish her milk and then dashes straight into the muddy water. Kerrio seems to know that bullying Sagateisa in the mud bath would be a step too far; instead, she and Naleku go out of their way to accompany the new girl as she wallows. Sagateisa is probably closest to Kamili, as Kamili is such a gentle friend and always keeps her company in the forest.
As most adolescents do, Roho experienced some mood swings this month. One morning, he woke up in a towering temper and took it out on all the other orphans. Everyone gave him a wide berth, until he made the mistake of bullying Olorien. She is not an elephant to be crossed, and when Roho knocked into her, she retaliated by shoving him with such force that he almost fell to the ground. This sent the older bull running back to the herd, suddenly quite contrite!
Esoit remains the peacekeeper of the Nursery herd. When Roho is in a bad mood, it is Esoit who brings him out of it. He likes to play with everyone and anyone, although Bondeni seems to be his favourite playmate. Some of the braver girls, such as Latika and Olorien, are always happy to take him on. The Keepers remark how Esoit is so full of energy every morning, eager to run out of his bedroom and begin the day.
While Ziwadi has been spending a lot more time with the Nursery herd, she still has her solitary quirks. One of her funniest habits is the way she escorts herself home in the afternoons. After the 3 o’clock mud bath, she drifts away from the herd and makes a beeline for the compound, where she walks straight in her stable. Sometimes, the Keepers usher her back out to join the others, but they are equally happy to give her an early evening if that is what she really wants.
The big boys, Oldepe, Barnoti, Lodo, and Rama, have become quite a unit. They are all gentle giants, preferring to quietly browse rather than throw their weight around. Lodo is very much a friendly uncle to the younger orphans, as he never pushes them or causes any fights. He is a great friend to shy little Tingai.
Tingai may be shy, but he is also very sneaky. He has taken over the mantle of ‘Houdini’ from Oldepe. Whenever he has the opportunity, he wanders off to browse on his own. When the Keepers find him, he immediately stops what he is doing, puts his trunk in his mouth, and runs away. He always stops to put his trunk in his mouth, like a cheeky toddler sucking their thumb.
Suguroi and Olorien also like to do their own thing, but unlike Tingai, they want others to join them. As the orphans make their way to the forest, they often diverge from the direction Naleku, Kindani, and Kinyei have chosen. Despite the Keepers’ attempts to stop them, the duo keep trying to walk off, rumbling and trumpeting to entice others to follow them, before running back to the herd. They really want to be leaders!
As one of our newer rescues, Lorigon is still getting used to his new life. During his early days, he often charged his Keepers, unsure what to make of them. Olorien and the others stepped in to protect their Keepers and teach Lorigon that they are friends. The message seems to have sunk in, as Lorigon is charging less and less. Every orphan adjusts at their own pace, and the Keepers are still working hard to earn his trust.
Our big girl, Nashashi, is also adjusting to her new life at the Nursery. Because she is such a large elephant, the Keepers are really focusing on settling her in, before they let her out into the forest. Slowly, slowly, she is calming down. In fact, she has already developed special friendships with Lorigon, Kamili, Latika, Roho, Naleku, and Kindani. Before heading out into the forest, Roho, Naleku, and Kindani often stop by Nashashi’s stable to spend time with her and share her greens.
Because it was so hot, Maxwell enjoyed a very lazy month. He has a burst of energy around dawn, before the heat of the day has set in. He and Bondeni have a lovely morning ritual: As soon as he is let out of his bedroom, Bondeni dashes over to Maxwell’s gate to greet the friendly giant. It is always so sweet watching Bondeni with Max; the little elephant gently taps the rhino's ears and back with his trunk, demanding attention, which causes Max to huff and push at his gate in response.