Keepers' Diaries, May 2001

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Voi Reintegration Unit

Nursery:- The three little Nursery elephants, Nasalot from Lake Turkana, Mulika from Meru and tiny Mweya from Uganda all thrive, and couldn't be healthier and happier. In the past Mulika has caused us anxiety, coming as she does from an area where drinking places are shared by hordes of livestock, and in view of the sudden death without warning from Klebsiella pneumonia of several previous Nursery inmates from this area. Like them, she has often suffered bouts of being unwell, though with no obvious symptoms other than listlessness and loss of appetite, and this in spite of several courses of injectable antibiotics during her first year of life. In the end, we decided to give her a 3 day course of huge doses of Colloidal Silver, which resulted in some temporary oedema of the legs for a day or two, but which seems to have done the trick. Since then, she has been fine. Both she and Nasalot are now past their first infant year.

Nursery:- The three little Nursery elephants, Nasalot from Lake Turkana, Mulika from Meru and tiny Mweya from Uganda all thrive, and couldn't be healthier and happier. In the past Mulika has caused us anxiety, coming as she does from an area where drinking places are shared by hordes of livestock, and in view of the sudden death without warning from Klebsiella pneumonia of several previous Nursery inmates from this area. Like them, she has often suffered bouts of being unwell, though with no obvious symptoms other than listlessness and loss of appetite, and this in spite of several courses of injectable antibiotics during her first year of life. In the end, we decided to give her a 3 day course of huge doses of Colloidal Silver, which resulted in some temporary oedema of the legs for a day or two, but which seems to have done the trick. Since then, she has been fine. Both she and Nasalot are now past their first infant year.

Little Mweya now has two of her four first molars, and for the first time ever cut without the usual problems. The only difference in her upbringing has been the administration of a daily dose of Colloidal Mineral and Vitamin Supplement. Could this perhaps be the secret to teething difficulties? Rearing the infant elephants has always been one long learning curve, and we are hopeful.

This miniature elephant calf from Uganda is the most mischievous and boisterous character we have ever had, and is quite a handful around our mudbath visitors each day! She delights in charging full tilt into a crowd, particularly if children are present, and despite her size, is quite capable of packing a punch! She is now in her fifth month, understands the word "No" and tone of voice, and is deliberately "naughty" so, of necessity out must come the little "Cattle Prod" which we use to discipline the infant elephants before they become too large and as such dangerous. They have to be taught what they can and can't do around humans when they are still young and manageable, irrespective of what the Environment Correspondent of the Daily Telegraph puts into print! The "zing" imparted by the cattle prod is not painful but simply a slightly unpleasant sensation, and, in fact, some of our visitors have asked to experience it, concluding that it is "rather nice"!

Mweya is very fond of Nasalot, which makes Mulika a little jealous. Both Nasalot and Mulika are now over a year old, and as such should really be joining the others down in Tsavo to begin their weaning and reintegration back into the wild community. However, after much soul searching, bearing in mind that it would be psychologically counter-productive to separate them from Mweya, leaving this tiny calf alone in the Nursery, we decided that all three should remain until after the next rains in November, and then all three should go down together.

Tsavo Contingent:- Salama continues to dominate the Keepers' Diary, very competitive with the other young bulls of his age, Laikipia and Lolokwe and Nyiro also features prominently. It is very interesting that despite their different origins and backgrounds, the orphans continue to remain bonded as a loose family grouping, with Lissa and her calf and Mpenzi keeping in touch with both the Keepers and the other orphans, and the wild Matriarch, Catherine, who took over Eleanor's adopted family, also recognised as part of the Orphans' unit. Uaso and Lewa can now be classified amongst the "Big Boys" comfortable within, or without, the Orphans' Group, but obviously very much still under the wing of the larger "Big Boys", namely Edo, Dika and Ndume.

Because, due to rain, the inland waterholes of Tsavo still hold water this month of May, the wild elephants have been largely absent, and interaction with them has not been on the usual daily basis. Natumi, Ilingwezi and Edie now share the lower Stockades with Emily's group, and it is interesting to note that Ilingwezi has chosen to spend some time with Emily as opposed to the other younger set. We see this as a healthy development, in that there she will have more interaction with elephants as opposed to humans. Little Nyiro is still a favourite of Aitong, but it would appear that Mweiga is also taking an important place in Aitong's affections, which is gratifying, because Mweiga's position as "favourite" amongst Emily's adoptees has been usurped by little Tsavo - a "toughy" in the true sense of the word. Mweiga is also a somewhat fragile elephant, and she needs extra care, particularly when being "bullied" by the likes of Salama.

Emily is beginning to spend time on her own with the wild herds, leaving her charges to Aitong. Most notable was the day she abandoned her adoptees and left with a wild herd, then displayed extreme remorse and distress, and turned up later with Uaso in tow. We are researching the possibility of administering a contraceptive vaccine to Emily that would delay pregnancy for a couple of years, in the light of what happened to Malaika. Because our orphaned females become leaders ahead of their time, we feel that they may cycle earlier than normal, and also become pregnant too early to be able to deliver a healthy calf. We envisage giving Emily this contraceptive when she is nine years old at the end of this year, perhaps as a one off, with perhaps a second booster, will delay pregnancy until the age of 11 meaning that she would have her first baby in her early teens, which is more normal. Meanwhile Aitong continues to be a very caring Nannie, who takes care of all those younger, particularly attached to Nyiro and Mweiga, but protective of anyone needing help.

For the first time ever, there are signs that Imenti is becoming more independent, and we are very pleased about this. It is time he associated more with other young bulls to learn the lessons that bull elephants need to know - about the rules governing hierarchy, good behaviour amongst his peers and elders and his place within the bull community.

Detail:
Each morning, all the orphans leave the Night Stockades together, and then Emily's group usually leaves the younger set with their Keepers, wishing to wander further afield to feed and mingle with any wild herds in the vicinity. However, she is diligent about rejoining the other orphans throughout the day, never missing the daily mudbath at noon

May 2001 day to day

01 May

Today Ndume was with the orphans when they all left in the morning, but then decided to go his own way. Emily's group left the babies shortly after 7.30 a.m. The yhoungsters then met a group of wild elephants that scared them, and they went hurrying back to their Keepers. All the orphans had a "spectacular" mudbath after which Lolokwe and Kinna vied with each other to get their milk first. Dika turned up at the Stockade at 5 p.m. and Emily brought her family back just before 6 p.m.
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