Keepers' Diaries, May 2005
Nairobi Nursery Unit
It has been very touching to witness the stoicism of little Kora, who has to be laid down each evening when he returns for the night, in order to have his damaged jaw syringed out. Each day, he subjects himself to the inevitable, falling into the arms of the Keepers with a little protest, his eyes filling with tears in response to the pain, but remaining quiet. Mercifully, each day the sepsis flushed out is a little less, but it has certainly been a long haul to try and heal the damaged jaw of this very special little elephant. Obviously there is still a lot of damaged tissue and bone that has to be expelled, but we are hopeful that in the end we will win this battle. So far, his temperature has remained normal, which means that his immune system is coping well with the infection. By the end of the month, he was beginning to chew soft leaves, which is a hopeful sign that the bullet wound in his jaw is gradually healing.
01 May 2005
It was a cloudy, rainy morning. All the elephants enjoyed running round through the puddles, some actually lying in the mud, including Lualeni, who, being so young, had to be restrained from doing so.
02 May 2005
Today, was the first time that little Kora went out into the bush with the others, but he tried to run away, so the Keepers had to round him up and bring him back into the stable.
03 May 2005
We took Kora out for the second day, and this time he was much calmer. All the others went to greet and touch him, and Lualeni wanted to remain close to him all day, as did Naserian. Madiba and Buchuma would have liked to play their usual mounting game, but the Keepers prevented them. Galana seemed somewhat dis-interested.
04 May 2005
Lualeni’s interest in Kora is very evident. Whenever he wanders away on his own, Lualeni follows him in order to be with him, gently touching him with her trunk, as though to reassure him. Naserian watched closely from a distance. Sunyei tried to go and bring him back to the main group, without success. However, she returned with the entire gang, and then he came back with them.
05 May 2005
Being neighbours back in the Night Stockades, Rapsu (who is still confined in the Stockades) and Buchuma interact through the separating gate. He also has a chance to intereact with Galana, who is a neighbour on the other side and at last he is becoming much friendlier towards the Keepers.
06 May 2005
Rapsu has been one of the most difficult elephants to tame that has ever come into the Nursery. However, today, at last, he was allowed out, and remained calm, feeding, closely watched by both Naserian and Sunyei, who stayed very close to him whenever he moved. Later, he wanted to be close to little Kora, but both Naserian and Sunyei remained with him.
07 May 2005
Lualeni is very sympathetic towards Kora, wanting to be close to him all day, even when he took a l hour’s nap out in the bush.
08 May 2005
The elephants enjoyed their mudbath hour, and even little Kora tried to join in, wanting to lie down in the mud. Buchuma came to try and mount him, but was restrained from doing so by the Keepers.
09 May 2005
Rapsu is becoming very friendly now. He loves his milk, and in the evening, before time, led all the other elephants back home, bellowing for his bottle, but we had to turn them back, because it was not time.
10 May 2005
Both Naserian and Sunyei came running out of the bush to the Keepers, trumpeting. We went to see what had troubled them, and found that Kora had separated and was hidden from view. All the other elephants began searching for him and were very happy when he was found.
11 May 2005
At the mudbath, Rapsu began to bellow having finished his milk, holding tightly onto the bottle which was still in his mouth. Eventually, a second Keeper had to come and help by offering him a bottle of water, which he drank, but noticing that it was only water, he walked away.
12 May 2005
All the elephants, except Kora, enjoyed playing during the mudbath hour, delighting all the visitors by coming close to the separating rope. Amongst the visitors was a foster-parent of Lualeni, who was enthralled to actually touch her elephant.
13 May 2005
Being a Friday, it was the day that the elephants are oiled with coconut oil. At first Rapsu was scared, and ran off a short way, but when he saw all the others enjoying it, he came back and with the help of Galana, who prevented him from escaping again, he got anointed as well.
14 May 2005
Kora and Rapsu decided to feed apart from the others today, and refused to return to join them. In the end we took the others to where they were feeding together.
15 May 2005
For the first time, Kora played in the mud during the mudbath hour, which made us all very happy, although we tried to restrain him a little, fearing that the mud would get into his injured jaw.
16 May 2005
Lualeni is still besotted with Kora, insisting on being close beside him all the time, and even going with him apart from all the others.
17 May 2005
Makosa abruptly appeared out of the bushes, scaring all the elephants, who ran off in different directions. Later they re-grouped, and wanted to charge Makosa, all with outstretched ears, and even little Lualeni gave a good display by knocking down some small bushes. Kora stood still with ears out. Eventually, we moved the elephants to a different place, but Makosa wanted to follow.
18 May 2005
The orphans came across a group of impalas out in the bush. Sunyei and Lualeni did not trust them, and chased them far away. We had to go and retrieve the two and return them to the others.
19 May 2005
Makosa was very mischievous this morning, blocking our path to the bush. He chased one of the Yard men from the Salt Lick on the rocks right to the Garage, where the man hid behind the vehicles, shouting for help, but nobody heard him!
20 May 2005
Buchuma always wants to test his strength against everyone, and today wanted to take on Rapsu. In the end Rapsu made use of his tiny tusks and this had the desired affect. Galana and Sunyei are able to stop Buchuma from being pushy, but he takes no notice of Naserian, Madiba or Ndomot. He always chooses Ndomot for a long fight.
21 May 2005
All the elephants ran in a long line to the mudbath today, with Galana in the lead, and Lualeni last but one, for Kora was left way behind but doing his best to follow at a run. Rapsu wanted his bottle badly, so left the mudbath area looking for it. Naserian, Sunyei and Ndomot followed closely.
22 May 2005
Lualeni and Kora went off to feed on their own away from the others. Sunyei and Naserian went to find them, and bring them back.
23 May 2005
For the first time today Galana and Rapsu had a disagreement over some browse both wanted.
24 May 2005
Again Makosa stopped the Yard man from bringing the Keepers their tea out in the bush, following him until “Mboti” was forced to climb up a tree! Makosa has a bad habit of wanting to chase anyone he finds on his own, but when there are two or three people, he leaves them alone.
25 May 2005
AT 2 p.m. the elephants thought it was time for their milk, which is at 3 p.m. Madiba, Sunyei and Lualeni headed back to the Headquarters to see where the milk was, but Galana remained behind, knowing that the time was not yet. Nowadays, Galana does not push the others for more milk, as she used to do, content to stand aside and wait for the others to finish. However, now it is Rapsu who is always very desperate for his milk and begs for more. Sometimes Ndomot and Naserian also demand more.
26 May 2005
Sunyei put on a good show during the mudbath, kicking the football around, which made the visitors laugh. She even held the ball up in her trunk, which made all the visitors clap. She is sometimes very mischievous during the mudbath, forcing her way through the separating rope into all the visitors, which makes them run away.
27 May 2005
Today, it was Lualeni who entertained all the visitors at the mudbath, going up and down the rope, playing with it, which earned her a new foster-parent, who insisted that he must foster her!
28 May 2005
It was a very cool day, so the elephants did not want to go near the mudbath today, remaining at a distance in the bushes. Only at 12 p.m. when it was time to go, did they go close to the visitors along the rope on their way out into the bush. All the visitors were amazed that they knew the time!
29 May 2005
Again Lualeni remained very close to Kora, whilst Naserian and Sunyei followed them. Galana was on the other side keeping an eye on Rapsu, who was on his own. Buchuma had his usual “fighting time” with Ndomot.
30 May 2005
Rapsu is now the team Leader when it comes to time for the milk, sensing when it is on its way through the bush, and leading all the others towards it. He leads all the others to the mudbath as well, being sure that there is a milk feed awaiting him there!
31 May 2005
An interesting day today, because it was a fine morning, and Rapsu wanted to take all the orphans in a different direction to where Galana was standing. Sunyei came to block and turn him, after which the whole group went to Galana who lead them elsewhere! It was as though Galana communicated with Sunyei to turn Rapsu so that the group could change course and follow her instead. Lualeni and Kora branched off following Naserian, whilst Buchuma and Ndomot carried on their usual ongoing tussle, even after the Keepers had intervened several times to stop them.