Keepers' Diaries, May 2006

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

The Nairobi Nursery experienced excellent rains, relieving the very dry conditions, but there followed a plague of small black caterpillars which have denuded every croton tree and bush of its leaves, seemingly very specific feeders. These particular caterpillars have never been noticed before.

The Nairobi Nursery experienced excellent rains, relieving the very dry conditions, but there followed a plague of small black caterpillars which have denuded every croton tree and bush of its leaves, seemingly very specific feeders. These particular caterpillars have never been noticed before.

Kora has been having intensive homeopathic remedies for his jaw wound, which looked as though it was responding well. The sepsis stopped and the hole appeared to dry and close, but has since opened again, producing small amounts of pus. Meanwhile the slow release anti-biotic needed for implanting in the marrow of the jawbone has arrived from South Africa, and we now await the return of Dieter Rottcher who will do the anaesthetic, and hopefully an expert from South Africa as well to deal with what is obviously an infection in the bone of the jaw, resulting from the bullet damage he sustained before coming to us. He is a very long-suffering and mellow character, a great favourite with both the Keepers, and also Zurura and Challa. He is also the peace-maker, pushing Challa away when he engaged Sidai in a shoving bout. Kora, Challa, and Orok often choose to feed together a short distance apart from the girls and smaller orphans, who are never far from the Mini Matriarch Lualeni. Loijuk, Sian and Kamboyo are best friends, who usually hang out together.

There had been a welcome change in Sidai, who, having recovered her strength, was slightly pushy and obviously antagonistic towards humans for a while, probably as a result of having suffered a bad experience in the wild. However, she is now an extremely affectionate elephant, who adores her Keepers. Orok, however, is still extremely wary of all humans, and his loathing of blankets remains. Despite the Keepers best efforts to get him used to being covered, he won’t have it at any price, obviously harbouring grave connotations involving blankets. He and Sidai are very good friends.

The Nursery orphans have enjoyed the company of a lovely impala herd almost every day of the month, who feed close by whenever the elephants are in the forest, obviously feeling more secure when near them. The impala also keep close to the stables and Stockades by night. Kora and Challa enjoy chasing the warthogs, when Zurura also likes to join in. He and Makena are still very competitive, especially as Zurura enjoys teasing Makena, and never misses a chance to irritate her, either by occupying her particular hung blanket at feeding times, or trying to mount her, or even usurp her place near Lualeni. Makena suffered a bout of tummy trouble this month, and after the experience of losing several small babies with practically no prior warning apart from loss of appetite, we took no chances and resorted to the Sulphadimidine, since when she seems to have recovered. When she has completed her course, she will have the homeopathic de-tox, yohurt and Acidopholus to re-establish the stomach bacteria.

An alarming encounter with an aggressive Cobra out in the forest traumatised both the orphans and their Keepers, all of whom managed to escape unscathed until the Cobra, who seemed to be after them, disappeared into a hollow log. A baboon jumping off a tree also scared the elephants, but the warthogs provide endless entertainment on a daily basis.

Rhino Orphans:- Magnum has not felt the need to return to Home Base for most of the month, but just as we were wondering whether he was, in fact, still in one piece, he appeared on the 16th, looking in fine fettle. He took salt from the rocks, enjoyed a mudbath, inspected Shida’s scent trail, and then disappeared back down the hill again, not to have been seen since. We are delighted that he now seems perfectly settled and happily integrated into the wild rhino community of the Park. Meanwhile, Shida has been very busy establishing his territory at the back of the Trust Premises, urinating copiously against bushes to provide the vital “signposts” and leaving his dung in every dungpile that he visits on a daily basis, always careful to kick it well, and plaster his feet with his scent.

May 2006 day to day

01 May

Challa and Lualeni made all the visitors laugh today at the mudbath, when they went along the cordon line “kissing” each other.

Buni feeding Lualeni at mudbath

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