Keepers' Diaries, May 2006

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.

01 May 2006

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

02 May 2006

Zurura challenged the newcomer Kamboyo to a pushing game today, which surprised the Keepers. Makena ran away from Lualeni and back to the Keepers when she became scared by some impala chasing one another.

03 May 2006

Orok usually does not like any of the other elephants coming too close to him. He only likes Sidai, and pushes the others away from him. Since he has small tusks, the Keepers keep a close eye on him, but usually the others respect the fact that he wants only to be close to Sidai, and leave him on his own.

04 May 2006

Sidai, who has always been rather pushy towards all humans, has now changed completely, and become extremely fond of the Keepers. She no longer pushes anyone, and is turning into a very loving elephant. Makena is as fond of Lualeni as Nalitu was to Naserian, continually sucking on Lualeni’s ear.

05 May 2006

Early in the morning, Shida got a fright when a baboon jumped off a tree beside him. He ran off to the Elephants and their Keepers, who were some way distant, so the Elephant Keepers had to call the Rhino Keepers on the radio to tell them that Shida was with them.

06 May 2006

These days Shida is doing his best to establish his territory, marking it regularly with urine, and visiting all the dungpiles religiously. He came across two mating warthogs, and chased them off. Because heavy rain had caused the little lugga near the mudbath to become a river, he refused to cross it to go to the mudbath, so the visitors had to take a long distance shot of him.

07 May 2006

The Keepers have been trying to get Orok used to having a blanket over him, because it is cold during the rainy period, but he refuses. We have been holding the blanket near his bottle while he takes his milk, but still he hates the blanket. Kamboyo enjoys chasing away the warthogs now that he is becoming more confident.

08 May 2006

The Impala herd now spends a lot of time grazing amongst the elephants and their Keepers, because they feel safer. They also come close to the Stockades in the evening to be close to the elephants and their Keepers.

09 May 2006

Sidai and Challa were engaged in a pushing game when Kora came to separate them, chasing Challa away from Sidai. Today Lualeni lay down so that Zurura could climb on her. Sian and Loijuk were very scared when a hungry baboon raced past them chasing a dikdik. They rushed to their Keepers for protection. Little Kamboyo often likes being alone, apart from the other elephants.

10 May 2006

Kora and Challa enjoyed chasing the warthogs today, but Kamboyo became afraid, and began screaming, running to the Keepers for help. However, all the others enjoyed the chasing game.

11 May 2006

Sidai is now very loving towards her Keepers, spending a lot of the time sucking their fingers, something she never used to do. We look forward to seeing the same change in Orok, who is still wary of humans.

12 May 2006

Lualeni had to discipline Orok today, because he was trying to mount Zurura. As Lualeni had control, the Keepers left her to teach Orok the necessary lesson.

13 May 2006

Kora usually begins going back to look for his milk when it is time. He can gauge the time absolutely, and if the milk is late, he screams for it, which usually scares the others.

14 May 2006

Makena is always next to Lualeni, usually sucking her ear, and whenever Zurura tries to come close, Makena gets jealous, and chases him off.

15 May 2006

Sian, Loijuk and Kamboyo have bonded together, being stable neighbours. During the day the always remain close to one another, except when Kamboyo wants a quiet time to think about his lost family, and then he goes on his own a short way off.

16 May 2006

Challa and Orok like to spend time feeding apart from the other orphans and Kora also enjoys being independent, but Zurura always likes to be with another elephant.

17 May 2006

Challa and Sidai enjoyed a play fight, which was interrupted when Lualeni came between them. Sidai was angry, and pushed Makena, who was close to Lualeni, which triggered another serious fight between Lualeni and her. This time the Keepers moved in to separate them.

18 May 2006

Kamboyo led the group into the bush today, closely followed by Sian. Meanwhile Zurura was baiting Makena, trying to mount her now and then, leading to a fight which does not go on for long because Lualeni arrives to push Zurura away.

19 May 2006

Whilst the Keepers were cleaning Kora’s jaw wound today, Challa tried to push them away to help his friend. Makena spent time sucking Lualeni’s ears during the morning. Being a Friday, it was Coconut application day, which Kamboyo and Orok did not like, and kept trying to run away. Makena fed very slowly at noon, and did not finish her milk.

20 May 2006

When the orphans left their Night Quarters at dawn, Makena went to wait outside Lualeni’s stable. Makena seems fine today. Out in the bush, the orphans heard a bird call that they mistook for the milk Mixer, and became very excited for nothing.

21 May 2006

Early in the morning, Kamboyo and Zurura walked very close to the Keepers, and remained close to them all day. We later discovered that they had seen a baboon, and were afraid.

22 May 2006

Again Makena seemed dull and off her food, so as a precaution she was given Sulphdimidine. Lualeni tried to comfort her, allowing her to suckle her ears.

23 May 2006

Lualeni knows how to open her Stable Door, and during the night kept opening it to see if there was more milk on the way, which was disruptive to Makena, next door.

24 May 2006

After several days of trying to get Orok used to the blanket by holding it whilst he takes his milk, this ruse failed, and he continues to flatly refuse to have it over him. Because the cold weather is coming, this has worried Mrs. Sheldrick, so it is planned that he accompany Sidai and Challa to the Ithumba Reintegration Centre in June, where the weather is a lot warmer.

25 May 2006

Whilst returning in the evening, Sidai took the lead, and refused to allow Lualeni to pass in front as usual. Lualeni persisted, so Sidai pushed Makena in revenge which triggered a fight between her and Lualeni. The Keepers had to intervene since Sidai has the advantage of tusks.

26 May 2006

Today a giraffe was being chased by something else that the Keepers could not see, and passed by the place where the Keepers were with Shida. Shida charged the giraffe, which confused it even further.

27 May 2006

Zurura went to feed some way from the others. Soon we heard him rumbling, and when the Keepers went to investigate, they found a tortoise near him. In fact, when the Keepers arrived, he pointed his trunk towards the tortoise to show them what had disturbed him!

28 May 2006

Early in the morning, Shida was not happy to find that another rhino intruder had sprayed urine in his territory. He kept on moving from one place to the other, spraying his own over it. He then began to sharpen his horn in readiness for a battle with the intruder!

29 May 2006

It is clear that it will be Sian who takes over leadership of the Nursery elephants once Lualeni leaves for Tsavo when Kora is over his operation. Makena is already very fond of her and spends time with her.

30 May 2006

Makena woke up early and started butting at her door wanting to get out. As soon as she was out, she went to Lualeni’s stable, and once Lualeni was out, began suckling her ears. Meanwhile Zurura was running around, playing with the warthogs.

31 May 2006

A herd of impala startled Loijuk whilst she was feeding in the bush. Sian and Lualeni rushed to determine what was wrong, accompanied by Makena. At the mudbath Kora found himself bogged, so Sidai came to the rescue, helping him up by using her foreleg and trunk.