Keepers' Diaries, May 2008

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

Yet again, the Nairobi Park lions have been targeting the warthogs who habitually hang around the Trust headquarters and the elephants, where they feel safer. The Keepers have come across a pride of 8 with 4 cubs, and one very gaunt old lioness has been ambushing our Entrance Gate, eyeing the warthogs inside the Park Staff compound, and disrupting the entry and exit of pedestrians. She seems totally unconcerned by either vehicles, or people, strolling nonchalantly within full view of all our staff past Maxwell’s Stockade, past the mudbath venue and disappearing into the bush below.

Yet again, the Nairobi Park lions have been targeting the warthogs who habitually hang around the Trust headquarters and the elephants, where they feel safer. The Keepers have come across a pride of 8 with 4 cubs, and one very gaunt old lioness has been ambushing our Entrance Gate, eyeing the warthogs inside the Park Staff compound, and disrupting the entry and exit of pedestrians. She seems totally unconcerned by either vehicles, or people, strolling nonchalantly within full view of all our staff past Maxwell’s Stockade, past the mudbath venue and disappearing into the bush below.

The 27th May 2008 brought little “Kimana” to the Nairobi Nursery, a tiny 3 week old baby bull orphaned near the Kimana Springs which is part of the Amboseli ecosystem, and land traditionally owned by the Masai people. However recently migrant agriculturalists have leased the fertile land abutting the Springs and its run-off swamps, where onions, maize, bananas and other human foods are grown, which are also tasty for the elephants who have utilized this water source since the beginning of time. Human wildlife conflict, which sadly is an almost daily occurrence nowadays obviously orphaned this baby. He arrived in good shape and was instantly embraced by Lesanju and her Junior Group, and so far is doing well. The older elephants, namely Lenana, Makena and Chyulu were also enchanted with him. Lenana especially wanted to take possession of him, and on the two occasions that they met up with Lesanju’s group, was very reluctant to release him. Since then, the older elephants have been kept apart, since they will soon be leaving the Nursery for the Ithumba Reintroduction Centre in Northern Tsavo.

A mysterious development occurred the second night that little Kimana was in the Nursery. He refused to settle during the night, and simply kept revolving round and round his stable. Strangely enough Shimba was doing the same, which was something totally out of character. The next night, reacting to the hint given by these two inmates, Kimana was put in with Shimba for the night, and both have slept peacefully every since. Can anyone still doubt the telepathic ability of even infant elephants?

There was concern this month over little Kenia, who apart from the usual display of impatience towards Shimba, seemed too lethargic and slow for comfort. Obviously mourning the loss of her elephant mother and family is a factor, for only the passage of time can heal such a devastating psychological blow, always more severe when a calf of Kenia’s age does not fully understand why she has suddenly been left all alone, or know the fate of her mother and family. We know from past experience that grieving for lost loved ones can go on for as long as 4 or 5 months.

However, we welcomed Sandy Griffith to the Nairobi Nursery at the beginning of the month, who came to instruct our Keepers in the use of the Bach Flower Remedies, which can assist very subtly in calming the trauma of grief and loss. Sandy, who flew out at her own expense, was with the elephants and their Keepers for l0 days, instructing them in the use of the Flower Remedies on little Kenia, over- exuberant mischievous Lempaute, and soothing, healing essences for the others, including Maxwell, the blind rhino, who had suffered a stomach upset and had undergone a course of Sulphadimidine. We are deeply grateful to Sandy Griffin for her help, which has truly made a difference, for the day before she was due to leave Kenia played in the mudbath for the very first time.

Kenia and Siria have formed a very close bond of friendship, obviously sensing that they have something in common having recently lost their elephant families. They spend time close together finding comfort in a common grief. Shimba adores little Kimana, his new stable-mate and Lesanju basks in the adoration of little Dida who is always firmly glued to her side, much to the dismay of Sinya, who would like to take a turn at possessing this baby and who would also like to have Dida’s affection.

The Rhinos:- Maxwell has caused us concern this month, suffering from diarrheoa which eventually necessitated a course of Sulphadimidine anti-biotic, followed by the usual Acidopholis to restore his stomach flora. However, the diarrheoa returned, accompanied by loss of condition, so, reluctant to use another antibiotic which always depresses the immune system, we turned to Nature, giving him Green Clay, Colloidal Silver and Kaolin, at the same time reducing the strength of his Lactogen, and adding more Oatmeal porridge to his 4 hourly feeds. This treatment worked in that it cured the diarrheoa, but too effectively, resulting in serious constipation which necessitated brown sugar and liquid paraffin plus homeopathic peristalsis aids. When his bowels eventually opened, after 3 days of straining, we suspected a prolapsed rectum, but fortunately what protruded eventually retreated again! Maxwell is now again thriving, benefiting by being fed like a thoroughbred race-horse, (since rhinos are of the horse family) with Lucerne added to his cut natural greens.

Thinking also that perhaps he might be missing some of the specific parasites that all wild rhinos seem to harbour, and which may have a symbiotic purpose, we gathered the dung of wild rhinos, along with that of Shida, and put it in his stockade. We also dug out his own dung midden, and replaced all the soil, something of which he certainly did not approve. The diggers had a hard time to accomplish their task, Maxwell obviously upset that his specific identity was being stolen! The introduction of wild dung had another unexpected consequence, however, because Shida instantly thought that there were new occupants within Maxwell’s Stockade, and this made him more of a clinging vine than ever! He vented his fury on the flower pots, dented Angela’s Suzuki and generally caused chaos around the yard, so the protective “strings” which used to be electrically charged, but had long since died, had to be reactivated as a deterrent, Shida having discovered that they no longer imparted a mild reminder of the no-go areas! And so, this month has seen us preoccupied with our orphaned rhinos as well as the latest elephant arrivals!

Other Orphans:- “Shungi”, the young orphaned duiker (who was mistaken for a Suni when found by a herdsman in Malindi on the Coast) is thriving in the Nairobi Nursery. He now has small horns and is very settled in his protective enclosure. Soon he will be settled sufficiently to be set free in order to explore a wider territory since, like rhinos, duikers are territorial antelopes who mark their territories with scent.

May 2008 day to day

01 May

This morning the older elephants were in a high state of excitement, running around, knocking down small bushes, and trumpeting. We soon discovered the reason – there were very fresh lion foot-prints nearby, so the elephants could obviously smell them. We later heard that a pride of 8 was in the vicinity, including an emaciated old lioness who had her eye on some warthogs protected by the Park compound fence.

Chyulu

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