Keepers' Diaries, May 2008

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.

01 May 2008

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.

02 May 2008

Makena enjoyed the mudbath today, putting on a good display for the visitors, but Lenana and Chyulu decided it was too chilly to join her.

03 May 2008

At 6 a.m. this morning, as soon as the baby elephants were let out of their night quarters, Dida went to Maxwell’s Stockade and started to play with him, putting her trunk on the top of his head. Maxwell enjoyed the contact very much, and began jumping up and down.

04 May 2008

Dida adores Lesanju, and always wants to be close to her. However, Sinya also wants possession of the baby, so there is stiff competition, although Dida has chosen Lesanju above Sinya.

05 May 2008

Maxwell was highly excited when he senses Shida’s presence. He began running up and down, spinning around, and rushing up to the separating bars to engage Shida.

06 May 2008

Little Dida is not encouraged to actually go into the mudbath, because of the fear of pneumonia, and because the others might squash her! However, today she insisted on going in, refusing to be deterred, and the visitors enjoyed seeing this.

07 May 2008

The mudbath visitors had a treat today because Lempaute decided to go through the rope and mingle amongst them, calmly allowing them to touch and interact with her. The visitors were all delighted.

08 May 2008

Today Kenia looked dull, slowly following the others, and not playing, preferring to remain apart on her own. However, she is feeding well and her stool is perfect, so Mrs. Sheldrick thinks that she is still grieving for her lost elephant family.

09 May 2008

The Junior group were alarmed when a troupe of baboons suddenly appeared from the thicket approaching the place where they were feeding. They ran back to their Keepers, but Shimba, who had begun to retreat, plucked up courage, turned round and charged them, forcing the baboons to change direction. The Keepers were very proud of him.

10 May 2008

At 6 p.m. when the orphans returned, little Siria had a fun time with Maxwell, touching him gently with his trunk through the separating bars. Maxwell thoroughly enjoyed this.

11 May 2008

Today, just after the noon mudbath, we happened upon 4 lions, 2 lionesses and 4 cubs at the place where we usually gather for the Keepers’ lunch. We had been at that place just prior to the mudbath, so the Keepers wondered whether the lions were watching us then!

12 May 2008

Kenia and Siria have formed a strong friendship, keeping together all morning, apart from the others. Shimba likes to feed on his own, being a very independent little character, but Kenia and Siria seem to understand that as newly orphaned, they have a common bond.

13 May 2008

Dida is glued to Lesanju all day, and does not want to be parted from her. Poor Sinya follows the two, longing to take possession of the baby.

14 May 2008

Max seemed to be irritated by the presence of Shida today, going round and round his stockade, and huffing. He then challenged Shida through the separating bars and the two rhinos engaged each other for about 30 minutes.

15 May 2008

Shimba enjoys charging the warthogs when they happen to be around when he emerges from his night quarters in the morning. However, today one large female warthog was not intimidated, and stood her ground, so Shimba thought discretion was wiser than valour and simply wandered off.

16 May 2008

My name is Stephen, and I am the Head Keeper when Keeper Edwin is on leave, which happens to be this month. As I was seated in Edwin’s office today writing the Keepers’ Diary, Shida suddenly appeared at the door and put his head inside, trying to come in. For me there was no escape, so I just prayed to God to spare me, and God heard my plea, because Shida retreated!

17 May 2008

This morning all the warthogs were running towards the mudbath area which alerted us to the fact that the lions were around. We spotted them at the Elephant Crossing place. There was a lioness and 4 cubs who were targeting the warthogs.

18 May 2008

At about 8 a.m. a gaunt lioness was at the Parking Area near our Entrance Gate, and later was actually sitting by the Gate, so that no-one could go in or out on foot. The lioness was watching some warthogs who were within the Park compound fence, and who were unaware of her presence. However, after about an hour, she wandered off, passing by Maxwell’s Stockade in full view of all the Staff, and disappearing into the bush behind the mudbath.

19 May 2008

Kenia and Siria again spent all day together, slightly apart from the others. They have a common bond, and find comfort in being together.

20 May 2008

Maxwell is not well. He has diarrheoa again and does not want to feed or to play, only taking lots of water. Mrs. Sheldrick dosed him with Green Clay and Kaolin, because he had been given a course of antibiotic previously which obviously has not worked.

21 May 2008

At least no diarrheoa today from Maxwell which is a good sign. We hope he will improve

22 May 2008

Still no stools from Maxwell, which is a worry, because he has begun to feed on his greens again.

23 May 2008

Lenana entertained the visitors today, holding her bottle of milk herself, and walking with it up and down the rope to show all the visitors how clever she is. Everyone enjoyed this very much. Still Maxwell has not made a stool, and is straining to do so, but nothing happens. He was given Liquid Paraffin and homeopathic pillules.

24 May 2008

Lesanju’s group had fund today playing in some soft soil near the Elephant Crossing place. Dida especially loved rolling around in the soil, until her blanket was dislodged.

25 May 2008

Kenia, who has been having Bach Flower Essences to help her grieving, began to play in the mudbath for the first time, which made us all very happy. She seems much better.

26 May 2008

Maxwell has made a remarkable recovery. He is feeding well, enjoying his horse food and beginning to regain the weight that he lost whilst ill. He is also much more active.

27 May 2008

Today, we welcomed a new baby to the Nursery, who arrived at 1.30 p.m. He looked fine, and took his milk, but was very tired, so he was put into a stable to sleep. He has been named “Kimana”, because he was found near the Kimana Springs at the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro.

28 May 2008

Today was the first time for little Kimana to be at the mudbath. He seemed a little confused and did not know what to do, so just followed all the others, one at a time. The visitors were happy to meet him.

29 May 2008

Today at the mudbath, Kimana kept close to Lesanju. Shimba also showed a great interest in him. Last night Kimana did not sleep well. He kept on walking round and round his stable all night, and strangely enough Shimba was doing the same, which was most unusual. Tonight they will be put together so that hopefully both will be able to sleep.

30 May 2008

At noon, Lenana, Makena and Chyulu came to meet little Kimana for the first time. Lenana took control of the baby from Lesanju, and did not want to part with him. We had difficulty getting her to leave him, and when she did, she bellowed. Lesanju was very happy to repossess little Kimana after the older elephants had left.

31 May 2008

After the 3 p.m. feed, Lesanju’s group met up with Lenana’s group of older orphans to spend some time with the babies. However, all three older elephants kept following little Kimana, so after some time we decided to separate them again, so that the baby could settle. It was with difficulty that Lenana was persuaded to leave him which she was very reluctant to do.