Keepers' Diaries, May 2011

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

The death of precious 2 year old Kudup on the l0th was a devastating blow to us all, both four legged and two, even though it was not altogether unexpected, for she had been failing for a long time and nothing we did was able to arrest that decline. The postmortem presented more questions than answers, for all the major organs were healthy. Tissue samples preserved in formalin have been sent to South Africa where the Laboratory facilities are more advanced, and we hope to learn more from what they can unearth.

The death of precious 2 year old Kudup on the l0th was a devastating blow to us all, both four legged and two, even though it was not altogether unexpected, for she had been failing for a long time and nothing we did was able to arrest that decline. The postmortem presented more questions than answers, for all the major organs were healthy. Tissue samples preserved in formalin have been sent to South Africa where the Laboratory facilities are more advanced, and we hope to learn more from what they can unearth.

Two other very important events were the transfer of Olare, Kibo and Kandecha to the Ithumba Rehabilitation Unit in Northern Tsavo East on the 13th, followed by the move of Murka, Naisula and Kitirua on the l9th. Both went extremely smoothly thanks to the Trust’s new custom adapted Elephant Moving Truck. This left us with just 11 infants in the Nairobi Nursery.

The sudden departure of 6 Nursery elephants left those remaining somewhat confused, which is always the case. Also, with more accommodation becoming available, the Keepers decided to re-shuffle the sleeping arrangements by moving Turkwel, Mutara and Makireti into the recently vacated larger Stockades. However, this stressed Sities, Naipoki and Kainuk who began producing looser stools, so the decision was reversed, Turkwel going back next door to Kainuk, Mutara back next to Naipoki and Sities back between the stables of Shukuru and Tano! All then settled down again very quickly. Any change in the Nursery routine always upsets the infant elephants!

This month has found the Nairobi Park lions becoming ever bolder, snatching warthogs from beneath the noses of the Keepers and the elephants, and even lying outside the elephant stables at night. Several of the resident warthogs who hang around the Nursery compound have come to grief, some taken in broad daylight! On the 23rd a large maned lion was pursuing a warthog who shot past the Keepers and the elephants as the Keepers were taking their lunch, but on this occasion the warthog managed to escape, because the lion stopped short upon spotting the Keepers.

All the older females of the Nursery including Sities adore little Naipoki, each one wanting to “mother” her, although Turkwel’s favourite baby is Kainuk. Ishanga and Chemi Chemi are the pushy members of the Nursery, Ishanga especially so. This is not surprising in view of what she endured before capture, rescued literally from the jaws of a lion by dreaded humans. Pushiness in the infant elephants is indicative of psychological disturbance, or “post traumatic stress” and only time can heal. Several times the Keepers have resorted to forcing Ishanga to spend “time out” from the herd for head butting little Kainuk, which is the way the elephants themselves mete out punishment to wrong-doers – (a severe punishment for animals that are essentially fearful by nature). The other “naughty” member of the Nursery, Chemi, is simply a spirited little boy who enjoys empowering himself by throwing his weight around the girls!

May 2011 day to day

01 May

It was raining in the early morning, so Maxwell (the blind rhino orphan) was running around his Stockade, enjoying himself. Rhinos love the first rains.

Maxwell enjoying the rains

Kudup wearing a raincoat

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