Keepers' Diaries, May 2011

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.

01 May 2011

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.

02 May 2011

As soon as little Solio is let out of her Stockade in the early morning, she enjoys greeting Maxwell, smelling him and sometimes charging towards him in his Stockade.

03 May 2011

At about l0 a.m. whilst looking after the elephant orphans out in the forest, the warthogs were nearby, since they like to remain close to the elephants and the Keepers for security. Suddenly a lioness rushed out of the thicket and snatched a pig, which left us and the elephants very scared. We all ran back to the Stockades.

04 May 2011

Solio is very active these days, marking her territory by adding her dung to existing dungpiles and spraying her urine against bushes.

05 May 2011

En route out into the forest this morning, we came across a lioness with 4 cubs. All the elephants were very scared, so we rapidly changed direction.

06 May 2011

As the Keepers were preparing the evening milk for the orphans, suddenly a warthog (an old wild Nursery resident) came flying past them, knocking over milk bottles, hotly pursued by 2 lions who put on all the brakes as soon as they saw the humans!

07 May 2011

The Keepers brought Solio to the mudbath at about 3 p.m., but because it was a cool day, she refused to go in.

08 May 2011

Maxwell knows his Stockade well, even though he cannot see. He is very intelligent.

09 May 2011

It was an uneventful day. The orphans merely followed their normal routine.

10 May 2011

Today was a very sad day in the Nursery, because we lost little Kudup who had been ill for some time. We could not find out what was wrong with her. In the afternoon the Vet came to do an autopsy, but found that all the major organs were healthy. Tissue samples were taken and will be sent to South Africa for further analysis.

11 May 2011

Makireti is a very independent elephant, who always wants her way and does not follow the others.

12 May 2011

Tano and Shukuru are very close friends, who like to feed close together and play together.

13 May 2011

Today was the day that Kibo, Olare and Kandecha were to be moved to Ithumba. Loading began at 4 a.m. and went smoothly, although Kibo needed shoving from behind by lots of Keepers. The journey went very well in the new Elephant Truck, which has been specially designed, with 3 compartments inside so that the elephants can’t push one another around.

14 May 2011

Since the departure of his Pushing Partners, Kibo and Kandecha, Chemi Chemi has calmed down. He is now the only young bull in the Nursery and he and Ishanga enjoy bullying the others.

15 May 2011

The elephants fed calmly all day, and enjoyed their noon mudbath.

16 May 2011

Kainuk and Turkwel are very close friends. We wonder whether they knew one another when living wild in the Lake Turkana area before being rescued, since both come from that place.

17 May 2011

Since the departure of Olare, Mutara has taken over the role of Matriarch, and is very caring of Naipoki, Sities and Kainuk.

18 May 2011

As we were bringing Solio back to the Stockades in the evening, we came across a female lioness. Solio was very scared and was very reluctant to go into her Stockade, even after the lioness had left.

19 May 2011

Today the move of Murka, Naisula and Kitirua is planned, so again it was an early start. Naisula and Kitirua went into the truck without a problem, but Murka was very reluctant, and had to be pushed and pulled in, with a rope around her front and back legs. The journey was very smooth and all the elephants traveled well, escorted by Dame Daphne who was with Tal Manor in Robert’s Landrover, following the Truck. During the night Kalama trashed her Stockade, breaking down the partition until she managed to join Chemi Chemi next door. We suspect that the presence of a lion unraveled her now that Naisula and Kitirua are no longer in that row of Stockades, although the Keeper did not see any lions.

20 May 2011

A large male lion grabbed a male warthog very close to the Keepers, killed it in our presence and carried it away.

21 May 2011

A male lion came and lay down just outside Kalama’s Stockade. She and her neighbour, Chemi Chemi, were both asleep and did not notice the presence of the lion.

22 May 2011

Today, the decision was made to return the Nursery elephants to their original stables, so that Kainuk could be next door to Turkwel and Mutara next door to Naipoki and Sities back where she was before, between Shukuru and Tano. Separating the small elephants from the older females whom they love dearly proved stressful for the little ones, all three of whom began to produce loose stools. They were given a course of Scourban.

23 May 2011

As the Keepers were waiting for their lunch after the noon mudbath, a warthog suddenly shot past followed by a lion with a large mane. Upon seeing us the lion stopped, so the warthog managed to escape.

24 May 2011

A light shower of rain put the orphans in a jovial mood. Mutara and Kalama encouraged all to enjoy rolling around in the damp ground after the noon mudbath. Later Mutara, Kalama and Sities remained very close to little Naipoki, whom they all want to “mother”. Ishanga remains “pushy”. One day having head butted Kainuk, the Keepers forced her to spend time out alone as a punishment (still keeping a close eye on her). Meanwhile Turkwel comforted Kainuk.

25 May 2011

Kalama, Mutara, Kainuk and Shukuru were first in the mudbath today, the others finding the weather somewhat too cool to wallow. Meanwhile, a Keeper had to restrain little Naipoki, who would have liked to join them, because she is too young and fragile to catch a chill. Shukuru had a disagreement with Ishanga in the mudwallow, Ishanga having head-butted Shukuru from behind. After the mudbath, the warthogs turned up at the Keepers’ lunch time but Tano, Sities and Mutara combined forces to chase them off, while Shukuru stood guard over Naipoki.

26 May 2011

The orphans filed out of the Night Stables early in the morning as usual. The Nairobi Park lions seem to have taken themselves elsewhere, which is good news, since the warthogs have recently lost two of their number to them. Kalama and Chemi Chemi enjoyed a strength testing game, while Mutara and Sities stood guard over little Naipoki. Kalama then led the orphans to a favourite playground where they have flattened an anthill and enjoy rolling up and down in the red earth, something Mutara particularly enjoys. Naipoki also enjoyed the game, although the Keepers had to be vigilant to keep Ishanga from the baby, since Ishanga is so pushy. Chemi Chemi, now the only little bull in the Nursery group, enjoys mounting on the girls whenever he spots them lying down. Today he tried Makireti, but got a rude shock when she jumped up and headbutted him so hard that he fell down, screaming!

27 May 2011

Ishanga has overtaken even Chemi Chemi when it comes to being naughty and pushy! She particularly targets Shukuru, who is one of the most placid Nursery elephants, continually head butting Shukuru who simply accepts it. Ishanga behaved badly at the mudbath today, continually head butting all the other elephants. Kainuk was careful to keep close to Turkwel. However, all the elephants enjoyed the mudbath. The Keepers smeared mud on little Naipoki, who had to be restrained from going in for fear of catching a chill.

28 May 2011

The day began with Naipoki running up and down around the Stockades, under the watchful eye of Mutara. Sities, Shukuru, Kainuk and Turkwel split from the rest of the group to browse behind the Stockades. At the mudbath Kalama usually initiates the action, but today Ishanga squeezed in between Kalama and Mutara causing a standoff that necessitated the intervention of the Keepers to restrain Mutara from retribution.

29 May 2011

The orphans were in a jovial mood this morning, all running around the compound. Naipoki singled out Keeper Mishak, soon joined by Mutara, Sities and Shukuru who wanted to “mother” the baby. Later they all browsed together.

30 May 2011

At today’s mudbath Turkwel, who is usually shy and retiring, was the most playful and out-going, walking up and down the cordon that separates the visitors along with Naipoki, applying mud to anyone within range. Turkwel has been reserved for a long time, so the Keepers were pleased to see her growing confidence.

31 May 2011

Shukuru and Sities were let out of their Night Quarters ahead of the others and both immediately went to stand outside Naipoki’s stable. After about 2 minutes they became impatient, which resulted in Mutara and Naipoki bellowing, eager to be allowed out and once out, all exchanged trunk “kisses”, putting their trunks in each others mouth. In the evening Kainuk went straight into Turkwel’s portion of the large stable they share, and had to be tempted into her own compartment with milk.