Keepers' Diaries, May 2012

Nairobi Nursery Unit

This month Barsilinga has been unwell with the usual teething problems which trigger diarrheoa, and which has necessitating an oral antibiotic. Blood analysis indicated that his white blood cell count was down following the antibiotic treatment, but that a viral infection lingered, which was treated homeopathically. During all this, he had to undergo several intravenous drip sessions to boost his strength and appetite, but happily by month end, he was on the mend, although at the cost of a loss of body condition.

01 May 2012

Mutara escorted the three little boys (Kithaka, Barsilinga and Balguda) as they followed the Nursery elephants to the forest to browse early in the morning. Kithaka seemed reluctant to accompany the other two little boys, so Mutara pushed him ahead. Once in the forest she spent time aside with him, in the Keepers’ words, “as though giving him a talking-to about not wanting to fraternize nicely with the other two”!

02 May 2012

Kanjoro appears not popular amongst the older Nursery elephants, particularly Kilabasi, Kasigau and Ishanga who targets his short tail, biting it if she can. He was more comfortable with the younger elephants, particularly Balguda, who loved him. Even Mutara and Makireti drove him away from the water barrel during the public visiting hour, because he was pushy about the milk.

03 May 2012

Murera’s daily life is compromised by her paralyzed back leg, so she remains close to the Stockades and cannot walk far. She has developed an abscess beside her anal opening, which began as a hard lump but has since softened, so the Vet came to lance it and release the sepsis. A lot of foul smelling clotted blood and pus came out, after which she was given a long acting antibiotic injection, and the wound was anointed with healing Green Clay.

04 May 2012

Sonje and Orwa, have been sharing a Stockade, but become very competitive at milk feeds, Sonje pushing polite Orwa, and being older, over-powering him. To solve this, Orwa was moved to the stable next door to Sities, which was his original stable when he came in, more dead than alive. Since then he has gained weight, and is now a healthy elephant.

05 May 2012

Ishanga continues to behave badly towards her peers, especially Kainuk and Turkwel at the mudbath hour as they ran for their milk, continually blocking them from overtaking her and pushing them aggressively after they have taken milk. We believe that she is still suffering from post traumatic stress, since she had such a traumatic rescue, having been seized by a lion just as the Rescuers were moving in.

06 May 2012

Since it rained throughout most of the night and was still drizzling in the morning, the baby boys, Kithaka, Barsilinga and Balguda, had to remain under shelter in their stables, which did not suit Kithaka at all, since he loves being with the bigger elephants who all “mother” him. He is jealous of the other two little boys who have usurped his privileged position amongst the Big Girls to some extent.

07 May 2012

The elephants emerged from their Night quarters in a happy mood on a beautiful sunny morning, Kainuk and Turkwel running around trumpeting and “bush-bashing”. Makireti is showing good Leadership qualities, joining Mutara in that role. She has always been loving and gentle towards newcomers.

08 May 2012

Kithaka has never grown as he should, and appears dull, obviously not feeling as well as he should. Today a specialist Veterinarian from Botswana came to take blood, urine and stool samples from him and several of the healthy elephants for comparison purposes. Tano was uncooperative in this respect, as was Naipoki, so in the end samples were taken from Ishaq-B and Orwa.

09 May 2012

Turkwel and Tano take it in turns to oversee the three little babies. Today it was obviously the turn of Turkwel who remained with Kithaka, Barsilinga and Balguda while all the other elephants went deeper into the forest to browse, even her special love, Kainuk. Because it began raining in the afternoon, the three little boys came back early, Kithaka leading, who ran straight to his hanging blanket in the stable to await his milk, which he downed eagerly, unlike previous days. The results of his blood, urine and stool tests, which were done at Nairobi Hospital’s Galleria Clinic proved that he has an absorption problem, so he has been given special enzymes to help him digest the artificial milk formula, and these have made an enormous difference to his appetite, and his energy levels.

10 May 2012

The three small babies enjoyed time today at their noon mudbath, which, for them, was a soil bath instead of the mud. Kithaka and Barsilinga do not yet know how to use their trunks to puff soil over their backs, but Balguda can do it perfectly. Meanwhile Sities was up to her usual trick, running up and down the cordon separating the visitors, painting them with mud as she went! The crowd cheered, which made her very happy, running back to the pool, and then returning to do the same!

11 May 2012

Kainuk is very greedy for her milk, running and bellowing ahead of all the others. Whenever Turkwel hears her scream, she comes running to help her. Kainuk knows the nearest muddy pool to where the visitors congregate during the open public visiting hour, and she always goes there and deliberately splashes the visitors with mud, waiting until a good number of them assemble at that point!

12 May 2012

Solio is very contrary these days. She has learnt that if her Keepers try and block the direction in which she would like to go, she has to run towards them, and they then take rapid evasive action. Today, she did not want to leave her Night Stockade as usual, but instead just remained in the Carpark, returning to try and wake up Maxwell, who was fast asleep next door. She banged her horn against the separating poles to give him a shock and wake him so that he would interact with her, which he did for a while, but then returned to sleep! In the evening she refused to return back home until the Keepers tempted her with a bottle of milk.

13 May 2012

It was a very cold morning, so all the young ones had to have two blankets over them. For the past few days Barsilinga has had a stomach upset caused by teething, so had to be treated with oral antibiotic, after which he has been getting the same enzymes that have helped Kithaka. Kasigau and Shukuru had a long wrestling bout out in the bush, which extended into the Public Visiting hour. Shukuru lost patience with Kasigau making him scream, so the Keepers intervened. Meanwhile Sities kept bumping into the visitors, who were very noisy, so the Keepers had to try and control her as well.

14 May 2012

Today all the Elephants gathered together at the road, and seemed to be discussing something. All of a sudden, all the older ones took to Bush-Bashing, trumpeting and running around, as though to scare whatever was in hiding. The three babies ran to the Keepers for protection, but the Keepers were unable to determine what had triggered the rampage of the herd because nothing emerged. Perhaps there was something like a snake in the bush, but we will never know!

15 May 2012

Today, the Orphans decided amongst themselves that it was the turn of Mutara to keep Murera company. As the others proceeded deeper into the forest, Mutara returned to Murera, who was feeding close to the Stockades. She remained with Murera until 8 a.m. when she decided to join the others, raising her trunk in the air, and trumpeting. Having got the scent of the others, she went straight to them, even though they were some 300 metres away. A Keeper trailed her to ensure that she found them.

16 May 2012

Kilabasi has always been somewhat remote from both the other elephants and also the Keepers, but she has chosen Balguda as her favourite baby, even allowing him to suckle on her little breasts. He loves her very much, and it is wonderful to see the affection these two have for one another. Balguda spent the entire day next to Kilabasi, suckling and browsing near her. It was the same with Wasessa, who only became a loving mother when she was transferred to the Voi Rehabilitation Centre. This evening, Barsilinga was very weak as a result of teething, so he was put on a dextrose drip to give him strength.

17 May 2012

Solio is becoming a handful, seemingly wanting to be independent of her Keepers. Today she ran into Daphne’s flowerbed, then ran to the Parking Area and returned to her Stockade, as though to demonstrate to her Keepers that she would not obey their instructions any more! She then appeared to get the scent of a wild rhino, and ran off into the bush. The Keepers searched for her all day, and at 5.30 p.m. were on their way to report her absent when they bumped into her where she had first left them in the morning, some 500 metres from the Stockades. We feel that it will not be long before she chooses not to return.

18 May 2012

After the 9 a.m. milk feed, the Orphans were in a long line heading out to browse, with Turkwel in the lead. Today, unusually Kainuk was beside Mutara at the end of the column, seemingly having mistaken Mutara for Turkwel! Suddenly she ran ahead to join Turkwel, only to be blocked by Ishanga, as usual, which made her scream. Immediately Turkwel returned to deal with Ishanga, and a fight ensued in which Mutara had to intervene. Turkwel is usually a very polite member of the group, but she is losing patience with Ishanga, and will do anything to protect Kainuk, who is her special baby.

19 May 2012

It is so wonderful and beautiful to observe how the Orphans care for one another, the older ones teaching the young ones how to do some of the things that they need to know in their daily lives. Since it was a sunny day, almost all the Elephants enjoyed a mudbath after their noon milk feed, Barsilinga and Balguda walking along the line of visitors, while Kithaka watched the antics of his peers with interest before moving alongside Tano, who was in a small side mudwallow. Kithaka began flapping his ears whereupon Tano sprayed him with mud, at the same time urging him to join her in the small pool in order to take a mudbath himself, which he did, and thoroughly enjoyed, since it was a hot day. It was wonderful to see this interaction and our little Boy having a good time.

20 May 2012

Kanjoro is a very greedy boy now. After taking his share of milk, he sometimes likes to push the Keeper as he is walking away with the empty bottles, as though irritated for not being given more! On one occasion, when he charged the Keeper from behind, he was disciplined by both Kasigau and Kilabasi, who drove him away and would not allow him back until the end of the mudbath hour.

21 May 2012

We are so relieved to notice some improvement in Murera, who can now put her injured leg to the ground and even apply a little weight on it. Also the swelling on her knee joint has subsided. At l0 a.m. little Barsilinga was again very weak, and was again put on a drip. After 2 1/2 litres of Saline he was a little stronger, and spent the day with Murera, rather than with the main herd.

22 May 2012

The morning was cloudy and wet following drizzling rain all night, so Kithaka and Barsilinga had to remain behind in their Stables due to the cold. The other Elephants missed them and Mutara and Tano kept returning to the Stockades to try and collect them. When the sun emerged, Kithaka was allowed out, but Barsilinga, who has been unwell due to teething, remained behind. Tano raised her trunk in the air before he came into sight, and she and Sities began running back to meet him, trumpeting. Everyone was attracted hearing the trumpet, and soon the entire herd joined them, greeting little Kithaka with enormous joy and excitement. He is dearly loved by them all.

23 May 2012

Solio, who has been leading her Keepers a dance for sometime, behaved impeccably today without trying to sneak away, but remaining close to the Keepers whilst browsing. Returning to the Stockades at 4.30 p.m. she first had to interact with Maxwell before going back in. After taking her milk, she began crying for more, and would not settle until the Keepers complied! Whilst the Elephants were browsing out in the forest, Ishanga again bit Kainuk’s tail stump, which made him scream. Mutara too disciplinary action against her, driving her out of the herd for sometime.

24 May 2012

The extension to Maxwell’s Stockade was completed today, and he is very happy with it. Before crossing over to the extension, he walked along the old boundary smelling the ground before venturing into the new area. Having done so, he then began inspecting it very carefully, before running up and down it to express his approval. Since it was a warm day, the bigger Elephants put on a good show for the visitors at their mudbath, Shukuru displaying her football skills whilst the Babies walked up and down the cordon interacting with the guests.

25 May 2012

Murera was very happy today because her peers spent more time with her than usual after she managed to join them at the 9 a.m. milk feed venue on the access road. Afterwards, she insisted on trying to accompany them out into the forest, bellowing whenever the Keepers tried to return her to rest her injured limb. Instead, the Keepers decided to let the other Elephants remain with her. Barsilinga was again very weak, and had to have another drip session to keep up his strength.

26 May 2012

The Elephants have all the same characteristics as us human Keepers. Today, Ishanga surprised us all by sneaking back to collect the two little babies, Kithaka and Barsilinga who had remained indoors due to the weather. We only noticed her absence when we heard her trumpeting from the Stockades as soon as the Babies were let out. She accompanied them out into the forest to join the others, rumbling when she came closer to alert the group, who all welcomed the trio with great joy. Today Shukuru allowed Balguda to suckle her little teats, as he does those of Kilabasi. He is very comfortable with both elephant “Mamas”!

27 May 2012

Today Sonje seemed jealous of Orwa and Ishaq-B, pushing them around at the noon mudbath until the Keepers intervened and warned her off. Later Naipoki tested her strength against Orwa, who gave a good account of himself now that he is much stronger.

28 May 2012

At 11 a.m. as the Orphans were approaching their mudbath, they met a huge python which raised its head, as though ready to attack. The lead Keeper (David Mutua) was so shocked that he was unable to speak and just stood there trembling! The second Keeper asked him what troubled him, and all he could do was to point at the snake, with all the Elephants standing behind him. Keepers David and Sammy then took the herd in a different direction. The snake remained there for the rest of the afternoon and everyone from the establishment came to take a look! This was probably the same python that came to the mudbath last month.

29 May 2012

The Keepers had a joyful morning watching the Elephants running around trumpeting and playing with one another in high spirits. Turkwel, Kainuk, Orwa and Sonje were the best players who put on a splendid display for their human family. Sonje was very friendly towards Orwa today.

30 May 2012

We noticed that Murera was beginning to put a little more weight on her injured leg, which is a wonderful sign that it is healing slowly. Orwa, who has long been her closest friend and companion, went round to her Stockade to collect her in the morning, and was with her as she slowly began following the route taken by the others.

31 May 2012

Kilabasi is very protective of Balguda. Today, she did not want to share him with any of the others, pushing Shukuru away from him. This triggered an altercation between Kilabasi and Shukuru which lasted until Mutara intervened to separate them, allowing Kilabasi to remain with Balguda, but comforting Shukuru through the intertwining of trunks.