Keepers' Diaries, May 2016

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

Orphaned ostriches Pea and Pod have developed a dislike of raincoats and umbrellas, and whenever they see their green-jacketed Keepers change their ‘plumage’, it has triggered rage in Pod who repeatedly becomes aggressive at the sight of the Keepers wearing raincoats. This has been unfortunate indeed, since we have been having some of the wettest weather ever recorded in Nairobi! However, early in the month, Pod went missing and to this day no trace has been found, so we are hopeful that he has joined his own kind on the Park plains. He was beginning to wander so the signs were there that he was becoming restless, and in view of his behaviour, we are sure he is male. Rapa remains a naughty little boy where his younger friends are concerned. His love for Tusuja is unconditional but he continues to bully others younger than himself, as well as those slightly older who are of a more timid nature, mainly Galla and Naseku, but also anyone browsing close to Tusuja, since he is prone to jealous outbursts. Whilst Rapa is unfriendly to some of his peers, Kamok is still a naughty girl where her keepers are concerned, enjoying playing tricks on them. On the 13th as she was playing her usual hide and seek game with the Keepers in the car parking area, having terrorized the resident warthogs there, a lorry carrying hardcore stone to help elevate the quagmire after massive rain, approached. Hearing the thunderous noise, Kamok freaked out, screaming and running in search of the Keepers, whom, only moments before she had been hiding from! It took her a long time to settle down, the Keepers hoping that she had learnt a valuable lesson about hiding from them in the future! It was with approval from the Keepers one day that Kamok meted out discipline to Rapa for his bad behaviour towards other little ones, it being important that he knows the parameters of acceptable behaviour!

Orphaned ostriches Pea and Pod have developed a dislike of raincoats and umbrellas, and whenever they see their green-jacketed Keepers change their ‘plumage’, it has triggered rage in Pod who repeatedly becomes aggressive at the sight of the Keepers wearing raincoats. This has been unfortunate indeed, since we have been having some of the wettest weather ever recorded in Nairobi! However, early in the month, Pod went missing and to this day no trace has been found, so we are hopeful that he has joined his own kind on the Park plains. He was beginning to wander so the signs were there that he was becoming restless, and in view of his behaviour, we are sure he is male.

Rapa remains a naughty little boy where his younger friends are concerned. His love for Tusuja is unconditional but he continues to bully others younger than himself, as well as those slightly older who are of a more timid nature, mainly Galla and Naseku, but also anyone browsing close to Tusuja, since he is prone to jealous outbursts. Whilst Rapa is unfriendly to some of his peers, Kamok is still a naughty girl where her keepers are concerned, enjoying playing tricks on them. On the 13th as she was playing her usual hide and seek game with the Keepers in the car parking area, having terrorized the resident warthogs there, a lorry carrying hardcore stone to help elevate the quagmire after massive rain, approached. Hearing the thunderous noise, Kamok freaked out, screaming and running in search of the Keepers, whom, only moments before she had been hiding from! It took her a long time to settle down, the Keepers hoping that she had learnt a valuable lesson about hiding from them in the future! It was with approval from the Keepers one day that Kamok meted out discipline to Rapa for his bad behaviour towards other little ones, it being important that he knows the parameters of acceptable behaviour!

This natural social behaviour amongst our younger orphaned herd also reflects relationships due to age. Balguda is the oldest in the Nursery, and the others respect him simply because of this. The de facto female leader, Oltaiyoni, and even the pushy boys, Enkikwe and Olsekki, dare not disrespect Balguda and the same applies also to Oltaiyoni as well, both being well respected by their younger peers. However, we continue to struggle with Balguda’s health challenges, but he remains happy and is feeding well. In fact his appetite improved towards the end of the month, without the usual bloating of his stomach. We feel sure that his problems are parasite based, but curing him has proved challenging since whatever he has seems to be resistant to the drugs.

We have a little treasure in our midst - one with the heart of a lion. He is named “Luggard”, as he was rescued with a femur shattered by a bullet. Having carried out an X-ray, it was concluded that being so young (about 6 months old), he had a chance of healing, since the position of the break lends itself to calcification without override of the bone. Obviously he will be left with a compromised leg and will never have full use of the knee, but it has been a great month for this brave little baby whose life force has been staggering to observe and his will to live and overcome the odds, inspiring. We have allowed Luggard to roam free in the forest with the baby elephant group, mindful that a happy mind is crucial to the healing process. Given the rain we have had, incarcerated in a muddy stockade or kept indoors in a stable was not an option and happy days out with the others has proved beneficial. Luggard is healing well, given his predicament, but he has a long road ahead still. However, so far all signs have been positive. Within the gentle company of our baby herd, he has made some very special friends.
We rescued a young girl from Laikipia on the 17th of the month as well who is in seemingly good condition – she is less than a year old and we have called her Sana Sana; she will spend her days with the young baby group as soon as we are confident she can leave her stable and browse with them and Luggard outside.

Godoma, our youngest girl, currently available for fostering, continues to flourish in the Nursery environment since her rescue from a well in August last year. Rather than having a special friend, she browses and socializes with everyone, so long as they aren’t prone to pushing her around! This month Ndotto has shown his ability to socialize and interact with any of the orphans – on the 5th he had a great time playing with the older and very boisterous boys, Enkikwe and Olsekki, engaging them in a tackling and pushing game! He is certainly a little character beloved by all. Ngilai is a very interactive and playful baby when he is in the right mood, even enjoying interacting with visitors along the rope cordon during the Public Viewing hour.

Our Mini Matriarch Mbegu is still caring of all the little ones, even surprising the keepers with her sense of love and concern for the babies. One day, sensing that one of them was unwell, she made her own way to the Baby group to carefully inspect them all individually, eventually focusing on the one that was unwell and giving him special attention and consolation. Towards the end of this month, we moved five elephants from the Nursery, the first group destined for our Ithumba Relocation Unit where they will remain very much dependent on both milk and Keepers for many more years, but with the advantage of mixing with our Ex Orphans and their wild friends, which is all a part of their journey back to living a free and wild life again. The naughty boys were shifted out much to the relief of the Nairobi Keepers, who have had their work cut out wrangling them recently. Enkikwe, Olsekki and Siangiki have all settled well in their new home.

Next to move were two little elephants that have overcome incredible odds, Alamaya, whose rear was chewed up by hyenas and left with mutilated genitals which, thankfully, have been pieced together again after an extensive operation, and Mwashoti who has overcome a horrendous snare injury, which almost severed his foot. These two best friends were destined for Umani, our most recent Rehabilitation Unit to accommodate compromised orphans in a more gentle environment than Tsavo East; the passage of time will afford them the opportunity to live a perfectly normal wild and free life, surrounded by wild friends, in the forest environment exposed to the Chyulu National Park on one unfenced boundary.

Kiko is growing into a true bull giraffe who has displayed his naughty character even to the warthogs with whom he used to play when younger. He continues to test his ever patient Keepers who usually just let him get on with whatever he wants to do now, rather than try and persuade him against his will. He is growing apace and clearly fast becoming a free agent!

Maxwell our blind rhino has been having a muddy time in his large stockade! The endless rainy weather has certainly got to him as he friskily races around his “boma” during the rain storms. However, he does have a sheltered area in which to retreat and he sleeps under cover on a bed of hay whenever he wants to remove himself from the wet conditions. He has enjoyed a number of visits from Solio this month, usually under cover of darkness. Solio has befriended a wild Nairobi Park female black rhino who is very pregnant and we cannot help but wonder whether our precious Solio will also soon produce a calf of her own.

May 2016 day to day

01 May

There was a bit of drama today at public visiting when the ostriches Pea and Pod charged at one of the keepers – but we know why it was from past experience… Pea and Pod don’t like raincoats or umbrellas! The ostriches were sharing the grass laid out for the orphans for visiting and they saw one of the keepers walking down to the area. Pod, we think it was Pod because she is the naughty one, saw the keeper and raised her head eye and her wings out and ran at the keeper. The keeper ran behind the acacia trees but she was after him! Pea came running behind her sister as the keepers ran to help their colleague. They tried to help but they couldn’t and it wasn’t until Naseku and Tusuja ran over to save their keepers that the ostriches backed down. They smacked them with their trunks so that their beloved keeper could get away from the nuisance birds. It seems Balguda was in his bossy mood this afternoon. He blocked his friends Sokotei, Olsekki, Enkikwe from coming home to bed faster than him and would not let them overtake until they were nearly home.

Balguda browsing in the bush

Balguda, Olsekki and Lasayen

The baby group out in the bush

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