Keepers' Diaries, November 2001

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Voi Reintegration Unit

Overview - Nursery:- This month, it has been "Seraa" and "Solango" that have caused us concern, both teething soon after the trauma of rescue plus the loss of their elephant family and finding themselves in strange new surroundings. We anticipate diarrhoea in calves of this age, brought on by teething and also psychological grieving for the lost elephant family. This combination always brings on physical problems such as diarrhoea when there is always a danger of dehydration and the possibility of bacteria invading other vital organs. I am happy to say, that after injectable anti-biotics, and in Seraa's case, oral medication as well, both are now recovering, although Seraa took a little longer to pick up. The good news is that they are now playing, which is always an important milestone to recovery. Solango's sunburnt ears have needed a lot of attention, but are healing slowly, shaded at all times by an umbrella held aloft by a Keeper.

Overview - Nursery:- This month, it has been "Seraa" and "Solango" that have caused us concern, both teething soon after the trauma of rescue plus the loss of their elephant family and finding themselves in strange new surroundings. We anticipate diarrhoea in calves of this age, brought on by teething and also psychological grieving for the lost elephant family. This combination always brings on physical problems such as diarrhoea when there is always a danger of dehydration and the possibility of bacteria invading other vital organs. I am happy to say, that after injectable anti-biotics, and in Seraa's case, oral medication as well, both are now recovering, although Seraa took a little longer to pick up. The good news is that they are now playing, which is always an important milestone to recovery. Solango's sunburnt ears have needed a lot of attention, but are healing slowly, shaded at all times by an umbrella held aloft by a Keeper.

Mulika and Nasalot continue their Matriarchal and caring role, but are now ready to join the older orphans in Tsavo. We plan to move them just as soon as the new electrically fenced Stockade funded by IFAW is complete. Mweya is still a bundle of trouble, sometimes unable to resist "downing" unsuspecting visitors, and little Thoma is likewise both mischievous and a little "pushy", but very endearing. Sweet Sally is a great favourite with all the Keepers, the most dependent and loving of them all, constantly seeking a thumb to suck on, and wrapping her trunk lovingly around necks! She is gentle and her own person, paying more attention to the human family than the other elephants. Mweya and Thoma have formed a strong friendship, and Seraa and Solango are never far from Mulika and Nasalot.

Some rain has fallen during the month, but not nearly enough, bringing on a pale green tinge only. The cool wet weather caused for anxiety whilst Seraa and Solango were poorly, for pneumonia is a very real threat. Happily, however, careful husbandry - diligent with blankets, raincoats and, of course, the umbrella have spared us further problems.

Tsavo Orphans:- The return of Ndume, three days short of a month since he was relocated to the Ngulia Valley in Tsavo West, has been the most momentous happening of the month. How did he know his way back home, when he was moved, sedated, in a closed crate and simply woken up at the other end! And how naïve of us to think that he would not miss his friends enough to want to return, come hell and high water! Of course, whilst his new home offers better living conditions in every way, it is lacking those he has grown to love, both human and elephant, who truly are, in elephant society, friends for life!

This has prompted us to re-think our strategy insofar as the little bull orphans are concerned, a crop of whom are busy growing up within Natumi's group. We will be seeking permission to establish an alternative facility so that the bulls can be reared and reintegrated back into a wild elephant community further from sensitive unfenced boundaries. At the present moment, Jill and her partner have embarked on a recce to identify a suitable place, in conjunction with the K.W.S. Senior Warden of Tsavo West.

No sign of Imenti and Lewa yet. We doubt that Imenti will have the courage to make the journey back without a larger friend for company, because he is not as adventurous as Ndume. We hope that he and little Lewa will settle where they are, and make new friends there. Jill and J.F. will be keeping an eye out for them during their recce.

Ndume was greeted with immense joy by all the orphans, especially Emily, Aitong and Edo, but after a brief reunion, when he returned again with Dika and Edo the following day, he and his Big Boy Orphan friends have been absent, except for one occasion on the 9th, when Dika joined the smaller orphans, all longing to be as close as possible to this very impressive "Big Boy". No doubt Ndume is away with his wild friends further from home. Luckily, touch wood, he has not been back to the Pig Farm!

Ndara's very deep back wound, probably caused by a tusk as her mother tried to extract her from the deep narrow manhole on the Mombasa pipeline, has caused us problems. It is very deep, exposing the bone of the back, and has needed regular attention. We kept her back in the Stockades for many weeks, with her little friend "Maungu" as company and comfort, so that the wound could be kept clean. I am happy to report that it is gradually closing, not helped, of course, by being showered in earth! However, weighing up the psychological trauma of confinement in the elephant festive season against the positive spin-off of being able to partake happily with the others, she is now out and about with Maungu and the others, a great favourite with both Emily and Aitong, who are delighted to welcome all three small newcomers into the fold. This has caused some jealousy amongst Yatta and Kinna who share the baby stockade with the newcomers, and view them as "theirs"! The third newcomer, Mvita, who is older than Ndara and Maungu made the mistake of pushing Kinna, and this has led to some reprisals from Kinna, because elephants never forget!.

With a green flush of new growth, and water plentiful, all the orphans are now enjoying a brief respite of plenty, as elephants should. Uaso has not been seen this month, obviously away with the wild herds, most of whom have left the vicinity of the Voi Stockades to venture further afield. This is normal during the wet season, which is a time of plenty and joy. There has been just one wild contact this month, the wild herds having moved off. Our little boys continue to be competitive, as boys are, Salama as usual dominating the Keepers' Diary in this respect.

The Trust's Annual Newsletter is now live on the web, and all the year's news is on that for those that would like a preview before receiving their Hard Copy which will follow, hopefully in time to wish everyone a Very Happy Christmas, and a more Peaceful and Predictable year in 2002

November 2001 day to day

01 Nov

The baby set, Yatta, Kinna, Mukwaju (and Nyiro, who has injected himself into this group) had a wonderful game rolling in the sand upon leaving the Night Stockade in the morning, Mukwaju and Nyiro climbing on each other. These two then took to charging the bushes, which went on for some time. They enjoyed a wonderful mudbath before lining up for their milk, Nyiro now able to hold his own bottle in his trunk. Natumi's group of older orphans left the Stockades along with that of Emily, with Edo in tow, who peeled off shortly afterwards. Salama decided to be with Emily's group most of the day. Meanwhile, who should appear walking along the pipeline cutline road towards home, but Ndume, who, along with Imenti and Lewa, was translocated, sedated and in a crate to the Ngulia Valley in Tsavo West last month, 100 miles away. He turned up at the Stockades in the afternoon, and was greeted with enormous excitement and joy by Emily and the others, who all crowded around him, reching out to touch him with their trunks. It has taken Ndume 3 days short of a month to walk back home!
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