Keepers' Diaries, November 2004

Nairobi Nursery Unit

It has been an exceptionally busy, not to mention stressful, month, with the arrival of three new Nursery babies, one just 4 days old, one of 3 weeks and one of 3 months. Little Seyia, so named after a lucky reed that grows in the Mara marshlands, was flown into the Nursery on 7th November, and from day one we were embroiled in a desperate struggle to try and save him. His mother had no milk due to a severely infected abscess on her belly, which a Vet managed to clean and partially treat before she woke up from the immobilizing drug ahead of time. By the time little Seyia came into the Nursery at 4 days old, he was already very emaciated, and even an infusion of plasma taken from the blood of “Galana”, who was immobilized for this purpose on the 26th, could not pull him round. This blood plasma transfusion is always a last ditch attempt to save a Colostrum deprived calf with a deficient immune system, due to the very real risk involved in jeopardising the life of a healthy donor elephant for the sake of a very sick recipient, who may not make it in any case. However, there was no way we could stand by and just let him die, so we simply had to try. It was, however, a nerve-wracking event, because “Galana” took longer than normal to come round, and even the Vet was getting anxious! We, of course, were basket cases! Then it was the turn of little Seyia who likewise almost passed away whilst under the anaesthetic as the plasma was being transferred through a vein in the leg, the Vet being unable to raise one in the ear because by now he was so dehydrated!

01 November 2004

Jipe and Naserian had a wonderful mudbath. Galana has greatly improved, and is now taking an interest in greens, rather than just the next bottle of milk. However, she is still not friendly towards Jipe and Buchuma.

02 November 2004

Ndomot was very brave today, chasing the warthogs on his own for a long way. However, he came running back very fast, trumpeting, and was greeted by Sunyei with a welcoming trumpet.

03 November 2004

Sunyei wanted to take Jipe from Naserian, which caused a punch-up between the two females. Madiba came in between to separate the warring parties. Makosa (the 5 year old rhino) gave us all a start when he appeared out of the bush running towards us. He didn’t want to leave, and spent the day close by.

04 November 2004

For the first time, Galana allowed little Jipe to try and suckle her for a short time, but then she shoved him away and moved off, so he went back to Naserian.

05 November 2004

The Nursery elephants have coconut oil applied to their skin every Friday, and today were very playful after being anointed. Jipe tried to climb on one of the others when they were lying down. Although Naserian didn’t mind, Madiba and Ndomot disapproved, and pushed him off.

06 November 2004

We came across three hyaenas lying down, who ran away when they saw us. Madiba was all for chasing after them, but we restrained him

07 November 2004

A group of zebra ran off as we approached, which scared Madiba, who ran back to the Keepers.

08 November 2004

Madiba was the first one to touch and welcome little Seyia, the new Mara baby, when the elephants were brought in to meet him. Sunyei followed next, and then Naserian, both females thrilled to see him, ignoring little Jipe for the first time.

09 November 2004

Sunyei took charge of the new baby, and pushed Naserian away whenever she approached. Naserian is no longer satisfied with just Jipe and wants the new baby for herself, which is making Jipe very jealous.

10 November 2004

Galana took over Jipe today for a while, because Naserian was focused on little Seyia who came to spend a short time with the group. It was a special day for Buchuma, who, for the first time, was given the green light by the Vet to be allowed to play in the mudbath. Up until now he has not been allowed in because of his skin wounds, but now they are almost healed, and dry. He was so happy and loved the mudbath very much.

11 November 2004

Buchuma was first in the mudbath today, rolling around and playing happily, even forgetting about his milk which was waiting for him. Jipe also loves the mudbath, but is a bit daunted when all the others are rolling about in it.

12 November 2004

Naserian and Sunyei followed by Jipe were first to welcome yet another new baby called Nalitu, and did not want to leave her alone, constantly trying to manoeuvre close to her. Madiba was also interested but wasn’t allowed a look in!

13 November 2004

Naserian has dumped Jipe for Nalitu, with Sunyei also taking a great interest. Jipe became very jealous and tried to push the new baby away from Naserian towards Sunyei who took over.

14 November 2004

Sunyei took charge of Nalitu for another full day without trouble, although Naserian would not leave them alone and kept on trailing them, with Jipe coming along behind her.

15 November 2004

Jipe made friends with Nalitu today, because both Naserian and Sunyei shared her. This way he, and the new baby, could enjoy both.

16 November 2004

Jipe encouraged Nalitu to play, which was very interesting to watch. Naserian and Sunyei also began to play close by whilst Ndomot and Madiba indulged in their daily bout as Buchuma watched and Galana just kept on feeding. Little Seyia has not been well for several days now, so he stays close to the stable and next to a blanket hung between two trees, because he is too weak to join the others.

17 November 2004

Today, Nalitu became confused and followed Naserian instead of Sunyei, which made Jipe very jealous. He came in to try and fight Nalitu.

18 November 2004

For the first time Galana is taking a great interest in Nalitu, remaining close to the baby all day. Because Galana is bigger than Sunyei and Naserian, they had no option but look on and accept this.

19 November 2004

Again, Galana monopolised little Nalitu, even letting the baby try and suckle her beneath her belly.

20 November 2004

Today, Sunyei made an attempt to take Nalitu from Galana, but Galana would have none of it, and kept moving away with the baby

21 November 2004

Naserian and Sunyei ganged up to try and get Nalitu from Galana today, and they almost succeeded, but it was not popular with Jipe, who ran to Naserian giving Galana a chance to recover Nalitu for herself

22 November 2004

Today saw Naserian and Sunyei fighting over who should have Jipe, since Nalitu has been taken over completely by Galana, who will not release the calf. Jipe rather enjoyed this.

23 November 2004

Today, the Vet came to immobilize Galana, and took blood from a vein in her ear whilst she was under anaesthetic. Madiba was the first to demonstrate concern for Galana whilst she was down. whilst Nalitu tried to suckle her belly. Ndomot and Sunyei came to sniff Galana and Naserian remained close to Jipe, slightly apart, not wanting to be close to the Vet!.

24 November 2004

A herd of zebras came running past, which scared all the elephants except Sunyei, who stood her ground, and watched the herd pass.

25 November 2004

Today, Nalitu shifted her allegiance from Galana to Sunyei for most of the day.

26 November 2004

Jipe tried to punish Naserian by shoving her, and because he is so small, Sunyei came to give him some help!

27 November 2004

The Keepers were all very depressed today, because little Seyia is so sick. The elephants sensed this and were very quiet. Jipe stuck to Naserian and Nalitu stuck to Galana, whilst Madiba, Buchuma and Ndomot remained close to one another, feeding.

28 November 2004

The usual daily tussle between Madiba and Ndomot began early today, and lasted a long time.

29 November 2004

Sunyei welcomed the new elephant, “Lualeni” very warmly and spent most of the day very close to her but Lualeni kept on moving away. Nalitu stuck to Galana and Jipe remained with Naserian. Madiba was also very interested to get to know the newcomer and tried to stay close to her.

30 November 2004

Nalitu and Jipe played together for the best part of the day. When Madiba tried to play with Nalitu, Naserian moved in to stop the game. Lualeni chose to remain alone. Buchuma tried to keep her company, but she was not interested. Madiba and Ndomot’s play fight was interrupted by the arrival of the milk.