Keepers' Diaries, November 2006

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

The 2nd November saw the arrival of a tiny 2 week old female, who, at the insistence of her Samburu rescuers, has been named“Lempaute” (meaning Big Pool of Water). She was spotted all alone in the Samburu West Gate Conservancy, near this big waterhole, and at the sight of the tribesmen, immediately rushed off into the bush screaming. However, soon she re-emerged, and simply followed them trustingly, remaining with them until they managed to get a message to Ian Craig of Lewa Downs, who alerted us to the rescue. The baby was airlifted to the Nursery, and apart from sun damage to the top of one ear, she is in good condition, and has attached herself to spirited little “Lesanju”, who sees herself as the Leader of the infant set. These two tiny babies have now been joined by Shimba, and another newcomer mentioned below named “Galdessa”, since they need to be kept in the shade to protect their fragile petal-soft ears from sun damage. Also, Shimba has been unwell, a wet trunk threatening pneumonia, to this has entailed another injectible antibiotic course, added to which when with the older elephants, he spent most of the time suckling on ears and anything else he could attach himself to, rather than concentrating on taking his milk.

The 2nd November saw the arrival of a tiny 2 week old female, who, at the insistence of her Samburu rescuers, has been named“Lempaute” (meaning Big Pool of Water). She was spotted all alone in the Samburu West Gate Conservancy, near this big waterhole, and at the sight of the tribesmen, immediately rushed off into the bush screaming. However, soon she re-emerged, and simply followed them trustingly, remaining with them until they managed to get a message to Ian Craig of Lewa Downs, who alerted us to the rescue. The baby was airlifted to the Nursery, and apart from sun damage to the top of one ear, she is in good condition, and has attached herself to spirited little “Lesanju”, who sees herself as the Leader of the infant set. These two tiny babies have now been joined by Shimba, and another newcomer mentioned below named “Galdessa”, since they need to be kept in the shade to protect their fragile petal-soft ears from sun damage. Also, Shimba has been unwell, a wet trunk threatening pneumonia, to this has entailed another injectible antibiotic course, added to which when with the older elephants, he spent most of the time suckling on ears and anything else he could attach himself to, rather than concentrating on taking his milk.

On the 22nd November, a 2 month old baby elephant bull simply wandered into the Generator Room at Galdessa Camp on the Galana river in Tsavo East, and cowered there until KWS Rangers arrived to drive him to our Voi Stockades, where he spent the night, it being too late to arrange an airlift that day, so it was on the morning of the 23rd November that he was flown to the Nursery. His appearance coincided with a major flash flood of the Galana River, and since he has superficial abrasions on his face and body, we suspect he might have been washed down with the floodwaters when his family tried to cross, and has been tossed around the rocky rapids just upstream from the camp. This baby, who has been named “Galdessa” has not only been extremely psychologically disturbed, so that he has had difficulty sleeping despite being so exhausted. Because his face has been so sore, he has also had difficulty feeding. However, his condition is improving, and he is now part of Lesanju’s baby set. The arrival of little Galdessa swells numbers in the Nursery to 11 and Lesanju’s infant set to 4.

Nor did it end there, because on the 25th a message from Tsavo alerted us to yet another river victim, who was rescued by Rangers on the North Bank of the Galana, also apparently having been washed down in the floodwaters when another calf was drowned. However, this baby did not survive, and was already comatose upon arrival. Despite being on a drip, he never regained consciousness and died several hours later.

Meanwhile, since Galdessa was still having trouble settling down to sleep in his Stable, which is slightly apart from the others, Loijuk was moved out of hers between Chyulu and Shimba, and put in with Zurura in one of the Big Rhino Stockades. This upset Chyulu terribly, who cried throughout the night and likewise Loijuk who also objected strongly, demolishing some of the timbers of the Keeper’s Sleeping Platform during the night. It was decided to move her back into her old quarters, and double up Galdessa and Shimba instead, and although this suited Loijuk and Chyulu, Galdessa and Shimba kept shoving each other around at milk feeds throughout the night! Gladessa has had to be moved back into his original stable in order for peace to return to the Nursery dormitory!

The Star of the mudbath hour this month has been Makena, who besides being an extravert show-off, is an excellent footballer, running around kicking the ball with her front and back legs, in between chasing the warthog family amidst squeaky trumpets. This prompts Loijuk to also participate, much to the delight of the visitors. The baby group led by Lesanju is also a huge draw for the visitors. They usually come ahead of the bigger elephants and stroll up and down the cordon, enjoying a friendly touch from all their admirers.

Kamboyo’s grudge against Lenana, although not so pronounced, nevertheless still exists, whilst Zurura, who has shot up, and from being one of the smallest in the Nursery, is now one of the biggest, likes to test his strength against Loijuk, not deterred by the fact that she has tiny tusks. Kamboyo can usually be counted upon to back up Zurura and ensure a male victory.

This month, the Nursery has enjoyed phenomenal rains, so the grounds look beautiful, and the little watercourse beside Daphne’s house has been running as a river with a lovely watery sound. Although the babies hate thunder, they enjoy playing in the puddles and the mud, even though a lot of their time has been shrouded in rainwear. Encounters with wild animals have included the usual baboons, and Lenana being so scared by the proximity of a friendly giraffe, that she ran back to her Stockade, and refused to budge for a long while.

The Rhinos:- Both our rhinos, 8 year old Magnum and 3 year old Makosa have been behaving in an exemplary manner, Magnum appearing very infrequently, and then usually only to lick the mineralized Magadi Soda which is provided for them and the wild residents. Shida is independent of his Keepers now, and a fully integrated “wild” member of the Nairobi Park’s rhino community. He simply does his own thing, sometimes returning to his Stockade for a hand-out of barley and copra, and at other times out and about elsewhere throughout the hours of darkness, respectful of the hot wires that had to be re-activated around the parked vehicles and other parts of the premises to show him areas that are “out of bounds” for very large rhinos, such as the verandahs of houses, and the gardens. Following just one sharp “zing”, just a string barrier suffices.

November 2006 day to day

01 Nov

Makena was very lively at the mudbath today, running everywhere with the football, and chasing the baby warthogs. Loijuk liked the game, and joined in.

Makena with Josiah

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