The two Nursery Big Boys, namely Zurura and Kamboyo were transferred to the Ithumba Reintegration facility on the 8th November. It was time for them to go, for they needed the discipline of older Matriarchs, and stronger bulls against whom to test their strength and practice sparring skills. By now, the three older Nursery girls were finding them a handful, as were the Keepers, the new Matriarch, Lenana, not assertive enough to keep them in line.
When it came to practice sessions to get them comfortable going into the trucks parked against the loading ramps, Kamboyo obviously had sinister connotations of an earlier journey in a truck when he was rescued as an orphan aged 9 months and driven from the Triangle to the airfield at Tsavo West’s Kamboyo Headquarters in order to be air-lifted to Nairobi. Nothing could persuade him to set foot in the truck again, so on the day itself, he was given a mild sedative, to make him drowsy, and with all hands pushing from behind and pulling from the front, eventually he was forced in. Once inside the vehicle, he resigned himself, and with no antagonism towards those who had shoved him, merely settled down to endure whatever his human family had in store for him! We found such trust very touching. Zurura was orphaned far too young to remember his car journey, and was not going to forego his milk for anything, so he went into his truck without any difficulty.
Theirs was a grueling l0 hour journey, due to a horrendous deviation on the Mombasa road, plus a bolt in the gearbox of one truck snapping en route. Fortunately, Robert Carr-Hartley and his father, Roy, both of whom always accompany our orphans during transfers, were versatile enough to do a makeshift repair that would get the vehicles to Ithumba and back without further trouble. The move of these two young bulls could not have been better timed, for a day or two after their arrival at Ithumba, the heavens opened, and the access road between Kasala and Ithumba became a completely impassable quagmire. Everyone at the Nursery was thankful to have been able to pull this off just in time.
Once at Ithumba, their old Nursery mates were all over them, recognition instant from Sian, Loijuk and Kenze, who were moved from the Nursery a few months previously, and others older, such as Sunyei, Wendi, Kora, Naserian and Lualeni would remember them as tiny tots during their Nursery years. This always provides grounds for a joyful reunion and an exceedingly touching “welcome to the fold” by the older Matriarchs. Escorted into their new Stockade in the evening which they shared with Loijuk and Sian, they were perfectly at home, and also seemed to have been “told” about having to avoid touching the electric wire surrounding their quarters.
Back at the Nursery, Lenana, Makena, and Chyulu missed them, and spent the day of departure desperately searching for them, Lenana clearly distressed by their sudden absence. However, after a brief investigation, Makena and Chyulu merely went about their daily routine, probably pleased to be shot of the two boys, for Zurura and Makena have long been rivals, very competitive over pride of place next to the reigning Nursery Matriarchs as they grew up. Chyulu found the big boys a nuisance, for they enjoyed playing “top dog”, mounting onto both her and Makena whenever opportunity permitted, something Lenana was not sufficiently dominant to prevent.
We will never know what made Lempaute behave as she did on the 7th, fearful and trembling, rushing hither and thither with ears out in very obvious distress and continually biting her trunk. We can only surmise that either she ate something that made her hallucinate, or perhaps an ant, or a hairy caterpillar got up her nose. However, when her behaviour was still abnormal by the mudbath hour, we became seriously alarmed that it must be something more sinister, and called the Vet, who was as equally baffled, but relieved to rule out rabies! He ended up giving her a mild tranquilizer to calm her down, and something to neutralize any poison in the stomach and by the evening, much to everyone’s immense relief, she was back to her usual happy and playful mischievous self!
It has been a month of “musical stables” for the Nursery baby group of Lesanju, Lempaute, Sinya, Shimba and Dida. Having made it quite clear that she had to be in with Lesanju at night, when Lesanju was moved next door to Sinya who needed a comforting presence more, Lempaute got her way. However, we noticed that little Dida appeared dull and downcast, and came to the conclusion that this could be because her obsession with Lesanju was being thwarted by constantly being pushed away by Sinya and Lempaute. Rejection always causes psychological disturbance, so she was moved from Shimba’s stable and put in with Lesanju and Lempaute at night so that she could have Lesanju without competition from Sinya, hoping that Lempaute might also become maternal towards the baby. This worked miracles, and within just a few days, the smallest baby was much happier, and beginning to play, which is always an encouraging sign. Lempaute did become maternal, and now shows signs of resentment when Dida wants Lesanju, rather than her!
It has been a month of healing for Sinya’s terrible wounds on her back and forelegs. Thanks to the clays and essential oils brought over by Caroline Ingraham, she is now free of pain, and beginning also to play and thrive. Because of her, we have learnt such a lot that will stand other wounded babies in good stead in the future. And so, with all the Nursery babies thriving, and Kamboyo and Zurura embraced by their peers up at Ithumba, and beginning their journey back into the wild herds, November has been a month of satisfying accomplishments, not least the fact that KWS had to rescind the unreasonable $40 Entrance Fee they imposed without warning or consultation at the Service Gate which affords access to our premises. What was disappointing was the fact that some people blamed the Trust, one even withdrawing her support of the orphans, whereas it was nothing whatsoever to do with us, and hurt us most because our working revenue dried up over night. We found this extraordinary that people should even think like that!