Keepers' Diaries, November 2008

Nairobi Nursery Unit

Unlike October, mercifully November has been a quiet and healthy month for the remaining 13 Nursery elephants, although both Suguta and Kimana kept us on edge for a few days with tell-tale signs of feeling slightly under par. Fortunately, however, a few days of Septrin and Silver in their milk sorted out whatever was troubling them. Suguta is cutting her first molars, but why Kimana should feel unwell puzzled us, until tiny tusks appeared through the lip, despite the fact that he is only a few months old! This has astonished us, because usually the tusks appear when a calf is 2 years old, not two months old! As mentioned before, rearing the elephants is full of surprises!

01 November 2008

Today marked the first time that Wasessa allowed the Keepers to touch her trunk and body. Up until now, immediately having taken her milk, she has always run away, but now at last she is beginning to accept the Keepers.

02 November 2008

Today, Ndii was very excited at the mudbath. She kept running up and down the cordon in front of the visitors, and then went into the wallow, even though all the others were not yet in. All the visitors were charmed by her and took lots of pictures.

03 November 2008

Kenia has a special relationship with Ndii, of whom she is very fond, even pushing away the others whenever they come close to Ndii. Suguta remains extremely attached to the Keepers, to the exclusion of the other elephants.

04 November 2008

Little Kimana is dull today and not feeling well, feeding very slowly compared to usual. This is not a good sign so he has been given Septrin and Silver in his milk.

05 November 2008

Since the rains started, the smaller elephants have been kept close to home, so that they can be taken back to their stables if necessary, for fear of pneumonia. The Keepers have observed special relationships. Kenia loves Ndii, while Dida, Kimana and Taveta enjoy being together and Suguta has the Keepers. However, all this changes when we are with the older elephants.

06 November 2008

During the mudbath 5 giraffes turned up to drink at the nearby waterhole. Lempaute spotted them instantly and walked a few paces towards them, pointing her trunk to indicate their presence. Having done this several times, the other elephants became aware of the giraffes and watched them with outspread ears.

07 November 2008

Taveta has become very pushy whilst taking his milk, and also jealous when the Keepers pay a lot of attention to the others. Today, whilst Kimana was taking his milk, Taveta came and pushed the Keeper first, and then knocked Kimana down.

08 November 2008

As the orphans were leaving the mudbath, Suguta lagged behind. Kenia noticed this, stopped and pointed her trunk at Suguta, rumbling. She then waited for Suguta to catch up, showing that she is becoming very protective as the Junior Matriarch of the younger group.

09 November 2008

It was a very hot day, and some warthogs turned up at the mudbath when the babies were there. The warthogs did not want to wait and simply went in, scaring the babies, who moved away.

10 November 2008

During the evening Wasessa followed Lesanju, Lempaute and Dida into their Stockade, and when she was removed, she ran off into the bush. Eventually, she had to be enticed back with a bottle of milk.

11 November 2008

Today Suguta went into the mudbath with Ndii. Suguta screamed when Ndii lay on top of her, so the Keepers had to push Ndii away, because she is too heavy to be on top of such a small and fragile little baby.

12 November 2008

There is a new alignment within the older Nursery elephants. Mzima, the youngest in that group has attached himself to Shimba. Shimba enjoys the company and the two often choose to feed apart from the others. Kimana likes the company of Siria so Dida has gone back to Lesanju, Lempaute and Sinya. Kenia remains very fond of Ndii and Suguta is still attached to the Keepers.

13 November 2008

As all the orphans had spread out to feed in the forest, there was suddenly a loud bellow. The Keepers went to investigate and found that Mzima and Shimba had lost contact with the others. Mzima was the one that bellowed. The Keepers shepherded them back to the main group.

14 November 2008

Today, at the mudbath, Dida displayed the tricks she has learnt from Lempaute. She ran up and down the line of visits kicking the football, and then ploughed under the cordon to go in amongst the human crowd. Everyone enjoyed this immensely, so Dida was the star today!

15 November 2008

Taveta is becoming something of a bully. He keeps pushing the young ones, and even the Keepers when they go to the rescue. He is growing strong now and enjoys showing this off!

16 November 2008

Suguta, who is the smallest elephant in the Nursery, enjoys entertaining all the mudbath guests by walking up and down the cordon so that they can touch her. Today she went behind the cordon and in amongst the crowed, so everyone was very happy to have a baby elephant in amongst them.

17 November 2008

Ndii loves the mudbath, and is always the first to play in the mud. Of all the group, she loves the water the most.

18 November 2008

When the elephants were let out of their Night Quarters early in the morning, they all began running up and down breaking small shrubs. The Keepers were unable to tell what had made them so excited, but possibly it was the scent of a night predator.

19 November 2008

As the babies were leaving the noon mudbath, the older elephants were on their way in. Dida immediately left the baby group and ran to Lesanju. They intertwined trunks and rumbled until Lesanju broke contact to run for her milk.

20 November 2008

Suguta spent time today with Ndii and Kenia unlike most days when she is very attached to the Keepers.

21 November 2008

Today, the big Tractor tube, which has recently been repaired, was brought to the noon mudbath for the elephants. Lempaute, Wasessa and Sinya appeared scared of it, but Lesanju, Shimba, Siria and Mzima thoroughly enjoyed rolling around on it.

22 November 2008

Kenia was very annoyed today when Wasessa pushed Ndii down. Immediately Kenia came to assist Ndii to get up again, and offered her an ear to suckle for comfort.

23 November 2008

Today, as the Keepers were taking their lunch out in the bush, the warthogs kept circling round, hoping for a hand-out. Suguta, who is always close to the Keepers, kept chasing the warthogs away as though she did not want the warthogs to disrupt the Keepers’ lunch!

24 November 2008

Today Mzima went off to feed on his own. Suddenly, he bellowed, and when the Keepers went to investigate what had scared him, he pointed his trunk at the bush, and ran off screaming. The Keepers never discovered what had frightened him.

25 November 2008

As the orphans were feeding after the mudbath a troupe of noisy baboons passed by, arguing with one another and chasing one of their number. This scared the elephants who ran back to their Keepers for protection.

26 November 2008

Usually, in the evening, the babies are brought back to their Night Stables ahead of the older elephants, but today Kimana refused to leave the older group, so they all came back together. Lempaute has been trying to “adopt” Suguta, but Suguta prefers the Keepers, so Lempaute does not persist.

27 November 2008

Whilst Maxwell was taking his Lucerne, some warthogs and their piglets were in Shida’s Stockade next door, eating left-over Copra cake. Shida arrived unexpectedly, so the mother pigs ran out, but the piglets were too scared to follow and instead ran into Max’s Stockade. This scared Max, and he charged them, as though he could actually see them, despite being blind, without banging into any obstacle, and stopping short of the Stockade door.

28 November 2008

Suguta has become very possessive of the Keepers. Today, she did not want Ndii to have contact with them, and kept pushing Ndii away. In the end Ndii became impatient of baby Suguta, and punished her by pushing her down. She was reprimanded by the Keepers, and knowing that she had misbehaved, ran back to join the older elephants.

29 November 2008

Mzima has become very greedy having been deprived of milk when his mother died. Every time the milk is being mixed during the night, he bellows, and he also complains loudly when he has finished his four bottles at each feed. He wakes up all the others, at each milk mixing, as though deliberately their time keeper!

30 November 2008

Lempaute continues to give Lesanju a hard time in the Stockade that she and Sinya share with Lesanju. After each milk feed she pushes Sinya away, and Lesanju does not intervene to prevent this.