Keepers' Diaries, November 2010

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

For the Nursery elephants, it has been an exciting month, involving the training of Suguta, Melia and Tumaren to the new Elephant Moving Truck which will be taking them to the Ithumba Rehabilitation Centre at the beginning of December. The month also brought the rescue of little “Ishanga” on the l7th from Tsavo West National Park, rescued just in the nick of time, lions having seized her by the throat as the De- Snaring Team rescuers were moving in to surround and capture this lone calf who was obviously an orphan. A Ranger who was with the team fired two shots in the air to drive the lions off the calf. Having come into the Nursery extremely traumatized, emaciated and wounded, Ishanga then collapsed and had to be revived by the intravenous infusion of Dextrose through an ear vein. Amazingly, she was up the next morning, and sufficiently calm to be introduced to the other orphans in the yard at 8 a.m. There she was warmly welcomed by Suguta, Olare and Tumaren, but also by Junior Matriarchs Mutara, Kudup and Kalama who clearly sensed her need for reassurance and comfort. However, Melia and Murka were not quite so friendly towards her, and had to be disciplined by the Keepers when they tried to push her away. Sadly another November rescue, this time of an orphan from Shaba National Reserve in Laikipia, had to be aborted because the elephant calf died before the Rescue Plane could reach it. November has been memorable also due to the regular presence of hungry Nairobi Park lions who have been targeting the resident warthogs who hang around the elephants and their Keepers, where they feel safer. Naisula and Kitirua, both relative recent arrivals who enjoy spending quiet time feeding close together out in the Park forest separated from the others as they come to terms with the loss of their natural family, have found themselves face to face with the lions on several occasions, and have fled back to their Keepers, triggering a stampede of all the others en route! At such times Suguta and Olare (main Nursery Matriarchs) rush to surround and protect little Sities, who is their favourite baby. During the morning of the 8th when the lions were roaring all around the Orphans’ Stockades, the Keepers had their work cut out keeping a close eye on their charges, who like to playfully chase one another around the shrubbery near the compound. And on the 11th it was brave little 6 month old orphaned rhino “Solio” who put the lions to flight who were eyeing her! Unhappily, on the 14th several newborn baby warthogs fell prey to the lions, having recently emerged from their natal burrow and on the 15th when the lions were taking too much interest in the younger orphans, including Naisula and Kitirua, a Keeper had to snatch the blanket from the back of Sities and flap it at them in order to deter them! On the 22nd it was not lions but hyenas who caused panic amongst the orphans, so there has never been a dull moment for the elephants and their Keepers at the Nairobi Nursery this month.

For the Nursery elephants, it has been an exciting month, involving the training of Suguta, Melia and Tumaren to the new Elephant Moving Truck which will be taking them to the Ithumba Rehabilitation Centre at the beginning of December. The month also brought the rescue of little “Ishanga” on the l7th from Tsavo West National Park, rescued just in the nick of time, lions having seized her by the throat as the De- Snaring Team rescuers were moving in to surround and capture this lone calf who was obviously an orphan. A Ranger who was with the team fired two shots in the air to drive the lions off the calf. Having come into the Nursery extremely traumatized, emaciated and wounded, Ishanga then collapsed and had to be revived by the intravenous infusion of Dextrose through an ear vein. Amazingly, she was up the next morning, and sufficiently calm to be introduced to the other orphans in the yard at 8 a.m. There she was warmly welcomed by Suguta, Olare and Tumaren, but also by Junior Matriarchs Mutara, Kudup and Kalama who clearly sensed her need for reassurance and comfort. However, Melia and Murka were not quite so friendly towards her, and had to be disciplined by the Keepers when they tried to push her away. Sadly another November rescue, this time of an orphan from Shaba National Reserve in Laikipia, had to be aborted because the elephant calf died before the Rescue Plane could reach it.

November has been memorable also due to the regular presence of hungry Nairobi Park lions who have been targeting the resident warthogs who hang around the elephants and their Keepers, where they feel safer. Naisula and Kitirua, both relative recent arrivals who enjoy spending quiet time feeding close together out in the Park forest separated from the others as they come to terms with the loss of their natural family, have found themselves face to face with the lions on several occasions, and have fled back to their Keepers, triggering a stampede of all the others en route! At such times Suguta and Olare (main Nursery Matriarchs) rush to surround and protect little Sities, who is their favourite baby. During the morning of the 8th when the lions were roaring all around the Orphans’ Stockades, the Keepers had their work cut out keeping a close eye on their charges, who like to playfully chase one another around the shrubbery near the compound. And on the 11th it was brave little 6 month old orphaned rhino “Solio” who put the lions to flight who were eyeing her! Unhappily, on the 14th several newborn baby warthogs fell prey to the lions, having recently emerged from their natal burrow and on the 15th when the lions were taking too much interest in the younger orphans, including Naisula and Kitirua, a Keeper had to snatch the blanket from the back of Sities and flap it at them in order to deter them! On the 22nd it was not lions but hyenas who caused panic amongst the orphans, so there has never been a dull moment for the elephants and their Keepers at the Nairobi Nursery this month.

Sities, who is a very mischievous and high spirited little baby, has continued to charm all the human mudbath visitors during the one Open Visiting hour a day, as usual running up and down the cordon that segregates the visitors from the elephants as well as deliberately scaring visiting African schoolchildren by rushing towards them. She then lies down before them to show them that she is, indeed, only playing, undoubtedly reveling in the chaos she has created! However, after one such prank, she inadvertently barged into Chemi Chemi on a day he was testing the temperature of the mudbath waters and was reluctant to go in. He was pushed in instead, which infuriated him, so he was out in a flash to retaliate! Chemi Chemi is no push over and easily downed Sities who bellowed, bringing both the Keepers and Suguta to the rescue at the run. Wisely, anticipating trouble, Chemi Chemi then made himself scarce by running away and taking refuge behind some bushes.

It was a happy moment on the 5th when little Wasin who has been struggling to cut her first molars, was brought out to be introduced to the older orphans for the first time. All jostled with one another to be closest to her, so much so that the Keepers decided to remove her from the melee. Olare and Suguta then went in search of the baby, leaving Sities with Kalama, something that pleased Kalama no end, since she is an aspiring Nursery Matriarch, as is Mutara, both having great potential to fill that role in the fullness of time. Wasin was with the group again on the l8th to be filmed in amongst the other Nursery elephants, and yet again became the main focus of attention of all the females, totally eclipsing Sities!

Kibo and Chemi Chemi enjoy regular Pushing Tests of Strength, with Chemi Chemi sometimes trying his luck against the Big Girls. He certainly has spirit, and one day will make a fine high ranking bull.

The Nursery had only drizzles and light intermittent showers during the month so Nairobi Park has been unusually dry throughout a month which normally should be very wet.

The Rhinos:- Shida continues his twice daily visits which coincide with the noon Visiting hour and the Evening Foster-Parent Visiting hour, thrilling blind Maxwell in the next door Stockade. Fortunately Shida likes to remain close to his Home Base, and can often be seen browsing along the new Banda access road to our Headquarters. With rhino poaching at an all time high, we are anxious to see him on four legs each and every day. Max remains besotted by little Solio, regularly coming to spray her greens (and often her attendant Keeper) with urine to label her as “His”. Solio who was once so fierce and “wild” is now is a calm and gentle little rhino who is happily settled into her daily routine, and thoroughly enjoys the excursions in the Park forest to add her contribution to the urinals and dung piles of the dwindling number of wild rhinos that remain in Nairobi National Park, now conspicuous by their absence. Whereas at one time we used to often see them at the salt lick on the rocks by our compound, sadly no longer.

November 2010 day to day

01 Nov

Kitirua and Naisula, best friends, who were feeding apart from all the other orphans caused a stir when they ran back, wide eyed and obviously disturbed. First to spot their retreat was Kandecha, who took off at high speed. Upon seeing this Suguta, Tumaren and Olare ran to little Sities and all then also ran away, the Keepers following trying to call them back. Mutara and Shukuru heard the Keepers and also began to run. The Keepers went to investigate the cause of such disturbance and came across two buffalo bulls feeding peacefully close to where Kitirua and Naisula had been feeding. Following this commotion Kitirua and Naisula remained closer to the main group whilst Suguta and Tumaren kept little Sities close. The rest of the day past without incident.

Kitirua (left) and Naisula

Kandecha browsing

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