Keepers' Diaries, November 2012

Nairobi Nursery Unit

The death of little Rukinga on the 7th as always was a tragic loss that left us all exceedingly depressed, frustrated at seemingly unable any longer to get our very newborn orphans through the teething of their first four molars which always nowadays seems to prove life threatening. Teething is invariably accompanied by diarrheoa, fevers, loss of condition which results in bacterial infections necessitating antibiotics, which generally don’t suit elephants. Rukinga was rescued from Rukinga ranch on the 27th September, his mother gunned down by ivory poachers in what has become an elephant killing field now overrun with people who are totally intolerant of wildlife.

01 November 2012

Poor little Rukinga remains unwell and is spending his time most in his Stable and within the Stockade compound. The other small orphans return periodically to check on him, which will help heal him psychologically. He has been on and off intravenous life support to keep him hydrated and restore some energy but so far we have not been successful in halting the diarrheoa, which is very life threatening during the teething process, despite the presence of a Veterinarian who is overseeing him.

02 November 2012

Little Lemoyian, like Balguda before him, enjoys teasing the Keepers prior to accepting his milk. Narok has completely settled into the Nursery routine now, and is enjoying her milk and tolerating the presence of the Keepers. Her best friends are Kihari, Naipoki and Ishaq-B, all of whom she truly loves and enjoys being close. Meanwhile Teleki (known to the Keepers as “Rasta” because he is so hairy) is still nursing the machete wound he came with on his shoulder, which has to be anointed with green clay daily. He still often tries to sneak away from the others, returning to the Stockade compound or turning up at the mudbath venue.

03 November 2012

It was a cold, chilly, drizzly morning, so the small babies such as Kithaka, Barsilinga, Lemoyian, Rukinga and Ngasha had to remain indoors covered with blankets to keep them warm. At 7 a.m. a CBS Film Unit joined the other elephants out in the bush, and filmed the babies joining up with them. Mutara had a busy time controlling all the small calves, trying to protect them from the film crew. Quanza remains in her Stockade still, not yet sufficiently calm to be allowed out, although she accepted the presence of a Keeper actually inside her stockade today. Her night neighbour is Narok and she is much calmer when Narok is next door.

04 November 2012

Poor little Rukinga was much worse today, and could not stand unaided. He revived a bit after another drip infusion and managed to take his milk, but we are all very anxious about his chances of survival. Quanza is much more trusting today, and should be ready to be allowed out with the others very soon.

05 November 2012

At 2 p.m. Quanza was let out of her Stockade to join the other orphans, all of whom welcomed her very warmly. She went off sandwiched between the Big Females, but Kanjoro and Orwa attempted to shove her, and were reprimanded by the Keepers. Little Rukinga’s life still hangs in the balance, although he is still taking his milk feeds, but is losing strength and the will to live, rapidly.

06 November 2012

Quanza is very happy to be out with the other orphans, and behaved extremely well during the Public Viewing hour, taking her cue from the other elephants. She is reacting well to the Keepers and loves all the other elephants, not yet having chosen a best friend. Poor little Rukinga passed away this evening, despite the best efforts of a full time Veterinarian to try and save him, and the Trust’s new Blood Diagnostic Equipment. He will be sorely missed by all the other orphans, and also by his human family.

07 November 2012

The body of little Rukinga was laid to rest in the Park forest behind the Trust compound, where many others who could not make it, rest in peace. Solio continues to lead her Keepers a dance. Having enjoyed a game playing with Maxwell through the bars of his compound, she ran off into the forest, giving her Keepers the slip, (with a smile on her face). During the Open Mudbath hour she turned up at the mudbath briefly, all the visitors asked to withdraw, until she wandered off and voluntarily returned to her Stockade where the visitors could access her.

08 November 2012

Murera has good reason to be happy now, because she can walk well enough to be able to join the Big Orphan group out in the bush. Hitherto she has been afraid to be with them in case she inadvertently got knocked down, but now she feels sufficiently strong and confident to be a part of the main herd. Although the formerly paralysed limb is a little shorter than the other hind leg, she moves well, although she treads on the side of the foot rather than the sole, the last joint still not strong enough to support her weight. She has adapted well to her physical disability.

09 November 2012

Narok has become very greedy for her milk, becoming restless when the time approaches for another milk feed. Lemoyian has lost a lot of condition, although he is still feeding well. Turkwel and Kainuk have been paying him a lot of attention, but he is not as lively as he was previously, so his condition will be monitored closely.

10 November 2012

As soon as the Orphans are let out in the morning, Mutara, Shukuru and Naipoki rush to little Lemoyian’s stable, while Kilabasi rushes to Balguda and Ngasha. Quanza has attached herself to Kihari, Ishaq-B and Sities. Orwa and Bomani enjoyed a Pushing Game this morning, which was interrupted by Kanjoro, whom they did not want in their game due to his small tusks. Whilst Kithaka and Barsilinga were returning to the Stockade compound for their 9 a.m. feed, they were scared by some impala, which sent them screaming heading back towards the older elephants for protection. Mutara, Shukuru, Kilabasi and Turkwel immediately rushed to meet them, rumbling and trumpeting to them in order to comfort them. Having established that the two babies were fine, everything settled down again.

11 November 2012

Having been upgraded to the Big Group, Ishaq-B is much better behaved, and no longer bullies the smaller elephants. Mutara and the Big Girls have done a good job of teaching her acceptable elephant behaviour.

12 November 2012

Despite his size, Kithaka behaves like a grown up Bull, and enjoys scaring the school kids that come to the Public Viewing Hour.

13 November 2012

While the Big Females were busy with the babies, Kanjoro and Sities engaged one another in a Pushing Match. Sities tried her level best to win, but Kanjoro was too strong for her. In the end Kilabasi intervened on the side of Sities, and Kanjoro gave up, walking away, respectful that Kilabasi has longer tusks and is bigger than him!

14 November 2012

On the way out into the bush after the public Viewing hour the orphans encountered 3 giraffes. Mutara charged towards them, but the giraffes ignored her. She then returned to collect reinforcements by way of Shukuru, Turkwel, Tano and Kilabasi and all four Big Females advanced towards the giraffes trumpeting, with their ears out. The giraffes took the hint and ran off, after which the entire orphaned herd rushed around downing small shrubs and trumpeting their success.

15 November 2012

As the orphans were moving out to browse this morning, Barsilinga, Balguda and Kwale ran into some tiny newborn warthog piglets which scared them witless. The elephants bellowed drawing the attention of the Big Girls, all of whom came rushing to the rescue! They then searched the nearby bushes to ascertain what had scared the babies, but the tiny piglets had long since disappeared.

16 November 2012

Every morning, some of the resident warthogs like to squeeze through the poles of Maxwell’s Stockade to feed on his Lucerne. Max enjoys chasing them around the Stockade, so proficiently following them until they exit his enclosure again, that no-one can believe that he is completely blind. Max enjoys his daily routine, the highlights of which are Solio’s comings and goings, and, of course, the intrusion of the warthogs bent on sharing his food, and, of course, the attention of the visitors who enjoy touching his face when he comes close to greet them.

17 November 2012

Today was another rescue, this time from Kimana Swamp in the Amboseli Conservation Area, who had been seen by the Scouts of Big Life. The calf was about 3 weeks old, and had obviously been without his mother for several days, because he was passing mud in his stools. The whereabouts of his mother was not known until a few days later when it was discovered that she was called Tatambala from the TD study family and that the orphaned calf was, in fact, her baby named Tikondo. The Researchers believe the mother to have been poisoned. Tikondo was flown to the Nursery, and put into the stable next door to Barsilinga.

18 November 2012

It was a chilly drizzly morning, so little Tikondo and Lemoyian had to be kept indoors until the weather turned warmer. The two babies enjoyed the company of one another until they could be allowed out. Quanza has settled well, but remains fearful of human company, approaching the Keepers tentatively to take her milk, and then keeping her distance from them. Having witnessed the brutal murder of her beautiful elephant mother and two Aunts, and the hacking of their tusks from their faces, that apprehension of humans will remain with her always.

19 November 2012

Mutara was waiting at Tikondo’s stable door this morning to escort him out into the bush. She took him to join the other Big Girls, all of whom welcomed him most warmly, paying him a great deal of attention. There was rumbling and trumpeting as they all wanted to embrace him as he stood alongside Mutara.

20 November 2012

Little Tikondo came with 2 teeth through the gum, but two more still to come, and today has the usual problems associated with teething – diarrheoa and fever. Blood tests indicated a high white cell count, so he was given a long acting Penicillin injection and oral medication to try and halt the diarrheoa.

21 November 2012

Solio is no longer accompanied by Keepers. She leaves her Night Stockade early in the morning, and simply goes about her business out in the bush, returning in the evening when she enjoys playing with Maxwell through the separating poles of their respective Stockades. She also enjoys the evening visitors who always come to her Stockade door to watch her.

22 November 2012

Newcomer Tikondo is still struggling with teething, but the diarrheoa has improved. Kwale and Balguda are now firm friends, who enjoy playing Pushing Games with one another. Quanza has become greedy and push at milk feeding times, which is often what happens to those orphaned older. She does not respond to the Keepers waggling of a finger and tone of voice, but with time the older Elephants will put her in line. The Nursery now has quite a numbe of male orphans after a long time of having a large female majority. The males generally seem to get along, Orwa is the most gentle amd gets along with the other orphans very well, while Bomani and the younger ones like Lemoyian and Basilinga are very attached to the Keepers.

23 November 2012

The older elephants have recently been weaned off some of the milk feeds, and now spend time deeper into the forest, away from the Keepers. Teleki’s shoulder injury is responding well to the daily application of green clay.

24 November 2012

As usual Solio and Max interacted through the poles of Max’s Stockade. Today, for the first time, she did not return in the evening, but spent a day and a night out. At daylight, the Keepers instigated a search for her, but were unable to locate her. Everyone was very relieved when she turned up at 6 p.m. and put herself back in her Stockade as usual, treating Max next door to their usual sparring match. Max had missed her and was very excited when she returned.

25 November 2012

Solio failed to show up during the night, and a search this morning also proved fruitless. However, she strolled in at 6 p.m., much to everyone’s relief, and was unscathed. Last night was the first night out for Solio.

26 November 2012

As soon as the orphans were let out this morning Sonje and Kainuk instantly focused on the two smallest calves, Lemoyian and poor little Tikondo, who has not been well. Sonje seemed to know that he was ill, for she gave him a great deal of empathy and love. Meanwhile Kainuk comforted little Lemoyian, who always keeps Tikondo company. The two young females remained with the two babies until after their 9 a.m. feed, when they had to join the Big Group and go further afield to browse. Kihari and Kanjoro are good friends and spent time playing together while the orphans were out in the bush.

27 November 2012

Little Tikondo seemed a little better today, but then began suffering stomach pain, turning from side to side. After the older orphans had taken their 9 a.m. milk, and on their way out into the forest, they encountered a lone buffalo hiding in a patch of thick bush. Mutara, Kilabasi and Shukuru sensed that the buffalo was there, and began a bush-bashing display to try and dislodge him, but he ignored them until they all began trumpeting as well. This un-nerved him and he ran off. They then scoured the thicket to ensure that he had actually left. Meanwhile the Keepers kept their distance, knowing that the buffalo posed a threat to them. Bomani is very well settled into life at the Nursery and loves his Keepers very much, spending much of his time close to them and wanting one on one affection from them.

28 November 2012

Tikondo seemed better a little better this morning, but having taken his 6 a.m. feed, he wanted to sleep and refused all the following feeds, just wanting to sleep. By evening he was so weak that he was unable to stand, and at 7 p.m. he died, his Keepers beside him, distraught. Tikondo was the Nursery baby, and deeply loved.

29 November 2012

It was a very sad morning for Tikondo’s human family, who had to bury his body in the Park forest. Tikondo will be missed sorely by both his human and elephant family, especially little Lemoyian who was his companion for the entire time he was in the Nursery, and also by Sonje, who loved him dearly.

30 November 2012

It rained lightly throughout the night, so the orphans enjoyed early morning mudbaths on the way out into the forest to browse. Barsilinga, Kithaka, Ngasha and Faraja thoroughly enjoyed rolling in the mud and sliding on the bodies of the Big Girls, while Lemoyian happily scratched himself against Kainuk.