Keepers' Diaries, November 2013

Nairobi Nursery Unit

To describe November as yet another hectic month is to put it mildly, for we have felt overwhelmed, both by so many tragic losses and new orphans coming in on an almost daily basis! Due to escalating numbers in the Nursery, new Stockades have had to be hurriedly constructed, and new Keepers recruited and (thrown in the deep-end, as it were) learning by experience rather than by tuition! Never before has the old saying been more relevant – “To hear is to know, to See is to believe, but to Do is to Understand”! This month there have been six rescues bringing us six new elephants for the Nursery, plus the loss of four, with six of the older Nursery elephants transferred from the Nursery to the Ithumba Rehabilitation unit to free up much needed elephant accommodation for new arrivals.

01 November 2013

Although still in the Stockade, Asanja is improving after the anaphylactic reaction she suffered out in the bush recently, which left her near dead and blind. Her vision seems to be slowly returning. Meanwhile the three teething have lost a great deal of body condition, which is something that happens when they cut their first molars.

02 November 2013

Rorogoi, who previously avoided the public visiting hour, and was not very fond even of the Keepers, is now much more settled. Little Oltaiyoni is doing well, and very attached to Lentili. All the new orphans are happy to return to their Night Stockades, (with the exception of Oltaiyoni who even by month end was still reticent.)

03 November 2013

Another tiny calf estimated to be about 2 ½ months old was flown into the Nursery today, having been rescued from a manhole on the Mzima Pipeline near the Manyani Training Centre. The baby arrived in good condition, and has been named “Ashaka”, the name of a pool in one of the nearby luggas within the Park near the Manyani Entrance Gate.

04 November 2013

The new baby was very restless during the night, crying for her mother. This morning poor little Shujaa, who is in the midst of teething, was not well and had to be put on a drip infusion.

05 November 2013

Asanja was allowed out of her Stockade today to join the other orphans, who welcomed her very warmly. Arruba, Suswa and Lentili escorted her out to browse, while mischievous boys Lemoyian, Kithaka and Barsilinga were keen to involve her in a Pushing Game, but were warned off by the Keepers because Asanja is still weak.

06 November 2013

Vuria and Ngasha are now greedy boys, always attempting to snatch bottles from the others as they feed, and bellowing when their own has finished! Tundani is still the politest boy in the Nursery, and greatly loved by everyone, while Mashariki enjoys that status within the girls.

07 November 2013

Poor little Shujaa took a turn for the worse today, and could not even stand by himself this morning. He died, still attached to Life Support, at l0 a.m. Blood diagnostic revealed that his liver had failed him. A blood sample taken from Mshindi who is also in the midst of teething also showed signs of liver failure.

08 November 2013

Naipoki, Kihari and Ishaq-B are being trained to going into the Elephant Moving Truck, since they are shortly to be moved to the Voi Rehabilitation Centre in order to free up space in the Nursery which is becoming very crowded with some 35 elephants in residence, and more sure to come in. Another tiny calf estimated to be about 1 ½ months old, who had been rescued from a well near Amboseli National Park, came in today. He has been named “Olodare”.

09 November 2013

Another young female orphan aged about 8 months was flown to the Nursery today from the Galana Ranch abutting Tsavo. The calf is obviously a poaching victim with what looks like either an arrow or bullet wound in the hind leg. She is very thin having been without her mother’s milk for sometime. She collapsed overnight and had to be put on Life Support. She has been named “Bissemballa” (meaning Open Plain).

10 November 2013

Naipoki, Ishaq-B and Kihari left the Nursery in the Elephant Mover very early this morning, at 3.30 a.m. on their way to the Voi Rehabilitation Centre. Narok, Teleki and Bomani, who witnessed the others leaving their night Stockades, rushed to the empty ones wondering where their three age mates had gone. They settled down later. Poor Bissemballa, who revived after the drip last night, collapsed again and had to again have an infusion of Life Support, which revived her once more, much to the Keepers’ delight. But she remained very weak, but did take some milk and eat some greens.

11 November 2013

Yet another rescue today, this time of a young bull from Loisaba Ranch aged about 20 months who is obviously another poaching victim because 7 elephants had recently been gunned down by Pokot poachers nearby. He was named “Kirimon” and was very thin from not having had mother’s milk for sometime.

12 November 2013

The new elephant rescued yesterday had a good night, feeding on greens, but still not accepting milk. He is riddled in stomach parasites and was given an injection of Ivomectin. Poor Bissemballa’s condition deteriorated further, we believe from the affects of the poison that was probably on the arrow that left the wound on her hind leg. Poor baby Mshindi’s condition also deteriorated, with blood in his stools. He was also on a drip infusion and had become pathetically weak.

13 November 2013

It was a tragic day in the Nursery, where we have been losing so many babies of late, but never two in one day, like today. Bissemballa passed away at 7 a.m. followed by our baby boy, Mshindi, at 9 a.m. leaving us all extremely heartbroken and depressed.

14 November 2013

Newcomer Kirimon collapsed at around 6.30 a.m. and had to be put on Life Support immediately. Although he revived and could stand, he refused to feed, and was given a new nutrient infusion which was recommended by the Vet to try and keep up his strength. Asanja did not go out with the others today, still unable to see properly, and looking weak. She collapsed later in the day and was put on Life Support again. Another new elephant came in this afternoon, rescued from the Voi River Circuit in Tsavo East National Park, her mother suspected to have been killed by poachers. She has been named “Tarhi” and is about 8 months old.

15 November 2013

Asanja looked a little better today, and was able to stand. She took milk and greens but is still blind, and weak. Meanwhile Kirimon is still not wanting to feed and is becoming weaker by the day. Newcomer “Tarhi” also remained in her Stockade today, being still aggressive and too weak to join the others.

16 November 2013

At 9 a.m. the orphans took their milk outside Tarhi’s Stockade, after which she was allowed out to join the others, welcomed warmly by the females, whilst Lemoyian and Ngasha were pushy towards her and were reprimanded by the Keepers. She baulked at coming to the Public Viewing mudbath, so was returned to join the youngsters, but did well for the rest of the day, and returned happily to her Stockade in the evening.

17 November 2013

We lost Kirimon last night after being on and off Life Support since coming into the Nursery. He never wanted to feed, and became weaker by the day. Preparation for the move of 3 more Nursery elephants (Laragai, Narok and Bongo) to the Ithumba Rehabilitation Centre began at 3 a.m. 3 ½ year old Bongo who was extremely wild on arrival has one long, sharp tusk, and has remained in his Stockade since his arrival last month, since the Keepers were too fearful to allow him out. A KWS Vet came to immobilize him first so that he could be dragged on a tarpaulin into the Elephant Moving Truck, where he was revived and remained calm, having also had a shot of Stressnil. Laragai and Narok obediently went in next, and they were all on their way by 4 a.m. in the morning.

18 November 2013

Lima lima and Laragai had always been good friends, having come in within a day or two of one another. Lima lima was not yet fit enough to be able to go with Laragai, which is why Narok was selected. Surprisingly, Lima lima did not appear to miss Laragai, which is unusual. Baby Kamok has been very playful today, chasing after a hatching of new baby warthogs and playing in the soil, something she has not done for a long time. Baby Ashaka is very possessive of the feeding blanket, which is hung up for the little ones to rest their trunk against when taking milk. She tries to push the other two away, but today Olodare took control, and pushed Ashaka and Kamok away. The orphans were scared out in the bush by the appearance of the buffaloes, and Tarhi ran off and became lost. After a two hour search she was located and brought back to rejoin the others. Solio reported back, having been absent for many days, which excited Maxwell enormously. He began running up and down, and when Solio settled down to feed on Lucerne next door, he lay as close as possible to her, on his bed of hay.

19 November 2013

When all the orphans wake up in a happy mood, and all are well, it makes the Keepers very happy. Balguda has been off colour for some time, but after a course of antibiotic injections, he seems much better. When he emerged Ngasha was waiting for him for a wrestling game, soon joined by Kithaka and Barsilinga, so the game turned into two against two – Balguda and Ngasha against Kithaka and Barsilinga. The game last for some time until naughty boy Lemoyian came in to spoil it! Sonje has always been very fond of the little ones, and has the makings of a fine Matriarch in the future. After the public viewing she leaves her group to join the babies and check up on Kamok, Olodare and Ashaka, who love having her attention. Having cuddled them all with her trunk, she lies down to entice them to climb over her. She just wants to mother the babies and is always reluctant to leave them and be taken back to her group. She and Murera usually return home earlier than the others and Sonje always stops to check on the babies, while Murera is more interested in the Lucerne and Dairy Cubes that are waiting for her back at her Stockade.

20 November 2013

Vuria is the greediest of all the boys, and disobedient of the Keepers during milk feeding times. He and Nelion have been promoted to the older Orphan Group following the graduation of Laragai and Narok. When the next sitting came down to the mudbath for their milk, he sneaked in amongst them, unbeknownst to the Keepers, and was fighting for the others’ share, eventually knocking down poor Garzi who ran off into the nearby bush to escape him. Oltaiyoni is not yet used to her stable. It is always a problem getting her in when the orphans return in the evening. However, once inside, she is happy with Barsilinga next door, but it is usually a struggle to get her to go in.

21 November 2013

Suswa has been a loner to date, choosing to spend time apart from the others whilst out in the bush. Lentili was the same during her first days in the Nursery but since the arrival of Tarhi, the two took to browsing alongside one another and have now been joined by Suswa. For the first time Suswa lost patience with bully little boy Lemoyian, who approached Tarhi pretending to be friendly, but actually had other ideas of giving Tarhi a shove. Suswa sent him packing! Following the Private Viewing slot at 3 p.m. the orphans went to collect Asanja from her Stockade, so that she could join them for time out, now that her sight is beginning to return. Lemoyian disrupted things by trying to bully her, so she was separated from him, and joined polite Tundani, who was with Barsilinga and Rorogoi where she thoroughly enjoyed herself.

22 November 2013

During the public viewing hour and after taking their milk Arruba, Lemoyian, Garzi and Barsilinga put on a good display, sliding into the wallow but when Arruba was relaxed in the wallow, mischievous Lemoyian sat on her head, almost drowning her! Barsilinga pushed him off, and all the visitors cheered him!

23 November 2013

Tarhi, who is new in the Nursery, had loose stools today, so blood was taken from her for testing and it was found that her liver was failing. She was put on medication.

24 November 2013

Tarhi seemed a little better today. Her stools were firmer, but she is still grieving for her lost mother, preferring to feed apart from the others, and reluctant to return to her Stable in the evening, having to be tempted in with a bottle of milk.

25 November 2013

It was a lucky day for a baby found wandering alone on Rukinga Ranch near the roadside town of MacKinnon Road yesterday evening who spend a night at the Ranch before being flown to Nairobi. He is a baby bull of about 2 weeks, and arrived in good condition, took milk, and has settled well.

26 November 2013

Unusually, Tarhi spent most of the night standing, and at 6 a.m. collapsed. She was immediately put on an infusion of Life Support which brought her out of the coma. She took some milk and managed to walk out a little way, but became very weak again and collapsed with a blown stomach and was put back on Life Support, but before the Buscopan injection could be administered, she died. It was heartbreaking for all who had cared for her, for she was a lovely little girl.

27 November 2013

Kamok now has her 4 first teeth, but Olodare and Ashaka are still teething and struggling, having lost body condition as usual. Little MacKinnon has yet to start his teething period and is doing well. Poor Asanja is still struggling with her health after the anaphylactic attack, with swellings under her chin and underbelly, with signs of liver failure. She was given medication for that condition.

28 November 2013

Sonje has taken to mothering little Oltaiyoni. Every morning, as soon as the orphans are let out of their Night Stockades, Sonje walks to Oltaiyoni’s stable and waits by the door until Oltaiyoni emerges. When Oltaiyoni senses Sonje’s presence, she rumbles happily from inside and when she comes out, she enjoys sucking Sonje’s ears and under the neck. Whenever the younger elephants are separated from the bigger ones, the Keepers have a hard time persuading Sonje to be away from Oltaiyoni. Previously Sonje loved Lemoyian, and now that she has switched her affections to Oltaiyoni, Lemoyian tries to bully Oltaiyoni, being jealous.

29 November 2013

Balguda, who had signs of an infection, and who underwent an injectible antibiotic course, is now in fine health. Suswa, who up until recently has been grieving for her lost family, is also much happier now. She is one of the gentlest girls of the new arrivals. Rhino orphan “Solio”, who has been absent for a considerable time, turned up yesterday evening, and spent a long time sparring with Max between the poles of his Enclosure. She is in good health, and we are happy that she is now successfully integrated into the wild rhino community of Nairobi National Park. We just hope that she remains safe.

30 November 2013

Lima Lima has been rather subdued since the departure of her friend Laragai to the Ithumba rehabilitation unit in Tsavo. Laragai and Lima Lima used to gang up and sometimes bully the other elephants, especially during feeding time, so it is good that she is becoming much more tolerant of her peers and should now widen her circle of friends.