This month was full of wild encounters for the Nursery Elephants, beginning with playful Ngilai, Ndotto, Sana Sana, Lasayen, Murit and Godoma all chasing warthog babies around the bushes whilst out in the forest. Galla, Wanjala and Naseku are always fond of being in the lead and often browse ahead of the others, so the following day, it was they, plus, Tusuja, Kauro, Roi and Maramoja who decided to walk away from the others when they came across a lone male buffalo who was also browsing in the bush. Galla and Wanjala retreated fearfully but Kauro, Tusuja, Roi, Naseku and Maramoja remained, making themselves look as big as possible whilst trumpeting and stamping their feet, which made the lone buffalo back away fast! Usually, however, such interactions end with at least one of the babies losing its nerve and running back to the main herd, prompting the oldest, Oltayoni, to come and investigate the matter.
Eventually rain showers heralded an end to the dry and hot weather on the 3rd, which prompted the little ones such as Tamiyoi, Jotto, Ambo and Esampu to all run back to their stockades to seek shelter. In fact, whenever it rains, the babies are always escorted back to their stockades as they are so susceptible to pneumonia without the protection of their natural herd of bigger elephants around them. Whilst the very young ones are escorted home, playful older ones such as Ngilai, Ndotto, Rapa, Lasayen, Sana Sana, Tagwa, Malkia, Godoma, Mbegu and Pare love rolling in the wet, loose earth after the rain, happily bumping and sliding off one another. Ngilai, Ndotto, Lasayen as usual enjoy targeting the girls, Godoma and Sana Sana, and trying to climb on them, although Godoma is a strong minded young girl and can stand up for herself when she does not want to indulge in such games! Our orphaned Black Rhino, Maxwell, is one who enjoys the rain the most, running up and down his Stockade delightedly whenever he feels the raindrops on his back.
Malkia, Esampu and Tagwa are still naughtiest at bottle feeding time, running between the others as they feed to see whose milk they can try and pilfer. Failing that, they turn to the wheelbarrow carrying the bottles and voice their disappointment as they attempt to snatch bottles as a keeper tries to push the wheelbarrow to safety! Roi is another who has become cheekier at feeding time, using her size to her advantage by pushing any new Keepers with whom she is less familiar out of the way to snatch an extra bottle! We are so delighted to see little Tamiyoi running down as fast as she can for her milk in the mornings and afternoons, struggling against competition from Malkia, Esampu and Tagwa to get there first. She is in fine form and has such confidence now, having come so far and seemingly having conquered the illness that held her back for so long. Luggard is another such marvel, despite his broken femur, which is actually healing remarkably well. His favourite pastime is his mud-bath and he will also run down for his milk as fast as his three-good legs will allow!
It is amusing to watch little Malima, (who is new and still learning the daily routine of all the babies) sometimes sneak away from the others to go to the stockades ahead of time to try and look for some more milk. Thus she presents quite a challenge for the Keepers who have to keep an eye on her just before the 9am, 3pm and 5pm bottle feeds which are her prime “sneaking off” times. She has become a really close friend of Ukame, despite their age and size difference, and leads this older orphan throughout the day. Ukame, who was rescued last month and is slightly older in age than all the rest, was finally considered quiet enough to be able to join the other orphans out in the bush this month. The first attempt on the 12th was unsuccessful as the orphans were afraid of her, daunted by her size, however another attempt on the 16th proved successful and she is now a fully integrated member of the Nursery Herd, even present at the open Visiting Hour and at scheduled Private Visits; a wonderfully gentle girl who knows the routines and has comfortably integrated into the Nursery.
We are sure that Mbegu is actually trying to ‘train’ Godoma into becoming the next Mini Matriarch in charge of the little ones. She has displayed this numerous times this month; escorting Godoma to the babies and watching them in a supervisory capacity with interest as she interacts with them. We have noticed recently that Wanjala and Galla, who have similar folded sunburnt ears, are always playing together and becoming good friends. This is nice for Galla who has always seemed to browse slightly away from the others. At times when out in the forest during the day, these two are accompanied by Pare as well who likes to test out his size and strength against them as well.
We were very sad to lose little Wacha at the beginning of the month who was doing so well considering his broken leg, but he took a turn for the worse and developed a complicated infection, slipping away in the company of his attendant Keeper during the morning of the 9th. Sadness punctuated the daily routine at the nursery on the morning of the 25th as well, when our orphaned ostrich ”Pea” was attacked and killed by a pride of lions who were hunting impala in the area. Having always been so diligent and cautious in the past when the lions were around, taking Pea and Kiko the giraffe to their Stockades, this wily pride took the Keepers and everyone completely by surprise. We are only grateful that she had two more years of happy life since her rescue with her bother Pod, who is now living wild, and that she was able to enjoy a semi-wild life in the company of her beloved baby elephant orphans. Loosing lovely Pea has been a bitter pill to swallow for the whole DSWT Nursery team.
Kiko the giraffe has preferred his own company these past few weeks and chooses to browse around the stockade compound rather than accompany the elephants out into the forest, very fearful and aware of the presence of the Nairobi Park lions.