Keepers' Diaries, November 2016

Nairobi Nursery Unit

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.

01 November 2016

The orphans settled down out in the forest this morning and playful Ngilai, Ndotto, Sana Sana, Lasayen, Murit and Godoma were all charging around and chasing after the warthog babies. The tiny warthogs were giving them quite a challenge though and kept running into the thicket; this made Ngilai and his little company trumpet in protest as they could not reach them to chase after them! Suddenly the warthog babies got all confused by the trumpeting and bush bashing and ran out from under the bushes between Ndotto’s legs making their funny snorting noises. This gave Ndotto a fright and he ran off looking for Oltaiyoni and the rest of the herd. His yelling frightened the rest of the group and they followed him and when they reached the rest of the herd they all stood together with their ears held high; even little ones like Jotto, Ambo, Tamiyoi, Esampu and Malkia were seen with their ears held high but standing tight in the middle of the group, in the midst of Roi, Mbegu, Oltaiyoni, Kamok, Kauro and Maramoja. Oltaiyoni marched out to see what had caused the disturbance but was happy to find it was just the warthogs and she just blew a loud trumpet and kicked dust towards them to scare them away before turning back to rejoin her orphan family herd.

02 November 2016

The orphans were all out browsing together nicely this morning but at one stage Naseku, Tusuja, Kauro, Roi, Galla, Wanjala and Maramoja all decided to walk off away from the group. As they were walking they came across a lone male buffalo who was grazing in the open clearing. When Naseku, Roi, Tusuja and Kauro spotted the buffalo they jointly tried to charge at it whilst trumpeting and spreading their ears wide to look as big as possible; however none of this had an effect on the buffalo who just continued eating. They started stamping their feet as they got closer to the buffalo but this caused it to look up and start trotting towards them with its held head high. This prompted Galla and Wanjala to run off yelling as they ran back to join the main herd, leaving Kauro, Tusuja, Roi, Naseku and Maramoja to try and make themselves look as big as possible and charge at the buffalo, seeing him eventually turn away and run off deep into the bushes. Kauro’s gang celebrated their victory trumpeting and charging around, but their game was cut short when a troop of baboons surprised them and started chattering away in the trees, having spotted a hyena running away from the elephants and the keepers too! Kauro’s group took a sharp turn and ran back to the bushes whilst rumbling and looking for the rest of their herd.

03 November 2016

The orphans were not playing many games this morning but rather concentrated on browsing. Galla, Wanjala and Naseku were much further ahead than the rest of the group, as they are always fond of being in the lead and browsing out in the bushes. As they enjoyed their browse, a light shower started and this prompted the little ones like Tamiyoi, Jotto, Ambo and Esampu to all run back to their stockades to seek shelter! Their rumblings and obvious distress meant that Mbegu and Oltaiyoni escorted them back, but once they arrived at the stockades Oltaiyoni and Mbegu were directed back out to the forest, leaving the little ones in their rooms out of the rain and the cold weather which they are so susceptible to. Oltaiyoni protested for a little bit as she wanted to stay with her adopted baby Ambo, but eventually she walked back out to the forest too. As the showers continued some of the orphans like Ngilai, Ndotto, Lasayen, Sana Sana, Tagwa, Godoma and Murit were all seen busy rolling in the wet soil and really enjoying the rain drops on their bodies; Ngilai, Ndotto, Lasayen as usual were all enjoying targeting Godoma and Sana Sana and climbing on them, though Godoma is a strong minded young girl and can stand up for herself when she does not want to play! She roughly turned against them and disciplined the three, and they ended up not enjoying their climbing game as much as they first expected!

04 November 2016

Out during the public visit today Malkia, Esampu and Tagwa finished their milk bottles and were running around in an unrestful mood, moving from one point to another trying to see who they could challenge for their milk bottle whilst they were trying to drink! Failing to find any milk bottles they could take and being warned off by the keepers, they displayed their truly greedy character by going to hang out by the wheelbarrow carrying the empty bottles causing a moment of chaos. Esampu struggled and tried to push the keeper pushing the wheelbarrow, whilst Tagwa tried to push down on the wheelbarrow and Malkia tried to pick up bottles which she struggled to do and thus started yelling in protest! These three sweet little girls really have some strong characters of their own. When the keepers tried to caution them away they just yelled in objection and they did not want to leave the wheelbarrow. This left the keepers with no option other than to use an empty bottle to lure them away so the keeper pushing the wheelbarrow could leave the feeding area. This settled the situation almost immediately although Malkia and Esampu had other moment of trying to sneak under the rope cordon to try and reach where they could see the keeper walking off with the bottles. Their unique and greedy personalities really made the visitors laugh today.

05 November 2016

This morning as all of the orphans were settling down out in the forest, it was lovely to witness little Murit scampering around in the bushes with Rapa and Godoma; funnily enough it was him that initiated a pushing game with Rapa! He confidently engaged him in this strength testing exercise, using his little tusks as an advantage against the strong Rapa. Murit even went on to chase after Godoma trying to climb on her, though strong Godoma turned on him to challenge him, but eventually she gave in and lay on the ground so Murit could climb on her as they both played in the soil. Naughty Rapa came over to try and join in their game, but they saw him coming and decided to get up and chase after him instead!

06 November 2016

It was funny this morning when all of the orphans came out of their stockades and Oltaiyoni, Mbegu and Roi all rushed to go and stand outside the stable of the new baby who arrived yesterday afternoon. All three girls were trying their hardest to open on the door and see the new baby. Roi was pulling on the door whilst Oltaiyoni knocked on it with her trunk and Mbegu stood there rumbling in response to the baby, who, having heard the three girls outside, was rumbling in earnest. When the keepers tried to caution them from breaking the baby’s stable door Oltaiyoni and Roi protested with loud trumpets; this saw the others orphans who were already nearing the bushes to turn around and come back to the stockades – running to join where the three girls were standing. A few minutes later however and all the orphans were escorted out to the forest, although Roi, Mbegu and Oltaiyoni tried to sneak their way back through the keepers, but they were prevented from going back to the stockades and had to proceed to the forest with the others. A little later the baby group when out into the forest too and they joyfully spent the day together. They love spending time next to their new human family, playing with their dust coats and snuggling into them.

07 November 2016

Today when the babies walked out to the forest they happened to join the older herds of elephants and it was lovely to watch the new little baby lover Godoma trying to babysit the little ones, but with special attention to one of them in particular which she spent the most time snuggling and trying to play with by rolling on the ground and enticing her to play. As Godoma lay on the ground the little one touched Godoma’s face before standing on her head with one of her little legs! Mbegu was also interested in playing with the babies and she came over to take her away from Godoma. This made Godoma stand up quickly to try and grab back the baby she was playing with – as Mbegu led the baby away Godoma shook her head and shouted in protest at her tiny playmate being taken away from her. Mbegu realised Godoma wanted to play with the baby so led the baby back to her and they carried on with their little games; Godoma has apparently become quite attached!

08 November 2016

This morning we watched as little Tamiyoi led Malima and Jotto to settle to browse near the stockades as the rest of the orphans walked out into the forest. She led them next to Maxwell’s gate which is usually where she likes to browse in the morning as she can feed on Maxwell’s leftover lucerne. It seems they were trying to wait here and buy time before the milk bottles came out for their 9am feed, and when the keepers tried to lead them out to the forest, Tamiyoi shouted in protest and at one stage even tried to run towards the milk mixing area. During public visiting today it was very wet and chilly which meant the orphans enjoyed a lengthy soil bathing activity – the little ones like Tamiyoi, Malima, Esampu and Jotto were held back in their stables during this cold weather. Playful ones like Ngilai, Ndotto, Rapa, Lasayen, Sana Sana, Tagwa, Malkia, Godoma, Mbegu and Pare were all busy rolling, bumping and sliding off one another as they piled up against each other in the wet earth, having lots of fun. At one point playful Ngilai got up and ran away from the group and starting running along the rope cordon, bumping into members of the visiting public , before turning back to rejoin the group again and play climbing on Tagwa , who yelled out in protest. He immediately tried to get off her, but it took some time as they were all slippery and he kept sliding as she struggled to get up from the ground.

09 November 2016

Poor little Wacha spent the whole previous day supported on a drip which perked him up a bit and he looked a little better, but today his health took a turn and he did not have energy to feed or even drink his milk. His condition deteriorated and we decided to take him off the drips which were supporting him and he faded away this morning in the company of his keeper; we are very sad to lose him after all attempts to save his life. We have noticed recently that Wanjala and Galla who have similar folded ears are always playing and hanging out with each other and they are becoming fast friends. This is nice for Galla who has always seemed to browse on his own or slightly away from the others. Sometimes out in the forest during the day, these two are accompanied by Pare who likes to join them and test out his size and strength on them too. Malima has also really settled out in the forest with the other orphans. After her first integration with them proved a bit of a challenge, now she is fully settled and enjoys wondering around with the herd and her keepers, looking out for milk bottle time and suckling on her keepers fingers in the meantime!

10 November 2016

It was a cold and chilly morning, with frequent light rainfall that meant the little ones had to stay in their stables under their blankets to keep out the cold weather which they are so susceptible to. The older orphans were all out in the field happily enjoying rolling on the ground and soil bathing in the wet soil. As the light rain continued, Kauro and Tusuja were happily soil bathing and also pushing each other as they tried to gauge each other’s strength which soon turned into a game of trying to climb and clamber on Roi, Oltaiyoni and Mbegu. Playful Ndotto who is still the fondest of clambering on others (whoever is on the ground no matter how big or small) did not want to be left out and he too came over to climb on the big girls as well. He was wary of not being pushed around by the bigger Kauro and Tusuja however and when he saw them moving towards him he quickly went to play beside the older girls instead, so they could not get him. He is a clever little elephant! Ukame, who is one of the biggest orphans we have had in the nursery for some time, but who was in such bad condition when she arrived and always collapsing, is now showing some real signs of improvement and has not collapsed for some time. She is feeding well and loves her Lucerne pellets. She is still inside her stockade,due to her size and age, but every morning orphans like Oltaiyoni, Roi, Kauro, Tusuja, Mbegu and Dupotto pass by her stockade and greet her and reassure her that all is well. She has made such great improvements so far though and she is coming to love her new human family as well.

11 November 2016

As the first group of orphans were running down for their milk bottles during public visiting today it was lovely to see little Tamiyoi running down as fast as she could, struggling against her competition of Malkia, Esampu and Tagwa to get there first. She is in fine spirit and has such confidence; she really seems to have overcome the illness that held her back for so long. Once all the orphans were done with their bottle feeding, some went to browse on the greenery laid out for them whilst others like Tamiyoi, Jotto, Esampu and Malima went to enjoy drinking water from the same water troughs – their little trunks doing the best job they could at drawing water for them to drink. Their happy time drinking though came to an end when Sana Sana walked over and did not respect the little ones drinking and she pushed Malima into Tamiyoi and they both fell on the ground shouting loudly, prompting the keepers to warn Sana Sana to be nicer to the babies. Before the keepers reached her however she had already run away, knowing she had done something wrong! Along the rope cordon Ambo and Ngilai were challenging each other and pushing each other as they locked trunks and tussled; though Ngilai knew Ambo was still little and he should not use his full strength to play with him. Ambo however, was fully strong-minded to push Ngilai as hard as he could, with his ears spread wide and obvious determination in his efforts, which the visiting public thought was very sweet from such a little thing.

12 November 2016

Nothing major happened during public visiting today, only that Malkia and little Malima were causing trouble by the wheelbarrow, trying to steal milk that bottles and shouting in protest when they were cautioned away. Ukame has been in her stockade for a couple of weeks now whilst she gets used to her keepers and today at around 2pm she was let out to integrate with the others so she can fully be a part of her new family and their routine. However when the gates were opened she was very reluctant to walk out and join Roi, Mbegu, Oltaiyoni, Kauro, Tusuja and Dupotto, who were also quite shy of walking into this stockade of this large elephant to take her out! The keepers walked in to help her follow them out of her stockade and suddenly she ran out but in the opposite direction to her elephant friends, as she ran into the bushes near the parking area instead – the group followed her but she ran away from them! Due to this effort today we decided she was not ready to join them yet so she was guided back to her stockade with a milk bottle, to try again another day.

13 November 2016

It has been some days now that Kiko has been avoiding the company of the elephant group. For the past few days when he has come out of his stockade he has preferred to stay around the stockade area, trying to sneak down to the milk mixing area and keeping himself busy by feeding on the acacia tree leaves in that area too. He doesn’t like to stay in one area too long though as he walks through the garage area , through the parking area and then to the area where the baby elephants stay during the day in the forest. He stays there a few minutes then carries on and within minutes arrives at the mud bath area, before returning to the stockades again! If he finds the barriers are up he just goes and stands in the parking area and enjoys encountering people there. Today he spent the whole day wondering around the stockade and car park area without moving at all out to the forest to join the orphans. Pea spent the whole day with her favourites, the baby elephants, today.

14 November 2016

Just as the orphans had settled out in the bushes today, near the top of Maxwell’s stockades, the keepers were amazed to see 5 lionesses just stroll through the group without caring about either the elephants or the keepers! The orphans showed a bit of restlessness and Galla, Maramoja, Wanjala, Sana Sana, Rapa and Malkia were frightened by the big cats. Their scampering about saw Oltaiyoni, Roi, Mbegu and Kamok react by trumpeting loudly with their ears spread wide to try and find out what had scared the younger ones, but by the time they came over the lions were already deep in the bushes. Due to the presence of the big cats, Kiko had to stay in the stockade area and Pea was happy to stay with the little orphan baby group seeing as she loves the babies anyway. It was funny to watch new little baby Malima, who is new and still learning the daily routine of all the babies, sneaking away from the other orphan group today and going back to the stockades early to try and look for some more milk! Thus she is quite a challenge for the keepers who have to keep an eye on her just before the 9am, 3pm and 5pm bottle feeds as these are her prime sneaking off times. Sometimes the keepers cannot see when she sneaks off as for a long time she stays close to them until they are comfortable and think she will not leave, and then before they know it she has disappeared and they are alerted from the stockades she has arrived there already!

15 November 2016

This morning when all the orphans had settled out in the forest, Kauro and Tusuja were chasing after Dupotto and trying to climb on her. They both took their turn in chasing her around the bushes with Dupotto challenging them by running through thick thickets. Then Kauro managed to catch her by the tail making her call out in protest as Kauro would not let go! Her shouting drew Oltaiyoni, Roi and Mbegu who came running over and as soon as Kauro and Tusuja saw them approaching they both took off quickly to avoid being reprimanded by the leader of the herd, Oltaiyoni. They all arrived and checked on Dupotto to make sure she was okay, touching her with their trunks. As they checked on her Kauro and Tusuja were already in the distance, playing a new pushing game with each other! Lovely Solio, our Ex Orphan rhino who is free in the Nairobi National Park has not shown up at the stockades for some time now, though we are so pleased she has happily made her transition back into the wild so well. Maxwell, our blind resident rhino, is happy and healthy as well and keeps himself busy by chasing the resident warthogs that sneak into his stockade to eat some of his tasty lucerne leftovers!

16 November 2016

Kamok seems to have a character like our older naughty Ex Orphan Wendi in Tsavo. In the morning there was a vehicle that drove by close to the elephants in the forest as they browsed, as it was going to dump left over greens. Kamok heard the vehicle approaching from a distance and went into the bushes to hide as it came closer. It seemed like she wanted to block the car, but she got her timing wrong and the driver saw her going into the bushes. By the time she got there the vehicle had already passed and instead she ran after it trumpeting and charging all the way up to the stockades! Her trumpeting attracted Oltaiyoni and Roi who responded very fast. When they got to where Kamok was with the vehicle they realized it was one that was very well known to them and they didn’t see any problem; Kamok was just being naughty! So they turned and made their way back to the herd to carry on with browsing. Right after their 9am milk feed Oltaiyoni led some of the orphans back to the stockades to collect Ukame for her first day out in the forest since we last tried; which ended up with all of the elephants charging around and not quite going according to plan! Ukame’s door was opened and at first she didn’t want to come out, but then Oltaiyoni, Roi, Dupotto, Mbegu, Lasayen and Ndotto went into her stockade as well and with the help of a keeper too they finally managed to walk her out. Instead of accompanying the herd to the forest though this time she tried to go into Pea’s stockade. With the help of a milk bottle directing her where to go, finally she started to follow the keepers and the other orphans. Eventually she settled and stopped trying to run into the bushes, and started to communicate with Oltaiyoni and Wanjala who were so nice to her and would not leave her side. There was a bit of drama today at public visiting when accidentally more orphan were released from the group waiting in the forest than there were keepers waiting to feed them! The noise Tagwa, Esampu, Malima and Jotto were so hard to control and shouted for their milk as they followed the keepers around who were trying to feed others, and remember who had already been fed as well!

17 November 2016

We finally received some rain last night and it was quite cold, so when the orphans came out this morning they looked quite dull. But this morning was also Ukame’s first early morning visit to the forest – she appeared very comfortable in the company of Ndotto and Mbegu, who are always so welcoming. But after the 9am milk feed this big girl made the keepers take to their heels again as she disappeared from the herd. But thankfully she was located not that far away and she was happy to join the herd again. It had been easy to track her because of the muddy ground and the keepers could see her footprints. Mbegu, Tamiyoi, Murit and Jotto played a big role in helping the keepers calm her down this morning. Mbegu is such a super girl, and with her small group she ran ahead of Ukame as the other smaller ones surrounded her to keep her from running away. From that moment Mbegu would only leave Ukame’s side for the visiting time and her milk bottle, the rest of the time she stayed beside her. The rest of Ukame’s day was fine all the way up until it was time to return home in the afternoon. Malkia was very badly behaved during the public visit today and she had to be moved to the last older group to come down for feeding. Esampu also wanted to cause problems and she had to be stopped by Tamiyoi after she attempted to head butt Ambo while he was drinking his milk. Apart from those incidences all was okay and there was good interaction among all of those in the first group. Malkia came down last in the company of Oltaiyoni and by then all the others had finished their milk so it was only her and the matriarch Oltaiyoni drinking at the same time, and she would never dare think of pushing her. When Malkia finished her bottle though she walked straight to where the wheelbarrow is always parked, and she was furious when all she found was empty bottles! She was so angry she started pushing the speaker stand and pushed it down, and started kicking it like a ball. She was only calmed down when she was offered a finger to suckle on by one of the keepers, before Kamok stepped in and invited her for a mud bath until they left the area to go back to the forest. In the evening it was Kamok, Pare, Esampu, Rapa and Mbegu who escorted Ukame back home for bed early, before the usual time at the 5pm visit, so it is a quieter and swifter environment for her to return to her stockade.

18 November 2016

It has been a wet day for the orphans since morning and the very little ones have spent time going in and out of their stables during the bad weather. We think Mbegu is training Godoma on how to take care of the little ones. Even though she had never shown much interest in dealing with the younger ones, she has started to show more of an interest with the help of Mbegu. If Mbegu for whatever reason has not followed the older orphans and the little babies are around, she makes sure Godoma is with her when they interact. Today Godoma had originally started walking off with Naseku following Tusuja and the others, but Mbegu won Godoma away from Naseku’s plans and the two enjoyed some good quality time with the little ones when they have come out to the forest. After reaching the babies Mbegu stood a little distance away whilst Godoma interacted a bit with the baby group, keeping an eye to see how she socialized with them. Perhaps Godoma good be another mini matriarch in time, though she still needs an older one to assist and watch over her. Kauro is such a gentle boy, but Oltaiyoni doesn’t like his games. She would rather play with Tusuja and not Kauro. Oltaiyoni was on the ground rolling in the loose wet soil when Kauro decided to come over and join her. As soon as he stepped on her back though to play, she got up in a hurry and started poking him with her tusks in his hind. He ran away shouting but as soon as she lay down to play in the soil again, Tusuja came over and was sliding down and back and playing, and she was completely fine with that! They enjoyed a lengthy game in the loose soil.

19 November 2016

The rain started pouring soon after the first group of three elephants had finished their milk bottles during the public visit this morning, complicating the situation for both the keepers and the orphans. It was even worse that the three who had arrived were Esampu, Jotto and Tamiyoi as Esampu is always a trouble maker at feeding time. Tamiyoi is always slow to drink her milk while Esampu drinks her so fast, so after she finished hers she wanted to snatch Tamiyoi’s. Tamiyoi had to abandon her milk bottle for a moment to stop her, but she pushed Tamiyoi back which Jotto saw and he ran over to help his friend Tamiyoi and the whole situation became complicated for the keepers trying to separate them as it continued to rain heavily. Ngilai, Sana Sana then Godoma arrived in the rain while the other three were still causing problems. The only good thing is that Tamiyoi doesn’t like the rain that much, so she gave up the fight and went to shelter herself under the acacia trees, which meant Jotto also gave up the fight upon seeing his friend was now okay. With the presence of the rough boy Ngilai, Esampu also calmed down. After everyone had finished their milk, Malima led Rapa, Mbegu and Murit to the mud bath. They wallowed in the muddy pool right up until the end of visiting time, even whilst it was pouring with rain! Meanwhile Tamiyoi, Jotto and the rest enjoyed rolling in the wet earth.

20 November 2016

In today’s morning drizzle Maxwell was very happy to play up and down his stockade. None of the baby elephants were interested in his games, even when he tried to reach those through the bars of his gate who were trying to share his lucerne grass. Dupotto, Roi and Lasayen had been feeding on the lucerne for awhile, as Max tried to tease them through the gate bars, but today they paid no attention to him! They finally all walked out to the forest in a very dull mood. Max was in such a happy mood though and went to wallow in the mud forming in his stockade, before running up and down in circles enjoying the rain. He later retired to his bedroom, having tired himself out having so much fun. As time for the public visit approached, the keepers realised that Oltaiyoni was missing with her adopted baby Ambo. By the time the keepers found them, browsing deep in the thicket, it was almost time for the second group to come down for their milk! Ambo then had to stay and come down with his adopted mother and the older elephants for his milk instead. During the whole time they were down there, the two never strayed from each other’s side- she is like a real mother to him, or perhaps older sister. Malima and Ukame are also becoming good friends and funnily enough it is the older and bigger Ukame looks for Malima – the little girl leads Ukame everywhere and they do seem to enjoy each others company.

21 November 2016

The milk formula is the orphans most favourite food and some will try and fight to get more than their fair share of it! Despite being older, Roi is another one that will not leave the milk wheelbarrow alone unless it is taken away. After finishing her share she keeps hanging around and shoving everyone as she tries to steal more milk from it. If the milk bottles are not guarded well she will always manage to sneak away with an extra bottle which means another orphan gets less milk until more is mixed for them! If she doesn’t manage to steal one from the wheelbarrow she will target one of those that can hold their own bottle and if they are not holding firmly enough that one will certainly be snatched too – leading to a fight between her and the milk victim. This happened today during public visiting time. The keepers were guarding the wheelbarrow very well as they waited for the elephants to come down for their bottles. Roi had tried a couple of times to steal a bottle from the wheelbarrow but had been unsuccessful and had turned her attention to Tusuja who is able to hold his own bottle and feed himself so well. Today he was caught off guard however and Roi came over and snatched his bottle from his mouth, running away with it. Tusuja ran after her yelling but in vain. The keepers tried to help Tusuja get his milk back but Roi dodged all of them, drank all the milk and threw the bottle down. Earlier in the day, Esampu had also given the keepers a hard time as she seems to be in a bad mood today. She went on pushing everyone she came across including the keepers too. The most difficult time arose when she pushed Tagwa who pushed her back too. Tagwa has seen her head butt Ambo, Jotto, Sana Sana and Malkia too so she decided to teach her a lesson and even the keepers could not separate that fight! Eventually Mbegu came over and brought peace between them.

22 November 2016

Ndotto and Mbegu were in a great mood today and were entertaining the rest of their orphan family by wrestling with each other. Godoma kept interrupting them as she wanted to play with Ndotto too. Ndotto is always one to please and was happy to invite her into the game but Mbegu wasn’t happy about the way Godoma was approaching them and kept warning her away every time she came over. Godoma was persistent though and kept approaching but each time Mbegu warned her away and eventually this resulted in Mbegu pushing her away. Godoma shouted and ran away which brought the other older females to come out of the bushes to see what was wrong. Oltaiyoni, Roi and Kamok all came over to find out what had happened and when they arrived Roi rumbled and Mbegu responded with another rumble. Oltaiyoni and Kamok also rumbled to Mbegu and then went back into the bushes to carry on with what they had been doing before. We have found on other occasions like this that if anything happens and the older females find Mbegu already at the scene, they will not respond or do anything as they all respect each other and their disciplinary roles. For the first time today Ukame accompanied her peers to the mud bath area for the private visiting time today. She hardly wonders far at all from her little friend Malima, and she followed closely behind her as Malima led the way down to the feeding area. When they first arrived Ukame looked a bit nervous and confused, but then Malima ran to the wheelbarrow where the milk was and Ukame decided to follow her, leaving the keeper who had her bottle of milk ready just standing there. Another keeper had to feed her one directly from the wheelbarrow to avoid any drama. After their milk Ukame followed her friend again and Malima led them to the mud bath and they both got in and started playing in the mud. Luggard, who loves the mud bath too, also joined them and all three had a lot of fun, only leaving once it was time to return to the forest and they had a quick soil, drying session before they left.

23 November 2016

It was a bright morning for the orphans today as they milled around Maxwell’s gate sharing his food. Some were playing their hide and seek game, running up and down and in and out of different stockades which were all open now. There was a big difference to the previous wet mornings when the orphans had all been dull and quiet. This was a real happy and playful morning, especially for Rapa, Lasayen, Ndotto and Ngilai who led the others in the games. Even after they had walked to the forest their playful mood continued and most of them were engaged in ‘sizing up’ games. Kauro was playing a wrestling game with Tusuja, Dupotto was doing the same with Mbegu and Galla, who hardly plays with anyone, was playing with Maramoja. Malkia and Sana Sana were very busy driving away a large troop of baboons that were passing by. Malkia even went as far as trying to climb the trees to flush out those that tried to climb out of the way, and put her front legs up on the trunks. The orphans only began to settle down when the milk came out to the forest for their 9am feed. Roi has recently become so much more stubborn at milk feeding times, just like the little girl Malkia. She is very strong and knows the old keepers from the newer ones who she does not respect as much yet. She keeps pushing and shoving the new keepers away from the wheelbarrow to try and grab milk bottles from there, meant for her friends. Today during public visiting she shoved one of the new keepers to the side who was trying to guard the milk, and ran away with the bottle – she has done this twice now! Today the decision was made to go and rescue an orphan from Maralal whose mother had been shot in the leg and it had broken badly, as well as in the head a couple of times too. Today our rescue team left at 7am and arrived back in the nursery with the calf at around 3.30pm. We named him Karissia and he is still very wild but doing well.

24 November 2016

This was a great morning for the orphans which started well as they headed out to the forest, but Dupotto, Roi and Mbegu stayed behind to greet Karissia first before walking out. They spent quite a while at his stockade gate, communicating and welcoming him to the nursery, and when they had finished they walked out to the forest to join their friends. The weather was really nice by that time and the sun was shining, but just before 9am the weather changed and it became cloudy and then started pouring down. It was totally unexpected and there was nothing the keepers could do but wait for it to subside so they could feed the orphans. The milk stopped long enough for half of the orphans to get their share and then it started raining again. Seeing as they love their formula so much, the rain could not deter those waiting from having their share, seeing as the others had had theirs and the feeding went on. After the feeding and because everyone was so wet already, they did not mind getting wetter and muddier still. Tamiyoi, who is usually not a fan of being wet and especially in cold weather, was actually one of the first to lead the others in a mud sliding game – she was so excited and had lots of fun doing it. She was an inspiration to the rest of the group and Jotto played beside her. Ukame made good use of her short tusks and dug up the wet soil for the three of them to play in – she also seemed to love the mud so much. The rain went on for some time and it left the orphans all feeling very exhausted from their play. Whenever a new orphan comes to the nursery at such as age as Ukame, they need more time than others to fully settle and as such she does not come down to public visiting time yet. Instead she stays out in the forest with Luggard who does not come down either. But today she decided to write her own story and she snuck away from the keeper that was watching her and Luggard and walked down the same path used by the others to the mud bath area where the visiting time is, without the direction of anyone! She had to be given a milk bottle as she had arrived there and expected one, and behaved very well right up until the end of visiting time.

25 November 2016

It was a heartbreaking start to the day here at the nursery for all. It is normal for the orphans to wait around the bushes near the stockades before moving deeper into the forest for their morning browse. Pea is always walking behind the elephants at this stage, and if Kamok is not around to chase her she is usually sandwiched between the babies as well. No one is really sure how it happened as Pea had been interacting with Tamiyoi and Luggard at the stockade compound entrance. The elephants moved up to join the orphans and Pea was left at the entrance but how she later got up to join the babies in the bushes we do not know. Oltaiyoni, Naseku and Roi raised the alarm, trumpeting and charging and running towards the keepers, as a pride of lions had run into the area chasing some impala. The keepers called all the elephants to them and they all responded and came running to them so they knew everyone was well. Oltaiyoni and now Kamok too were still charging and rumbling in low tones with their ears raised high and their trunks up in the air. This really caught the keeper’s attention and they sensed danger, then they realized then Pea the ostrich wasn’t with the group and wondered where she was too. The keepers in the stockade were asked to see if Pea was still in the stockade but she was not. The orphans were brought them milk which they drank and still Pea did not come to the babies group as she usually does, so the keepers went to search for her in the bushes where the elephants had originally come running from. As the keepers searched a lion jumped out of the bushes towards them and when the keepers came back in a vehicle and could get closer, they found that the lions had killed our beloved Pea. The keepers and everyone that works at the Trust was very sad to lose this creature who had become such a part of the orphan family and who loved the babies so much. Rest in peace Pea.

26 November 2016

Yesterday we rescued a very large orphan from the Masai Mara who arrived back late in the afternoon. He had been attacked by lions for the third time and was not joining any wild herds, so despite his age the decision was made to rescue him as he had lost condition and had suffered numerous attacks. After such a colossal operation to rescue this large orphan and treat his wounds (a deep gash on his back and his tail bitten off by lions) he spent a good night in his stockade and feasted on the greens he had obviously had to go so long without. Dupotto did a good job of communicating with him throughout the night and reassuring him that all is well. We have called him Kelelari and he is probably almost 3.5 or 4 years of age. The communication from Dupotto and Kamok as well throughout the night helped calm him down significantly. In the morning Dupotto, Mbegu, Oltaiyoni and Roi with their adopted babies all crowded round his gate to get to know him more and – though being faced with such a big group Kelelari was shy and backed away. When the whole herd began to walk out to the forest, Kamok spotted the lion and 2 lionesses that had killed Pea yesterday and gave a long low rumble. She was not particularly friends with Pea but their presence disturbed her nonetheless and she warned her family with this rumble before charging at them full speed. This with a string heavy rumble and trumpet from big boy Kauro was enough to send the three lions running into the bushes. It also gave the keepers courage, as they were still angry about Pea, to shout and run after them too! With the presence of the lions Kiko spent the rest of the day in a stockade and in the compound area.

27 November 2016

Amongst elephants it is not only the female elephants who love and protect the younger ones, but males can have this kind of caring heart as well. When the orphans were walking out to the forest this morning, the weather was very misty. The older females were concerned about their younger adopted babies moving in different directions in their small groups. There was one small group of younger orphans left behind some meters back without any older elephants to look after them – Malkia, Tamiyoi, Esampu, Tagwa, Sana Sana and the little girl Malima were without anyone to care for them. But then along came Kauro. Kauro is very polite and caring and he had gone ahead of the herd, but after realizing that young group were all alone he walked back and spent time with them. Before leading them away he had to inspect and pat each of them with his trunk to make sure they were all alright. After that, he led them out to the forest making sure they were altogether. He took care of all of them until the milk arrived and this is when he went back to the rest of the group.

28 November 2016

It was a sunny morning for the babies as they went out into the park today. Ukame will not leave the stockade now without first greeting her new neighbor Karissia. He struggles with the gate so hard though as he wants to be let out to join her, but it is still too early for him. Roi has also become particularly fond of Ukame recently and she has made it the norm in the morning so go to her stockade and see if she is there before going out to the forest. When she got to Ukame’s gate this morning, Ukame was already out and at Karissia’s gate. Roi approached his gate to greet them both. After a short while they left together and walked towards Maxwell’s stockade to share his Lucerne put there. They didn’t spent that much time there though, before heading out to the forest. Tusuja and his friend Rapa were browsing a distance behind the group. When Tusuja saw Roi and Ukame approaching he raised his ears high and when they got closer Tusuja said hello to Roi as she passed by but when Ukame approached him he head butted her! Roi was very annoyed with Tusuja as she turned around to find Ukame on the ground yelling. She turned to discipline him and teach him not to hurt others and treat them with no respect. Kamok, Ngilai and Mbegu also came hurrying over to Ukame when they heard her shouting but by the time they arrived she had already helped herself to stand up. After driving Tusuja away, Roi went back to Ukame who was with the others now and together they went to join the rest of the herd. Right after public visiting we received a call from our Voi unit who had located a calf whose mother had collapsed from old age and starvation. The rescue team left immediately and when they arrived in Voi they found an extremely thin young calf waiting for them. They brought this drought victim back to the nursery by 5pm and placed her in a stockade next to Wanjala. She is under a year old and we have called her Kuishi.

29 November 2016

Kuishi had a good night last night but she did not make friends with either Rapa or Wanjala; she charged at them whenever they stretched their trunks towards her through the stockade bars. It is good that she managed to drink some milk in the night however. When all the other orphans left for their day out in the forest she was left very agitated and trying to get out of her stockade. It is too early for her to come out of her stockade yet as she needs to trust the keepers and her new family more, so we will have to wait for a bit for that. The orphans saw the lions again today but their presence did not interrupt their jovial mood. Murit and Luggard had lots of fun engaging each other in a wrestling game. Murit is such a gentle bull though and handles Luggard with lots of care, considering his broken leg. Luggard trusts Murit and he always enjoys his time spent with him. It is so sweet to watch Murit pretend to be over powered by him, and falling on the ground for Luggard to try and climb on his back. Mbegu was watching their game together with her little ones and came over to make sure all was well with the two boys. The older girls were making sure all the babies were with them considering the presence of the lions but Godoma and Lasayen were playing their hide and seek game running up and down. The lions saw no prey amongst the orphans though and decided to go away. Kuishi was so happy to see her new family come back into the stockades in the afternoon. As they went running past her stockade to go into their own for their milk, she seemed to wonder what was happening and where they were running to! When Rapa ran into his pen and Wanjala into his on the other side of her, she looked much calmer and settled; her interaction with them this afternoon was much friendlier.

30 November 2016

When Ambo came out of his stable this morning he came out with his night blanket still tied on his back. When his adopted mother saw him she came over to welcome him since they were let out earlier than the younger ones. It seemed like Oltaiyoni did not want her adopted baby to have the blanket on and after saying hello to the youngster with a low rumble she started trying to untie the blanket. She managed to take the tie off and then the blanket, which she threw to the side. She then walked off with her baby leaving the rest behind. Mbegu then came over to say hello to the younger ones and Jotto accompanied her as she led them to a small mound with some holes that the warthogs use to sleep in. She seemed to be communicating with Jotto as he proceeded to do everything she did; she started playing and doing head stands and he did the exact same. Then she sat on the ground and raised her trunk high in the air and he sat in the same position to do the same. Mbegu then piles of loose soil by digging at the ground with her short tusks, and invited all the young ones to play there. Oltaiyoni saw Mbegu having fun with the young ones and decided to bring her little boy over too. As soon as they arrived Mbegu got up and stood to the side to watch all the babies having fun.