Keepers' Diaries, November 2017

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

This month we continued to experience the rain showers that forgivingly broke through last month, but these were interspersed with very warm days as the weather would build up to the next rain storm. The orphans had gone some time without mud bathing but the weather couldn’t keep mud bath-lovers like Maktao, Enkesha and Esampu away for long. One day Esampu charged towards a natural pool that some warthogs were using to seek relief from the morning sun, only to occupy it herself for the next few hours with Kuishi and Enkesha. While the others decided it was still not quite warm enough for a mud bath, Maktau decided to jump in from the side and wallow to his heart’s content for the entire visiting hour one morning - he eventually had to be forced out by the Keepers in order to return to the forest! When it did rain the orphans had a very hard time attending the public visit. As they are usually in a hurry for their milk and run to the area holding their delicious meal, they cannot help but slip and slide on the clay soil that becomes a very slippery surface when wet. One day poor Ambo slipped right onto his bottom, but Godoma came to his rescue and they continued to walk down to the mud bath area together. When it begins to rain during the public visit it is a very funny sight to watch the younger orphans try and crowd under the keepers umbrellas, and sometimes those of the visitors as well! With the rain has come new fresh vegetation which the orphans have really been enjoying, after months of chewing on hard branches and stripping bark, they have new fresh, soft leaves to enjoy. Newcomers like Namalok, Sapalan, Maisha and Emoli are very happy with this change in weather, and sometimes partnered with Kauro, Ndotto, Pare, Ndiwa, Mundusi, and Maramoja to browse further afield, in the new grassy areas.

This month we continued to experience the rain showers that forgivingly broke through last month, but these were interspersed with very warm days as the weather would build up to the next rain storm. The orphans had gone some time without mud bathing but the weather couldn’t keep mud bath-lovers like Maktao, Enkesha and Esampu away for long. One day Esampu charged towards a natural pool that some warthogs were using to seek relief from the morning sun, only to occupy it herself for the next few hours with Kuishi and Enkesha. While the others decided it was still not quite warm enough for a mud bath, Maktau decided to jump in from the side and wallow to his heart’s content for the entire visiting hour one morning - he eventually had to be forced out by the Keepers in order to return to the forest! When it did rain the orphans had a very hard time attending the public visit. As they are usually in a hurry for their milk and run to the area holding their delicious meal, they cannot help but slip and slide on the clay soil that becomes a very slippery surface when wet. One day poor Ambo slipped right onto his bottom, but Godoma came to his rescue and they continued to walk down to the mud bath area together. When it begins to rain during the public visit it is a very funny sight to watch the younger orphans try and crowd under the keepers umbrellas, and sometimes those of the visitors as well! With the rain has come new fresh vegetation which the orphans have really been enjoying, after months of chewing on hard branches and stripping bark, they have new fresh, soft leaves to enjoy. Newcomers like Namalok, Sapalan, Maisha and Emoli are very happy with this change in weather, and sometimes partnered with Kauro, Ndotto, Pare, Ndiwa, Mundusi, and Maramoja to browse further afield, in the new grassy areas.

If there can be a downside to the rain it is the pesky insects and ticks which bother the orphans in greater numbers during these months. To assist the orphans in dealing with this we continue with the application of coconut oil every Friday, which is so good for their skin as well. Due to the insects bothering the orphans we applied it on some Wednesdays as well, but unfortunately new orphans like Sapalan, Namalok, Sagala and the little girl Kiasa, are not yet used to this funny experience and unfamiliar feeling! They gave the Keepers such a hard time, running all over the place to avoid this strange liquid, but the Keepers persevered and in the end they got their coconut oil conditioning as well.

Black rhino Maxwell is one orphan who always loves the rain and runs about his stockade in delight as soon as he can smell it and feel the drops on his back. The orphans often like to walk to his gate in the morning and share his left over lucerne pellets, or else start a game of chase on either side of his stockade walls, running up and down. One morning Max was no where to be found as he had spent most of the night running about his stockade and sharpening his horn; by the time dawn broke he had to take a nap in his bedroom! The warthogs still annoy him and he will chase them away from his lucerne grass and pellet trough every time.

Kiasa has taken a while to settle down when out in the forest with the others and always wants to return home to the stockades, or go to the mud bath. She dodges the Keepers and makes her own way to these areas. This has made it hard for her to make friends, but girls like Tagwa persevere and always try to look out for her. Maramoja and Malima have also stepped up to the task and block her from trying to leave the herd before it is a feeding time. We have considered that it might be her love for the delicious milk formula that causes her to make these breaks for freedom! On the 2nd of the month a little bull arrived from Tsavo in a very poor state and very dehydrated. After spending some time on drips and recuperating in his stable, Mapia, as we have named him, joined the orphans for the first time just a week or so later, and he took the new step very well. All the orphans, especially the young females, were as usual very attentive towards him and fought to get as close as possible to him. Rapa was his typical self and not as welcoming towards the new baby, pushing him over - though big boy Kauro soon put a stop to any of that kind of behaviour. Esampu has also been a very naughty girl this month and because of that she has graduated to the older group for feeding times as the older orphans would not stand for her mischievous ways. This tactic seemed to work and with the likes of Sapalan and Mteto around, there was no one for Esampu to push around, and so she was forced to comply and behave herself.

Tagwa is still very caring towards Sattao and will always be there to assist him, like on one occasion when he was struggling to cross a small stream and she guided him from behind. Recently she has been showing more attention towards the little baby Maktao, but Sattao doesn’t seem to mind as he is not the jealous type, and instead he focuses his affections towards Mbegu, the matriarch. He can only do so however, when Ambo is not around, as he is very much a jealous little boy and cannot stand Sattao being close to his adopted mother. When he is able to be with Mbegu though, we see Sattao standing quietly and suckling on Mbegu’s ears. Little boy Musiara has been playing with Jotto a lot this month and they look for each other in the morning to play pushing games, but Musiara’s special friend is still Luggard and he will wait for him at feeding times in order to walk down together at Luggard’s slower pace. Musiara has funnily also developed a strong dislike towards the giraffe, poor Kiko. At any given opportunity Musiara chases Kiko away from the herd, but Kiko just ignores the small elephant who is so tiny! Kiko has enjoyed spending his days quietly foraging alongside the orphans, but still returns to the stockades when he smells lions in the area. One day he even decided to turn up to mud bath, much to the delight of the visiting public! He really does treat the world as his own, as he demonstrated when he decided to leave, choosing to walk straight through the visitors who had to part ways for him and let him through! Kiko came across some wild giraffes early on in the month, whilst browsing with the orphans in the forest. He remains very shy of wild giraffes, and only gathered the courage to move towards them when he had the elephant orphans as reinforcement! In the end the wild giraffe’s moved away when Kiko showed no interest in them, but every meeting is an important one for Kiko.

Towards the end of the month on the 20th, we received a very special charge in the form of the tiniest orphan we have ever rescued. She was only a few days old and possibly premature as well, even smaller than Ndotto when he arrived from the Masai Mara, and she faces a great number of challenges ahead. When she was found she was presumed dead as her motionless body lay in the grass with only a faint whiff of breath from her trunk indicating she was still in fact alive. We will do everything possible for this baby to give her a second chance, and so far she has been doing okay in the Nursery.
Ndotto was less than a week old when he arrived in the Nursery, but today he is growing into a large bull with a soft nature. He has taken to foraging further afield with Kauro these days, and it will not be long before he is ready to make the next step and graduate to our Tsavo Reintegration Units, and start that most crucial phase of returning to the wild.

November 2017 day to day

01 Nov

This morning after the 9am milk bottle feed, lovely Kiasa happily came out of her stockade for the first time and was warmly welcomed by some of the other orphans like Godoma, Maramoja, Tagwa, Malkia, Esampu and Tamiyoi and Malima as well. All the girls were milling around Kiasa all trying to get as close as possible to touch and pat the new little girl. Kiasa walked out with them to the bush, sandwiched between the lovely caring and protective girls. The leader of the herd, Mbegu, could hardly get close, though at one stage she did come over and check on the little girl before she went back to browsing. Still, boys will be boys and when the herd has settled out in the forest Ngilai and Lasayen tried to chase poor Kiasa and climb on her, but they were not able to achieve their goal as the keepers kept a close eye on her and so did the other protective girls in the group. Both were very quickly warned and when Ngiali spent a few minutes browsing next to Kiasa he was quickly pushed away by Maramoja, Godoma and Malkia who drove him away far off into the bushes. Kiasa was very well behaved during the public visit and remained tucked between Godoma, Kuishi, Tamiyoi and Malima throughout.

Godoma browsing but keeping an eye on Kiasa

Kiasa browses as the girls watch on

Jotto finds some soft green grass

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