Keepers' Diaries, October 2004

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

The arrival in the Nursery of a two week old infant bull calf, rescued on the 2nd from the drying shore of Lake Jipe in Tsavo West’s boundary with Tanzania where he had become hopelessly bogged in mud. Obviously the mud was too treacherous for any of his elephant family to risk trying to extract him, but fortunately some Rangers were at hand to help pull him free. He was held overnight in their quarters before being flown to Nairobi the next day, arriving in the early afternoon of the 3rd where he was greeted enthusiastically by Sunyei that evening, and by all the Nursery inmates the next day. Being so young, he was instantly trusting and docile, happy to take his milk from a bottle, and also happy to follow the mini herd and their Keepers out into the bush the very next morning. From day one, little “Jipe” has thrived. He is a great charmer and a delight for all the visitors who visit the Nursery elephants every day between 11 a.m. and 12 noon, when we open our doors to the public as a P|R exercise.

The arrival in the Nursery of a two week old infant bull calf, rescued on the 2nd from the drying shore of Lake Jipe in Tsavo West’s boundary with Tanzania where he had become hopelessly bogged in mud. Obviously the mud was too treacherous for any of his elephant family to risk trying to extract him, but fortunately some Rangers were at hand to help pull him free. He was held overnight in their quarters before being flown to Nairobi the next day, arriving in the early afternoon of the 3rd where he was greeted enthusiastically by Sunyei that evening, and by all the Nursery inmates the next day. Being so young, he was instantly trusting and docile, happy to take his milk from a bottle, and also happy to follow the mini herd and their Keepers out into the bush the very next morning. From day one, little “Jipe” has thrived. He is a great charmer and a delight for all the visitors who visit the Nursery elephants every day between 11 a.m. and 12 noon, when we open our doors to the public as a P|R exercise.

It has been an eventful month for the Nursery group – avoiding the wild buffalo who are often in their path as they venture out every morning into the forest; an encounter with a small group of lions one morning, scarey thrills when antelope, giraffe and zebra gallop past, and the everyday fun of playing chasing games with the baby warthogs, whose mothers find protection by bringing their brood around the elephants and their Keepers out in the forest during the day. Madiba and Ndomot remain very competitive, little boys who wrestle with each other on a daily basis testing strength and trying to determine who is best. Most gratifying has been the temperament adjustment of Naserian, who began life in the Nursery as an aggressive baby having suffered rejection from the wild herds in her Samburu homeland. Initially, she sought to protect herself by being “pushy”to all who approached, but gradually has turned into a very friendly and loving little elephant, who has taken on the role of a very caring mini “mother” to tiny Jipe. She is glued to him on a daily basis, and brooks no competition for this motherly role from Sunyei, who every now and then would like a turn.

The orphan who has had to have most attention during the month has been little Buchuma, whose ordeal falling through a manhole on the Mombasa pipeline left him in a pitiful state, so battered and bruised that a huge slab of skin sloughed off his back, face and chin, with deep cuts in his feet. This necessitated not only a long course of antibiotic followed by two long-acting jabs, plus twice daily cleansing with Bettadine, silver, Calendular and Flammazine coating. Having cleared the infection, a coating of antibiotic powder during the day and aloe vera gel at night has had to be the regimen followed. He is healing well, but it has been a long and painful process for him, and also for his Keepers, who struggle to keep his wounds free of dust and mud.

Galana has made a remarkable recovery, and is now a happy and plump 15 month old, who, having been so malnourished, has just one thought in her mind – the next milk feed!
It is good to be able to report only good news from the Elephant Nursery this month, as all seven of our inmates thrive, and enjoy romping together, as do all toddlers. A great favourite has been the donation of a huge tractor tube for them to bounce in during the mudbath hour, which they do enthusiastically, putting on a spirited show for their human audience.

Shida is now a plump and hefty yearling, whos adventures on a daily basis entail trying to avoid close contact with our mischievous five year old, Makosa, who has been hunting him down, desperate to make contact – but a contact we dare not yet risk! Shida’s Attendant has to play a cat and mouse game with Makosa, but Shida enjoys battling him through the poles of his Night Stockade whenever Makosa brings himself home to check that the Stockade he occupied next door when still dependent, remains HIS and only his! Our docile 7 year old rhino orphan, Magnum, now fully integrated into the wild rhino community of the Park, does the same, but less frequently. He usually turns up in the mornings, to be escorted out with a wheelbarrow of “goodies” from our kitchens and the Staff Canteen, followed like the Pied Piper with a trail of opportunistic wild warthogs with whom he shares he happily shares his rations.

October 2004 day to day

01 Oct

A warthog family with babies passed by Shida who was in a playful mood. He started to chase them, and the warthogs scattered in all directions. On our excursions in the bush we encountered zebra, who galloped away, scaring Shida.

Shida

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