Keepers' Diaries, October 2007

Nairobi Nursery Unit

Early on in the month, the Kenya Wildlife Service arbitrarily and without prior discussion or warning, and also without the authority of their Trustees, suddenly decided to impose the normal $40 Entrance Fee per visit to Nairobi National Park at the Service Entrance that provides access to our premises. This instantly resulted in chaos and confusion for the visiting public. Visitors who turned up as usual specifically just to see the elephants during our one public viewing hour a day, expecting just to put a donation of K. Shs. 300/- in the Orphans’ Donation Box, turned away, irate, and refusing to pay; others threatened to boycott Kenya as a tourist destination, and tell all their friends to do the same, and many more left bitterly disappointed, not having come prepared, and therefore unable to pay. Since Rangers at the Service Entrance are not permitted to accept cash, after the first day the visitors were told to return to the Main Gate in order to load their Smart Cards and pay there even though the Gate did not have the capacity to process the numbers and still enable access to the elephants for the one open hour. Even our own personal guests and the Vets were not spared!

01 October 2007

When Lesanju’s baby group were heading out into the bush in the early morning, they encountered a mother warthog and her four piglets. Lesanju and Lempaute charged the piglets scattering them into the bushes, but the mother stood her ground.

02 October 2007

Lesanju is proving herself to be a very competent tiny Matriarch, taking full charge of both Sinya and little Dida, despite the fact that Sinya tends to push Dida away whenever Dida comes to suckle Lesanju’s ears.

03 October 2007

It was a very cloudy morning with light rain. Lenana’s group of older orphans played exuberantly once let out of their Stockades, rushing around trumpeting, and knocking down small shrubs. The small elephants were kept inside until the rain stopped, which didn’t please them.

04 October 2007

Following their 9 a.m. milk feed, Lenana’s group were frightened by a passing giraffe. Zurura was the first to spot it, and came running back to the Keepers for protection followed by Makena, Chyulu, and Lenana. Kamboyo, who was feeding apart from the others, did not see the giraffe, but when he saw the others retreating, he followed suit trumpeting, which scared the giraffe!

05 October 2007

At about l0 p.m. out in the field, Lesanju’s group saw a troupe of baboons coming towards them in a long line. Lesanju, Lempaute, Sinya and Dida ran to the Keepers, but Kamboyo stood his ground, and when the baboons were close, charged them, scattering them in all directions hurling abuse, which scared the girls even more!.

06 October 2007

Today Shimba was very sweet to little Dida. Although she shares his stable at night, this is the first time we have seen him so loving.

07 October 2007

At the noon mudbath, there were a lot of school children. Lempaute ran up and down the rope, scaring them and prompting them to run away, which she loves. She went after them, wanting to play with them, but they kept screaming until the Keepers managed to restore order.

08 October 2007

Kamboyo misbehaved today after the 3 p.m. milk feed. He kept pushing Chyulu and would not listen to the Keepers. Then he turned his attention to Makena, and pushed here, again ignoring the warning of the Keepers.

09 October 2007

As soon as the older elephants left the Stockades in the morning, Kamboyo and Zurura engaged each other in a play-fight which went on even as they progressed deeper into the bush. It ended only when they came across a bushbuck, which they both charged, trumpeting and this brought an end to the contest.

11 October 2007

It is usual for Shimba to feed slightly apart from the 3 little girls. Today, he suddenly began trumpeting and rushing around. When the Keepers went to investigate, they found a dead baby impala and this was what had upset him.

12 October 2007

Kamboyo is becoming disobedient to the Keepers. Today he persisted in trying to mount Makena and Chyulu and when Lenana tried to intervene, he mounted onto her as well, and would not listen to the Keepers.

13 October 2007

Sinya is very possessive of Lesanju, and pushes little Dida away whenever she comes close to Lesanju. Dida has tried sticking to Sinya instead, but Sinya is not patient with her, and pushes her away, so that she has to gravitate to Shimba.

14 October 2007

Lenana came very early this morning to Shimba’s stable to see little Dida. She remained there a long time but we did not open the door for her and eventually she left, rumbling and complaining.

15 October 2007

Chyulu and Makena are best friends, but even friends occasionally have a disagreement! Today was no exception. We did not understand what had caused the problem.

16 October 2007

Makena and Chyulu had great fun with the warthogs today, who had baby piglets with them. They all kept on running in and out, and round about the elephants, which left everyone very excited.

17 October 2007

Sinya’s wounds have needed a great deal of attention – regular cleaning by the Vet, which has entailed actually catching her and holding her down. Of course, she is very fearful whenever she sees the Vet and the Keepers approaching. Today, she ran into the bush, and we could not catch her, so we sent the other elephants after her and once they were with her, the Keepers had to approach from different directions to subdue her for treatment of the wounds.

18 October 2007

It was getting towards the time when the orphans return to the Stockades in the evening. Makena wanted to leave the bush, and refused to be held back by the Keepers. She simply headed off back, and her friend Chyulu joined her. The Keepers and the other elephants were left with no choice but to follow

19 October 2007

Today the elephants came running from the bush, and refused to be restrained by the Keepers. We went to see what had triggered the stampede and found three buffaloes grazing nearby.

20 October 2007

Lempaute is a very mischievous little elephant. Today at the visiting hour she got hold of a wheelchair in which a guest was seated and pushed it for about a meter until the Keepers intervened to stop her!

21 October 2007

The warthogs had great fun in amongst the orphans today. The baby warthogs kept running between the elephants’ legs until the elephants had to give up because they couldn’t get at them.

22 October 2007

Lesanju was very angry with Lempaute today because Lempaute pushed Sinya. Lesanju went after Lempaute and punished her by repeatedly pushing her away. Dida took the opportunity to have a go at Sinya whilst Lesanju was otherwise engaged, because Sinya has been keeping her away from Lesanju.

23 October 2007

Shida came in at about 11 a.m., as usual, but today was in an aggressive mood. The Keeper opened the door to his Stockade for him to go inside. Meanwhile Maxwell wanted to play and was jumping up and down on his side of the bars, but Shida did not want to play, but fight. The Keeper tried to restrain him, but he insisted on being rough with Maxwell, who in the end moved away.

24 October 2007

Sinya dislikes her wound being treated, and usually runs away whenever she sees the Keepers approaching with the medication. Caroline Ingraham has been here with us since the l0th, applying clay to the wounds, which are looking a lot better now. Lesanju is very concerned when Sinya has to undergo treatment, and keeps close to her with Dida also in tow.

25 October 2007

When the baby group returned in the evening, Dida wanted to go in with Lesanju and Lempaute, and when the Keepers tried to persuade her to go into her usual stable, which she shares with Shimba, she protested mightily.

26 October 2007

At ll.30 a.m. as the small elephants were enjoying their mudbath, Shida decided to return and also have a mudbath. Since Shida is quite big now, the Keepers had to remove the small elephants, and give him right of way. He decided to take a prolonged session, so we had to keep the older elephants some distance away, and allow the visitors to come to them. Shida only decided to leave after 12 p.m.

27 October 2007

Makena was very playful in the mudbath today, and put on a brilliant display for the visitors, playing in the mud and then going along the line trumpeting and scaring the onlookers. The school kids who were here screamed every time she approached. She enjoyed all the fuss, being another Lempaute today!

28 October 2007

Today, the baby group was brought to the bigger elephants. Lenana went directly to Shimba whilst Makena and Chyulu were vying with each other for little Dida. Dida could not choose between the two, but suckled the ears of whoever was closest. Meanwhile Lesanju and Lempaute stuck to the Keepers, not wanting to be possessed by any of the older females. The small elephants spent only half an hour with the bigger ones and it was interesting to observe the behaviour.

29 October 2007

Today was the first day that we could wash Sinya’s wounds without man-handling her to the ground. She was calm and seemed to understand that we were helping her, standing quietly with just a Keeper on either side of her.

30 October 2007

Shimba, as usual, was feeding apart from the three small girls when he came across a small tortoise. This scared him a lot. He trumpeted and ran back to the Keepers, and his trumpeting scared the other three small elephants, who also clustered around the Keepers with their ears out, even though they had not seen the tortoise. The Keepers only discovered what had frightened Shimba when they went over to investigate and found the tortoise.

31 October 2007

Today, it was little Dida who put on a good display at the mudbath, rolling in the red earth with Lempaute and Shimba, whilst Lesanju stood by, watching closely supervising events.