Keepers' Diaries, October 2008

Nairobi Nursery Unit

The month of October 2008 is one that will remain in human memory for a very long time – in our case, not so much for the Global Credit Crunch that has rocked the entire world, but for deep sorrow at having to weather the death of 3 of our Nursery elephants and 4 others who went directly to the Voi Stockades in just one month. After each and every death, we think long and hard, analyzing what perhaps we could possibly have done to save that particular calf.

01 October 2008

The adjustments to the infant elephants’ sleeping arrangements has caused some problems for Sinya, who now shares a Stockade with Lesanju and Lempaute. Although Sinya loves Lesanju, and would like to be close to her all the time, Lempaute resents this and keeps pushing her away.

02 October 2008

Soon after the 9 a.m. feed this morning, Lempaute finished before Sinya, and came to push Sinya down so that a piece of stick pierced her knee. The Keepers pulled out the splinter with pliers.

03 October 2008

Mzima is very greedy for his milk. Today, in the evening, he came running down the hill, and forgot where his Stockade was, instead going into that of Lesanju, Sinya and Lempaute. He then tried to take Lempaute’s share, pushing the Keeper who was holding the bottle, and this instigated a battle between him and Lempaute. Another Keeper had to come and help and return Mzima to the correct place, where his milk was awaiting him.

04 October 2008

Taveta likes to keep himself apart from the other elephants, instead remaining close to the Keepers. Suguta also prefers to remain close to the Keepers rather than mingling with the other Nursery orphans.

05 October 2008

Today at the mudbath, Barseloi kept moving around searching for his favourite Keeper’s fingers to suck on. He came across Suguta sucking the hand of his favourite Keeper, and was immediately very jealous, pushing Suguta away.

06 October 2008

Shida arrived at the Stockade in a bad mood today, threatening anyone who approached the door to his Stockade. The Keepers gave him a wide berth today!

07 October 2008

Lesanju came running to the Keepers out in the bush and then ran back again rumbling with her trunk pointing in the direction from whence they had all come. The Keepers went to take a look, following her, and discovered that she was alerting them to the fact that Taveta was heading on his own to the milk venue far too early. The Keepers rounded him up, and together with Lesanju, returned him to the group out in the forest.

08 October 2008

Suguta and the infant group were very reluctant to leave the mudbath when it was time for the older group to take over. Suguta lagged behind the Keepers, protesting by screaming! Nowadays she always stays very close to the Keepers, almost as though she remembers how they saved her life when she was in a state of collapse in the plane en route to the Nursery, and was saved by the insertion of a drip into an ear vein.

09 October 2008

While the evening visitors were enjoying Maxwell, (the blind rhino) in the evening, he suddenly turned round and urinated, splashing them all with smelly urine!

10 October 2008

Today there was another elephant rescue. The new orphan came in at 5 p.m. She looks strong and healthy but has a lot of wounds – bruises and abrasions all over her body. Although she is a big calf, she still has no teeth, which means that she is about 6 weeks old. She has been named Ndii.

11 October 2008

The new baby who came in yesterday, was allowed out to join the others today. She had a lot of bruises where the skin is peeling off as a result of being hauled out of the manhole on the Mzima – Mombasa pipeline, and she was very restless, wanting to scratch her body against trees or the other orphans and their Keepers.

12 October 2008

Kimana and Dida are good friends, even though Kimana is pretty pushy and keeps on wanting to spar with Dida, who simply turns away and puts up with the pushing. Dida is very tolerant of him because she loves him. These two share a Night Stable.

13 October 2008

It was a very sad day in the Nursery, for baby Kungu, who had been suffering from diarrheoa for the past 4 days, suddenly died during the night. Everyone was very saddened by this loss.

14 October 2008

Today saw the arrival of a minute elephant into the Nursery – the tiniest elephant any of us had ever seen, who was flown in from Tsavo West having walked into a Mining Camp a few days ago. She was named Beetle because she was so tiny. We were told she had been given cows’ milk, so we expect some stomach problems with her. We think that she is only about l week old.

15 October 2008

The new tiny baby seems very active and wants to follow the other elephants out into the bush. She is very greedy for her milk and finishes it very rapidly. She is so small that we think her mother must have been either very old or very young.

16 October 2008

We now have a total of 15 elephants in the Nursery, which is the most we have ever had to cope with – 8 very young ones and 7 older orphans. They are separated into two groups, according to size.

17 October 2008

There was a rainstorm last night, and the older elephants were very happy, enjoying the mud out in the bush. Siria, Wasessa and Mzima were especially active in the mud. They spent a lot of time playing in the puddles and had a very enjoyable day.

18 October 2008

The tiny elephant, Beetle, has diarrheoa today, which is a very bad sign in one so young, especially one that has had cows’ milk. We are very worried about her.

19 October 2008

Another very sad morning for the Trust because our tiniest baby died during the night. Even little Barseloi, who was next door in the next stable, is looking very sad today.

20 October 2008

The death of Beetle has stressed Barseloi. Previously he enjoyed playing by pushing the others, but today he just wants to be alone and is very dull.

21 October 2008

Barseloi is showing further signs of weakness today and is not himself. During the evening his breathing changed, and he was given an antibiotic injection for suspected pneumonia.

22 October 2008

Yet another tragic day for us in the Nursery because Barseloi lay down during the night, never to wake up. We have now lost 3 babies in the month and feel very depressed. We thought Barseloi would make it, because he looked strong and healthy, but ever since the loss of Beetle, this changed. It is very depressing for the Keepers who have been with the babies every hour of every day, and become so fond of them, to suddenly lose them. It is like losing a child.

23 October 2008

It drizzled with rain all day, so the little ones had to be brought back to their stables. They had been out walking with the older elephants, because it was decided that they needed more exercise, as they would walk long distances with their mothers in the wild. The Vet undertook an autopsy on Barseloi’s body before he was buried in the forest, and discovered that he had died as a result of pneumonia. He must have ingested some water into his lungs when he fell into the well from whence he was rescued.

24 October 2008

Suguta was most fond of Kungu and Barseloi, and has lost these two friends. This morning she did not want to come out of her Stockade, but kept on going in and out, as though searching for Barseloi and during the day was depressed, remaining very close to the Keepers, so we conclude that she knows that her friend Barseloi has passed away.

25 October 2008

As all 13 orphans were heading out into the bush today, two impala rams ran through the herd, scaring them all. Ndii and Suguta were terrified!

26 October 2008

Following the 9 a.m. feed, as the Keepers were taking the elephants down the hill towards the mudbath, they noticed that Taveta was missing. The Keepers went back and found him browsing happily on his own. They remained with him for a while, and then shepherded him along to join the rest. He is a very independent little elephant.

27 October 2008

Taveta is a very greedy little elephant, who finished his milk ration ahead of all the others, and then began pushing the Keeper who was feeding Kimana in an attempt to hijack that! He almost felled the Keeper!

28 October 2008

Since it was a very hot day, all the small babies also enjoyed the mudbath, Kimana, Kenia and Ndii delighting the visitors with their antics whilst little Suguta rolled around on the side of the mud pool.

29 October 2008

The older orphans put on a good display at the mudbath today. Things turned into a laughing matter for the visitors when Siria tried to mount onto Lempaute on slippery ground and his back lids slid backwards leaving him on the ground instead. All the visitors found this hilarious!

30 October 2008

Ndii is very possessive of the Keepers, and keeps pace with them, always staying very close. When Suguta came to try and suck on the Keeper’s hand, Ndii became very jealous and pushed her away.

31 October 2008

Kenia is becoming a budding Mini Matriarch. As the elephants were returning from the mudbath, Suguta was trailing behind when some warthog piglets came running past searching for their mother. Suguta got scared and bellowed, and immediately Kenia came rushing back from way ahead, and gave chase to the piglets before comforting Suguta.