Keepers' Diaries, October 2012

Nairobi Nursery Unit

The unexpected death on October 15th of the Nursery’s favourite - baby Kinango, left us all gutted. Having lost body condition during the teething process, he was again unwell on the 3rd, despite having managed to push out his first four baby molars, during which time he underwent several intravenous drips to counter dehydration caused by the teething “loose stool” syndrome. Due to his compromised immune system, he lacked the reserves to withstand another health issue, despite putting up a brave fight, and in spite of us doing everything in our power to get him through but it was not to be. Kinango had always been Mutara’s special baby, and she mourned his loss just as deeply as did his many foster-parents all over the world. Post-mortem results indicated a mild infection of the gut, which, under normal circumstances, would not have taken cost his life. Little Kinango now rests in peace in the nearby natural forest along with others who never made it.

01 October 2012

The presence of a newcomer in the Nursery (Ngasha rescued on the 30th September, did not escape the notice of Mutara, Turkwel, Sities and Tano, who hurried to his stable as soon as they were let out in the morning. Their presence outside his Stockade door reassured him, but he remained aggressive towards the Keepers, understandable in view of what made him an orphan. Little Rukinga has now completed his 5th day in the Nursery, and so far, is doing well. Naipoki is giving him a lot of attention when Mutara divides her time between him and little Kithaka, of whom she is very fond.

02 October 2012

Ngasha has calmed down considerably having been exposed to the other Nursery elephants. This is his third day in the Nursery, and he is taking his milk well. At the 3 p.m. feed he was allowed out of the Stockade to join the other orphans, sandwiched between the Big Females. He tried to escape, but was closely followed by Mutara, Shukuru and Kilabasi, reinforced by the Keepers, all of whom rounded him up and returned him to the rest of the herd. After being comforted by the Big females, he settled down.

03 October 2012

Ngasha was out with the others again today enjoying the protection and care of all the Big Girls. At the Public viewing hour he tried to walk away, but having noticed that none of the others followed, reluctantly he returned. A blood sample was taken from Kinango for analysis at the Nairobi Hospital Clinic. Kinango has not been well for a number of days now, dull and with loose stools. Teleki tends to wander off in order to spend time alone – a symptom that he is grieving for his lost elephant mother and family.

04 October 2012

At 11 a.m. there was another Rescue Alert, this time of a lone elephant calf who had strayed into settlement and who had been rescued by the Trust’s Masai Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit. The new orphan arrived in the Nursery at 5 p.m. – a female of about l8 months old who has been named Narok having been rescued not far from the town of Narok. She occupied Teleki’s stockade, he and Kihari, having been moved to the two newly constructed Stockades near the Loading Ramp.

05 October 2012

This morning Sities was the first to greet Narok, soon joined by all the Big Girls who came to welcome yet another newcomer, who is still aggressive towards the Keepers. However, in the late afternoon she took some milk from a bucket. Meanwhile preparations for the translocation from the Nursery to Tsavo of Mutara, Shukuru and Kilabasi began, the Elephant Moving Truck parked up against the loading ramp to get the Big Girls used to going in.

06 October 2012

Narok still remains aggressive. She was greeted warmly by all the other elephants in the morning, especially Teleki, Kainuk, Sities and Kihari who touched her lovingly with their trunks. At 3 p.m. Narok took her milk from a bottle offered through the bars of the Stockade door. Shukuru goes into the Elephant Mover to take her milk perfectly but Mutara and Kilabasi are still reluctant to enter.

07 October 2012

Kinango has lost a great deal of condition during his teething process (the eruption of the first four molars always causes difficulty in the infant elephants). He is still feeding well, and his stools are firmer, but he has undergone an infusion of Saline and Dextrose to restore his strength. Mutara gives him a great deal of love and attention which he needs. Little Rukinga is still doing well and along with Barsilinga enjoys remaining close to the Keepers, unlike Kinango and Kithaka who enjoy the company of the Big Girls more.

08 October 2012

Today Narok has accepted the Keepers inside her Stockade, and has calmed down considerably. Teleki, has been nick-named “Rasta” by the Keepers because he is so hairy! He and Faraja (nick-named “Mzungu” because he is so “white”) tend to try and sneak off to spend time alone, both still grieving the loss of their elephant family.

09 October 2012

At 1 p.m. a report came from the Amboseli Researchers that an elephant calf had fallen down a well, and that the mother, who had been trying to rescue her baby, fled when the Masai Herders brought their cattle to water. The rescued orphan arrived at the Nursery just before 6 p.m. – a 3 – 4 month old male, who has been named Lemoyian, Lemoyian being the Masai name of the well into which he fell.

10 October 2012

After the orphans had their 9 a.m. milk feed, Mutara, Shukuru and Kilabasi fed at the Elephant Mover Truck, all gathered at the entrance of Narok’s Stockade, in readiness for her to accompany them into the field. She was warmly received by Mutara, Shukuru, Turkwel, Tano and Sities who sandwiched her as she walked out. Young Lemoyian was also warmly welcomed. The Big Girls, especially Mutara the Matriarch, have had a busy time dealing with all the month’s new arrivals! Mutara tried to control Narok, Lemoyian and also Rukinga along with her favourite baby Kinango who is always attached to her. Narok behaved impeccably, never attempting to escape, as others have tried.

11 October 2012

Lemoyian is behaving perfectly on this, his second day in the Nursery. He loves his Keepers, is taking his milk, and enjoying the company of the others, especially Naipoki, who has taken a shine to him and little Rukinga. Ngasha is still doing well and has formed a friendship with Kwale, Teleki and Faraja, all four boys hanging out together. Baby Kinango is still poorly, but fighting bravely for life, still feeding well and passing firmer stools, but remaining off-colour.

12 October 2012

Narok has adapted amazingly well to the human family and the other orphans, happy to have a new family. She has made friends with Naipoki, Ishaq-B, Kainuk and Turkwel. Little Kithaka enjoys walking up and down the visitors’ cordon during the Public Viewing Hour, head-butting anyone who tries to touch him, which causes laughter. The visitors cannot believe that one so small can be so strong!

13 October 2012

Lemoyian is doing very well. Shukuru is paying him a great deal of attention, allowing Lemoyian to suckle her ears which is a sign of wanting to “mother” the baby.

14 October 2012

Baby Kinango is much worse today, and had to be put on life support again because he was so weak, passing frequent watery stools.

15 October 2012

A somber mood prevailed today, for we lost little Kinango as dawn broke. He was a great Nursery favourite who had been with us for the past 3 months, but lost the teething battle despite us doing everything possible to try and save him. He will be missed greatly by us all, and especially by Mutara, who adored him as her special baby.

16 October 2012

Up until Orwa was promoted to the Big Group, Kanjoro had been the only fairly big boy amongst a host of Bigger Girls, all of whom are quick to reprimand him. This has made him somewhat subservient, but now that Orwa is in the Big Girls’ Group, Kanjoro has an age-mate to challenge, and has become much bolder. Kihari, who was close by, witnessed him overpowering Orwa, and took it upon herself to drive Kanjoro from the herd to spend time out as a punishment! This was noticed by the other Big Girls, who continue to keep a close eye on Kanjoro.

17 October 2012

Shukuru has completely adopted Lemoyian. She was at his stable door first thing in the morning, but it was too chilly to allow the baby out. She waited for him to step out, cuddling him with her trunk with a joyful rumble as he stood beneath her neck, before she escorted him out into the bush. After the Public Viewing Hour Shukuru hurried ahead of the others to be first to greet the youngsters, Barsilinga, Lemoyian and Rukinga, who were playing near the Keepers. Having greeted them, she chose Lemoyian, and lay down so that he could play on her. The game lasted a long time.

18 October 2012

Once older newcomers get hooked on the milk, they sometimes sneak away from the others ahead of time to return to the Stockades, searching for it. Today Narok began behaving in a strange way at 2.30 p.m., and the Keepers wondered why, until she ran to the bucket hanging outside her door, looking for the milk. We then understood what she was trying to tell us! Again, at the Private Viewing time of 3 p.m., after the babies had taken their milk, Narok rushed in to try and grab the bottles, knocking some down in the process. She has become very greedy for the milk, even though she is getting the maximum amount i.e. 5 pints every 3 hours, day and night which equates to 40 pints or about 20 litres with cooked oatmeal added!

19 October 2012

Kilabasi has long had Balguda as her favourite calf but Ngasha has also become very fond of Kilabasi, trying to suck her ears. Every time he is rejected, he bellows which upsets Balguda who pushes him away! Today when Balguda was feeding alongside Kilabasi, Ngasha turned up and became frustrated whenever Kilabasi moved away and detached him from an ear! As usual, he bellowed, which annoyed Balguda, until Kilabasi had to stand between the two young boys to separate them. In the end she took Balguda deeper into the bush to separate him from Ngasha.

20 October 2012

Murera is now sufficiently confident to browse alongside the Big Girls, whereas before she feared being pushed by them in view of her infirmity. She and Sonje, who is her best friend, give Rukinga a lot of attention, particularly now that he is showing signs of beginning the teething process. Today, he was restless and Murera and Sonje have been with him all day, Sonje watching him take his milk from behind the hung blanket before even taking her own, which is most unusual. At one time, as the baby shuffled around the blanket, she pushed the Keeper, believing that he was withholding Rukinga’s bottle, when in fact Rukinga was being choosy about the position of his trunk against the blanket.

21 October 2012

Shukuru and Kilabasi are now used to going into the Elephant Moving Truck at milk feeding times, but Mutara remains skeptical and would rather go without her milk than enter the truck. She has obviously observed that others who have been so “trained” have then disappeared! The saying that the “grass is always greener over the fence” applies to our babies! Kanjoro reaches his trunk through the separating poles to steal Tano’s greens, rather than eat his own!

22 October 2012

Following the upgrading of Orwa to the older Group, Bomani has become another “bully” who is greedy and pushy at milk feeding times, although Balguda occasionally disciplines him. Balguda is also a greedy boy who complains loudly when his milk is finished, often chasing after the Keeper demanding more. Today Bomani knocked Balguda down as he was demanding more, so the Keepers sent him off to spend time out. On his return he knocked down Faraja who was merely feeding on some greens.

23 October 2012

Rukinga is taking the strain with his teething, and was put on a drip after the afternoon feed. He has loose stools, and although still taking all his milk, does not have his usual appetite and takes it slowly. Kithaka is now the Star Player at the Public Viewing Hour, rolling in the dust and showing off to the crowd who really enjoy him because of his tiny size. At the evening foster-parent hour he engaged his Keeper in a Pushing Match, then rolling on the floor, and charging the door where all his foster-parents were enjoying the Show! He is a very happy boy now!

24 October 2012

Today, all the Staff had to attend an anti-terrorist Meeting organized by KWS in response to the Al Shabaab terrorism of late. Because of this, there were fewer Keepers looking after the orphans, which gave Teleki the opportunity to sneak off on his own, without turning up for the public mudbath hour. The Keepers searched for him in vain, but he turned up at the mudbath at 1.40 p.m. and enjoyed a wallow. He did not seem to miss his peers at all!

25 October 2012

It has been hot all day, so all the orphans have enjoyed their mudbath, both at the normal noon Public Hour and again at the Private Visiting slot at 3.p.m. Faraja is not very fond of bathing, instead standing at the edge as he watched Sities having fun. She then began spraying him using her trunk, which prompted him to join in. Once in, she continued to coat his body with mud, as would a mother – how wonderful was this!

26 October 2012

The training of Mutara, Shukuru and Kilabasi to the elephant Mover has continued. Turkwel and Kainuk lead the way, going into the truck to take their milk as if the ones about to leave for Ithumba. Today Solio spent the entire day out in the bush, away from her Keepers, having given them the slip. She only returned at 5 p.m. Meanwhile Max paced up and down, checking whether or not she had returned, and was delighted when she did!

27 October 2012

On another hot day, Barsilinga and Kithaka were the stars of the mudbath hour, engaging one another in a wrestling match actually in the pool, which was won by Barsilinga. When the older elephants arrived, Kainuk and Sities splashed mud out of the pool using their front legs, forcing many of the nearby visitors to move further away! The two then went running along the cordon trumpeting and with outspread ears, as though to scare the visitors. All the orphans were very happy, Mutara and Shukuru kicking the water drums like a football.

28 October 2012

Murera seems to be not overly fond of newcomer Narok, tending to push Narok away whenever she comes close, nor does Murera respond to the Keepers when reprimanded. For the past two days Teleki has been a good boy, and refrained from running away from the others, instead feeding close to Turkwel and Kainuk. He enjoyed playing and rolling in a fresh pile of red earth placed at the mudbath venue. Kanjoro is beginning to bully Orwa, often taking away leaves that Orwa is eating.

29 October 2012

Kihari has become another “Screamer” at milk feeding times, screaming when she sees her milk bottles, screaming when the Keeper is not ready with them for her, and screaming whenever she finishes her share! This scared the school kids who had come to see the mudbath, some of whom ran off also bellowing! It took their Teachers a while to calm them down.

30 October 2012

A new orphan arrived in the Nursery, rescued from the Kenya/Tanzanian border near Amboseli, her mother, the famous Matriarch of the Q Elephant Study family named Quomkat shot along with three other females by armed Tanzanian poachers. The new baby, named Quanza was born on 12th October 2011 ( her name means “first” in Swahili since she was the first newborn after the devastating 2009 drought) the baby was in good condition upon arrival, but is very wild, no Keeper able to be in with her, but during the night she took water, and some milk from a bucket.

31 October 2012

All the orphans came to welcome Quanza this morning, Sities, Tano and Kilabasi very reluctant to leave the newcomer, who, understandably, has no fondness for anyone human, having witnessed the cruel end of her mother whose long ivory tusks were hacked from her face with axes.