Keepers' Diaries, October 2013

Nairobi Nursery Unit

The International March for Elephants, organized by the U.K. arm of the Trust, which took place in 15 cities across the world on the 4th October, was marked in Nairobi by a Vigil at the Orphans’ Mudbath at noon, the proposed Nairobi March having been cancelled in deference to those who had lost loved ones in the terrorist attack on West Gate Mall last month. The Elephant Vigil was a well attended and moving event commemorating also the suffering of Elephants throughout Africa, who lose their loved ones on a daily basis due to the appetite for their ivory tusks in the Far East, particularly in populous and increasingly affluent China where ivory is viewed as a status symbol. Elephants mourn loved ones just as deeply as do we, so the orphans represent the few lucky enough to be found in time who are the living representatives of hundreds of others who die in lonely isolation on a daily basis out in the bush. (Baby elephants cannot live without access to milk if orphaned under the age of 3 years and those that manage to survive if orphaned between the age of 3 and 5 years are few and far between).

01 October 2013

October began well, with a visit from Solio who turned up at 6 a.m. and having greeted Murera first, went to spar with Maxwell who was waiting expectantly for her before returning to her old Stockade to enjoy a Lucerne handout. She later left again at l0 a.m. Seeing Solio healthy and so happy, fully integrated into the wild rhino community of Nairobi National Park makes us, her human family, very happy, particularly in view of the rampant poaching of rhinos that is going on throughout Africa. She is a wonderful success story.

02 October 2013

Big Boy Bongo and biggish girl Zongoloni are still in their Taming Stockades, not yet sufficiently calm to be allowed out with the others. Both are now taking milk, and feeding well on the greens, so their body condition is improving, but they are still not friendly towards their human Keepers, obviously having witnessed horrendous cruelty at the hands of humans whilst living wild.

03 October 2013

Poor baby Empaash is not well today, and remained behind in his stable with a Keeper when Kamok, Mshindi and Shujaa made their way out today. He was given life support infusion after the 9 a.m. milk feed which made him feel well enough to join the others who were nearby. Another blood sample was taken from him for analysis and during the night he was again on life supporting drip.

04 October 2013

The March for Elephants took place today in 15 cities of the world, but the Nairobi March was cancelled, as a mark of respect for those that lost loved ones during the West Gate Terrorist attack. Instead, a vigil was held at the Orphans noon mudbath and public visiting hour, which was well attended. Dame Daphne Sheldrick, who had just arrived back from America, came out to address the crowd, pointing out that it is estimated that one elephant dies every 15 minutes, and that the world must unite to curb the ivory appetite of Far Eastern countries, particularly populous China.

05 October 2013

Empaash, who has not been well of late, has managed to push out 2 or his first 4 molars, one on the lower right jaw, and the other on the left. This was cause for celebration, since the teething process of infant elephants is always accompanied by health issues which can prove life threatening.

06 October 2013

Little Kamok was very playful today, chasing warthogs with ears out, even though she is not much bigger than them! The Keepers kept a watchful eye to ensure that the warthogs did not turn and injure her. Kamok is the miniature leader of the Baby Group having been with us longer than Mshindi and Shujaa.

07 October 2013

It was a lucky day for another orphaned elephant calf found near Lentille Conservancy in Laikipia, who was rescued and put on life support before being flown to the Nursery, since she was emaciated, having been without milk for a while. The new calf arrived at around 8 p.m. and is estimated to be just over a year old. She had been named “Lentili”.

08 October 2013

New arrival Lentili is feeding well on greens, and looked strong in the morning. At 6 a.m. she was greeted by Narok, Quanza, Lima lima and Laragai and at 7 a.m. Lentili took milk from a bottle held through the bars of her Stockade gate, which gave us great hope for her survival. At 1 p.m. we received a report that an orphan in the Masai Mara needed to be saved, so 4 Keepers departed by air to rescue the calf, which turned out to be a young female aged about l8 months. During the flight back she was on life support, and arrived at about 7 a.m. She has been named “Asanje” (The Masai word for “sweetheart”.

09 October 2013

It was an extremely tragic day in the Nursery, for we lost our little Empaash last night soon after midnight. He finished all his milk feeds throughout the night, but after the midnight feed struggled to breathe and passed away. He died of pneumonia, the only consolation being that at least he died surrounded by love rather than drowning in lonely isolation at the bottom of the well into which he fell within the Amboseli Conservation Area. Meanwhile the new calf named “Asanje” was greeted first thing in the morning by Kihari, Ishaq-B, Naipoki, Sonje, Quanza and Murera and took milk for the first time at 11 a.m.

10 October 2013

At 11 a.m. we were alerted that another rescue was on the cards, this time of a lone orphan at Kinango near Kwale at the Coast. The calf, estimated to be just over a year old was rescued by the Voi Elephant Keepers near Rorogoi village and driven to the Voi Stockades before later being flown to the Nursery where it arrived at 8 p.m. It was a female, who has been named ”Rorogoi”.

11 October 2013

Having spent a peaceful night in the Stockades, the new arrival “Rorogoi” was greeted as usual first thing in the morning by Arruba, Quanza, Lima lima, Laragai, Sonje and Murera. She took milk during the morning, which is a hopeful sign. The other newcomer named “Asanje” is also taking her milk feeds well.

12 October 2013

After the Orphans’ 9 a.m. milk feed, “Lentili” was allowed out of her Stockade to join the others, who were waiting outside her gate to escort her, Kihari and the other Big Girls embracing her very warmly. Young boys Faraja, Jasiri, Ngasha and Teleki tried to bully her, but were warned off by Naipoki and Kihari. Lentili also came with the others to the Public Viewing at noon, and behaved impeccably, with no sign of aggression towards the hordes of visitors standing behind the ropes.

13 October 2013

Suswa tends to spend a lot of time away from the main group sometimes accompanied by Kwale. This is not unusual for newcomers who are grieving the loss of their elephant family. Solio has not been seen for several days but we are confident that she is safe.

14 October 2013

Rorogoi is still not sufficiently calm to be allowed out, but is feeding well on both greens and milk. Likewise Big Boy “Bongo”, who has one long sharp tusk (the other having been broken shorter). He is proving very difficult to calm, his long tusk definitely a deterrent! Although he comes to the Gate and enjoys his milk feeds, the Keepers are not comfortable venturing into the Stockade with him, since he could inflict serious injury should he charge.

15 October 2013

“Asanje” was allowed out today to join the others, the Big Girls crowding into her Stockade the moment the Gate was opened up. Sandwiched between the Big Girls she walked out, Naipoki, Kihari, Ishaq-B, Sonje and Narok showing great concern for her. Little Boys Lemoyian, Barsilinga, Kithaka and Ngasha jointly tried to take advantage of the fact that she was new, trying to throw their weight around, but Naipoki, Kihari and Sonje protected her. At the Public Viewing hour, however, Asanje was visibly nervous of the crowds, and fearing that she might be tempted to charge, the Keepers enticed her away with a bottle of milk. The same happened at the 3 p.m Private Viewing slot, when she was taken back to join the older group but when the older elephants came to the Private Viewing, she was comfortable in amongst them.

16 October 2013

Much to everyone’s relief Solio showed up today, as usual enjoying the usual sparring match with Maxwell, who was overjoyed to have her company again. She also enjoyed a good Lucerne feed back in her old Stockade before departing again. Poor Kwale’s condition continues to deteriorate. He has now developed a swelling under his chin. The symptoms that mark his ill health mirrors that of other orphans in the past, some having recovered, but others such as Tano, whom we have lost.

17 October 2013

Today, it was the turn of “Rorogoi” to join the others, as usual warmly embraced by all the Big Girls who escorted her out after the 9 a.m. milk feed, which took place at her Stockade door. Ishaq-B, Naipoki, Narok and Quanza kept a close eye on her, and surrounded her whenever she attempted to walk away. Out in the field she was not overly comfortable with the Keepers, and refused to come to the noon Public Viewing Hour, remaining instead secluded in the bush, surrounded by her human family. It took the Keepers two hours to return her, along with Lentili, Zongoloni and Asanje back into her Night Stockade.

18 October 2013

Rorogoi spends her time with the month’s other newcomers, Lentili, Zongoloni and Asanje and is still not comfortable with the Keepers, other than when they are holding a bottle of milk! She is still resisting the Public Viewing mudbath hour.

19 October 2013

Another tiny lone orphaned elephant seen heading towards the railways line and busy Mombasa road by KWS personnel stationed at the Buchuma Entrance to Tsavo East was rescued and held at their ticket office to await the arrival of the rescue plane from Nairobi. The baby bull, estimated to be only a month old, was flown to the Nursery that afternoon, and appeared in reasonable health upon arrival. He was named “Bahati” (Swahili for “lucky”).

20 October 2013

Baby “Bahati” is taking milk well and enjoying being with the Keepers and the other babies, although little Mshindi is not well today, with loose stools, loss of appetite and a dull demeanor, indicating that the dreaded teething process has begun. He was put on an infusion of Dextrose and Saline to replace body fluids lost through the loose stools.

21 October 2013

Mshindi is still unwell, and had more intravenous infusion of Saline today along with anti-diarrheoa medication. When it was time for the private viewing, Rorogoi ran off and it took the Keepers 3 hours to eventually find her deep in the Park forest. They had a very hard time getting her back to the Stockades.

22 October 2013

Rorogoi will remain confined to her Stockade for the next two days, until she is quieter and can be trusted not to run away. Poor Big Boy Bongo is also still confined to his Stockade, awaiting the onset of rain at the Ithumba Rehabilitation Centre, so that he can be transferred there, and be with others of his size and age, being too big and “wild” for the Nursery to handle. He needs the input of other bigger Bulls to settle him down. He has put on condition, and is looking in good health now.

23 October 2013

Another lucky day for an elephant orphan estimated to be about one year old who was alone near the Ziwani Swamp in Tsavo West National Park. The rescue team set off after lunch, and were back at the Nursery with the new orphan by 3 p.m. She was named “Oltaiyoni”, the name of the small tributary that runs into Ziwani Swamp.

24 October 2013

Oltaiyoni accepted milk eagerly during the night, and unlike Rorogoi was sufficiently friendly towards her human Keepers by the morning to be allowed out to join the other orphans, having only come in yesterday afternoon. As usual the little boys – Lemoyian, Barsilinga, and Kithaka tried their luck to demonstrate superiority, but were put in line by the Big girls. Oltaiyoni behaved impeccably during the Public Viewing mudbath hour, and again at the Private Viewing slot at 3 p.m., hiding in amongst the older Elephants, outspread ears the only sign of slight disquiet. She is a lovely little girl! Poor ailing Kwale took a turn for the worse today, refusing his milk feeds. He was returned to his stable and put on Life Support and received intravenous elephant Plasma, since his blood platelet count was low.

25 October 2013

Kwale is still unwell, not feeding, and becoming weaker. We are at a loss as to know what more can be done for him. Yet another Elephant Rescue today – this time an orphaned Amboseli Elephant mauled by lions around the rear end, and subsequently rejected by a nearby wild elephant family when an attempt was made to reunite it. This injured elephant, a young bull aged about 2 years, had deep injuries around its rear end, which inhibited the passing of dung, so the Keepers tried to relieve it by scooping it out by hand. The calf collapsed again during the night, and was again put on Life Supporting Drips.

26 October 2013

Yesterday’s elephant, who had yet to be named, died at 6 a.m.. Mauling by lions, then being captured by another “enemy”, the pain of his injuries coupled with a flight back to the Nursery, all proved too much for him. Meanwhile, poor ailing Kwale was not better, and was put on Life Support again, still refusing milk and only eating very little soft greens offered to him by hand. At 5 p.m. the latest baby, ”Bahati” took a turn for the worse, passing quantities of watery stool probably again due to the onset of teething. He was put on Life Support, and a blood sample was taken for testing.

27 October 2013

Bahati’s blood sample indicated a bacterial infection, and he had become extremely weakened overnight. He was given injectible Penstrep, and anti-diarrheoa homeopathic and oral medication to try and control the diarrheoa, which in infant elephants is extremely life threatening. He remained extremely fragile throughout the day, refusing all milk and unable to stand without support. Kwale could not take any more intravenous fluid, and was in a comatose state throughout the night, with no hope that he might just be able to pull through what has been a very long and debilitating ailment. Another sad day in what has been a very sad and hectic month for all at the Nairobi Nursery!

28 October 2013

There was great grief in the Nursery today over the death of Bahati, and dying Kwale, who passed away, the Vet standing by to undertake a post-mortem and take body samples in order to try and identify the ailment that took the life of Kwale. The autopsy revealed a severely damaged intestine, which must have been as a result of his fall down that well. There was no hope of recovery since the lining of the intestine inhibited the absorption of nutrients.

29 October 2013

Little Oltaiyoni is doing well and has accepted the human family. Mshindi, Shujaa and Kamok, all of whom are teething, are holding up, with Mshindi and Shujaa not doing as well as Kamok. All have managed to push out 2 teeth, but Mshindi and Shujaa have lost a great deal of body condition.

30 October 2013

It is a puzzle as to what happened to Asanje today, who was perfectly alright in the morning, went out as usual with the others, but suddenly swelled around the neck and began walking in circles, appearing blind in both eyes and rapidly deteriorating into a state of collapse. We only just managed to get her back to the Stockade, and Angela rushed to the Medical Store and gave intravenous cortisone. We suspect it could be as a result of a snake bite, although no snake was seen.

31 October 2013

Another sad morning because the latest orphan who came in last night died, un-named even. Asanje appeared back to normal, but had lost the sight of both eyes as a result of yesterday’s mysterious incident. The Animal Eye Specialist was contacted, and will come and examine her eyes.