Keepers' Diaries, October 2014

Nairobi Nursery Unit

In the month of October four more orphans arrived into our care, two were tragic victims of poaching and two tiny arrivals were dry season well victims falling down man made wells in Northern Kenya.

01 October 2014

Little Ndotto is really becoming quite the character, out in the field today he spent time rolling in the soil next to Ashaka. He would push up against Ashaka’s stomach and throw dust on Ashaka who was trying to enjoy the midday heat. This is so sweet to watch because he remains so tiny. Little Ndotto is becoming mischievous and fast resembling the character of naughty boy Kithaka. Ndotto is even pushing the other elephants and sometimes the Keepers at feeding times. Ndotto still has not gone through the dreaded teething phase but his gums are swollen and showing signs.

02 October 2014

Soon after the elephants reached the browsing fields in the morning Nelion, Faraja, Ngasha, Rorogoi and Mashariki decided to explore further afield in the bush when suddenly they encountered a lone buffalo feeding. The buffalo was quick to notice the orphans, but both the elephants and buffalo stood and stared each other down for a few tense minutes waiting for each to make the first move. Nelion and Faraja lost their nerve and let out a loud trumpet which startled the buffalo causing him to run into the thicket. The orphans then charged after the buffalo feeling confident all of a sudden! All the commotion of the morning left the entire elephant herd rather unsettled, and Enkikwe, Olsekki, Sokotei, Embu and little Dupotto separated themselves to be at peace. Later when the keepers began to gather up the orphans they realised that these five elephants were missing. Immediately a search was mounted and eventually they were located browsing happily as a group, secure in the fact that they were with their beloved Embu.

03 October 2014

Ziwa’s progress seems slow, but he is being medicated and we are hopeful that he will beat his problem. He has in the recent days a swollen chin, legs and lower belly due to water retention. Today was a big day as Angela had arranged for a blood transfusion for Ziwa at around 3pm. It was decided Jasiri as a strong robust boy would be the best candidate to take blood from. Ziwa is very anemic and it is hoped that the transfusion will assist in improving his condition. Jasiri behaved so well, and just stood there in his stockade as the blood was removed, and Ziwa helped by being laid back and cooperative making the whole process easy.

04 October 2014

Today was a significant day as the world came together locally and globally to March for the protection of the lives of the now endangered Rhino and Elephant. Here at the nursery we campaigned by walking with the elephants to the wallow 11am joined by many international and local visitors, holding placards with an important message growing the awareness of this serious issue. Among the orphans Kithaka and Lemoyian found the sign board good entertainment as they chewed and slobbered on the placards, holding them and even tossing some into the air. This made for stunning photographs of course. The turnout was impressive and everyone seemed to be concerned about this crisis and eager to become involved in any way possible to help. We hope that together will be able to help stop this slaughter of Africa’s magnificent giants.

05 October 2014

Nowadays Sokotei, Olsekki and Enkikwe have been the greediest babies always desperate for their milk. During feeding time and out in the bush the three greedy boys will push anyone in their way who could potentially delay them getting to their milk first. Once they completely empty theirs they proceed to try and steal everyone else’s milk, this causes the keepers to have to intervene and separate Olsekki and Sokotei in particular from the other orphans during these feeding times in an effort to retain order.

06 October 2014

Ziwa has had to stay in his stockade today as he remains extremely weak despite the blood transfusion. The positive is that we can have constant 24hour close care, making sure he is feeding well and does not fail to get up on his own should he choose to lie down. As for newest arrival Kazakini, she has come in very poor condition and her eyes are improving with constant medication and the cloudiness within her eyes is clearing. Little Murit is also doing very well, despite last month having so many health challenges through the teething process. After visiting hour at 11 o’clock Murit came across a little herd of warthogs. He began chasing and charging the little warthogs all through the forest, this gained Kamok’s attention so soon the two were chasing the warthogs through the bush. Suddenly the warthogs decided to chase them back. This was an unexpected turn of events and it took little convincing before Murit and Kamok hurried back to the safety of their keepers.

07 October 2014

We awoke to the gentle sound of rain this morning, the hot days were coming to an end as the temperature dropped with the rain. Unfortunately for the younger babies this meant they had to stay indoors wrapped up in their blankets keeping warm. Dupotto and Kauro trumpeted loudly indicating just how unhappy they were about having to stay indoors. Kauro loves to mount Mashariki, Suswa and Lentili despite them being double his size, so by him staying indoors it meant none of his mischief would take place until the rain stopped. As for little Dupotto she felt very lost without Embu and didn’t like the fact that she had been separated from her adopted mother. As the rain fell and the mud grew thicker, little Enkikwe, Olsekki and Oltaiyoni were able to slide and slip in the mud which they love to do, so although it was raining the elephants seemed to relish the mud.

08 October 2014

Recently Kithaka has really begun to behave himself. During visiting hour he very calmly walks around and minds his own business unlike before when he was the complete opposite and always looking for the opportunity to cause nonsense. A perfect example was today, normally Kithaka would down his milk and then proceed to push the public viewers who may be standing too close to the line, but not today as he very calmly finished his milk and walked close to the line where he greeted everyone calmly and happily. Maybe Kithaka has finally settled down and will no longer be this boisterous boy that he has been known for. Solio has not returned home to see Maxwell or any of her human family for quite some time now, but she has been seen around Angela’s veranda so at least we are confident she is well and safe. Her stockade door is always open, filled with Lucerne for when she does decide to return. We are sure that during the night she comes to say hi to Maxwell. Handsome Kili the giraffe is doing very well too and he is growing stronger and taller by the day. He loves his keepers and is never too far away from them but every day he is in the forest browsing. He knows his stockade and where he returns to feed and his night stable very well. He enjoys the elephants company but from a slight distance, choosing not to have too much trunk mauling from them! He is interested in the wild Nairobi Park giraffe too.

09 October 2014

Once the orphans had reached the browsing fields Barsilinga, Faraja and Ngasha all were busy exploring the bushes, with only their bottoms evident as they ploughed through the forest looking for things to eat and play with. Nelion and Jasiri also joined the orphans as they played together deep in the bush, but when Nelion comes to play the other orphans are cautious and choose to stay well clear of his rather large tusks. Nelion is gentle having gone through his naughty stage when he first realized the advantage of tusks, but now he and Tundani are mellow fellows choosing to hang out together much of the time minding their own business. Barsilinga and Ngasha then began to head push one another which could only lead to one thing… chaos. The forest suddenly erupted with trumpeting and noise! There was no peace for awhile with these dramatic games that took place. The little group are doing well, but with the wet season we have to be careful about keeping them warm, keeping them out of the mud piles in this cold weather so the Keepers are working extremely hard.

10 October 2014

Its Friday, and Fridays mean Coconut Oil! The younger babies went first, after the keepers very carefully applied the coconut oil on all of them they were immediately off into the soil as they rolled around happily. Dupotto was the only tricky elephant to catch as she hates the oil, but once the oil was applied onto her skin she too joined all the orphans in rolling in the soil and playing with each other. Little Ndotto, Lasayen, and Mbegu love the oil, once the oil is on they are all bumping each other, scratching each other and of course rolling around in all the soil, they definitely entertain anyone watching them. Enkikwe and Rorogoi are the other elephants who really dislike oil bathing, both tried to run away but the keepers eventually found them and convinced them that it would be fun, it didn’t take long until they too had joined the little babies and were enjoying all the different sensations that the oil has for them to enjoy. It is very beneficial for their skin, and of course absorbing the coconut fat is helpful for them too.

11 October 2014

Sokotei has a large wart on his trunk that has recently opened, however on a daily basis we have the ointment to apply and the size is now reducing. This takes time, but is very effective. Although the wound is being treated Sokotei is not his normal self, he doesn’t play as much with Enkikwe, Olsekki and Lemoyian. Even during mudbath and out in the field he keeps to himself and rarely interacts with any of the other elephants. He fears the others hurting his very sensitive wound but within time the wound will heal and he will be back to his normal self again. Of course this mild behavior does not apply around feeding time!

12 October 2014

Embu is the sweetest and most humble elephant in our care at the Nursery, and all the babies are attracted to her immediately for her protection and love and she gives of it generously. Dupotto who barely ever leaves her side has made Embu Mum. Embu’s humble personality has also attracted Enkikwe’s attention and it seems that her loving personality is gives these newcomers a sense of security. So now we have Embu and Oltaiyoni who are the mothers in the herd, they bring comfort but most importantly they bring reassurance to all the new little newcomers the nursery has and help us Keepers enormously by helping settle the new arrivals, and bringing them a sense of normality quickly.

13 October 2014

Today at mud bath Olsekki has become very greedy towards milk. So while Enkikwe was busy having milk next to Embu Olsekki decided to push poor Enkikwe for no other reason but pure greed. The keepers tried to direct Olsekki away but he instead charged at the keepers and tried again to take milk. When he is denied more milk he has begun to be very aggressive almost like a spoilt child. He thinks intimidation tactics will win the day. In the evening Enkikwe caused great havoc at the stockades, he decided to go into the same stockade as Embu so the keepers had to get him out but he refused, eventually running out of the stockade into the bush. The keepers followed him eventually leading him back to the stockade but this time the keepers let him stay with Embu in his stockade. He went to bed extremely content.

14 October 2014

The elephants all seemed so excited about their new day out in the bush, Oltaiyoni, Mashariki, Rorogoi, Lentili, Suswa and Arruba all crowded around Maxwell’s gate and began to indulge themselves in his lucerne. Suddenly Kithaka, Sokotei and Barsilinga and Lemoiyan joined in feasting on Maxwell’s food. Once the keepers had gathered up all the orphans they all strolled into the forest for yet another exciting day. Kithaka and Rorogoi began mounting Arruba who was definitely not up for this game so she was quick to chase them off. Just before 7am this morning, Head keeper Edwin informed us about a rescue that needed to take place in an area called Milgis (Samburu), the baby was said to of been rescued the day before after falling down a well. The calf had spent the night at Milgis Trust but had not had anything to drink or eat. The Rescue team responded immediately and left for Wilson Airport in the early hours of the morning to fly and save yet another baby. On arrival the small male calf was extremely dehydrated and very frail to the extent that he couldn’t even support himself. This was a worrying early sign. The team quickly loaded the calf onto the plane and a drip was immediately put into him to try restoring his strength and lost fluids. This calf came with a couple of unexpected orphans of a different kind, two ostriches were handed to the DSWT Keepers to return home with and to raise while on the Milgis airstrip, rescued by KWS. The new calf began to respond positively even being able to stand once he had arrived at the nursery. He was given the name Wass.

15 October 2014

Today Oltaiyoni was moved out of her stable to a different stockade in order to make some room for the new arrival Wass. Normally when Dupotto arrives home at night she is sure to check Oltaiyoni is close by and even sleeps close to the wall in order to have the comfort of Oltaiyoni. Oltaiyoni’s stockade is in the middle between Lasayen’s and Dupotto so during the night Oltaiyoni takes turns and sleeps along both walls so that her babies feel close to her. So this evening it was very different… no Oltaiyoni and instead newcomer Wass, Dupotto especially was very unhappy, she walked around the stockade continuously rumbling and screaming. Lasayen too was very unsettled. Moving sleeping quarters is always a tricky affair, but they settle eventually and everything becomes normal again. It is important the little ones have the closed stables and Oltaiyoni was fast outgrowing her stable and was needing to get out to a larger and open stockade sooner rather than later.

16 October 2014

At 6am the older elephants left their stockade and headed out into the forest, Oltaiyoni of course ran to her little baby Mbegu’s stockade to try let her out. Oltaiyoni pushes Mbegu’s door hinting to the keepers that she wants her baby. So the keepers then let out Mbegu, Ashaka and Kamok but Oltaiyoni shows no interest in the other two it is only Mbegu in this little trio who gets her undivided attention. This does not bother Kamok and Ashaka who are both hooked on their Keepers. Little Mbegu is extremely sweet and endearing and is loved by all. Even she likes to show her nurturing motherly side by giving special attention to the newcomer babies younger than herself. Later during the day at around 1pm Angela alerted us about another rescue this time from Mount Kenya. The baby was to be collected from the Lewa Conservancy, a male baby calf approximately one year old. His mother had been poached, so without any hesitation the team was assembled and Once the team arrived in Lewa Downs at around 4pm it began to pour with rain, this forced the team to act very quickly loading the baby who had already been captured and then flew back to Nairobi arriving safely at the Nursery by 7pm. The calf is in good body condition, but was very stressed but helpfully he began to drink his milk formula from a bottle. The baby was given the name Sirimon, the area close to where he was rescued. He will remain in a stockade for a couple of days with the others visiting to help settle him down.

17 October 2014

The arrival of Sirimon last night has caused the rest of the elephants to be shuffled around with some stockade changes, this always creates drama. Embu and Enkikwe were moved last night to a stockade that they can share, so this move was welcomed by Enkikwe. During the night Sokotei barely got any sleep as his neighbor was now replaced by Sirimon. Sirimon on the other hand slept soundly and seems to be settling in well here at the nursery. During the day after Sirimon had seen all the other babies walk out their stockades and walk in the forest it seemed to really unsettle him to the extent that he began to charge at the gate and act wild. At around 2pm this afternoon Embu and Enkikwe snuck away from the herd and came back to the stockades as in the morning the two hadn’t met Sirimon and were curious as to why they were moved. So they returned and came to meet Sirimon by putting their trunks through the bars and rumbling at the new baby welcoming him into his new home, after some time the two elephants then walked back into the forest after accomplishing their task of meeting and welcoming Sirimon. Their visit helped Sirimon too. Thankfully he is feeding well and already is hooked on his bottle.

18 October 2014

Today Arruba showed great affection to all the little babies, she seemed very happy to see the little ones and couldn’t help but smother them in love and affection. As the babies were out in the bush with their keepers Arruba came by and placed her trunk on every little baby as she reassured them. When it came to Mbegu she pulled little Mbegu under her neck as she calmed and loved little Mbegu. Within no time all the little babies began following her and trying to get just that little extra attention and love. At mud bath Olsekki was up to his naughty ways as he pushed and shoved anyone including the guests out of his way. Oltaiyoni had watched Olsekki and after she had finished her milk she was sure to come over and discipline Olsekki by giving him a very hard push and communicated that what he was doing was not ok. Balguda and Ngasha and Tundani looked on disapproving as these are beautifully mannered boys, who do not appreciate this sort of behavior.

19 October 2014

The baby’s one by one; one after the other followed the keepers out into the bush on this new day. Rorogoi for a change took some interest in the little babies and even began following them, once the baby elephants had reached the area in which they would browse for awhile Rorogoi decided to get into a gentle head wrestle with Kauro, then Ashaka came in to join in all the fun, but it didn’t take long until someone got jealous and spoilt the game and this time surprisingly it was Suswa. Murit came across Kili while out in the field, the two played with each other for quite a while, as Murit charged Kili and Kili ran around bushes and chased Murit, maybe these two will form a close friendship in the near future. It was really sweet to see the tall and small having fun together. The fact that Murit is beginning to play regularly is so nice to see as he is now so much stronger and putting on much condition.

20 October 2014

At around 9am when the elephants came quite close to the stockade to feed, Balguda had blood taken just to be sure all was OK. Angela was concerned by his quiet ways. Balguda has had a long time health issue and if there is any change to his stool or appetite a blood test is immediately taken to analyze any possible threat on him. While all this was happening the keepers had to all have complete attention on Balguda to assure the procedure when along smoothly. So Kithaka took this opportunity to cause havoc! He pretended to browse on the nearby bushes by the road, then suddenly a vehicle was heard to be coming down the road, Kithaka hid behind a bush and as the car approached he quickly jumped out the bushes and proceeded to try charge the car! Luckily the vehicle was going slowly so it managed to come to a very quick holt. The keepers heard the commotion and ran to try and get Kithaka away from the car as he kept trying to charge it. Eventually the keepers managed to distract him and no one got hurt, but Kithaka is once again up to his naughty ways. Balguda’s blood readings were very good so no cause for concern.

21 October 2014

Ziwa is slowly gaining strength and has increased energy levels, he even is beginning to spend more and more time out with the bigger elephants. However having the likes of boisterous Kithaka, Sokotei and Lemoyian around is not ideal so for Ziwa it is highly likely he will accompany peaceful Embu, Enkikwe, Balguda and Suswa. While out in the field today Ziwa indulged in beautiful grass and bush, he was so excited about all the different delicious scrubs to choose from. When it came to returning home at around 4:30pm before the other elephants returned, Ziwa had disappeared! He had gone adventuring into the bush and was now nowhere to be seen! The keepers searched for hours and only at 6:15pm did the keepers finally find Ziwa in the exact same location feeding on the luscious grass. It’s nice to see that Ziwa is trying to become more and more independent. Last night Solio came home at around 2am, Maxwell was thrilled as he ran all around the stockade expressing his happiness and love for beautiful Solio. She was home for about 15minutes and then she went back into the bush but it’s good to know that she is happy and living a healthy wild life.

22 October 2014

The day started by Kamok, Ashaka and Mbegu all waking up in very excited moods. Kamok isn’t the most excited and playful baby but today that all changed, all three girls were running around playing hide and seek and having a fantastic time together. Just after 11am Angela received a phone call from the Richard Roberts and KWS veterinarian officer Dr. Limo, alerting us about an elephant rescue this time in the Masai Mara. The baby had been spotted trying to suckle another female elephant but was being rejected. Her mother had very tragically died the day before. Immediately the rescue team left, on arrival in the Mara, the DSWT Team had to locate the calf and separate it from its wild herd. Once the calf had been caught the team flew back Nairobi arriving home at around 6:30pm. The calf was in good condition, and about 10 -11 months old, female, from an area called Olare Orok Conservancy in the Masai Mara. The calf was named Roi. An unusal name for a girl, but one she will grow into. She is in good condition but very wild, and clearly traumatized by events.

23 October 2014

Sirimon joined the elephants in the bush this morning for the first time. Arruba made an effort in socializing with Sirimon but Sirimon remains antisocial and aggressive, even with the other orphans. Even when Kithaka attempted to get close to Sirimon he pushed and charged. There was no chance that Sirimon would be allowed out at the public viewing today due to his behavior so instead he stayed in the bush. Whilst Tundani was happily browsing, Sirimon came from behind Tundani and pushed lovely Tundani so hard making him fall onto the ground. This behavior is not being appreciated by the others so Sirimon for the moment is being given a wide birth. Roi our new baby seems to be settling in, she is drinking milk but still very aggressive towards her keepers, but in time this will improve, and the communication from the others will make all the difference.

24 October 2014

Lemoyian is fast becoming as naughty and badly behaved as Kithaka, Sokotei and Olsekki. They all refuse to co-operate with the keeper’s commands and insist on doing what they want when they want. The keepers had now moved Sokotei to the older herd and hopefully he will be disciplined and learn that being naughty is not acceptable. During the 11am feed at the mud bath, Lemoyian finished his milk and insisted on pushing and shoving the keeper’s until he got more, the keepers refused to reward this bad behavior and give him any extra milk. This of course infuriated Lemoyian but he did not get his way. The elephants have had a busy day and there was no doubt that when they returned home at 5pm they were quick to fall asleep!

25 October 2014

It was a cold morning and none of the elephants wanted to bath in the mud except for Mbegu, despite the cold conditions Mbegu loves the mud bath and nothing ever seems to stop her from bathing in the mud! Little Kazakini, Ndotto and Wass didn’t come down to the mud bath as they woke up not feeling very well, and they were closely monitored throughout the day. Roi is still in her stockade, as she hasn’t quite settled down yet but she is definitely getting tamer so hopefully in a few more days she will be able to join the rest of the orphans in the bush. Ziwa’s improvement continues and he is beginning to even run from time to time. He is definitely growing stronger.

26 October 2014

By 7am this morning the sun was warming up quickly and by 11am there was no doubt that every elephant would enjoy the midday mudbath. Jasiri and Faraja wasted no time and were quick to jump onto Arruba who was lying in the mud. The elephants played and played until their time to return back into the field. It was an exceptional viewing day for the guest as during their time in the mud with all their antics the guests laughed and cheered and enjoyed it enormously. However there were a few unlucky guests who had gotten mud sprayed all over them, but it was a day to be remembered. So many very happy little elephants.

27 October 2014

Roi was finally let out her stockade today where she joined the rest of the herd in forest, she was only let out at mid day but the moment the doors were opened she ran out in complete excitement! Oltaiyoni and Lentili bullied her to begin with which was unexpected but the keepers were close by to keep Control. Mashariki on the other hand was very gentle and loving towards little Roi, so she had a friend and that seemed to settle her quite a bit. She relished being back in the midst of a herd and seemed so much happier as a result. At 3pm during the private visit Roi didn’t want milk but instead went straight to the mudbath and played and enjoyed the freedom of being back in the wild – seeing her play so early on was unexpected and but very nice. When she had to go back in the stockade in the evening it took a lot of convincing before she finally entered her stockade.

28 October 2014

Today Roi awoke but with a completely different attitude, she spent her day with Embu and Enkikwe but she didn’t push and was not at all aggressive. Roi once again dived into the mud and played in the dust, she seems to be happy and settling in very well which is a definite bonus. Just two days out with the others and she has picked up all the routines already. The confidence she has got from the others is amazing to witness. Once the elephants were home Barsilinga and Kithaka were trying to wrestle even though they were in different stockades. These two boys are extremely close. The other elephants do get frustrated by the constant noise these two were making while everyone else was trying to sleep.

29 October 2014

Nowadays Oltaiyoni has been extremely attentive to the younger new arrivals especially Enkikwe, Olsekki and Sirimon. We think this is due to the fact that she wants to keep them close as she does not want them to form a bond with the other youngsters in the Nursery, she wants to be the one they love and turn to and to have her very own herd. This problem seems to cause her the most trouble during the public visiting hour when the babies of the unit are brought out first and she remains troubled as she wants to follow them but is prevented from doing so. She then wants to remain with them but gets in a muddle as they are not together and she does not know which one to stay with as she wants them all to be with her.

30 October 2014

Once the orphans were out in the field Barsilinga, Balguda and Ngasha had a lovely time running around and playing with one another. Barsilinga and Ngasha seemed to gang up on Balguda as they kept trying to mount him which ended with Balguda and Barsilinga engaging in a pushing game. Their game came to an end when they stopped to watch and join Kithaka who was busy chasing Rorogoi in an attempt to play mount her. Rorogoi ran to Arruba for safety from the three boys. At 8pm we received a new tiny orphan from the Namunyak Conservancy. The baby had first been seen by Samburu locals on the 28th October after it had fallen down a well. The Northern Rangelands Trust Scouts were informed of the situation and rescued the calf on the afternoon of the 29th with DSWT being contacted on the morning of the 30th. The young female calf who is in general good health save for a few bruises on the legs and under her chin has been named Nkii after the Lugga near the water well that she had been found in.

31 October 2014

Nkii had a good first night in the stockade where she enjoyed the company of the keepers. She is responding well to the milk formula that she is given and is fed on demand. She enjoys the company of her keepers and loves to hold onto their dust coats. Today she went out with the other four tiny babies, Kazakini, Ndotto, Wass and Lasayen. Ndotto and Lasayen are both a little pushy and Nkii prefers to keep company with her Keepers. The tiny babies are not brought out to the public visiting hour at the moment as they are all going through teething and are suffering with their tummies and runny stool which causes them to lose strength and condition. This is a very precarious time for infant elephants.