Keepers' Diaries, October 2015

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

The month began with reports from Samburu of a tiny orphaned elephant baby. Rescued by a Samburu herder he was taken to ‘Save the Elephants’ base in Samburu. DSWT was contacted and the tiny newborn baby was flown to Nairobi. Arriving in the afternoon he joined the fold, amongst whom was recent arrival, little Wei Wei. Throughout the month these two baby elephants have grown extremely close. Wei Wei, despite arriving towards the end of last month in desperate condition, has gone through the fraught teething process this month and is now beginning to put on condition.

The month began with reports from Samburu of a tiny orphaned elephant baby. Rescued by a Samburu herder he was taken to ‘Save the Elephants’ base in Samburu. DSWT was contacted and the tiny newborn baby was flown to Nairobi. Arriving in the afternoon he joined the fold, amongst whom was recent arrival, little Wei Wei. Throughout the month these two baby elephants have grown extremely close. Wei Wei, despite arriving towards the end of last month in desperate condition, has gone through the fraught teething process this month and is now beginning to put on condition.

Mbegu is always the Mummy, with Kamok being fairly attentive by her side, and of course Oltaiyoni is always caring and considerate of the young ones, and older Arruba doing her bit as the Matriarch of the Nursery. Mbegu is exceptional with the babies and always on hand to lend comfort and love. Kiko, the orphaned giraffe, and Pea and Pod, the two orphaned ostriches, are a great source of interest for the baby elephants who relish their company. However Kiko’s relationship with the babies has led to some discord, with Kamok and Mbegu one day eager to gang up on Kiko, trying to intimidate him with their ears out charging him. He stood his ground in his laid back manner, but then did an unexpected jump and lashed out kicking front and back. The two young girls were quick to take note of this and without losing face concentrated their efforts elsewhere. Since that day they avoid confrontations involving Kiko! Kiko is an incredibly loving individual who enjoys hanging out with the resident wild warthogs too who join the baby herd daily. He likes to playfully jump over them while then are on their front knees feeding. These jumping games after a while they find disconcerting, and move away!

Kamok and little Ngilai, who has grown into an integral member of the big group herd, have developed a game with the visiting school children who come between 11 -12 to view the orphans during the one open hour per day. These two elephants love to interact with them from across the cordon, targeting the more vocal and frightened kids by flapping their little trunks on the rope making a slapping sound! While Ngilai’s games are innocuous, the Keepers have to keep a close eye on Kamok who has a mischievous side to her! Lasayen and Ndotto have noticed the extra attention lavished on the new babies and have been acting up on occasion, obviously jealous about it. The Keepers have to be mindful of this and make a fuss of these two who in the recent past have enjoyed being the babies of the Nursery.

Murit’s has suffered ill health this month which has been of great concern. Thankfully he has responded well to his medication and we hope that we can turn things around. However with his tiny frame and poor body condition he remains fragile. His problems would appear to be of a chronic nature, and while his peers have grown around him he remains tiny for his age.

Solio our rhino who now enjoys a free and wild life integrated into Nairobi National Park has visited frequently this month, enjoying time around the stockades and general compound, and on one occasion, urinating in Maxwell’s face which sent him into a frenzy. He does love her visits, but can get overly excited when she is around; charging around his stockade huffing and puffing enacting excited jumps during the process. This rhino interaction that Maxwell enjoys from both Solio and the wild rhinos within Nairobi National Park, who also visit Maxwell during the hours of darkness, are extremely important to his mental health.

Dupotto who was prone to rocking on her feet at night has been moved from her stable into a stockade to make room for the little newcomers. She is in a stockade next to her favorite, Embu, and the rocking syndrome has since ceased. Dupotto’s rocking was a new development, and one that confounded us because having been in the Nursery for a good long time she appeared to have settled well. That said upon arrival in the Nursery she was clearly disturbed with disruptive behavior.
Rapa and Godoma are hooked on Tusuja still, and naughty boys Sirimon and Sokotei remain inseparable. Alamaya has recovered well from the operation he had to undergo to his nether regions, but scar tissue has grown back and he urinates under pressure. However we hope this will not affect his future, as he appears quite comfortable. The friendship between Elkerama and Ngilai is as strong as ever. Ngilai is now safely through the teething process and happily in the midst of the older orphans, with his injuries completely healed. Often they can been seen with Elkerama reaching for tasty tree top browse while Ngilai remains attached to his ear, suckling comfortably. It is very heartwarming to witness the tolerance of Elkerama towards this very much smaller calf. Siangiki and Rorogoi are good friends but both are timid characters, not overly hooked on people, and quick to become nervous at any unusual sound nearby. Rorogoi has not grown like her peers in recent months but appears normal in every other way, so is probably just a late developer.
On the 16th of October another baby elephant calf, just weeks old, arrived at the Nursery. This baby was rescued by KWS from Ngoteiya Conservancy in Northern Kenya, and the DSWT flew to Maralal to collect her. She is a firebrand, rushing around and full of energy, and by month’s end had settled well. We named her Tamiyoi and having been a well victim we remain very vigilant to the possibility of complications.

Ndotto is a short little boy, still very tiny for his age, but he makes up for this by trying to mount everyone and anyone in order to prove dominance. His victims are long suffering seemingly content to accommodate such antics. His best friend Lasayen loves to show off too, and has very boisterous and colourful means of doing so, always attracting attention from the human onlookers. More of his antics can be enjoyed throughout the Keepers’ daily diaries.

The month ended on an extremely busy note with another three orphans arriving into the Nursery in quick succession. First to come on the 26th was a water victim from Tsavo named Kwama, a tiny four week old male, followed the very next day by another baby meeting a similar fate, trapped in a waterhole in Tsavo. This little girl is very young -we suspect just a week or two old and both have settled quickly. On the 30th we received a desperate six month old calf called Tafuta, whose circumstances remains a mystery, but she was found abandoned in Tsavo West Kamboyo area with no female herds around. Judging by her poor condition she had been alone in stifling heat for a good long time. Since coming to the Nursery we have had to retrieve her from a collapsed state on a number of occasions. Our diaries this month are full of stories and anecdotes surrounding the 37 orphans currently in the Nursery.

October 2015 day to day

01 Oct

Kauro was having a good time with Mbegu as the rest of the group browsed in the early morning. They were the only ones playing around, trumpeting and running after each other with their ears raised up. Suddenly they came across a troop of baboons and started chasing them away. Pea and Pod were then invited to play in their game but they did not seem that interested and kept running away from them. Mbegu and Kauro would pretend to give up, as the two ostriches were busy plucking shoots from the ground then the elephants would approach from two different directions and at once go ‘smack’ with their trunks. The ostriches would speed off, their feathers raised and their wings spread wide and after a few meters they would go around in circles and then down on the ground. Wei Wei went out slightly earlier today so as to spend some more time with his new friends; though he stayed away from the public show as it is still too soon for him to join. After around 9 o’clock and the babies milk feeding session, Kiko was out in the park with his keeper when he saw and heard Impala’s fighting; this scared him and he and ran away! About seven keepers had to run after him as he was still very confused. It took some minutes to catch up with him and a few hour before he settled down. Later in the morning just after 10am a call came from the Save the Elephants camp in Samburu that they had a lone baby elephant. A rescue team was assembled immediately and within a few minutes they left for Wilson airport. By noon they had left for Buffalo Springs airstrip and within one hour they had landed in Samburu. On arrival they found a very tiny baby waiting for his flight to Nairobi. The baby had been found all alone by Samburu herders that morning. He was given some milk which he took well, which also confirmed he had been without his mother’s milk for some time and at least over 12 hours. The calf was a few days old and no one knew why he has been left behind. His condition was not too bad and he just seemed a bit confused. The little boy was flown to Wilson and by 3pm he had arrived at the nursery. He was off loaded and put straight into his pen next to Lasayen. After resting for a little while he took some more milk and went out for some exercise to stretch his legs in the compound. He went back into his stable to wait for his new friends to arrive. When Lasayen came back at 5pm he immediately noticed the new baby in the stable next door. He tried to reach out to his through the space in the wall but the little baby was shy and was more interested in his new keeper.

Kauro after chasing baboons

Pea and Pod running away

Wei Wei and Kiko

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