With all the new arrivals at the Nairobi Nursery due to the drought ravaging parts of Tsavo, we have had to change some of the orphans’ night stockades. Ndiwa and Mundusi were moved into the stockades on the other side of Maxwell’s pen which Ndiwa took very well as she is such a calm little girl, but Mundusi on the other hand gave his keepers a lot of trouble entering his new room and it took him a few days to get used to it. Since she arrived in the Nursery we have known that Ndiwa is a fast learner, she quickly memorized where all the milk feeding areas were, but this little girl often reminds us about her good memory. She has been moved a few times to different rooms because of new arrivals, and she always remembers her new room and goes straight there for her milk at 5pm, without any fuss at all.
Newcomers Sagalla, Sapalan and Namalok have all settled in very well considering they were rescued at a much older age, although Sagalla is seemingly the most comfortable in her new surroundings and started drinking milk from a bottle almost straight away. By the end of the month they had all joined their new family out in the forest for their daily routine and were used to the keepers, although Namalok still drinks his milk from a bucket and not from a keeper holding a bottle. Sapalan and Namalok arrived within a few days of each other and are both slightly older than the other orphans in the Nursery, and quickly became very attached to one another. Sapalan was quick to introduce himself amongst the other bulls and likes pushing games with Pare, Ndotto and Lasayen; though these younger boys are slightly fearful of his long tusks! Namalok is quieter and doesn’t like to play as many games, preferring to concentrate on browsing instead! Sagala has a unique feature which distinguishes her from all of the others in the Nursery, and that is her extraordinary long eyelashes and long tail hairs – she has more and longer hair in these places than we have ever seen on a baby before!
We have been watching the behaviour of some other more kind hearted bulls this month. We all know the girls in the Nursery are mad for any new baby and fight amongst themselves to get the closest and spend some quality time with any youngster, but some of the bulls in the nursery are very calm and loving as well. Ngilai, although he does like to play rough with his age-mates, does not push any of the younger ones too hard and if they push him, he knows not to retaliate. Jotto is another friendly young bull and you will never see him bullying any little ones. Unfortunately some of the youngsters know his friendly ways and take advantage of his gentle nature! Enkesha is one of the little girls that is aware of this and will happily try and push him around because she knows he won’t retaliate. She watched one day as Jotto laboriously dug up a tasty root before running over to snatch it from him, and Jotto just chose to surrender his snack rather than start a fight! Enkesha would not have dared to try this to one of the other elephants like Ambo or Kuishi, who would certainly not stand for such behaviour.
We were as delighted as the orphan babies when rain began to fall this month, bringing much needed relief to a very dry parched earth. Before long green shoots of grass began poking through the earth and dung beetles were earnestly rolling their circular egg carriages across the damp ground. The orphans had great fun playing in the new water puddles and streams that slowly developed in the forest as more rain fell. Godoma, Malima, Mteto, Jotto, Mbegu, Enkesha, Tamiyoi, Musiara, Sattao and Emoli were all seen swimming in these natural pools. Tiny Musiara and Sattao were not to be left out either and used their little trunks as snorkels and held on to Mbegu or Godoma’s tail when they felt like they were losing their balance in the water. Orphans like Luggard, Emoli and Enkesha live for these moments to splash around in streams or in the mud bath, but others like Kauro seem to dislike the water and tend to stay away. These fun and playful antics were happy times that brought relief to the sadness we have felt this month when little Pili succumbed to his illness, despite all our best efforts to save this little bull. Unfortunately we could not save all of the drought victims we found and rescued this month as they were simply too far gone having been without nourishment for months; but we have poured our efforts into all the new babies that have come in recently and we have managed to save many pulling them back from the brink.
Kiko continues to try and browse with the elephant orphans during the day but unfortunately the feeling is not always mutual! He avoids browsing too close as the newcomers Sapalan and Namalok tend to charge at him, unused to the presence of a giraffe in an elephant herd! Sometimes the baby elephants like Malima and Musiara join in the charge with their little ears held wide, but Kiko finds it hard to take them seriously due to their tiny size. One day he was very naughty and deliberately kicked over the wheelbarrow holding all the empty milk bottles, which the keepers had to collect up again as Maisha and Sattao tried to suck up the spilt milk.
Solio only visited once this month to say hello to Maxwell and have some tasty lucerne from her keepers. She came across some buffaloes again during this visit and their presence around the stockade until the vegetation in the Park grows up again is probably why she only visited once. Maxwell lost his temper one day with some warthogs that were in his lucerne trough, eating and wasting his food by carelessly tossing it everywhere. Their squeals of fright as Maxwell chased them even brought caring Mbegu running back to the stockades to see what was going on!