Keepers' Diaries, October 2019

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

A new arrival joined the Nursery on the 16th of the month, and more details about the circumstances surrounding his rescue will be shared in detail shortly when he is added to the adoption program. We have called him Roho - a direct translation is ’Spirit’ in Swahili. The others have certainly taken him under their wing and are thrilled with their new baby and little Roho finds himself lavished in attention and love, all of which has helped him recover from the heart-breaking loss he suffered.  Tagwa, Tamiyoi, Enkesha, Maisha and Kiasa are by his side all the time, chaperoning him from one place to the next, including the mud bath and various milk feeding points. 

When it comes time for him to return to the stockades in the evening, he has to be escorted inside his room by Ziwadi, who then leaves to go to her own room for her milk, leaving him behind. This technique seemed to pacify Roho who would otherwise become very distressed leaving his new family for the night, and this is how he still enters his room in the evenings, quite content with this arrangement.  

The older girls in the herd have had their work cut out for them looking after the likes of Larro and Roho as Dololo has grown in strength and size, and appears to know that he can easily push the smaller orphans around and challenge some of the other bulls too. This month we had to move Dololo from the younger group who come to the milk feeds first, into the older second group, as he continues to try and pick on the youngsters. He has been very mean towards Ziwadi and Larro, when he can get close enough, and had his eye set on Roho too, so he was moved into the older herd where he wouldn’t dare cause trouble around the likes of Tagwa, Tamiyoi, Maisha, Enkesha and Nabulu during the public visiting hour. 

His boisterous personality is having an effect on his friendships too. Dololo and Mukkoka used to be the best of friends when they first arrived but as they grow older they are fighting more. They have both got very strong personalities and are very boisterous. Dololo, who is slightly older, seems to have taken offence to this lack of respect from Mukkoka. Often the other bulls don’t want to include him in their wrestling games now because they think he is too rough, and this annoys Dololo so he begins to push and shove them until eventually everyone walks away from each other to defuse the situation.

We have noticed little changes in Luggard recently as well, as he tries to assert his authority amongst the Nursery bulls too. One day, he just wouldn’t listen to Tamiyoi and Enkesha when he was attempting to bully Maktao and Sattao, perhaps because he is the oldest bull in the Nursery.  Luggard is eager to spend more time amongst the rest of the Nursery herd and enjoys walking out to the forest with them, trying to keep pace with everyone. He has learnt to hold his bottle on his own and is always happy to grab his bottle from his Keeper and guzzle down his milk, but this new-found energy means he has become quite naughty during milk feeds as well, trying to grab more milk than his share from the other orphans and directly from the wheelbarrow. We have watched him enjoying wrestling with Tamiyoi and his good friend Musiara, so it is good to see him behaving just like the others despite his broken leg.

The orphans have had so much fun out in the forest this month due to the many rainstorms we have had, as the short rains have seemingly arrived early. As soon as they feel the big raindrops on their back, Luggard and Ziwadi start to make their own way back to their stables in the stockade compound, so well versed are they with the routine of being taken back during the heavy showers due to being slightly weaker than the rest. As they make their way back to seek shelter, the other orphans often start their mud-sliding games on the ground or on ant-hills which make for fun slides, running in and out of streams trumpeting with delight and splashing each other, just like how human children might play. 

None of our elephant orphans take more delight from the rain however than Maxwell the rhino. He charges around his stockade and rolls around in the mud to cover every inch of his body. He bounds around during the storms in such apparent ecstasy, while his temporary neighbour Kiko the giraffe, who is much less fond of the rain, stares on in disbelief from under his shady canopy of trees. Kiko is getting much better at entering his transportation crate as the Keepers continue to practice with him and have devised the best way of luring him in with a mixture of enticing-him in with the milk bottle and then offering tasty lucerne pellets. 

Since her return to the Nursery, Tagwa has resumed her role as matriarch and many of the younger orphans such as Sattao and Larro have almost automatically started to follow her again. Although Tagwa is the matriarch she is always strongly supported by Tamiyoi, who is incidentally much gentler by nature. She is always happy to share branches with little Larro and can often be seen passing them down when Larro sticks out her truck. Tagwa, however, is not always so patient and will sometimes push the youngsters away if they pester her too much. Sometimes in the morning there is a debate as to whether Tagwa or Tamiyoi will take the lead. Tagwa is always quick to assert her authority and rumble intensely to obtain the desired response of everyone following her. Tamiyoi is happy to lead her own little group, and although they sometimes disagree over who should lead, Tamiyoi is always respectful of Tagwa as her elder and her matriarch. 

Nabulu has been taking good care of Kiombo recently, having previously been indifferent towards his affection so devotedly bestowed upon her. Now Nabulu seeks to actively look after the little bull, and always steers him away from trouble or boisterous wrestling matches among the other bulls, so he will quietly browse beside her. She can be quite forceful about this sometimes too, pushing him with her tusks away from certain activities! Ziwadi has been doing well without any seizures, but towards the end of the month she had her first in a long time. They are definitely becoming more infrequent.

October 2019 day to day

01 Oct

Dololo continues to bully poor Ziwadi. He has never liked her for whatever reason and he is always bullying her whenever they meet. We think he is just picking on her because she is the most vulnerable at the moment and he can get away with it, because he wouldn’t dare pick on any of the others and risk being hurt! The other youngster Larro is always protected by the older females, so he wouldn’t risk bullying her. He would never win against Mukkoka either who can be very feisty and is a tough wrestler. Today at the 11am milk feed Ziwadi was on her knees drinking straight from the water trough, as she likes to drink with her mouth sometimes not using her trunk, and Dololo walked up to her and for no reason at all decided to head-butt her. She rolled over on the ground and before both the Keepers and Kiasa could run over to assist her up, Dololo ran off to avoid being told off. The Keepers picked her up and supported her back on her feet. 

With the presence of lions around the area today Kiko didn’t leave the stockade next to Maxwell to go into the forest. Today he only had Maxwell to play with through their partition. 

Kiasa enjoying her milk

Ziwadi enjoying an eye scratch

Dololo having a drink of water

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