Keepers' Diaries, October 2020

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

Due to plentiful rain at the beginning of the year, Nairobi has remained relatively lush and green, even throughout these last few dry months; however we were just starting to feel the effects of the lack of rain when we were blessed with the onset of the short rains! Our Nairobi orphans have enjoyed themselves no end because of how favourable this year has been.

The babies indulge in their large mud bath on searing hot days, which are always a typical sign of rains about to break. As the rainy days set in they stopped yearning for a mud bath, but the rains did a good job of filling up lots of fun little mud pools throughout the forest too, for whenever they did feel like a good frolic around in the mud. No one loves the wet weather more than black rhino Maxwell who runs around in the rain enthusiastically, but on the drizzling days the elephant orphans can be a bit more subdued, refraining from their wrestling games and concentrating more on just feeding.

On these chilly overcast or rainy mornings the most vulnerable orphans such as Bondeni, Kindani, Kinyei and Ziwadi are kept back under the cover of a stockade or stable to protect them from getting too cold and we wait for the rain to pass before they rush out to join the others. Olorien has grown so close to Ziwadi, however, that despite the Keepers believing she is robust enough to carry on out to the forest with the others, she puts up such a fuss and hates leaving her friend behind, that the Keepers escort her back to join Ziwadi until such time as they can all join the others.  Roho and Naleku, despite being the youngest babies in our midst, are better adapted to Nairobi weather, and are quite happy to follow the rest of the Nursery orphans out into the forest even in the rain. They have always enjoyed being out in the rain and flatly refuse to wear their blankets a lot of the time on chilly days too, and get quite annoyed with the Keepers if they try to wrap them up to protect them from the cold.

Olorien and Ziwadi like two peas in a pod are always together, and they like the same things. They prefer browsing to anything else, and rarely stop to play with the other orphans who indulge in different wrestling and pushing games; these two little earnest babies are all business, and feasting is top priority. We are relieved to report Ziwadi hasn’t had a seizure this month so we are hopeful that these will eventually be a thing of the past.

Not a single day goes by without Kiombo and Maktao, or Kiombo and Mukkoka, enjoying a wrestling match. Maktao, although a gentle bull, does love his games and is always searching for someone to oblige. The ever-watchful matriarchs Maisha and Nabulu keep a keen eye on them and when they think their wrestling games have been going on for too long, or that they need to get back to browsing to have their fill, they will step in to separate them. Maktao is not only rambunctious; he is also surprisingly caring to the younger orphans in the Nursery herd. When the older females are busy, or have walked further afield, Maktao will take it upon himself to look after the younger orphans and accompany them as they slowly meander through the Park browsing, which is quite unusual for a bull his age and is most endearing to see. 

As Larro gets older, she seems to be growing into quite the mini-matriarch and the Keepers are confident that one day she will be a matriarch of her own herd and that she will do a fantastic job of it. She is incredibly easy-going and always friendly to all the other orphans and because of her gentle nature she is often one of the first orphans to meet any new arrivals. She is often moved next door to them to keep them company at night knowing that her reassuring presence does wonders for the newcomers. On the 23rd we received a new rescue from Tsavo, a little bull calf in terrible condition having been without his mother for quite some time, and the Keepers chose to move Larro next door to him, to keep him company and settle him down. Larro was happy to change stockades and which is not usually the case, and she did a fantastic job of comforting the calf and communicating with him throughout the night, assuring him he was safe and in good hands. Recently she has especially enjoyed looking after the three new arrivals, Bondeni, Kindani and Kinyei, and around milk feeding time she patiently waits for them and then sweetly walks them to the feeding grounds, keeping to their slower pace. Despite her nurturing qualities however Larro is still a relatively young baby herself at two years old, and enjoys being looked after by the matriarchs Maisha, Nabulu and caring Kiasa too.

Bondeni is a little bull full of personality. When he is out in the forest and decides he has had enough of browsing for a while, he will often dash over to his Keepers and start chasing them around, sometimes wrestling with them when he catches up with them. The Keepers always laugh and smile at this young bull and they are always very happy to engage him in his games, as he reminds them of little bulls Kithaka and Ndotto who came before him and who are now at our Reintegration Units working their way back to a wild life.  

Kiasa has been quite well behaved as of late, with only a few small misdemeanours around milk feeding time, and she seems to be really enjoying looking after Kindani and Olorien. Naboishu has also really settled down and is an integral member of the herd. He is playful with Mukkoka and Roho and actively partakes in games.  He continues to show utter delight for his milk bottles and he is still the loudest orphan in the Nursery herd. The Keepers always know when he is on his way as he begins to trumpet loudly from the forest before he charges down for his bottle. 

As mentioned earlier Maxwell has thoroughly enjoyed the wetter weather this month and will still enjoy his mud bath even on an overcast day! In the evenings he will happily return down to the bottom half of his stockade to have his fresh branches, placed in the same place by his Keepers so he always knows where they are, and has got into a habit of sorting through them with his horn, moving his favourites to the top and his least favourite to the side. He too encountered playful little Bondeni this month when he started his own game of mock-charging Maxwell from the other side of his stockade, and then running off. This game was of course supervised by Maisha who made sure that the little bull didn’t hurt himself. Maxwell stood there for some time before heading off to this Lucerne pellets and as Maxwell walked off, Maisha gathered all the orphans and started to lead them out to the forest for the day.

October 2020 day to day

01 Oct

As the orphans were enjoying their midday bottles of milk, Bondeni, Kindani and Kinyei were all happily following Larro back towards the forest as they had all finished their milk bottles. Once out in the forest Bondeni and Kinyei were staying close to Larro, whereas Kindani seemed to be on her own little adventure, taking her time and picking greens as she walked. As Larro gets older, she seems to be growing into quite the matriarch and the Keepers are confident that one day she will be matriarch of her own herd and she will do a fantastic job of it. 

Not too far from Larro and her small companions, Kiasa, Kiombo, Maktao and Nabulu were also browsing after finishing their milk bottles as they waited for the others. The Keepers suddenly noticed that Kiasa seemed to be in a naughty mood and she appeared to be trying to chase Larro away from the younger babies. As the new babies are still getting used to the Nursery herd, the Keepers quickly stepped in before Kiasa caused too much chaos and ushered her away from Larro. 

The orphans had a peaceful afternoon in the forest with the Keepers.


Kindani and Bondeni