Keepers' Diaries, September 2004

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

It has been a very eventful month for the Nursery elephants, and for us, as well, encompassing the rescue of two more orphaned elephants, one a yearling bull on the 20th, who was a casualty from a swamp at Ziwani in Tsavo West National Park. The genitalia of this calf had been severely mutilated by either lions, crocs or both and he was too far gone for us to be able to save, despite our best efforts. This calf died the next morning, advanced septicaemia and pneumonia taking his life. Then, on the 28th little 6 month old “Bachuma” arrived, rescued from the Mombasa pipeline having fallen through a tiny manhole. Extracting the calf through such a small opening was a very difficult exercise, and he suffered extensive bruising and superficial injuries as a result of his ordeal. The first night in the Nursery proved a nightlong nightmare for he was very wild, desperately trying to climb the wall, and tending to fall backwards onto his already swollen back. It also unsettled poor Madiba who was next door, and who was kept awake all night by the distress of his new nightbour, also suffering a bout of stress diarrheoa! However, by the next morning, having taken milk, the newcomer was calm enough to be allowed out with the others, and immediately settled in. By that evening he was friendly also to his Keepers, and within just two days was very much a seasoned member of the Nursery group, acting as though he had been with us for months. He is a very gentle and friendly little fellow – a great favourite of everyone.

It has been a very eventful month for the Nursery elephants, and for us, as well, encompassing the rescue of two more orphaned elephants, one a yearling bull on the 20th, who was a casualty from a swamp at Ziwani in Tsavo West National Park. The genitalia of this calf had been severely mutilated by either lions, crocs or both and he was too far gone for us to be able to save, despite our best efforts. This calf died the next morning, advanced septicaemia and pneumonia taking his life. Then, on the 28th little 6 month old “Bachuma” arrived, rescued from the Mombasa pipeline having fallen through a tiny manhole. Extracting the calf through such a small opening was a very difficult exercise, and he suffered extensive bruising and superficial injuries as a result of his ordeal. The first night in the Nursery proved a nightlong nightmare for he was very wild, desperately trying to climb the wall, and tending to fall backwards onto his already swollen back. It also unsettled poor Madiba who was next door, and who was kept awake all night by the distress of his new nightbour, also suffering a bout of stress diarrheoa! However, by the next morning, having taken milk, the newcomer was calm enough to be allowed out with the others, and immediately settled in. By that evening he was friendly also to his Keepers, and within just two days was very much a seasoned member of the Nursery group, acting as though he had been with us for months. He is a very gentle and friendly little fellow – a great favourite of everyone.

The month has been exciting in other ways as well. There have been almost daily encounters with wild buffalo, on one occasion a herd of 200; a meeting with a wild rhino, not to mention the unwelcome attentions of our 5 year old orphaned rhino, “Makosa”, who is extremely mischievousness and exuberant and enjoys literally throwing his weight around! Makosa has featured prominently in the Diary, chasing the Mixer bringing the milk out into the bush for the elephants, hounding the Nursery elephants and their Keepers, entertaining little Shida in the evenings, sparring through the bars of Shida’s new Night Stockade, and generally causing mayhem in the yard as well as at the noon mudbath with the public in attendance!

Shida, now a rotund yearling, was promoted to his larger quarters on the 4th. Changes to the routine of a Black Rhino, however seemingly insignificant to us, is a major upheaval, and Shida’s behaviour was no exception. He cried pathetically most of the night having difficulty in finding comfort even from the magic coat or the presence of a Keeper next door in Galana’s Stockade. However, by the next night he was more resigned, and enjoyed a lengthy sparring session with our older orphaned rhino, 7 year old Magnum, who turned up unexpectedly, having sensed that things had changed somewhat. No doubt, he wanted to make quite sure that his ex Nursery Stockade had not been usurped!

The character of each Nursery can be gauged from the Diary. Sunyei remains the self appointed mini Matriarch, intervening to break up the almost daily tussles between Ndomot and Madiba, who are extremely competitive, bouts that usually end in Madiba winning, much to Ndomot’s disappointment, who then usually turns his attention to either Naserian or Sunyei. Sunyei is a very independent and self sufficient character, who suddenly decided she definitely did not like going to bed in her stable at night. The reason for this puzzled us all for a long time, but it turned out to be something to do with the scent on the bedding of hay – possibly that of the Canteen Cat. The problem was solved by putting some of her old bedding on top of the new!

Galana has settled very well, and has gained weight rapidly, no longer the emaciated, hollow cheeked calf of yore, but now sporting the fat little baby cheeks of good health. Having been a starvation case, she concentrates mainly on her food, and is not overly friendly towards the others, although a friendship is emerging between her and both Naserian and Madiba. Madiba is a forceful and self sufficient little elephant, who also displays elephant compassion and caring, the first to comfort the newcomer “Bachuma” and incensed to see his little Matriarch, Sunyei being challenged by Ndomot, immediately coming to Sunyei’s aid and chasing off Ndomot!

Baboons have entertained the Nursery elephants in divergent ways – playing chasing games with them out in the bush, scaring them by tearing apart an unfortunate baby bushbuck they had come across, and one young female, who scared everyone, behaving in a way that indicated she may be rabid. (This Baboon was shot by the Senior Warden, Northern Area, who happened to be staying with us at the time. Its head was delivered to KWS for testing). The orphans have enjoyed chasing both big and baby warthogs, Madiba saw the baboons off, the group has run into elands, impalas, giraffe and other antelope. Galana was terrified by the unexpected appearance of a tiny tree squirrel! Naserian is shown to have great courage, anxious to take on both Makosa and Magnum and having to be restrained by the Keepers! Shida and his Keeper were unphased by the persistence of an old buffalo bull, who probably only wanted company, but insisted on following them wherever they went, so much so that they had to resort to taking shelter in the Carpark!

For us, the most wondrous thing of all, after the death of two rescued elephants, too damaged to save, is the miraculous recovery of little “Bachuma”, who calmed down so quickly and who, so far, has not looked back!

September 2004 day to day

01 Sep

We came across 6 buffaloes in our way in the morning, which forced us to change direction. Makosa came charging into the mudbath, so all the visitors had to move away, because he did not want to leave, even having taken his bath, and wanted to chase the Keepers who were trying to move him. It was a bit difficult because Galana is not easily convinced to follow the Keepers yet, and takes some time to respond.

Makosa joins the mudbath

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