Keepers' Diaries, September 2004

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.

01 September 2004

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.

02 September 2004

Very early in the morning, at 6.45 a.m. two impalas scared everyone when they came running after one another in our direction. It was a cold morning, but the impalas made us all a little more active, because the elephants ran hither and thither.

03 September 2004

Today, on our way out into the bush in the morning, we encountered a group of 4 buffaloes, but they away allowing us to continue. Galana enjoyed a long chase after the warthogs, and returned running. A play fight began between Ndomot and Madiba, which Sunyei tried to break up, causing Ndomot to turn his attention to fighting her, but it did not last long.

04 September 2004

Today, Shida was transferred to his new Stockade, next door to that of Makosa. He was not happy, and cried a lot due to the change. Later Makosa turned up, and Shida fought Makosa through the bars of the door. Later on in the night he settled down.

05 September 2004

Makosa interfered with the mudbath, but fortunately towards the end of the Open Hour, so we moved away a little early. In the evening Magnum turned up to make sure that his Stockade was still there for him, and like Makosa, sparred with little Shida through the bars of Shida’s door.

06 September 2004

At 8.30 p.m., a new orphaned elephant arrived, airlifted in from Ziwani in Tsavo West. He had severe wounds around his genitals, which the Vet cleaned out before he was woken up from the sedation. He was next door to Galana, but was not friendly towards either Galana or the Keepers. He slept propped up against the railings, but would not feed.

07 September 2004

The new calf, called Ziwani, was very weak this morning. At 9.30 a.m. he fell down and never got up again. The Vet came to do what he could, but he said it was a hopeless case, and ended the elephant’s pain at 3.30 p.m.

08 September 2004

The Rhino Keeper had an encounter with a single buffalo which kept on following him and Shida wherever they went. In the end, the Keeper took Shida to the open Carpark to force the buffalo to leave. “Yes, it happened that way!”

09 September 2004

Ndomot repeatedly followed and chased the warthogs whilst the Keepers were having their lunch. Madiba gave him support. A very fierce baboon chased the people cutting the greens right back to the Headquarters, and then threatened people in the yard, including Mrs. Sheldrick. She thought this very strange behaviour for a baboon, and feared it could have rabies, so she called Daniel Woodley, Senior Warden Northern Area, who was staying at the time, and he killed it with a single shot from his pistol. The body was taken to the KWS Veterinary Section for testing.

10 September 2004

Ndomot decided to spent the whole day with the Keepers, because Galana kept on pushing him away every now and then. Sunyei browsed alone, as usual, and Naserian and Madiba formed their own group. Later Galana was scared by a tree squirrel, so she ran to Madiba and Naserian, scaring them in the process.

11 September 2004

The mother warthogs and their babies mingle peacefully with the elephants now out in the bush. We had difficulty getting Sunyei into her stable for the night. She has taken to not wanting to go to bed.

12 September 2004

Galana shoved Naserian and pushed her to the ground, which caused Sunyei to come to the rescue, but Ndomot just stood near Galana. Again Sunyei refused to go into her stable and it took us about half an hour to coax her in.

13 September 2004

Madiba and Ndomot had their usual wrestling match, Madiba emerging the winner, so Ndomot ran to Galana for protection. Naserian charged Galana and tried to push her down, but Galana was too strong, so Naserian ran away.

14 September 2004

It was another dramatic day for the orphans, with a troop of baboons wanting to play. Sunyei kept running after them, but when the baboons turned, she ran back to the Keepers followed by the baboons. When they reached the Keepers they turned and ran away, so Sunyei again chased after them. This went on several times which prompted us to move location. In the evening, a herd of eland came running towards us, having been scared by something, which in turn put all the elephants to flight, mixed in amongst the antelope!

15 September 2004

Today it was a wild rhino that scared everyone and put them to flight on our way out into the bush. We had a difficult time rounding up all our charges. Again the baboons intercepted the Mixer bringing the milk out into the bush. He shouted for help and the Keepers came to his rescue.

16 September 2004

Today Madiba was brave enough to chase away the baboons, following which he challenged Ndomot to a wrestling game. Galana spent most of her time standing amongst the others as they fed, waiting for her bottle. Madiba got a thorn stuck in his mouth and ran here and there until we could remove it. Sunyei chose to feed slightly apart for most of the day whilst Naserian remained glued to Madiba. Again, Sunyei refused to go into her stable, and even tried returning to the bush alone, until everyone surrounded her and forced her to go in.

17 September 2004

Today, at 3 p.m. we came across a herd of about 200 buffaloes who were in our path. The elephants began to run away, but the Keepers spent time looking at this big herd, wondering whether or not they would charge, but they moved away.

18 September 2004

Today, Magnum decided to come to the mudbath during the Visiting Hour, and did not want to move. Eventually, we brought the elephants in from a different direction and had difficulty controlling Sunyei, who wanted to charge the rhino. Right behind Magnum there was a huge wild buffalo watching events, so the Keepers mixed in amongst the visitors. When Magnum finally moved off, Sunyei rushed to where he had been lying to investigate his scent. Madiba went into the mudbath, although the weather was chilly, and Sunyei followed suit. Makosa ran after the Mixer who was bringing the milk to the bush in the evening.

19 September 2004

Ndomot decided to try wrestling with Naserian today, whilst Madiba had fun rolling around happily on the ground with Sunyei on the sidelines. Galana kept waiting anxiously for her milk rather than browsing.

20 September 2004

Sunyei and Ndomot fell out over some roots that Sunyei wanted to eat, which Ndomot wanted. Ndomot again enjoyed a play wrestle with Naserian. Galana pushed Madiba away every time he came close to her, and Sunyei pretended to charge the visitors, for the first time.

21 September 2004

There were a lot of giraffe in our way when we set out for the bush today. Madiba and Ndomot indulged in play-fighting most of the day. The orphans enjoyed chasing away the warthogs. In the evening, Shida enjoyed trying to fight Makosa through the bars of his Stockade

22 September 2004

The Keepers left early in the morning, leaving Shida alone in the Stockade, waiting for his Keeper, who was drinking tea in the Canteen. Finding himself alone, Shida became frantic, and cried so loudly that Mrs. Sheldrick came out to see what was the problem. The result was that the Keeper concerned was fired for negligence, and Shida was remained unphased for the rest of the day, and needed a lot of attention to calm him down.

23 September 2004

Madiba and Ndomot again had their usual play fight, Ndomot losing to Madiba, which prompted him to chase the warthogs who were feeding nearby. Galana and Naserian seemed to be nurturing their friendship, feeding close together all day whilst Sunyei remained slightly apart.

24 September 2004

In the afternoon, we changed our location and to the surprise of the Keepers all the elephants seemed upset, crowding close to the men. There were baboons in the nearby bushes who were squealing and jumping from one bush to the next, so we went to take a look. To our astonishment the baboons had captured a baby bushbuck and were tearing it into pieces whilst it was still alive. We rescued it, but it was too seriously damaged to save, having been ripped apart, so we killed it quickly and returned it to the baboons once we were sure it was dead and beyond suffering more.

25 September 2004

Ndomot changed his playmate today, and took on Naserian, but the play was very gentle without hard pushing. Meanwhile Madiba exchanged pleasantries with Galana and Sunyei fed some way from the others, on her own. Galana was very gentle towards the visitors, seemingly enjoying their contact.

26 September 2004

When Madiba tried to play with Galana today, she shoved him away, causing him to cry, so the Keepers reprimanded Galana. Sunyei and Naserian played together, whilst Ndomot remained a little distant.

27 September 2004

Galana again pushed Madiba away. Naserian displayed exceptional courage when she confronted the large rhino, Magnum, but the Keepers restrained her until Magnum went on his way. Ndomot again chose to browse away from the others. In the afternoon Shida, the young rhino, came across a large group of baboons, who made a lot of noise, scaring him. His Keeper moved location.

28 September 2004

Galana was nice to Madiba this morning. Later on Madiba and Ndomot engaged in their usual contest, but Sunyei shielded Madiba from Ndomot, causing him to stop when he found he was outnumbered. In the afternoon the five year old Rhino, Makosa, followed us wherever we went, and we only manage to “lose” him when we returned to the Night stables. Again Naserian showed great courage by wanting to take on Makosa, but we restrained her from engaging in a battle she was sure to lose. That evening a new baby arrived in the Nursery, rescued from the Mombasa Pipeline having fallen down a manhole. He was placed in the stable next door to Madiba, and was very wild and aggressive, pushing his Keepers about, and attempting to climb the walls. His distress transmitted to Madiba, who didn’t sleep all night, and who also suffered diarrheoa.

29 September 2004

In the morning, all the elephants were very surprised to find a new baby in their midst, first having chased the baby warthogs around the yard, trumpeting excitedly. Each one took time to touch the newcomer and take his scent. Little Bachuma was received well by all the Nursery inmates, except Galana, who raised her ears whenever he approached, but the Keepers protected him from her pushing. Sunyei displayed excellent motherly protection, alwlays at the newcomer’s side every time he went away from the others. She followed him and persuaded him to return. Ndomot and Madiba were very gentle with him, fondling him to comfort him. Naserian was less concerned, having exchanged initial pleasantries. In the evening the Vet came and gave him an antibiotic and anti-inflammatory injection to help heal his many bruises and sores which were the result of his ordeal.

30 September 2004

Bachuma continued to bond well with the other orphans, and was no longer aggressive towards the Keepers, taking leaves and twigs offered by hand. The Keepers continued to guard him against being pushed by Galana. In the afternoon an interesting play fight broke out between Ndomot and Sunyei. Sunyei was kneeling down while Ndomot was shoving her. When Madiba noticed this, he was incensed and came to Sunyei’s rescue, gallantly defending Sunyei until Ndomot gave up the fight. Although Naserian was standing close by, she never intervened. Galana paid no attention, browsing some distance away.