Keepers' Diaries, September 2006

Nairobi Nursery Unit

There have been two important events in the Nursery this month - the arrival of little Lenana from Ol Pejeta Ranch near Nanyuki on the 19th, whose mother died of septicemia the previous day and the departure for Ithumba of two favorite Nursery inmates, Lualeni and Kora.

01 September 2006

Makena continues to show special concern for little Chyulu. Today Chyulu felt tired and wanted to sleep, and whereas all the other elephants continued feeding, Makena remained behind standing close to the sleeping baby

02 September 2006

Kamboyo enjoys trying to mount little Chyulu, something the Keepers prevent. However, today, when he tried, Loijuk became extremely angry, and gave him a very hard shove. He retaliated, and a tough fight ensued between Loijuk and Kamboyo, in which the Keepers had to intervene in order to break up.

03 September 2006

Chyulu chose to spend time on her own today, so Loijuk remained close to her, apart from the others.

04 September 2006

Kora is inclined to be a little pushy with Chyulu and was in trouble with the Keepers when he pushed her down at the mudbath.

05 September 2006

Loijuk is a little “mother” to Chyulu. Today when it was time to return to the Stockades in the evening, Loijuk and Chyulu were missing from the group. The Keepers went in search of them to round them up, and came across them, Chyulu leading the way back to the Stockades. The Keepers were very impressed that little Chyulu not only knows the way, but also the time to return.

06 September 2006

During the elephants’ mudbath, Magnum appeared, and having taken some mineral salts from the rocky area near the forest, approached the mudbath quietly and plonked himself in. He was very mellow, so all the elephants merely moved aside until he had finished, and after smelling the area carefully for signs of Shida, Magnum took himself off, so the elephants could continue their mudbath.

07 September 2006

Today, Shida had a mind of his own, and decided that he did not want to follow his Keepers to his usual area. Instead he headed off on his own, and having followed him a short way, the Keepers left him to it. He did not report in for the mudbath, but turned up in the evening and put himself to bed in his Stockade.

08 September 2006

Lualeni, as the Matriarch of the Nursery group, is having some competition from Loijuk, who has “adopted” little Chyulu as her special baby. Today after the mudbath, Chyulu did not want to leave and follow Lualeni, so Loijuk remained behind with her, as did Sian. Lualeni was disturbed that they were disobedient, so the Keepers ushered Chyulu out, and Loijuk and Sian then came with her to join the others.

09 September 2006

The Keepers were all seated in the forest as the elephants browsed, when suddenly they all came running back to us. Two Keepers went to investigate what had startled them, and found Shida standing quietly all alone. The Keepers took him back to his usual area.

10 September 2006

There was an altercation between Loijuk and Kamboyo today, when Loijuk finished her milk first, and then tried to hijack his share. Kamboyo hurriedly gulped it down, and then was very angry, engaging Loijuk in a tough fight.

11 September 2006

Loijuk was furious and pushed Kamboyo down because he mounted on Chyulu and made her scream.

12 September 2006

Zurura and Makena, who are age mates, now enjoy playing together as friends. At the mudbath Zurura allowed Makena to mount onto him, and did not retaliate, but then Sian arrived and prodded him with her tiny tusks. He screamed, and the Keepers rushed to the rescue.

13 September 2006

There was high drama today when Sian coaxed little Chyulu away from Loijuk and persuaded Chyulu to follow her instead. Loijuk was very unhappy about this, and bellowed, following behind. Sian turned back and chased Loijuk, who bellowed louder, frightening Chyulu, who returned to be beside Loijuk instead of Sian. Thereafter Loijuk calmed down and fed with her baby very close to her.

14 September 2006

Zurura has grown pretty big now, and enjoys challenging Kamboyo to a pushing match which he usually wins. He also enjoys challenging Kora, but is scared of Kora’s tusks, so ends up running away. He often takes on Loijuk as well, and would like to do the same to Makena, but Lualeni won’t allow this.

15 September 2006

Makena led the group out this morning, and encountered a warthog who refused to move out of the pathway. Makena bellowed, and immediately Lualeni rushed forward, pushing all the others aside, to investigate what had upset her favorite, but the Keepers had already sent the warthog on its way.

16 September 2006

When the elephants were browsing in a thicket, Kamboyo came rushing out having been startled by something. The Keepers discovered that it was Shida, who had again given his Keepers the slip, and had not even turned up for the mudbath. His Keepers were actually with the elephants, so they took him back to the area he usually frequents.

17 September 2006

Today, again Shida gave his Keepers the slip, and was away the entire day, returning to his Stockade alone at 7 p.m.

18 September 2006

It was an exciting mudbath today when Magnum suddenly came running chased by Shida. All the tourists rushed backwards, but the two rhinos continued on their way. Everyone was very surprised to see 3 year old Shida chasing 8 year old Magnum who is twice his size!

19 September 2006

First thing in the morning, the Keepers were informed that there was another Elephant Rescue that day, so preparations began immediately. The new baby arrived from Ol Pejeta Ranch at about 11 a.m. and was still calm, having been mildly sedated for the plane journey. By 4 p.m. she had fully recovered, and began to give the Keepers who were with her a difficult time. She was named “Lenana” and at 6 p.m. she accepted her first bottle of milk. She slept well during the night, and took her milk at the usual 3 hourly intervals.

20 September 2006

This morning the newcomer was less aggressive, and took her milk from the Keepers. The other elephants were brought around to see her after the mudbath, and she desperately wanted to follow them, climbing up the bars of the Stockade and crying when they left.

21 September 2006

Lenana was allowed out with the others in the morning, and remained very close in amongst them, but would not take her milk from the Keepers all day, running away from them whenever they approached with the bottle. However, when she was back in the Stockade in the evening, she accepted the milk, but because she was still so nervous of the Keepers, it was decided that she must remain in the taming Stockade until she understood that they were friends and not foe.

22 September 2006

Lenana was upset not to be allowed out with the others today. Kora, as her neighbor during the night in the next door stable, was also concerned that she could not accompany the other elephants. Mrs. Sheldrick made her some balls of boiled oatmeal mixed with coconut which she enjoyed, and two Keepers were assigned the task of being with her to gain her friendship and trust, with the help of the oatmeal/coconut cakes.

23 September 2006

The elephants were enjoying a great game today, with Kora and Sian pushing each other and Lualeni lying down so that Makena could climb on her. Suddenly Zurura came rushing out of a thicket in pursuit of the warthogs, and this interrupted the game, and prompted all the elephants to join in.

24 September 2006

Because the weather suddenly turned sunny, the elephants thoroughly enjoyed their mudbath today. Lualeni decided to chase off some giraffe who were taking salt from the rocks, backed up by the others, except Kamboyo and Chyulu, who decided not to become embroiled.

25 September 2006

Lenana is very fond of Kora, her neighbor in the adjoining Stockade during the night. She always wants to be close to him.

26 September 2006

Today, the two trucks that will transport Lualeni and Kora to Ithumba at the end of the month, were in position at the loading ramps for the practice sessions, but both elephants flatly refused to go in, remembering having seen others loaded, or subsequently never returned!

27 September 2006

The orphans were scared by a small herd of zebras who came running towards them. All the elephants fled to their Keepers’ sides, except Lualeni, who stood her ground with outspread ears, which made the zebras change direction.

28 September 2006

Today the orphans separated into three groups, Lualeni with Makena, Kora, Chyulu and Loijuk together and Lenana and Kamboyo apart from all of them until a herd of giraffe appeared, when Lenana and Kamboyo collided during the retreat.

29 September 2006

This is the last day of truck training for Lualeni and Kora, but neither of them wanted to go in. They were not happy to see any of the others come near the trucks either, pushing them away.

30 September 2006

It was a sad day at the Nursery for the 7 orphans left behind after Lualeni and Kora left for Ithumba at first light. Makena went in search of Lualeni and Zurura was looking for his friend Kora. However, Sian seemed to understand that she was now responsible for them all, as the new Matriarch, and ran round rounding them all up. As they filed out into the forest Sian ran from the front to the back of the column to ensure that they were all present and correct and informing them that she is now their new Matriarch. All seemed resigned to this fact by the end of the day.