Keepers' Diaries, September 2013

Nairobi Nursery Unit



What a month for the Nairobi Nursery, with nine Elephant Rescues, a freak lightening strike that took out all our installations on the 20th, followed by the Terrorist attack on Westgate Mall on the 21st! With Daphne and Robert in America for the Jackson Hole Film Festival, where they were needed for a Fundraiser in support of our work, and where Daphne was the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award, poor Angela who was left holding the fort having to deal with the host of dramatic events single-handedly!

01 September 2013

The month began well, with the appearance of Solio first thing in the morning, having been absent for several days. As usual she circumvented Max’s Stockade to interact with him, but she eventually found him asleep on his bed of hay under shelter. As soon as Max heard her footsteps, he woke up instantly, and was ready and waiting for her when she appeared next door. Solio spent the entire day in her old Stockade next door to that of Maxwell, enjoying his company as well as the handout of Lucerne and Dairy cubes.

02 September 2013

Poor Kwale, who has been off colour for a long time, seems to have improved a little, his stools now normal. Another blood sample was taken from him for analysis following recent medication. Kwale tends to isolate himself from the others, whom he finds somewhat too boisterous out in the bush, but Vuria, Nelion and Tundani empathize with him and come to join him at intervals to comfort and reassure him.

03 September 2013

Nelion has begun to play with his peers, which is a very good sign of psychological recovery. As soon as he was let out of his Stockade in the morning he engaged both Jasiri and Faraja who ganged up to resist his challenge, but had to respect his small pointed tusks! Nelion is doing very well now.

04 September 2013

Upon heading out to the bush this morning, the orphans encountered the resident Impala herd who were enjoying the sun. Laragai spear-headed the charge to disperse them, backed up by Quanza, Arruba, Narok, Balguda and Ngasha. The impalas were soon gone, leaving the orphans to indulge in the usual Bush-Bashing display, which they thoroughly enjoyed, having vanquished what they viewed as intruders.

05 September 2013

Mischievous Kithaka cannot resist causing a stir during the public viewing hour. Today, he ran along the cordon separating all the local school children, deliberately bumping into them, which made them scream and retreat, something he thoroughly enjoyed. He then went to engaged Lemoyian in a Pushing Match, which became disrupted when the resident old wild warthog sow (named “Pembe”) strolled into the mudbath. She was roundly dispersed by both Kithaka and Lemoyian (who are familiar with her) and who then kept vigil to make sure she did not return.

06 September 2013

As soon as the orphans emerged this morning, Orwa, Teleki and Bomani enjoyed testing their strength against one another, Teleki and Bomani ganging up against Orwa who is the biggest Boy in the Nursery. Tusk size and strength count in such games, and the two younger Boys had to respect that and drop the challenge!

07 September 2013

This morning it was Garzi and Vuria who wrestled each other first thing in the morning. However Balguda intervened to push Garzi away from Vuria, wishing to challenge Vuria himself, but both Garzi and Vuria simply walked away, leaving Balguda nonplussed!

08 September 2013

Another elephant rescue and a lucky day for a newborn baby elephant from Ol Pejeta Ranch near Nanyuki, who simply walked into a dwelling on the ranch. It was a female and has been named “Kamok”, the name of the area in which she was found. The calf’s ankle joints looked too weak to support his weight, so he could not move well – possibly the reason that his mother abandoned him. In all other respects the newborn appeared healthy.

09 September 2013

Baby Kamok is doing well having had an infusion of Elephant Plasma. She is enjoying the undivided attention of her Keepers who give her the same loving care as would her Elephant Mother and feed her on demand. She has not yet been introduced to the other Elephants.

10 September 2013

The next Rescue of the month was from Suswa in the Kedong Valley. The lone calf had been identified by Masai tribesmen who reported its presence to KWS yesterday evening and located the baby again this morning. The orphan is a female aged about l8 months and she has been named “Suswa” after the extinct volcano of that name near where she was found.

11 September 2013

Early this morning newcomer Suswa was eagerly welcomed by Kihari, Naipoki and Lima Lima and she responded well to their presence. By 1 p.m. she had taken some milk from a bucket placed just outside her Stockade, and by 3 p.m. she had accepted it from a hand-held bottle – a very good sign! Then there was yet another Rescue alert, this time from the Aberdare forest. After an extremely harrowing rescue from a deep ravine, involving having to winch the calf up using a vehicle, the orphan was driven in the back of a pickup to the Nursery, arriving at about l0 p.m. It was about 3 years old, and in a pitiful condition, unable to stand since both back legs were broken. Lying on the ground, surrounded by what he viewed as “the enemy” such terror and pain in the young elephant’s face left everyone in tears. We fed him water and some milk along with hand-picked leaves as he lay on the ground, while Angela called the Vet to come early the next morning.

12 September 2013

The Vet came early and put the injured calf to rest permanently, since such suffering with little hope of a full recovery was too painful to even contemplate. The kindest thing we could do was to end his suffering painlessly with a lethal injection, cursing those that inflicted such suffering as well as those that fuelled the demand at the other end of the world.

13 September 2013

Today at 9 a.m. newcomer “Suswa” was sufficiently calm to be allowed out to join the other orphans escorted out sandwiched between Kihari, Naipoki, Ishaq-B, Lima Lima, Quanza, and Narok. She was very happy to be amongst them, and behaved impeccably at the Public Viewing hour, so much so that no-one could have guessed she had just been with us for only several days. In the evening she ran back along with the others to down her milk, and entered her Stockade without any fear.

14 September 2013

Nelion and Mashariki appear to have struck up a strong friendship, spending time close to one another out in the bush during the hours of daylight. Arruba, who appeared “dull” a few days ago, seems better after a course of Penstrep. She is now active and happy.

15 September 2013

Whilst all the older female orphans were busy greeting those younger, Ngasha and Tundani enjoyed a wrestle which was interrupted by mischievous Kithaka. Ngasha head-butted Kithaka who got up and bit Ngasha’s tail as he was busy with Tundani. Ngasha bellowed and Kithaka hurriedly made himself scarce before Kihari, Sonje and Murera, who were standing close by, could discipline him!

16 September 2013

Just as the orphans were emerging from their Night Quarters, Solio appeared again to greet Maxwell and her human family. As she entered her Stockade, Max was ready and waiting to spar through the separating poles as usual. She remained with Max until 11 a.m. when she took her leave again, having enjoyed her handouts. Poor Kwale was again looking dull, with his Minders at a loss as to what to do to help him. He was given a Vitamin K and Introvit injection.

17 September 2013

It was another lucky day for another orphan, who had fallen into an erosion gulley in the hostile territory of the Duruma tribe, who would have killed the calf had the Chief not restrained them and reported its presence to the staff of nearby Rukinga Ranch. They informed our Voi Elephant Keepers, who came to help rescue the calf and get it airlifted to Nairobi. It was a young bull aged about l8 months and very weak, having obviously been without his mother’s milk for sometime. He was named “Saseni” after a hill close to where he was found.

18 September 2013

At 6 a.m. newcomer Sasini collapsed and was put on intravenous Life Support. He revived after one litre of Dextrose infusion, and instantly used up his strength charging the Keepers, so he collapsed again 2 pm., revived briefly and again began charging the Keepers, but fell into a coma again soon after the arrival of yet another orphaned elephant who was driven to the Nursery by KWS. This newcomer was a young bull of about 3 ½ years, who was extremely aggressive but otherwise appeared in not too bad shape. Poor Sasini died at 3.30 a.m. At l0.30 p.m. we received another Elephant Orphan, this time rescued by our Meru Veterinary Unit and KWS from the Karatina area near Mt. Kenya. He was named “Bongo”.

19 September 2013

Kihari, Naipoki, Ishaq-B, Orwa, Teleki and Bomani were at the new elephant’s Stockade first thing in the morning, in time to see the Keepers removing the body of poor Saseni, who was taken for burial.

20 September 2013

The Newcomer named Bongo is still very aggressive, but has taken milk from a bucket placed outside his Stockade Gate. The other orphans were brought in to take their milk within his view and he enjoyed interacting with Faraja, Jasiri, Lima Lima, and Balguda between the separating bars of his Stockade. He was eager to follow them into the bush later, but is still not yet sufficiently calm to be allowed out being old enough to inflict serious injury on a human.

21 September 2013

More recent orphans such as Garzi, Vuria, Nelion, Suswa, and Mashariki have formed their own group and like hanging out together slightly apart from the more established members. The swelling beneath Mashariki’s belly is slowly being absorbed, and she is putting on weight nicely, as are the others.

22 September 2013

Today brought a double rescue – two newborn babies, one from Amboseli National Park and the other from the Taita Sisal Estate abutting Tsavo West National Park. The Amboseli orphan who had been rescued from a water well was approximately 1 month old and has been named “Empaash”. The other calf had been seen with its wounded mother, who had been shot in the shoulder by Poachers, and who had to be euthenazed by our Tsavo Mobile Veterinary Unit, since the bullet had shattered the shoulder, and she was unable to move. The calf, aged about 18 months was a female who has been named “Zongoloni”, the name of a hill close to where she was found and where her mother’s remains rest.

23 September 2013

Zongoloni is taking milk from a bucket placed outside her Stockade, but is very aggressive having witnessed the agony of her mother wounded by poachers. Little Empaash, who is too young to know fear, is taking his milk on demand from a bottle but is passing black watery mud, which is not a good sign.

24 September 2013

Kamok is very happy to have another baby of similar age with whom to play. The two babies have not yet been allowed out for the Public Viewing hour, since they are still building up their strength. The Big Girls, Kihari, Naipoki, Sonje, Murera, Narok, Ishaq-B Narok, Lima Lima, Quanza, Laragai and Arruba, suspect that the babies are around and are desperate to acquaint themselves with them. Even females Suswa and Mashariki are interested, but the boys are busy focusing on each other more!

25 September 2013

Bongo is still too aggressive to be allowed out to join the other orphans, but is doing well, taking his milk from a hand-held bottle offered through the Gate to his Stockade and enjoying cut greens placed in his Stockade.

26 September 2013

Another double rescue, with the arrival in the Nursery of 2 newborn babies both aged about 3 weeks and both rescued from different areas of Tsavo East National Park. The first, reported by a Truck Driver was found wandering along the Mombasa highway on the 25th near Mackinnon road and was rescued by our Voi Elephant Keepers, spending that night at the Voi Stockades. He was named “Shujaa” meaning “the Conqueror” in deference to the West Gate Mall attack. The other was spotted by a Tour Driver stuck in the mud of the leaking Mombasa pipeline, and was named “Mshindi” the Swahili word for “Winner”. It was a surprise when the Rescue Plane sent to airlift Shujaa to the Nursery arrived with two, in stead of one!

27 September 2013

When the newborn babies took a walk this morning, Mshindi was more adventurous than Shujaa. Both went out into the bush to join up with Kamok and Empaash where they spent a happy day as a miniature Baby Group of 3 little boys and one baby girl. In the evening Empaash was looking weak, so he received an infusion of Elephant blood plasma to boost his immune system.

28 September 2013

Zongoloni is still not trustworthy with her human family, and is still in the Stockade. Every day she enjoys communicating with the other elephants, all of whom come to greet her each morning, but having witnessed the suffering of her elephant mother, she does not trust humans. The four tiny babies came to the Public Visiting Hour today for the first time, amazing the visiting public who always ask whether we have two sets of twins! All the older females are extremely anxious to be as close as possible to the newborn babies!

29 September 2013

Murera, who previously has shown little interest in younger orphans, is now one of the most motherly, often peeling off from the others to seek the babies out.

30 September 2013

At l0 a.m. out in the field, the Baby Group enjoyed playing in loose red soil, the three latest arrivals encouraged by Kamok, who is an old-hand at the game! Kamok, Mshindi and Shujaa are all very active, but poor little Empaash is still suffering from digestive problems having ingested so much mud.