Keepers' Diaries, September 2014

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

September has been a busy month at the Nairobi Nursery with four new orphans coming into our care, none of them poaching victims thankfully. The first arrived on the 3rd of September. His mother was terribly compromised with a fractured leg and hip but how she sustained such a bad injury remains a mystery. Very tragically the KWS Veterinary Officer was forced to make the decision to euthanize her and we were called to help rescue her milk dependent calf of approximately a year old. We have called him Olsekki, after the area from where he was rescued in the Masai Mara.

September has been a busy month at the Nairobi Nursery with four new orphans coming into our care, none of them poaching victims thankfully. The first arrived on the 3rd of September. His mother was terribly compromised with a fractured leg and hip but how she sustained such a bad injury remains a mystery. Very tragically the KWS Veterinary Officer was forced to make the decision to euthanize her and we were called to help rescue her milk dependent calf of approximately a year old. We have called him Olsekki, after the area from where he was rescued in the Masai Mara.

A second orphan from the Masai Mara was reported to us after his mother had died assumedly from gastric complications. This approximately 10 – 11 month old orphan arrived at the Nursery on the 23th of September full of fight. With a stockade next to lovely Embu he settled quickly and learnt about the milk bottle and was actually out with the others in just three short days, completely settled into the Nursery routine. Enkikwe is a wonderful character full of personality, and has stolen many hearts.

On the 26th we ended up rescuing two tiny baby elephant orphans on the same day, both water victims, rescued from opposite ends of the country. A young 2 month old fell down a well in the Namunyak Conservancy and was rescued by the Community Scouts there, and the second, a tiny two week old calf, was rescued when discovered trapped in a deep trench on the Mzima Spring pipeline in Tsavo East National Park. They have settled well, love their keepers and are enjoying the attentions of all the females in the Nursery with Ashaka and Kamok very much playing the role of mini mums. Mbegu is also showing maternal instincts which in one so small is very sweet to observe. Elephants are such nurturing and compassionate animals and this is evident to us all daily. The little bull from Namunyak is called Lasayen, and the little two week old female, Kazakini.

The naughty boys have been quick to assert their dominance over the two older newcomers Olsekki and Enkikwe, with Kithaka leading the way. Tundani and Ngasha, along with Bulguda, are seldom involved in any bullying as despite being older bulls their gentle nature keeps them well away from any Kithaka led nonsense, in fact Ngasha often takes on a disciplinarian role keeping Kithaka and co in line. Kauro despite being very young is becoming a handful with his mounting games and is certainly considered one of the naughty group in the Nursery mix.

The Nursery females have had plenty of baby time with tiny Ndotto who is now spending increasingly more time in their company. He has put on condition and is beginning to play, but is yet to pop out any teeth. He still remains simply tiny, much smaller than even two week old Kazakini.

Mbegu, the much loved and cosseted baby of Oltaiyoni, along with Kamok and Ashaka are growing up fast. Kamok and Ashaka both had a wobble this month being very off colour, off their food and with upset stomachs. We concluded that they had both eaten something bad that had not agreed with them. Kamok actually had one night where she behaved very strangely indeed almost as if she was hallucinating which of course panicked the Keepers who called Angela and Robert in the middle of the night for help. Thankfully in a few days Kamok and Ashaka were back to their normal selves.

On the 17th of September we had to embark on an emergency rescue of Ziwa from Ithumba as he had collapsed completely and only a drip brought him round. He was flown back to the Nursery for intensive care and is showing signs of improvement. He was warmly welcomed back by his old friends and remembers his stockade and the Nursery routine as if he never left.

Sokotei has graduated from a stable to a stockade now, and the good thing is it has distanced him from Oltaiyoni. The two, despite being stable mates for months, really seem to dislike each other. Sokotei is exceptionally greedy and single minded in his pursuit of the milk bottle. Oltaiyoni on the other hand is focused on the babies, and their wellbeing supersedes her milk desires. She feeds quickly and efficiently in order to get to spend more time with the tiny orphans. Rorogoi and Arruba, along with Mashariki, are considered the matriarchs of the group. Lentili on the other hand gets irritated with the antics of the younger orphans and can be quite intolerant.

Kili the giraffe spends his days in the company of his keepers out in the forest now and celebrates the mornings by charging around playing, legs flailing in all directions! He is able to observe the wild giraffes from a distance and all the other Nairobi Park animals like the warthogs, the bushbuck and the impala. He knows to return to his stockade for all milk feeds, and he loves the security of his stable at night. We are having to think creatively how best to adapt his stable as he grows! He is extremely tame, loves his Keepers and enjoys the visiting foster parents in the evening.

Solio has been very absent from the compound this month choosing not to visit, however she does hook up with the herd and Keepers out in the forest from time to time. She has extremely successfully immersed herself into the Nairobi National Park wild rhino community. Maxwell this month had an encounter with a hippo who under the cover of darkness had ventured up from the plains below and begun spraying his stools on Maxwell’s stockade. This freaked Max out so much that he bashed one wall of his stockade which buckled under his weight and because the poles are all tied in together with metal rods a length of around 5 meters fell to the ground. Fortunately Maxwell chose to remain in his stockade despite such a gaping hole, and we were able to coax him back into this smaller shelter and bolt the door so that the stockade compound could be retrieved and improvements made. Even once this was done he was extremely agitated by the hippo excrement that was on the outside. He would not settle until such time as we placed his own dung along the perimeter. Maxwell has a new improved stockade and has enjoyed some boisterous morning games with the older elephant orphans who have the knack of working him into an excitable frenzy charging around huffing and puffing.

Last month’s arrivals, the totos (Dupotto and Ndotto) are doing well and growing fatter and stronger and so is beautiful calm serene Embu. She is no longer the skeletal form she was; with even her skin texture improving and now she is transforming into a very beautiful looking elephant. She is so generous with her love and attention despite suffering such a great loss herself and continues to nurture Dupotto, and is wonderful company for Enkikwe who sleeps in a next door stockade. She always has gentle time for the little babies and more recently is happy to stay close to Ziwa ensuring he has company despite being slower than the rest. More details specific to various orphan characters can be read in the Keepers daily entries for the Nursery Unit.

September 2014 day to day

01 Sep

Each and every baby has their own unique characters, most playful and energetic. Kauro especially has become extremely active and is constantly attempting to mount one of the other babies in the group. If any baby is lying down in two seconds flat Kauro is on top of them making a nuisance of himself, Mbegu often finds herself the unfortunate recipient of his antics. Today whilst in the field Oltaiyoni was playing with her adopted baby Mbegu, Mbegu was rolling around on the floor which attracted the attention of Sokotei who joined in the fun. It was a lovely sight with all three elephants rolling around playing in the soil together and enjoying the sunshine. Kauro spotted Oltaiyoni lying on the ground and of course it didn’t take long before he was up to his mounting tricks, Sokotei was not amused with Kauro’s actions, it didn’t take long before Sokotei quickly stood up. Unfortunately for him no matter how hard his efforts were the others paid no attention to him. Later during the day at the 3pm private visit Kauro was at it again, except this time he was clambering on Rorogoi who refused to accept his behaviour and instead pushed the little guy to the ground in order to discipline the naughty boy. He understood, for awhile, but soon forgot and was back to him tricks again.

Kauro about to mount poor Mbegu

Oltaiyoni playing in the mud

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