Keepers' Diaries, September 2014

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.

01 September 2014

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.

02 September 2014

The day began well as all the elephants seemed happy and very excited about their new day out in the bush, all walking eagerly into the forest browsing and later following up with some good robust games. Kithaka spent a fair amount of time wrestling with Barsilinga, but it didn’t take long before Ngasha stepped in to stop the wrestling match between the two. Ngasha seems to have a lot of respect for Barsilinga, as he favours him and definitely intervenes and sides with Barsilinga. Jasiri and Nelion have been inseparable all day as feeding together and playing endlessly together, it seems a new friendship is beginning to form.

03 September 2014

At around 6 o’clock this morning as the older orphans began to walk out into the forest, Ngasha, Rorogoi and Arruba decided to go and visit Maxwell at his stockade. All the elephants seemed very excited as they touched Maxwell and ran along his stockade perimeter. All this activity caused Max to become extremely excited about all the elephant attention. Ngasha began to trumpet which woke up the sleeping baby elephants, eventually the keepers managed to herd all the elephants into the bush and get them settled. At around 8am we received news about a rescue that needed to take place in the Mara. It was first reported that sky vets had to fly out and treat an injured mother with a terrible fractured leg, but after close examination the KWS veterinarian officer was left with no other option other than the decision to euthanasia the mother as her injuries were beyond amendable. The reason for the injuries remains a mystery. Our team was then required to rescue the baby. He was a robust strong baby and catching him was a challenge, but our team was up for the task. The rescue team was on its way and by 10am the team had landed in the Mara. After the mother had been euthanized the baby was captured and airlifted out to its new home in Nairobi. The team arrived back with the one year old calf, he was healthy but extremely stressed and confused clearly missing his Mum. He has been named Olsekki after the area where he was rescued. The calf refused any milk however at 5pm when all the orphans came home he seemed to settle down to the extent that he even began to drink his milk from a bottle. Jasiri and Faraja were forced to move into the same stockade in order to accommodate the new calf, they were not happy about this and it took them a reasonable amount of time before they finally settled down.

04 September 2014

Olsekki slept well and fed well throughout the night, it comforted him so much having Suswa close by. Unfortunately he won’t be going out with the other orphans today as he is still very aggressive towards the keepers, so he would not take his milk properly in field conditions. The weather was cold and miserable so Embu too stayed close to the stockades so Olsekki was not left alone and could feel safe and reassured by Embu’s calm and gentle presence. In the field Kithaka, Suswa and Tundani have decided to spend the day together and kept apart from the other elephants. It’s recently become very difficult for Kithaka to have many friends; it seems his bad attitude is giving him a reputation within the herd, even Barsilinga seems to be keeping his distance these days.

05 September 2014

It’s been raining today which meant the baby elephants had to stay indoors for almost the whole day, the baby elephants hate it when it rains because it means they have to stay indoors because it is too cold for them to play outdoors soaking wet with the risk of pneumonia being so real. As the young babies stayed indoors, the older elephants seemed to of had plenty of fun slipping and sliding around in the mud. All 16 elephants came down and slid in the mud making everyone laugh and clap with joy at the open public visiting hour. Tundani, Balguda, Faraja, Jasiri, Lemoyian, Kithaka and Barsilinga were by far the most entertaining of them slipping and thrashing around in the thick red mud putting on a great display. Dupotto, Murit, Kamok, Ashaka, Mbegu and Kauro were all able to come out of their stockades at around 2:45pm but unfortunately Ndotto, Embu, Olsekki and our lovely giraffe Kili had to remain behind and stay warm in their stockades.

06 September 2014

Olsekki walked out into the bush today despite being so new, but unfortunately was constantly being bothered by Lemoyian, Sokotei, Ngasha and Lentili, however he stood his ground and refused to be pushed around by these naughty boys. It was odd to see that none of the females tried to defend or protect him. When Olsekki first arrived Arruba and Mashariki showed a maternal interest towards him but it didn’t last long before they lost interest in him with much tinier babies to turn their attentions too. Olsekki is very courageous and has really shown to be a very well behaved elephant as he barely ever pushes any of his peers and continues to stand up for himself against all the elephants when anyone tries to bully him. The only aggression he has shown is towards Sokotei and Lentili, who were pushing him and stopping him from browsing, so Olsekki retaliated and charged at them in order to stand up for himself. This got their attention and from that moment on they left him alone. Later this evening Barsilinga tried to mount him which Olsekki did not appreciate and ran away into the thicket of the bush, he ran about 100m away from where the herd was browsing. We all called calmly to encourage him to come back and eventually he eased his way back into the herd but avoided Barsilinga. We brought Olsekki back to the stockades at 4:30pm with Balguda, Suswa, Embu and Dupotto where they all slept and fed happily.

07 September 2014

It was the second day out for Olsekki at the 11am public visiting hour, and amazingly he was very well behaved throughout the day and just about all the orphans are beginning to accept him and pay him loving attention. He gets on especially well with lovely Embu and seems more confident with her. Naughty yet playful Kauro hurt his foot after falling off Oltaiyoni’s back. Oltaiyoni was minding her own business as she lay on the ground, then naughty little Kauro decided to try mounting her, but Oltaiyoni quickly stood up causing Kauro to fall off and land awkwardly hurting his foot. Throughout the day Kauro seemed a little more subdued and kept a low profile. Mbegu and Murit used the absence of Kauro to their best advantage and played endlessly with no disruptions from the naughty boy. As for Dupotto, her naughty and disruptive behaviour has made the keepers separate her from the rest, with the peaceful and calming company of Embu, Ndotto felt happy and settled.

08 September 2014

It’s been a warm day, so of course the elephants took this opportunity to go and play in the mud bath at 11am. Mbegu, who has become a complete mud fan, played endlessly with Olsekki and Ashaka. Olsekki is definitely now a part of the group and seems to have completely settled and is even playing with the orphans. Back in the forest the elephant groups all gathered together as they slowly made their way to the private viewing at 3pm, the little elephants can always recognize a stranger and therefore very cautious. Mbegu however, came over to the guests and began to act very sweetly until suddenly he quickly turned around and began to kick the clients constantly. The keepers were quick to send Mbegu off, but within minutes she was back again and trying to kick the clients. Mbegu is definitely getting more mischievous by the day. The older females are never too far away and constantly keeping an eye on the little babies and making sure that they are happy and safe, so they are not short of love and attention ever.

09 September 2014

Kamok and Ashaka have worryingly been very dull and miserable, they are both not interested in feeding and have lost their appetite for milk completely. Angela requested a blood test and once that was conducted we had a clearer understanding of the problem and medication was administered. Today was very hot so all the orphans climbed into the mud hole at 11am as well as 3pm when they came to the mud bath area for a second time. Kauro is still limping on his right hind leg after he had fallen whilst playing with Oltaiyoni, however the limp is getting better and within good time Kauro will be back to his normal naughty self. Arruba and Oltaiyoni spent some time with the little elephants today as they cared and nurtured them, Mbegu however stayed very close to little Ndotto and barely paid any attention to Arruba and Oltaiyoni who were trying to get Mbegu’s attention by touching and smelling him. Lentili, Suswa, Rorogoi and Mashariki were gravitating towards the babies, wanting to enjoy the tiny ones. Jasiri, Faraja, Nelion and well behaved. Tundani and Balguda all hung out together enjoying the water that was left after the rain and feeding on the delicious new vegetation.

10 September 2014

Kili the giraffe is getting to know his surrounding and seems to be becoming very confident. When Kili was let out this morning he quite happily walked to his bigger stockade where he stays during the day with barely any guidance from the keepers, unfortunately leaving him with no supervision can be quite risky as if he does decide to run into the forest it would be almost impossible to catch him as well as he is an easy meal for the lions, so we want to be quite sure he is ready and totally familiar with the Keepers and the area before we do go out in the forest with him. Ashaka and Kamok were a little livelier today, however they still aren’t responding as well as they should to their milk and food. Dupotto on the other hand was giving the keepers a hard time as usual, she loves pushing over the bottles, following the wheelbarrow that carries the empty milk bottles, charging the keepers and even trying to push over visitors. She is clearly a very disturbed little elephant but we have seen this before and know that time heals everything.

11 September 2014

It was a stunning day as the sun rose and warmed the land which could only mean one thing for the babies… Play time! During visiting hour Barsilinga, Faraja, Jasiri, Nelion, Lemoyian, Kithaka, Ngasha, Arruba and Suswa all dived into the mud bath and played together until they had to go back into the forest. It was only Tundani who opted not to go into the mud bath, but instead browsed on the trees. Kithaka and Barsilinga stole the spot light as they wrestled together causing mud to fly everywhere, it took a lot of convincing to get these two naughty boys out of the mud bath and back into the forest to feed. They obviously all enjoying their time thoroughly, and they enjoyed the spectators enjoying them too.

12 September 2014

Olsekki has recently become very friendly with naughty boy Kithaka as the two seem to spend hours on end with one another in the bush. Kithaka is known to walk far into the bush alone and now Olsekki follows him. Today the two were inseparable as they played and wrestled together. Let’s hope Olsekki is not badly influenced by Kithaka’s naughty behaviour! Sokotei has formed a very jealous streak against Olsekki, whenever Olsekki and Kithaka are close by each other Sokotei will charge poor little Olsekki, but now new friend Kithaka steps in to protect Olsekki leaving Sokotei defeated. The fact that they are two bulls of similar age has not gone unnoticed by Sokotei who is not enjoying the competition.

13 September 2014

All the elephants seemed calm as they browsed on the freshly green vegetation after the rain. Dupotto today ran over and pushed Mbegu to the floor, the keepers had to interfere to get Dupotto to understand this is unacceptable behaviour and poor little Mbegu retreated to the safety of the keepers for awhile feeling a little vulnerable.

14 September 2014

It is still very hard to interpret if Oltaiyoni and Sokotei will ever come to respect one another, whenever the two cross paths they instantly begin to fight. This hatred for one another has been going on ever since the two first met each other and it’s strange as for awhile they slept next to each other at night in their night stables, so one would expect them to get on a little better. When the elephants were returning home this evening Sokotei took the lead with Rorogoi behind followed by Oltaiyoni, as Rorogoi entered her stockade Sokotei instantly stopped and tried to block Oltaiyoni from getting to her stockade, this then caused a fight and the keepers had to run and stop the two from hurting one another.

15 September 2014

Ndotto had a very entertaining day out in the park, at lunch time when the keepers were busy having their lunch, the warthogs (who know the keepers meal timetable) surrounded us in the hope for a few leftovers. It was Ndotto who insisted on chasing the warthogs away, the warthogs too enjoy teasing the baby elephants so it turned out to be a big game. Even Ashaka, Mbegu and Kamok joined in on this game, they trumpeted with their squeaky trumpets in excitement and played with the warthogs for about an hour. The warthogs finally were able to eat the keepers leftovers once the babies went further into the forest, it wasn’t long until the bigger herd came by and this time Lentili and Balguda were off chasing away the warthogs, which the pigs seem to enjoy as they were in no hurry to move off to quieter pastures.

16 September 2014

Oltaiyoni and Sokotei still are very aggressive with each other however they have very different characteristics. Oltaiyoni is hardly ever greedy when it comes to milk unlike Sokotei who would do anything in his power to get even just an extra drop of milk. Oltaiyoni drinks her milk very quickly in order for her to have just that little extra time with the baby elephants before the two groups go their own ways into the forest. There are some days like today that she will sneak off and join the baby group so the focus of her days is to get more time with the babies, especially Mbegu. Sokotei on the other hand has only one thing on his mind – milk.

17 September 2014

Lentili can be very rough with the little babies especially when she is on her own and with no other older females to put her in line when she is misbehaving. Today especially Lentili was in a very bad mood, she came over to Olsekki, Kauro, Kamok and Ashaka, who were playing in the mud bath happily until Lentili arrived and pushed them so hard, hurting them with her little tusks. The keepers were quick to come and tell Lentili that what she had done was not right and she immediately stopped, but the little babies had by then decided to give this Kali mama a miss. Today reports of Ziwa’s continued deterioration came in from Ithumba and Angela immediately decided we should bring him back to the Nursery because clearly if he remained there that would not be in his best interest. A team flew to Ithumba and helped the Ithumba team load this big elephant into the plane. Everyone was so surprised how calm and understanding Ziwa seemed. He arrived back at the Nursery around 2pm, once he was settled in his stockade blood was taken, and the decisions around his care were made and he was immediately placed on medication. He is very quiet and dull, but remembered his old home as if he had only left yesterday so that was a good thing as he settled in quickly. His old friends were thrilled to see him

18 September 2014

As all the orphans were let out at 6am this morning, they all went to Ziwa’s stockade to say hello. It was quite amazing to see how they all remembered him and were thrilled by his return. Many of the orphans still remember Ziwa, especially Kithaka, Barsilinga, Ngasha, Rorogoi and Arruba, Jasiri, Faraja, Tundani who all used to accompany him before he left for Ithumba. After they all said hello they all walked happily into the forest together almost as if Ziwa had never left. Murit has been very dull all day, almost all day he wanted to be on his own and had no interest in playing with his friends. Kamok and Ashaka have been trying to get his attention but he just doesn’t seem interested. Mashariki was quick to pick up Murit’s change in personality, she and Ndotto have been hanging around him all day in order to make him feel a little better. He was again placed on medication.

19 September 2014

There was a lot of commotion last night at around 2am when Maxwell brought down one of his stockade walls. The termites must have undermined the posts somewhere. During the night the keepers heard this tremendous thud, and when they went to find out what had happened they saw Maxwell confused by the fallen wall. The keepers quickly acted and called Robert and Angela, we all tried every possible solution to try get Maxwell back into the smaller stockade, not even the sugar cane worked, but it was no use he just didn’t want to. After having a look around the stockade trying to figure out why Maxwell had done this, it was spotted a lump of hippo dung located just outside his stockade. Rhinos are extremely territorial and obviously this hippo had taken a step too far into Maxwell’s territory. After a long struggle and with the help of Angela and Robert we finally got Maxwell back into his stockade where he stayed throughout the night until the wall could be fixed the following day. During the day yet another drama unfolded in the forest with the orphans, as they were browsing within the thicket of the forest a pair of buffaloes emerged and charged the orphans, the orphans scattered and trumpeted away from the buffaloes. The keepers scattered too and then we had to get the orphans together once more. Lentili did this job for us and led the orphans back to the safety of the keepers. Olsekki, Embu and Ziwa got lost in all the commotion, and it took the keepers quite some time to eventually locate them. Ziwa was the most challenging to find as he had disappeared for over an hour. Until eventually he was found a whole kilometre away from the rest of the group.

20 September 2014

Today the keepers noticed some swelling on Ziwa’s hind legs, but he is not showing any discomfort as he is feeding well and responding to milk well. His strength is improving and we are continuing to administer his medication. It seems Ziwa is getting on with Tundani and Embu out in the field. Both Tundani and Embu are very calm lovely elephants who never show any aggression or roughness to any other elephants.

21 September 2014

Soon after the orphans walked out of their night stockades and stables in the early morning, Balguda and Lemoyian wasted no time in getting in a head pushing game, this was a surprise as Balguda is far from aggressive and barely ever gets into pushing games. Kithaka was first to spot the two playing this game and wasted no time at all before getting involved. As Kithaka came over to play Lemoyian abandoned the game he was playing with Balguda and went to meet Kithaka in order for the two naughty boys to challenge one another. Kithaka seems to know all of Lemoyian’s tactics which meant Kithaka dominated their head pushing game. In order to show off to everyone that he, Kithaka, was the dominant male he mounted poor Lemoyian indicating to everyone that he was the champion.

22 September 2014

Baby Ndotto Is doing very well in the nursery and seems that his health is improving day by day, he really loves visiting hour where he then can play in the dust and soil. He is so small that the keepers have to pour soil all over him as his little trunk can’t quite grab the big lumps of earth yet. All the visitors love to see this little baby and can’t help but laugh and smile in adoration at this tiny bundle of happiness. For us to be able to spend each day with this tiny treasure is a pleasure. Mbegu is never too far away from Ndotto, and always there carefully watching over him and making sure that he is alright and safe. Even though she is tiny herself she has adopted Ndotto as her own and is forming great maternal characteristics which will only lead to her being a great mother and matriarch one day.

23 September 2014

At around noon this morning Angela reported to us about another orphaned elephant that needed rescuing. The mother had died by natural reasons and sadly had left behind a 1 year old baby calf. The rescue team got prepared and flew to the Mara to meet the DSWT Mara Mobile Veterinary Unit who had already captured the calf. The baby elephant arrived at the nursery at around 6pm in very good condition. He was warmly welcomed by his new human family. The new calf was put in the stockade next to Embu, Embu too gave the new little baby a very warm welcome by trying to touch him in reassurance. The baby of about 10 to 11 months old was so aggressive after his tragically sad day he refused to take any comfort from Embu and instead constantly tried to charge. Luckily the stockade gate separated the two to prevent any injuries. The elephant is a young bull approximately and in good body and health condition. He has been named Enkikwe after the area he was rescued from.

24 September 2014

The new elephant calf woke this morning looking strong, but still very aggressive towards his new human family. When the orphans were let out their stockades Suswa, Mashariki, Lentili, Tundani and Nelion came by Enkikwe’s stockade. Nelion tried to knock down the stockade gate after charging the gate full speed and hitting it with his head. The new elephant was still very cautious and wouldn’t allow the other elephants to touch him, he charged at the orphans but luckily the stockade gate restricted him from hurting the other orphans and himself. Enkikwe unfortunately had to stay in his stockade throughout the day in order for him to get used to his new human family and his new surroundings and most importantly to begin to take his milk. At around 11am this morning Enkikwe discovered the milk formula and within minutes had finished half a bucket of milk. It’s now just a matter of time before he will be able to join the rest of the orphans in the bush and at the mud hole. It has been amazing to see how quickly he has tamed down.

25 September 2014

It was a cloudy and cold day, so instead of the orphans enjoying the mud bath they opted instead to play in the dust. Oltaiyoni was first in the soil, followed by all the little babies. Oltaiyoni rolled around on the soil causing little Mbegu and Ndotto to join her and rub against her fat healthy stomach. As Oltaiyoni rolled on the ground Kauro and all his mischievous ways decided to try and mount Oltaiyoni! Oltaiyoni was quick to stand up causing Kauro to roll onto the ground which leads to him squealing out of discomfort as he landed on the floor. Kauro quickly stood up and ran over to Mashariki in search of protection and love, which he got. Our newcomer Enkikwe is starting to drink from the bottle and suck the keeper’s fingers. He is a lovely elephant, and quite the character full of personality.

26 September 2014

In the early hours of the morning a report was received from Namunyak Conservancy about a baby elephant in need of rescuing. The elephant had been rescued by the Namunyak Conservancy scouts, after it was found fallen down a well. Once the calf had been rescued it was taken to Sarara Safari Camp where it spent the night before our team arrived this morning. The baby elephant was air lifted back to the Nairobi Nursery, the calf luckily had no internal or external injuries visible and was in good stable condition although the blood reading reported a bad bacterial infection. Our new little baby male is approximately 2months of age, with two teeth through. He was given the name Lasayen. Another rescue was reported about a baby elephant in need of rescuing in Tsavo East National Park. The elephant had been identified by tourists on a game drive in the early hours of the morning. The calf was trapped in a deep ditch that had been made by wild elephants that had been digging for water. The calf was located along Mzima – Mombasa water pipeline. The Voi stockade was informed about the elephant, they were quick to act and got to the trapped calf within minutes. They rescued the calf and took it to the nearest airstrip in wait for the plane and our team to collect the baby and bring her back to the safety of the Nursery. The calf was a young female approximately 2 weeks old and in good health condition despite the eye infection the calf had gotten after sitting in the muddy water, the baby responded well to milk formula and her new human family. She has been given the name Kazakini a lovely Tsavo name.

27 September 2014

Today Enkikwe was able to join the rest of the orphans after having spent 3 days in his stockade to tame down. Once he had been let out he was happily welcomed into the herd by all the orphans especially by the girls, Arruba, Mashariki, Suswa and Lentili who were first to touch him and reassure him that he was safe and was now with his new family. Enkikwe was clearly happy to be in the midst of an elephant herd once more and visibly settled even more into his new environment. Then the naughty boys came over to meet new comer Enkikwe, the likes of Kithaka, Lemoyian, Jasiri, Faraja and Sokotei were all interested in bulling him and showing him who the bosses really were. Enkikwe was quite nervous about these boisterous boys but he was comforted by the keepers and seemed to be happy and settling in well, and given a lot of attention by the girls.

28 September 2014

Kauro woke this morning and seemed to be in a very playful mood, he and little Dupotto play often together and seems like they are becoming very close friends. When Dupotto’s adopted mother Embu is not around you will be sure to see Dupotto and Kauro close to one another. Dupotto is constantly trying to push Kauro over but in every attempt she falls to the ground, prompting Kauro to climb on top of her, this leads to Dupotto crying out in some attempt to get someone to help her, and of course Embu is first on the scene to help her little baby. All this is game playing though, and it is lovely to see them playing and so happy once more – especially Dupotto who came to us quite disturbed.

29 September 2014

Lasayen and Kazakini are looking very strong and showing good improvements to their health. They both are responding very well to their milk formula and enjoying the round the clock care and attention from the keepers, Lasayen especially loves his keepers. He is never too far from any keeper as he is constantly suckling their fingers or dust coats. He is happy and seems to love his new home. Kazakini loves to spend time with her new little friends Mbegu, Murit and Ndotto. Kamok and Ashaka are the mini matriarchs and they have always shared their attention equally amongst all the little babies which has helped to settle the new babies into their new little group. The older girls haven’t quite attached themselves onto the two newcomers yet because they tend to go further afield during the day to browse.

30 September 2014

Enkikwe is settling in well in his new family of elephants, he has grown to be very attached with sweet Embu and Dupotto. Embu is very warm and welcoming and always seems to be re assuring her adopted baby Dupotto and now new little Enkikwe. Sokotei and Lemoyian are back to their naughty mischievous ways and are constantly bulling poor little Enkikwe, but this is very common for young bulls to try and teach any new comer that they are the boss. Ziwa seems to be getting better, he is feeding well and enjoys his daily milk, his stool is still loose but hopefully in time as his health improves so will any problem he is facing.