Keepers' Diaries, September 2016

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

The Mini Matriarch in our orphans herd, Oltaiyoni, remains besotted with her little Ambo, doting incessantly on him. This preferential treatment is spoiling Ambo somewhat, since he knows he always has the protection of the Matriarch, sometimes provoking his friends because of knowing he can count on the protection of Oltaiyoni! Older female, Mbegu has a favourite baby of her own, little boy Jotto. When he was feeling unwell for a few days this month she remained even closer to him, comforting him and fussing over his every whim! Jotto recovered following treatment and has continued to do well so he featured on our fostering program last month, along with little Esampu and Maramoja who joined this month. Esampu is like no other before her - despite being very little she is proving quite a handful at feeding times, noisily pushing and barging which is extremely challenging for the Keepers. However, we hope it will not be long before she outgrows this habit. Meanwhile we have had to bring her last to the mudbath visiting time since she is so disruptive whenever there is a wheel barrow of milk bottles in sight, as is her playmate, Tagwa. This is understandable since they are both orphans who spent a long time without milk and arrived extremely emaciated. Mbegu had to escort Esampu away one milk feeding time when she was pushing everyone, including her for her milk bottle having downed her own. Sana Sana too created a scene one day demanding her second milk bottle whilst pulling on the dust jacket of the Keeper who was trying to feed her! Maramoja meanwhile has been picking up some of the naughty habits from her older peers, chasing after Kiko, the giraffe and Pea the ostrich whenever they come too close to the elephants. This month the orphans have also been giving the resident warthogs a hard time, especially now that they have little babies darting in all directions. Chasing warthogs has become a favourite sport!

The Mini Matriarch in our orphans herd, Oltaiyoni, remains besotted with her little Ambo, doting incessantly on him. This preferential treatment is spoiling Ambo somewhat, since he knows he always has the protection of the Matriarch, sometimes provoking his friends because of knowing he can count on the protection of Oltaiyoni! Older female, Mbegu has a favourite baby of her own, little boy Jotto. When he was feeling unwell for a few days this month she remained even closer to him, comforting him and fussing over his every whim! Jotto recovered following treatment and has continued to do well so he featured on our fostering program last month, along with little Esampu and Maramoja who joined this month. Esampu is like no other before her - despite being very little she is proving quite a handful at feeding times, noisily pushing and barging which is extremely challenging for the Keepers. However, we hope it will not be long before she outgrows this habit. Meanwhile we have had to bring her last to the mudbath visiting time since she is so disruptive whenever there is a wheel barrow of milk bottles in sight, as is her playmate, Tagwa. This is understandable since they are both orphans who spent a long time without milk and arrived extremely emaciated. Mbegu had to escort Esampu away one milk feeding time when she was pushing everyone, including her for her milk bottle having downed her own. Sana Sana too created a scene one day demanding her second milk bottle whilst pulling on the dust jacket of the Keeper who was trying to feed her! Maramoja meanwhile has been picking up some of the naughty habits from her older peers, chasing after Kiko, the giraffe and Pea the ostrich whenever they come too close to the elephants. This month the orphans have also been giving the resident warthogs a hard time, especially now that they have little babies darting in all directions. Chasing warthogs has become a favourite sport!

Surprisingly one elephant who has been particularly welcoming towards Maramoja is Ngilai, who has a tendency to push the others at times. When a new orphaned elephant arrived this month on the 17th, (named Malkia) she was placed in the stable next to him and he was both comforting and welcoming towards the newcomer throughout the night, providing her with love and understanding, reassuring her so that she tamed incredibly quickly. Ndotto, who had outgrown his stable was moved into a stockade in order to accommodate the new small arrival, whose mother very tragically died of old age, her demise hastened by drought conditions in Tsavo.

At the very beginning of the month we received news from Tsavo that they had rescued a young bull so we immediately sent a rescue team down to collect him. We named him Wanjala and he had a fighting spirit from the moment of rescue, which is a healthy sign. After a long 10 days he was allowed to join the other orphans out in the bush and has settled in remarkably quickly and well since, but it took a long time to get him trusting the Keepers enough to feel confident and not run away once beyond the confines of the stockades. At the very end of the month, we received a very tiny white rhino calf whose mother had been killed by poachers. He had been viciously attacked by a pride of lions but the Rangers in Nakuru National Park managed to save him, though not before the lions had inflicted life threatening wounds. Sadly, he survived just one night with us before succumbing to his terrible injuries and the trauma of losing his mother.

Our Ex Orphan rhino Solio has been visiting us almost daily at night, her presence caught on a camera trap positioned at the waterhole. However, on the 13th she decided to visit us during the day, and enjoyed some lucerne and as usual interacted with Maxwell who was very excited to see her, running up and down from his bedroom to the top of his stockade where Solio was standing. She remained there for a few hours leaving only later in the evening. On the 15th quiet little elephant orphan Murit and Maxwell enjoyed a lovely game during the early morning hours. Murit came straight out of his stockade and walked up to Maxwell’s gate where he was sleeping, pulling on Max’s ears to wake him up from his peaceful slumber. Maxwell appeared to have been waiting for a friend to play with. Both charged at Maxwell’s gate from opposing sides and Maxwell spun around in delight after which they played for quite some time until both tired and Max went back to sleep, leaving Murit to join his friends out in the forest. In fact, overall we have been very surprised with Murit this month, as he is proving to be much more active and playful than usual, which is a good sign, as he has always been quite a sickly elephant. We are delighted to see such an improvement.

Ndotto, as usual, has entertained us and his elephant friends with his playful antics, seeking out anyone to play with no matter their size, and putting all his effort into the game! It was amusing to watch him play with Roi one day, who is about twice his size. She was careful not to play too rough even though he used all his might! Tusuja and Kauro, the two oldest males in the Nursery, have been sparring recently to try and gauge who is the strongest bull in the Nursery. Sometimes these games can become quite serious and either Oltaiyoni or the Keepers have to intervene and separate them.

Kiko, our orphaned giraffe, is also hilarious. We can’t help but laugh at him! He loves to antagonize the elephants because he knows his presence annoys them. He will provoke them intentionally and then run away as they chase after him! Kamok especially rises to the bait. He teases them for some time until he grows tired, and wanders off searching for acacia trees to feed on, able to reach branches beyond the reach of the elephants.

September 2016 day to day

01 Sep

The young elephants receive all the trust, love and care they need from the older females. Today as soon as Ngilai stepped out of his pen he went up to Kamok stockades to see if she was still inside, as he usually does. Normally if she is still inside he will hang around after saying hello to her at her door, and wait for her so that you can go out to the forest together. All the babies were coming out at the same time today, normally the little babies come out later, but today there was filming at the nursery so the babies came out at the same time. Ambo had come out before okay Oltaiyoni today, and he went directly to her gate. He started pushing the gate for his adopted mother to come out faster. They all eventually came out and proceeded to the forest together. Everything went on as usual, some were browsing and others were playing in pairs. Sometimes the little babies can envy their older friends. Ambo was having a good time with one of the keepers and was being hand fed some nice, soft vegetation. Ngilai moved in to share, but Ambo jumped on him and head-butted him away. He did this in front of the keeper as he knew his presence would protect him from any retaliation from Ngilai. Ngilai wanted to push them back but he couldn’t as the keeper would protect Ambo because he is much smaller. When the babies were crowded around one place a warthog found its way among the orphans and was confused how to get out of the crowd. Tagwa and Roi gave the warthog a hard time and drove her out of the group. Naseku and Godoma had sneaked out of the group and moved farther into the bushes. They were standing some distance away from the rest. It was not yet fully light and there was other wildlife around. That was a long bull buffalo in the area where the two were browsing and when Naseku saw it she started trumpeting to attract the other orphans to help her drive to the buffalo away. Only Roi responded by trumpeting, but she did not go to her. In the end Naseku and Godoma backed away from the buffalo and returned to the rest of the group, still trumpeting away.

Ngilai out in the forest

Kamok, Ngilai and Roi

Oltaiyoni with her baby Ambo

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