Keepers' Diaries, September 2018

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

Watching the orphan elephant interactions amongst themselves, and also between other animals, is always entertaining. Elephants like to stick to themselves but when young they are extremely playful and cheeky as well. They have a great love of the mud bath but don’t like to share it with anyone else, especially the warthogs, and they do love to wake Maxwell the rhino up in the morning encouraging him to play with them, or chase some impala antelope babies around just for fun of it. Kiasa was perfectly happy to wake Maxwell up one morning to play with her, charging up and down on either side of his stockade. The sudden appearance of buffaloes while all the elephants were out browsing together in the forest immediately evoked the protective matriarchal qualities of the older females, so Ndiwa, Sagala, Sana Sana, Malkia and Tagwa charged and trumpeted around the bushes in an effort to chase them away. The Warthogs they can’t resist chasing whenever they encounter them and as a result they can never share in the elephants’ fun. The same can be said for Kiko the giraffe, who often finds himself charged by Malkia, and sometime even by the youngest in the group like Musiara.

When the elephants don’t seem to mind sharing however is when it comes to Maxwell and his lucerne pellets! They are all crazy about this favourite treat, and it is the first thing on their minds when exit their stables and stockades in the morning. The greediest babies like Ambo, Tamiyoi, Kuishi, Sagala, Ndiwa, Malima, Sattao, Emoli and Mapia rush towards Maxwell’s gate, before he has even had a chance to get there himself, and grab lucerne pellets by the ‘trunkful’ to shovel into their mouths as fast as possible. Little Tamiyoi is extremely clever, and has worked out that the new little arrivals to the Nursery receive more supplements than the others in order to improve their condition, so the first thing she does in the morning is target each of their stables to gobble up any leftovers. Maktao was left behind in the stockade compound one morning, as he had hidden himself behind Maxwell’s stockade near the lucerne store, and was stealing lucerne pellets with his outstretched trunk. When he realised he had been left behind though he took off trumpeting and yelling until he was reunited with the others.

One of our new arrivals in the Nursery herd is Merru, rescued on the 1st of the month. For quite a while were concerned he had swelling to the brain as he always turned to the left. But with the love and encouragement he received he began improving each day. To begin with he was restless unable to sleep and just walked around and around in tight circles in his stable which was most distressing to witness, but then in time this began to become less. Finally he began to lie down and truly sleep, and now the little fellow hits his mattress soon after he arrives in his night stable and sleeps incredibly soundly. Another baby to come into our care we called Dololo and he was rescued just over a week after Merru. He arrived incredibly weak, and would constantly fall and always needed the Keepers on hand to help lift him to his feet. He was found submerged in a muddy waterhole, unable to stand with little reserves. Parasites were a challenge with him as his stools were riddled in worms which were contributing to his desperate condition. It has been encouraging to see just how much he has improved in the past month and he grows stronger by the day. These two babies are the most recent orphans now added to our fostering program. On the 20th of the month we received another orphan baby rescued from Tsavo. He is doing well and his story will be shared shortly as he too will be joining the fostering program in the next weeks. The love and affection our elephant babies feel for one another is very strong, sometimes regardless of their natural character too. Emoli is known to be a bit of a rough boy and rather pushy, but when he came home one evening to find new arrival Dololo, resting his head on the bars of the partition between their rooms, exhausted from the trauma of losing his family and his arduous rescue, Emoli understood his vulnerability. Throughout the whole night he kept checking on the little one, resting his head across the partition bars next to Dololo’s. Maisha and Musiara have also been very sweet and are trying to make friends with little Merru. Jotto is very kind to all of the little ones, always gentle and patient despite being the oldest boy in the Nursery; when Merru started to follow him one day he began breaking branches and dropping them on the ground for him to eat, as the leafy branches were too high for little Merru to reach. Most surprising of all has to be Kiasa though and her affection towards little Merru! On Merru’s first day out in the forest this normally feisty little girl welcomed him into the group, hugging him with her trunk and pushing Maktao and Musiara out of the way, denying them access to greet him as well. She has been following him everywhere and escorting him to meet the others; tending to his every whim, so naturally we were rather surprised to see this change of heart in our naughty tail biting rascal.

Sana Sana seems to have come to terms with the fact she is one of the oldest in the Nursery and as such must step up. She is showing much more love and attention towards the youngest in the herd nowadays alongside our doting matriarchal figure Tagwa. Helping too are Malkia and Tamiyoi, who feels she needs to be a role model for the others. One day she Ndiwa, Sagala, Malkia and Tagwa all went in search of the three babies who were closer to home. Once she found them she lay down next to Dololo and rested her trunk on him, gently patting him while he slept. At the same time however, Sana Sana has developed the quirky habit of becoming inpatient for her noon milk bottle, and now sneaks away with the first younger group accompanying the youngsters to their early mud bath feeding! To see her suddenly breaking out of the forest and running down to the milk feeding area as fast as she can is quite the funny sight, only to want to re-join the others in the forest again when she is done! Malkia is another older girl who is misbehaving at feeding times, quickly gulping down her milk bottle only to start charging at the wheelbarrow holding the other bottles to try and force some more. When she sees the wheelbarrow being taken away, she has taken to running after it recently and sucking up the leftover milk spilling from it, and when it disappears from view she rumbles in annoyance at being denied access to more. unfortunately Kuishi has started to copy some of these bad character traits too! At least Malima’s behaviour has improved during the feeding times, and we attribute this to the fact she has been moved to the older group in an effort to improve her behaviour, or face being disciplined from those older than her otherwise!

Kiko still seems to prefer the elephants to the wild giraffe’s, and when some approached him curiously out in the forest one day he kept walking away from them. As they drew closer he would quicken his step to avoid them, choosing to stick close to the elephants and the Keepers. On the whole he was very well behaved this month, and did not cause nearly as much trouble for the Keepers as he has in recent months. One orphan who is causing trouble when it comes to home-time is Emoli. Because we needed to make some rooming adjustments with the new arrivals, and Emoli had to be moved from his stable which he has not been happy about. One day he fought so hard to go into his old room, that was now occupied by a new arrival that another fake bottle of milk had to be brought out to lead him into his new one!

September 2018 day to day

01 Sep

Sana Sana has started showing more motherly instincts and a lot more love, care and protection towards the other little orphans. It seems that she has realised she is one of the oldest and biggest in the Nursery now, along with Tagwa, Malkia, Ndiwa and Sagala and feels she needs to be a role model for the others. Having seen Tagwa and her caring and protective nature for the other little ones perhaps she thinks she needs to do the same, although she could never fully be like Tagwa who has had a maternal instinct since she was young. Today when the orphans were walking out to the forest Sana Sana saw little Luggard and Musiara far behind the group. She mindfully walked back to pick them up and escort them up to where the others were. She tried to check on them using her trunk to pat them over which made little Musiara rumble. This brought caring Tagwa back from the front of the group to see why Musiara was rumbling, but when she arrived she just found Sana Sana checking on both of them and together they all walked out to the forest, making sure to wait for Luggard as they walked out.

Sana Sana returns to check on Luggard and Musiara

Musiara Enkesha and Sana Sana

Tagwa in the forest