Keepers' Diaries, September 2022

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Nairobi Nursery Unit

We continued to rescue an influx of orphans throughout the month, as the drought continues to grip many parts of Kenya. Latika, whose stockade sits between many of the new arrivals, has appointed herself the official welcoming committee. The newcomers stand close to the partition between their stockades, and Latika will nuzzle them with her short trunk. She wakes up periodically throughout the evening to check on her new friends and share her greens with them. Latika is one of the gentlest members of the Nursery herd.

One of our latest arrivals, Shujaa, has settled into the herd swimmingly. He loves his milk and is an excellent timekeeper. No matter how far they are from the feeding points, Shujaa will start to make his way back ahead of the herd. One afternoon, he made his way down to the mud bath area and, not finding any Keepers there, rushed back to the stockade compound where the milk was being prepared. The Keepers laughed at the little supervisor’s surprise arrival!

Kerrio is realising that she is no longer the only baby in town. Naleku still loves her best, but now the mini matriarch must divide her attention amongst all the new blanket babies. Kerrio enjoys hanging out with Nyambeni, Mzinga, and Shujaa, but she doesn’t have much time for Mageno. This is perhaps because Mageno is larger than her and more independent.

Of course, Kerrio’s greatest rivalry is with Mukutan. Mukutan loves to spend time with Nyambeni, Mzinga, Shujaa, and Mageno, but Kerrio usually chases him away. One afternoon, however, he plotted his revenge. As Kerrio was busy with the younger group, Mukutan stood by and bided his time. The moment she was a bit isolated, he charged at her and knocked her over. By the time she had clambered to his feet, Mukutan had already run off. He thought he had evaded all discipline, but Olorien saw what he had done and gave him a stern telling off.

Suguroi is quite a tomboy and tends to behave more ‘bullish’ than many of the bulls. She is always on high alert when the Keepers approach, flaring her ears, and often pushes around the adolescent orphans. However, she has recently started looking after Nyambeni, Mzinga, Shujaa, and Mageno. She often acts as their big shadow, trunk hugging them and sharing her greens. The Keepers have been pleasantly surprised to see this new, nurturing side to Suguroi and wonder if she might be a matriarch-in-the-making.

Ziwadi is doing very well, but she will always be a fragile elephant. One chilly morning, the Keepers noticed that she was huddled on her own and shivering a bit, so they huddled around her and brought her milk over to her. As soon as she gulped down her freshly prepared bottle, she warmed up immediately and was eager to move around. She immediately followed the Keepers back to the Nursery herd, where she snuggled amongst them, keeping nice and warm.

Taabu and Mukutan seem to be like sparring siblings at the moment. Whenever they set eyes on each other, they immediately start fighting like two toddlers and chasing each other around the forest. Mukutan has replaced Choka as Taabu’s annoying brother. This is normal, given their age; they are both just trying to find their place within the Nursery herd.

Our trio of graduates, Roho, Oldepe, and Neshashi, are in a holding pattern, as it is still too dry to move to Tsavo. Luckily, they are having lots of fun as their own senior clique. One afternoon, Roho, Oldepe, and Neshashi snuck away from the herd and made their way back to the stockade compound. They clearly hoped to find lucerne waiting on their translocation lorry, where they conduct training sessions. Unfortunately, for them, the lorry itself had been moved, leaving them with nothing to feast on.

Failing to find any lucerne, the trio walked over to greet their favourite rhino, Maxwell, who was having his morning nap in the sun. Roho began to pull at Max’s gate, trying to get his attention. This immediately woke Max up, who came waltzing over to see who was at his gate. They had a short interaction before the Keepers ushered the trio back to the forest. Max resumed his sunny nap.

Nyambeni is currently the youngest member of the Nursery herd. Despite being so small in size, she is full of confidence and always stands up for herself. The Keepers helped her learn how to browse, and she quickly memorised all the best greens. Nyambeni is a remarkably fast learner; she knows the entire Nursery routine, including when it is time to wake up, time for her milk, time for her mud bath, and time to go home. The Keepers are so proud of how well she has settled into the Nursery herd.

Sagateisa remains a quiet girl. Much like Ziwadi, she is selective about when she wants to engage in herd antics. Unlike Ziwadi, however, she will go straight into the mud bath to wallow. When it starts to get too busy with all the other mud lovers, Sagateisa will often move to her own quiet corner. When this happens, the Keepers give her a helping hand and spray her with mud and water, which she thoroughly enjoys.

Tingai remains the shyest bull in the Nursery herd. Although he is growing in confidence, he will not challenge the bigger bulls. One afternoon, Bondeni barreled over and tried to engage him in a strength testing match, but Tingai just ran off and hid within the forest. This excited Bondeni, who now thought they were playing a game of hide and seek. Tingai, being smaller, was able to outrun Bondeni and hid behind the bushes until he found a more suitable playmate.

Although he is shy, Tingai is also a very good friend. One day, Mukutan and Taabu had a particularly spirited fight. Later in the day, Tingai noticed Mukutan was quieter than usual and went over to check on him. The boys then spent the afternoon together, peacefully browsing side by side.

We had a funny moment with Lodo this month. All the sudden, he became very fussy about his milk and even refused his bottle during certain feeds. One morning, they noticed that he was specifically trying to steal Sagateisa’s milk, which is a slightly different formula to the others. The Keepers decided to give Lodo some of this formula, which he loved. Apparently, he simply no longer enjoyed the original brand of formula he was receiving and wanted to change it up. Once he started to receive the different formula, he eagerly gulped down his bottles.

Rafiki has stopped being such a Houdini and has been spending more time amongst the herd, instead of wandering off on his own adventures. The Keepers cannot be too relaxed, however, because some days he still pulls a disappearing act. Rafiki’s closest friends are Lodo and Tingai, who share his gentle temperament. It is lovely to watch them following each other around the forest. 

Olorien is a great nanny, but she has such a mischievous streak. One morning, she snuck back to the stockade compound, where she honed in on the newest rescues’ stockades. She must know that they need peace and quiet as they recuperate, but her greediness got the better of her and she tried to grab their freshest greens and treats, even though she had access to loads out in the forest. Even after the Keepers chased her back into the forest, she kept trying to sneak back. At one point, Olorien tried to camouflage herself behind a bush, but she is taller now so the Keepers spotted her right away.

On 19th September, one of our new rescues, Weka, enjoyed her first day out with the herd. She has formed a friendship with Mageno, who is of a similar age to her. Mageno was being amazing and led her to the milk feeding point and then directed her to the mud bath, where they both stood on the edge and splashed mud about. Afterwards, Mageno led her back to the forest. It was a really successful first outing for Weka.

Whilst the orphans were browsing in the forest one afternoon, two big male buffalo came ambling through. This gave everyone a huge fright and the big guys, Naleku, Neshashi, Roho, Oldepe, Kindani and Kinyei, bravely went to the front of the herd to protect them. They rumbled and trumpeted at the buffalo, flapping their ears and warning them away. Eventually, the buffalo grew tired and carried on their way.

Bondeni and Esoit are still the best playmates. Rarely a day goes by that they don’t challenge each other. Often, their playfulness is infectious. One morning, Taabu and Choka got excited watching their antics and felt inspired to have their own wrestling match. They even boldly decided to tag team Bondeni, who was more than happy to play with them.

Tingai, Lodo, and Rafiki have jointly taken on the role of ‘kind uncles’ of the Nursery herd. Most afternoons, they accompany Mageno, Weka, Muridjo, Shujaa, Nyambeni, and Mzinga through the forest. The ‘blanket brigade’ is delighted to have the company of the bigger boys. It just goes to show that bulls can be very nurturing, too.

September 2022 day to day

01 Sep

Naleku continues to show more and more affection towards the three youngest members of the Nursery herd. Despite being more affectionate towards Nyambeni, Mzinga and Mageno she continues to remain by Kerrio’s side and Kerrio is often accompanying her when she is with the younger three. As Naleku is the current matriarch, it is always important that she befriend the newer rescues as this shows the rest of the herd that they are welcome. Although sometimes the orphans will make up their own minds and choose to dote on the new arrivals before her.

Today, Naleku spent most of her day with the younger trio and Kerrio. Although Kerrio is not the best at sharing Naleku’s attention, this is something she has had to get used to. None of the nannies such as Olorien, Kinyei, and Kindani will tolerate her bullying the little ones. Kerrio seems to prefer spending time with Nyambeni, Mzinga, and another newer rescue, Shujaa, but she doesn’t have much time for Mageno. This may be because Mageno is bigger than her and more independent.

Neshashi was very badly behaved today. As soon as she finished her midday bottle of milk down at the mud bath, she went charging towards Rafiki and shoved him away from his bottle. Rafiki, who was so unsuspected, fell over and yelled out in protest. The Keepers all rushed around him and assisted him up and chased Neshashi away, telling her off for being so mean. Neshashi spent the rest of the mud bath in the naughty corner.

Naleku and Kerrio cuddling Nyambeni

Mzinga snuggling Mageno

Rafiki waving hello