Category Archives: Conservation Awareness

The ups and downs of CARNIVORE conservation??

As ‘we speak’ I’m listening to the VHF radio full of never ending talk between 3 teams of our scouts and KWS who are busy following a wounded Elephant, shot at by poachers 3 days ago in a valley on the southern slopes of the Ndotos, and he has dragged himself down into the lower Milgis, into very thick bush and they now can’t find him.. Hes lost alot of blood, and hes lieing down often.. SAD, SAD.. As every one keeps saying.. The Elephant situation is serious, and its frightening.. ITS A NEVER ENDING BATTLE.. We know who the people are, but unless you catch them ‘red handed’, they just get let out to do it again.. and thats exactly whats just happened..

DSC05389.JPG The lonely tracks of a mother and calf running from danger..

Any way, while that all goes on on one side I have been watching in dismay another saga unfolding again, with our most beautiful carnivores..

IMG_0254.JPG picture taken below Lkanto.. mum and her cubs!

The ups and downs of conservation, with reference to these magnificent animals… In Europe / America, they were called vermin and ALL shot 100 or even 200 years ago.. Thank goodness most of our African friends didn’t behave like that.. They lived with them and accepted and used them.. Not sure about the early Europeans in Kenya??.. You read any book and they killed lions /leopards every other day on their ranches!.. .. Sadly that attitude also spread up here in the second half of last century the cats, wild dogs, Hyenas actually all animals were killed discriminatingly, grrrrrr, the modern world catching up …… I do wonder if ever again wild animals in this world will beable ‘to live and let live’, I suppose we are breeding too quickly, for that dream and soon there will be no space left for animals except behind wire fences.. Believe me its happening in front of our eyes in Kenya.. BUT up here since we started the Milgis Trust we are delighted to say that we are seeing an incredible increase in carnivores.. (and no fences!) We all know what they do when theres no wild animals left to eat.. They go for the peoples livestock which is not popular, but I am always so surprised how accommodating the pastoral people are.. Thank you to them.. and they deserve to reap the benefits! If I have a chance they will and are actually!

IMG_0102 2.JPG Dikdik

IMG_0109 sererit.JPG a fabulous specimen of a bush pig..

The issue that I am watching is food for these big meat eaters, and the reason why theres a problem.. Remembering that we live in a very dry area, where there was never the plains game that other areas of Kenya have, plus the fact that almost every thing was killed by any one and every one.. There is a time when many people told me ‘to forget Northern Kenya its finished’!! Luckily I didn’t but this problem, is now ‘our’ problem, the ‘Milgis’ Problem!

Its as simple as this.. Carnivores have many young in one go and Herbivores have 1 at a time.. plus the Carnivores pop em out much more often than there ‘food’ does.. Just compare these Aprox. gestation periods in days of Lion -110, leopard – 100, Caracal – 80 compared to lets say Buffaloe – 340, Lesser kudu – 220, Warthog -170, the tiny little Dikdik – 170 , these figures are amazing.. Sooo how does one win, in getting the wildlife to rebuild itself when starting again! This is after what I once wrote.( the despicable blanket poaching in the 70s and 80s and into the 90s.. Every one, and I mean ‘everyone’ KWS included for some reason joined the awful ‘band wagon’ of poaching the wildlife in Northern Kenya, in fact almost wiping it out ) The wildlife is coming back slowly but surely, but just watching down below Lkanto, the carnivore proliferation far exceeds the Herbivore proliferation..We, not just me, but all my Samburu friends here at Lkanto, are so happy to see the carnivores, we sit on the rock where these warriors are sitting for hours!! Sadly because their own success they don’t have alot to eat, they must wake up each evening with a hard nights work ahead of them.. But they are surviving and they look fabulous in the night photos we are getting!!.. But this issue is a ‘double edged sword’ really.. and I try to appease the communities not to kill them, when they kill their livestock, but sometimes one feels is an up hill battle.. and I don’t blame them.. When somebody steels money out your bank account, of course one reacts with vengeance.. A leopard tried to kill one of our camels the other day, the camel eventually died, and it hurt.. But I tell them that if they hadn’t killed all the carnivores food so readily before, this would not be the situation.. AND by the way THEY AGREE.. Maybe this is a reason they are so accommodating.. When I take tourists out on safari if we are lucky to see any of the special five of the carnivores we actually double the camping fees that the community gets.. This certainly helps, but only wish there was a simple answer

DSC04973.JPG The warriors very happy to see this lion.. Its a very long time since we’ve seen one below Lkanto, but reports on the radio are on the increase, so something is working!! The Milgis Lugga was famous for its lions in the good old days, but one day we found the gov’t vet in the area dishing out poison to kill the cats, and hyenas.. This guy has stopped now, although sadly they still do it when theres a rabies outbreak..

DSC04965.JPG Much excitement down below lkanto when this lion casually wandered out of the bush and had a drink, and then lay down!!

DSC04984-001.JPG Heres her tracks while she was drinking..

REMEMBER A SAMBURU CEREMONY CAN NOT TAKE PLACE IF THERE IS NO LION SKIN TO TIE ON THEIR LEGS.. !!!

IMG_0146.JPG This splendid lesser kudu bull, has managed to survive several visits of the hunting dogs, this leopard and her two cubs, all the Hyenas and the lion so far, but sadly I think his days are numbered..

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DSC05022.JPG A few days later, 8 am we had this extraordinary show of 8 very excited spotted Hyenas, rushing in all directions making alot of noise.. We sent some scouts to check on what was up, and found that they had been hassling a lion! To put it in the Samburu thinking.. They were telling the lion ‘to hurry up and find some food for them’.. Here they are on there way home having caused there chaos.. In all my years out here and walking throughout, I think I’ve ever only come across spotted Hyena twice in the day time!

DSC05462.JPG Sadly another addition to our orphans, this one is from Lake Bogoria, but we were asked to bring it up in a sensible way and release it here.. She is absolutely beautiful! Her name is ‘Mbaso’, meaning lake..

Luckily there are plenty of these IMG_0549-001.JPG

IMG_0603.JPG and these! If the carnivores can catch them..

After that depressing story heres something to brighten your day up.. Lodermurts different range of hats through out the month of may!! The sun rising to the south on the first picture and out to the north in the last one!

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20.5.13 A hot day coming up??! DSC05011-001.JPG

27.5.13 DSC05027.JPG Lodermurt is the solid rock that we look at down the Milgis Valley.. Its 60 nautical miles away..

Elephant Matywooins?

sorry but for some reason I can not get the pictures to go on? I have tried again under a different title but still the same..

Kosma our Milgis Honorary scout gets married!

And what a special day it was… The Colours, The singing, The dancing.. and most important The seriousness of Kosmas big day!!..

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Most people who have been on safari with us will recognise Kosma.. He along with Lemagas, are the heart and soul of our Safaris.. Kos works incredibly hard and keeps all our guests very happy!!.. Hes was chosen as our Milgis Honorary scout because every time we have had orphaned animals brought in, he has taken it upon himself to get them through their young days.. His prize was Aarge the cheetah who was so emaciated and lonely when she was found, and he gave her a reason to live.. In Samburu tradition it would be unusual for a young man to be so important in the Milgis Hierarchy but after the walk he did with Pete.. 65kms from Ngurnit to Elkanto for the Elephants and Lions he gained it naturally!!.. His radio call sign is ‘LGWAAK’ which means Hadada Ibis, a bird with plenty to say!. Kos has always got advice and lots to say on the Milgis radio network!

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Kosma and his best man.. And below All ‘his’ warriors! at least on this wonderful day..They were there for him!

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I love this picture below of all the warriors headdresses.. This is them singing the ‘baringoi’ the song that is the starter at all ceremonies..

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THE JOURNEY to collect his beautiful bride!!.. Starts in Sware..

DSC04410.JPG The two all important sheep, one for the brides mother ‘pakerr’ and one for someone poor who will be lucky!

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Flooded rivers to cross.. Matabauwa..half way to Ngurnit!

NGURNIT.. Finally there.. 27th April.. The girl is from the neighbouring Rendille tribe, their traditions are very alike.. but their language is completely different… although living on the border of Samburu she at least speaks the language!!..

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Delivering the ‘Pakerr’ to the brides mother..

DSC04433-001.JPG The cow that will be slaughtered at the wedding, has to be pure white with no makings on its skin..

DSC04823.JPG The women sorting out all the meat.. Each part of the cow is carefully cut and shared out to the various groups of people..

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The bride ‘Gaiberten’ and her friends she will be leaving behind.. Poi mountain in the back ground.. Ngurnit is the most dramatically beautiful place.. Towering mountains on one side and desert on the other.. and with all the colour and song it was extra beautiful!

THE PARTY STARTS!

DSC04472.JPG The married men and women generally dance first.. Every one gives it there best..

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Then its the warriors and girls that take the show on.. From 2 pm till midnight they danced and sung, the most rhythmic beautiful sounds..

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Every one that is not married can join in.. Hours and hours they will dance like this.. .. How they keep it up is beyond me.. Right into the full moon night..

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We camped very close to the party, in fact from where I took this picture, and of course one was not able to sleep! But what it reminded me, is to tell all those that have the Ndoilo CD that always make sure you listen to it in a special place, with no other distractions, or noise.. Turn it on when theres a full moon coming over the horizon, or when you have a breathtaking view to look at.. Turn the volume up!, take a glass of wine and relax…. Don’t try to listen to it as back ground music!!

Anyway… Back to the wedding!.. THE NEXT MORNING.. every one waits patiently for the bride to come out of her house for the last time..

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DSC04870.JPG Finally our beautiful ‘Gaibarten’ arrives in all her finery, and carrying her baby on her back.. Yes kosma has a baby!!

DSC04875.JPG Here she is waiting to be lead out of her old home by her two men!

DSC04877.JPG The blessing from the elders as the three leave the manyatta for the last time..

DSC04884.JPG The best man must look after every need of the girl, as Kosma can’t look back wards.. Her feet must not touch any water all the way home, so in theory the best man has to carry her, but luckily for him this time he will be spared!..

DSC04882.JPG Taking a drink of milk to quench her thirst, as she has a long journey..

DSC04890.JPG The 3 of them must not look back.. Only forwards..

Usually of course they would be walking the distance back home, but because of Kosmas long years of hard work and wonderful reliability he managed to buy himself an old landrover!.. So she’s abit lucky!! Although its going to be long and hot ‘safari’ in the front of that Landrover, for about 130 kms over roads that most people would not call a road! especially now after our amazing rains this year! It will take two days..

DSC04902.JPG Going Home! And by the way the fire she will light in her new home has to be started with dung from a young Elephant!

The Milgis Trust aims to conserve the wildlife, the habitat and the peoples way of life.. This means we admire the culture of these beautiful people and we truly believe they should not lose any of their old ways.. They are good, sound and make very good sense.. This wedding was true Samburu/Rendille tradition at its best! HAPPY DAYS KOS FROM ALL OF US…


The Milgis is ‘breeding content’!

Not sure if the title makes sense, but have a look at what I mean.. Heres our Christmas family coming along well!!.. IMG_0013.JPG

Desert warthogs… Still 3 young ones looking pretty grown up now! I’m impressed as we have been plagued by hunting dogs!! Please note I use that word as far as the pigs, and other poor old creatures are concerned, that must live in complete fear when a group of these very highly dangerous hunters are around.. We are delighted with their very vocal presence..

Last night as I sat there under a crystal clear star studded sky on the top of Elkanto, BUT listening to the Parsaloi flood roaring down towards the Milgis.. We could hear it 15kms away, so a huge amount of rain up stream!! Very exciting!.. I was trying to think of a title for my next blog of ‘mums and babes’ all caught on the night cameras in the last month, below Elkanto…. Have a look at this little show !!!

IMG_0281.JPG Two little Caracal Kittens following mum… there were quite a few pictures of Caracals passing the camera so we can only hope that one of them is ours!!

Bush pigs…

IMG_0454-001.JPG Mum with 6 babes in tow..

Here they come..
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IMG_0036.JPG We have 100s of this scene, but unfortunately the camera was upside down, and too high!!.. none the less we have one picture of a beautiful hunting dog pup, and mum..

IMG_0001suiyan.JPG Keeping watch!..

IMG_0001porky and babe.JPG I absolutely adore this one of the Porcupine, rushing along.. He was going so fast there was not a chance of a second shot!!

Each scouts radio call sign is an animal, and they have to learn about there specific animal and teach the rest at scouts meetings!! My call sign is ‘Eyaiye’ Porcupine in the Maa language, so I have have a special affinity with these wonderful animals!! so if any one out their has more to tell about this creature please do!!

Just a few more pictures of the months catch!!

Threatening!! Hes telling the camera to watch out!.. Come abit closer and I’ll prick you!

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IMG_0154.JPG A beautiful portrait of a wild cat..

IMG_0093-001.JPG I reckon this has got to be a pretty fine specimen of a Desert Warthog!!

Stripy, standing high and beautiful IMG_0311-001.JPG

Finally Leo.. In pretty good shape I would say…

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After the rain all around, this is what we woke up to this morning! A lovely wet Milgis Lugga..

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This is what caused it!!DSC04775.JPG

Milgis *****Stars*****. there are many.

Milgis School.JPG paintings by Nderi-‘2’ .. in the new Milgis School classroom.. The *lad has been top scholar of the School, since the school started in 2006!! He says he wants to become the president of Kenya!!.. Good luck to him!

The **‘Stars’** of the Milgis Trust are many.. and most of you, the supporters are mentioned on the website, but just to say thanks to you ALL again and to follow up on some of our recent ‘stars’!! From our donors, large and Small, to all the individuals that volunteer, the hard working Trustees, and Milgis employees who all work to wards one GOAL..

‘ TO KEEP THE WILDLIFE SAFE, AND MAKE SURE EVERY ONE, HUMANS AND ANIMALS HAVE ‘PLENTY’ TO LIVE OFF!!

To achieve this… *Some of us dress up as Elephants, *some give money every month, *some risk their lives following suspects tracks, or *climb mountains to give us a radio reports… *Nderi-‘2’ paints incredibly clever messages on every wall that is paint able, *And some ski 90 kms to help keep the Elephants safe!! *ETC *ETC the list goes on! The Milgis Trust is a true collection of dedicated people.. just to mention a few…

DSC01416.JPG The Milgis school has taken this very sweet little ‘Elephant show’ far and wide…

DSC04667-001.JPG The Milgis School environmental club headed by *Titus!

Milgis School 1.JPG The standard 7 new *TOTO TRUST Class room…

Milgis School mural.JPG Somehow he manages to ‘say it all’ in every painting he has done for us.. Beautiful stuff *Nderi-‘2’.. Thank you..

Our scouts are real *stars.. Brave and on the ball..

Gelegele 27 (1).JPG They are up and out early, early every day, to report to the Milgis base any news from their areas..

DSC00102.JPG Out on patrol… Looking for that spot where he can find the base.. He is behind the Ndoto mountains about 50 kms away, trying to use a VHF radio which should only work on line of sight, but he somehow gets them!!

Manager Lesoloyia.JPG Our big *’Lakera’ *(star in Maa)! The manager of the Milgis Trust.. Moses Supukan Lesoloyia.. on his way to celebrate the Samburu way!

DSC08465.JPG *Cecilie who is the most unbelievably dedicated Trustee.. You are total star!! Asante!

DSC01435.JPG For many years the women have been asking me for help to find a market for their bead work, so that they can gain abit more Independence!.. Heres Maria teaching the women to use their amazing beading skills to make something the western world will buy.. Thank you *Maria!

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Now to 3 very important solid Milgis Supporters!!

A very special THANKs to *Beverly who quietly ‘just gives’ where ever she can get her foot in the door.. You NEVER let us down..

**Bruce you are a ‘SUPER STAR’ of note.. Wish you would come and see us!!

Also *Pirjo.. You follow every moment in the Milgis, and now you have employed a very important warrior and dedicated informer Scout!! I will not mention his name as he has an important job to do.. BUT He is an orphan, both parents gone before he was even old enough to know them, and was taken on by a crippled relative…Hes struggled all his life from a little boy, highly respected, very tough, and determined.. And I am delighted to say dedicated to our Elephants!!.. He is a home guard..

*Sarah is definitely one of the stars!! She entered one of the most difficult Ski races for our Elephants.. And through her friends managed to raise around $ 4500 .. Well done Sarah..

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Sarah’s words! 26th Feb 2013 ‘ I made it!! It took me 7hr and 41 mins( which I’m super happy with), it was unbelievably tough, but with every ones support, and thinking of the Elephants in the Milgis when I was struggling along, it was worth every minute .. I am so happy ‘we’ did it and that I made it to the finish!

The start was incredible, thousands of eager lycra clad skiers jostling, pushing and shoving up a narrow 4km long hill, skis and poles flying all over the place. The few downhill slopes were great for catching ones breath but an obstacle course trying to avoid skiers falling like bowling pins all over the place. After roughly 50km what little wax I had under my skis was all gone which was great on the flats but impossible up the slopes and hills, I found myself sliding backwards rather than forwards so had to stop twice to reapply more wax. All I can say is it was a challenge, a joy and an incredible adventure!! ‘

Here you can see Swedish Televisions coverage from the race on Monday morning http://www.svtplay.se/klipp/1054575/oppet-spar-med-sol-och-var

For any of her ***friends that did not receive this please find the letter below!!

Dear all, a huge and sincere THANK YOU for supporting Sarah in her great ski race last month, and in turn donating to the Milgis TrustWe have lived and operated walking safaris ( www.wildfrontierskenya.com ) in this part of Northern Kenya for many years, nearly 30 years actually, and watched in dismay as the humans living here just were not noticing that they were destroying themselves by being thoughtless… Burning their forests, killing the wildlife, overgrazing, cutting down trees etc,etc .. Its was nuts!, so in 2004 we decided after alot of thought as we knew it would change our lives to a new ‘gear’, we started the MILGIS TRUST… Conserving the Wildlife, the habitat and the pastoral peoples way of life.. Wildlife because its value needs to be valued, and theres less and less places for wildlife to live freely as it does here, the habitat because with out it we are all finished, and the pastoral way of life because I truly believe nomad ism is the best way to live in these dryer places of the world!..

So we went ahead and funnily enough our biggest and most worrying challenge is fund raising, only because Pete and I are as the world would say ‘uneducated’! We are not so good on our computers, but we know every track in the sand on the Milgis Lugga!! Despite this drawback, the Trust is making true, true progress in all other ways.. The forests have stopped burning, the wildlife is not being killed, and the people can see, and benefit from it all!.. Most of all, as we continue to do our walking safaris throughout the area we find that our work is gaining great tracks every day.!.

WHATS THE BIG CHALLENGE THEN???… As you all know Elephant poaching in Africa has become a scourge, its extremely DANGEROUS and SAD .. Dangerous because the money involved is so much and the poachers don’t care for lives.. Human nor Elephants, and sad because it is breaking up the wonderful family system that these gentle giants live by.. With all the big Elephants, male and females being shot, leaving the smaller ones reeling… Also they live in absolute fear, and its a horrible, horrible thing to watch…. WE THE MILGIS TRUST WILL NOT AND CAN NOT LET THIS HAPPEN, AND WILL DO WHAT EVER NECESSARY TO STOP IT… BUT ITS HARD… REALLY HARD TO FINANCE IT..

When Sarah wrote to me about her race, and that she wanted to help us out with our ‘Elephant watch’, I could not believe that somebody who lives so far away from the midst of these terrible deeds that are happening all around us, cared so much.. To half kill herself to help us out!!.. So first of all this is a very grateful thank you to you Sarah, and then to all your incredibly generous friends, who through sending funds to the Milgis Trust, will help us keep these poachers at bay.. And I say at bay, because of our hard working brave scouts, along with the wonderfully co-operative communities we live and work with, we have only lost one Elephant to poachers in the area where we operate since January 2012.. We’ve had many come in wounded from other areas from gun shots and die, but not shot in the area we cover.. BUT WE CAN NOT REST ONE DAY AS THE THREAT IS VERY CLOSE ALL THE TIME..

So please don’t hesitate to keep in touch with us by checking out our news from time to time.. and if you feel like supporting us in the future we would be eternally grateful…

So many THANKS from all of us in the Milgis.. The Milgis is a very personal trust mostly run by volunteers, Pete and I and many more extremely hard working friends, and every cent will make a huge difference.. ..

All the very best Helen…

THANK YOU TO ALL THE DEDICATED MILGIS SUPPORTERS HOWEVER THEY FOUND US and WHERE EVER THEY COME FROM.. Helen and Pete, and the whole team.. .. ***As a token of our thanks any one who donates $ 200 or more to the Milgis Trust.. please don’t forget to ask for a copy of our beautiful Samburu singing and chanting CD, recorded in the Parsaloi Lugga in June 2012

Lena Maria’s spirit will live forever in Masikita!

SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN 21 TODAY, if the Utoyia tragedy had not taken her life..

DSC04608.JPG As you drive through the little dusty main drag of Masikita this sign post will definitely catch your attention… Front and back…

DSC04609.JPG artist Nderi-‘2’

I LOVE this painting.. With these troubled times in Masikita, with threats of armed stock thieves every day, and knowing what happened to Lena Maria, it SAYS IT ALL..’ LET US LIVE AND DRINK IN PEACE ‘

A huge huge THANK YOU to the Bergum Family who came all the way from Norway to turn the taps on in Masikita! Long may they flow with beautiful clean water from the bore hole, and quench the thirst of humans and animals alike..

A beautiful safari from the Milgis Lugga, up into the foot hills of the Northern Ndotos, and finally across the El Barta plains to Masikita…
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On the road to Masikita.. A sit down for 5 minutes!..

DSC04576.JPG DSC04594.JPG Walking up the main Street !!

DSC04610.JPG A very emotional but beautiful day for us all..

All the people of the little centre in all their finery to greet the visitors from Norway.. Unusually in Samburu culture the women are taking the lead here..a good sign, I would say!! DSC04615.JPG

DSC04622.JPG Happy feelings as we hear the water pouring into the tanks above the town!..

DSC04633.JPG Gathering under the trees for the speeches and grateful THANKS to the Bergums, VOSS and Milgis!

DSC04629.JPG Next picture of this trough will be with a Grevy Zebra drinking!! One of the biggest problems for the Grevy’s survival is the lack of water in the region.. This was built especially for these most beautiful animals, with the community of Masikita sanctioning it!.. We heard that on the 9th March 3 came in to drink!.. ( We have a new sponsor child 2013 from Masikita.. DSC04565.JPG Monkana, his fathers job is to look after the water for the Grevys, to make sure there is water in the trough every evening)

Out of BAD AND SADNESS, often brings GOOD !.. And this was no exception.. thanks to the Bergums trip to Masikita, help for people who really need it.. SO MANY THANKS!!

DSC04651.JPG I hate to show pictures of people with problems, but this baby, Arian has this terrible cyst like growth on his nose, and thanks to the Bergums and their supporters most of them the people of Namsos we are able to help her.. She was taken to Kijabe hospital yesterday but they can not help till may.. But she will get help..

DSC04653.JPG This Boy Julius Lengushuru broke his arm falling off a lorry (he was going to a football match in Latakwen! SHAME poor guy) .. His family did not take him to hospital till his arm was completely rotten and nearly falling off, and he was nearly dead. Why!?? because they were afraid they would not beable to pay the bill.. He will also get help from the Bergums..

DSC04658.JPG Patricia Nteyie Lobuk will also be lucky.. Her mother who works very hard to just keep alive asked us for help to send her lovely daughter to school.. Thanks to the Bergums shes already there!! So so happy.. The mothers job now is to look after the water in the centre of ‘town’ ( a donkey came in the night and turned on the tap, so every one learnt their lesson on the 1st night!!.. now it is fenced and Antonella is in charge!) She will also make sure the sign post is always clean and standing proud.. !!

Water will flow finally for people and Grevy’s in Masikita!!

Lene Maria clean water for Masikita

Yes the remote, dusty, dangerous centre of Masikita is the next lucky place to receive a Solar water project!! Thanks to the Bergum family from Norway who sadly lost their daughter, Lene Maria in the Utoya shooting, so wanted to remember her in a rather special and unusual way.. Also thanks to the VOSS foundation for organising the whole thing… Masikita is a very important place for many nomadic communities who come from far and wide to graze their stock here, and also for the Grevy Zebra, that live here.. The biggest problem on the Elbarta plains, where this little centre is, is WATER!! ( and insecurity, but not much we can do there!..) The Milgis Trust hopes that this project will really alleviate this problem.. We have put a very good and reliable Lorentz pump, and 12 powerful solar panels, to make sure there will always be enough for every one!.. The community are very excited about the prospects of sharing with the Grevy Zebras, and are building a special trough for this!!
On the 20th-23rd Feb. the Bergum family and representatives from VOSS foundation will be walking to Masikita to celebrate with the people, and hand over the WATER…

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DSC04531.JPG The old and the new!! A nice little group of young camels, grazing near the solar panels, in the evening light..

So what goes into these water projects, just a few photos of putting the whole thing together.. All the supplies are brought up from Nairobi in a 10 ton lorry, which in itself is an exciting 2 day journey.. Then the work starts!

DSC09047.JPG Digging the trench and laying the pipe is done mainly by the community.. this time its about 2.50 kms

DSC04461.JPG The women came to dig the trench because the men are busy looking after their stock.. The threat of Cattle thieves is very real at the moment and nobody can afford to rest.. The word relax does not exist in this part of the world!.. As usual the trench digging is done with plenty of good spirit.. DSC04450.JPG

DSC04467.JPG The lovely lady in blue, right of the child came to shake my hand with great vigour, as four months ago she was blind!.. Thanks to the eye mission in South Horr she now can dig the trench.. She is a very very happy lady!!

Next is the Solar panels.. From setting out the Solar array and welding the stand together, DSC09097.JPG

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and finally making sure that the solar panels are not steal able! I’m afraid even out here its a big problem..

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At the bore hole, taking the old diesel pump out, DSC09230.JPG

and gently putting the solar pump in..

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Now to sorting out the control boxes, and the wiring.. much concentration, and don’t need any mistakes! theres alot of power coming from those solar panels!

DSC04495.JPG Drilling holes to bolt the Control boxes, and again to make sure every thing is unstealable!

DSC04514.JPG Which wires goes where!!..

DSC04533.JPG Discussing the situation..

Finally when the solar panels were connected, the water came pouring out of the bore hole and its 5 pm!

DSC04524.JPG First person to take a drink, and excitement all round!

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DSC09347.JPG Making a sturdy base for the two 10000 litre tanks above the centre on the hill..

finally last but not least the grevys trough going in out side the centre,

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DSC04468.JPG life’s full of strains and struggles and the mother of this child came to ask for help.. Has any one ever seen any thing like this before, any one know what it is.. or where we can turn to for help this unfortunate family..

DSC04478.JPG the latest Milgis orphan!! Its literally 1 and half inches long, but strong and full of the joys of life!! Its a northern Crombec.. He/she may be small but such a character!!

Sarah’s endurance race for Elephants…

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Sarah… THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF OUR HEARTS!! Below is her letter to her friends and acquaintances.. We are ABSOLUTELY delighted that this is for our Elephants!! We wish Sarah all the very best, and we know shes going to beat all records because its for the best cause in the book!! GO>>>> SARAH!!!

Dear Friends,

I have long had this crazy dream of skiing Vasaloppet, so finally I registered to compete on February 25th . The Vasa race is an annual long distance (90km/56 miles) cross-country ski race between the village of Slen and Mora (imagine London to Brighton). It is the oldest, the longest, and the biggest (in terms of participants) cross-country ski race in the world. The race was inspired by Swedish King Gustav Vasa in 1520 when he was escaping the troops of Christian II (Christian the Tyrant).

I’m not sure I’m going to make it to the finish line, and even if I do, I sincerely doubt I’ll be able to match Pippa Middleton’s impressive time of 7hr 13mins despite my father wishing the contrary.. Out of the 15,800 racers only about 10% are women, I believe this is because it is ridiculously difficult – as you can see in this brilliant clip from last years race:Â Vasaloppet 2011 Aj AJ Oj OJ.mov

If you want to place a bet on me making it to the finish line then I would really love to be able to share this with a cause very close to my heart, The Milgis Trust and Elephant conservation. Please help me to lend a small contribution by donating to the paypal account for the The Milgis Trust

Milgis Trust website http://www.milgistrustkenya.com

The Milgis Trust is based in Northern Kenya and works to conserve the wildlife, habitat and pastoral ways of life in the remote and beautiful Milgis area, which covers 8,000 sq km around the Milgis River. It really is the most remarkable organisation. Managing on a small budget it does so much, supporting the community through health, education and clean water projects, and protecting the diverse but fragile Milgis eco-system, including fighting the escalating battle against wildlife poaching through its network of Milgis Trust scouts. It is working well but they can’t do it without the funds, so this very, very important, and they appreciate this so much!

£75 provides food provisions for the Milgis Trust primary school for one week, £100 pays for the essential wildlife scouts meeting, which happens every two months £220 pays wages for the Milgis Trust Medical Clinic nurse for one month £5,000 pays for an operation with a wildlife vet to dart and treat an elephant wounded by poachers.

Elephant conservation

The Elephants in Africa are being decimated once more after about 20 years of slight respite, and the saddest thing is that the world will realise this when it’s too late! The Milgis Trust is doing every thing possible to keep them safe. Working together with their local communities around the Milgis Lugga things are going pretty well, but they cannot rest one day because poachers are out there. They employ 30 scouts, who are uniformed and are in contact on the radio 24 hrs, their job it is to keep watch and deal with any threats to the Elephants (and of course all wildlife), and their habitat all the time. They also employ over 30 ‘ilkirimats’ the Samburu word for caretaker/informer who get half a wage but work closely with their respective scouts to keep watch. , xo Sarah

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This is the Elephant we call mammoth.. He is/was the gentlest coolest ‘Sangalai’ I’ve ever known.. He is/was huge.. I say this because he has a beautiful pair of tusks and he may not be with us any more.. We think that he must be a descendant of the famous Marsabit ‘Ahmed’ because of the shape of his tusks.. I think of him every day, and hope to ‘Ngai’ that he is still with us, and he will pitch up one day as he has done before.. Although we have not had any trouble since January last year, except in the Matthews of which we have our suspicions, there are no fences or barriers and he may have wondered off into an area where the poaching is rife.. [ this wonderfully eerie picture was taken in August 2011 on the night camera.. He visited our camp while out on safari..] .. His absence/silence is killing me!… But we are always positive, and I think he will pitch up on the 25th of February!! .. We have a warrior who wants to devote his life to the safety of this Elephant and all the Sangalais, and some of the money that Sarah raises will go to wards his wages..

DSC02060.JPG ‘Rogero’ as he is fondly known by the Samburu.. [ Its actually Mammoths real name ], would be a very happy man if he did pitch up..

This below is what I wrote to Sarah when she told she was going to do the longest, hardest endurance Skiing race in the World for the Elephants!!

Sarah, You are an absolute star and I am and our special friends the Elephants will be eternally grateful for any bit of help.. THANK YOU SO SO MUCH!! We will be thinking of you, and sending serious vibes over the airways, from the Elephants as well!, for you to beat Pippa’s record, as we also believe you will do it!!

You might think I am joking, but Elephants are not fools!! two times that i know of where they have really proved that they do know whats going on!..

Pete did a walk for them, 65 kms in October 2011, its on my 3 blogs written in Oct 2011… Petes mega walk in 1 day for the elephants and lions… Wow!! you are all stars, and the last one… the Elephant whisperer made it!.. please try to look up the last one especially how the 3 Elephants waited for Pete to arrive, and they greeted him!!

Also theres this incredible story in South Africa of a man who rescued a group of Elephants that were going to be shot, and many years later he died, and the Elephants arrived at his home to pay their last respects.. If I can find the story I will send you the link!.. He wrote a book called ‘The Elephant whisperer’.. its really lovely!!

Keep up the spirit Sarah, WE ARE WITH YOU ALL THE WAY!! All the best Helen

SARAH.. GOOD LUCK!!!!!

‘LDOILO’- Echoes from Samburuland

FINALLY MY DREAM HAS COME TRUE!!! I’ve been talking about it for sooooo many years, 25 years actually!, ever since I first heard their voices, and now we have it!.. A beautiful recording of songs, chants and sounds from the Samburu!..

DSC01482.JPG The front cover fittingly in the colours of the Kenya Flag!!

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*You can’t buy this. This is not for sale. This is more of a gift from the soul of Samburuland, than just another CD.

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This CD is absolutely beautifully presented and is a wonderful selection of Northern Kenya’s every day, sounds, songs and flute music from the Samburu people in the Milgis Ecosystem… ..

THANKYOU GAVIN HOGG AND BEN EVANS and every one else involved in making this masterpiece of music!!… Especially the Samburu people for believing in us! In believing in the ‘Milgis’ and producing such special sounds!! Its ‘brilliant’ to have your full support!..

* BUT, YOU can be a part of it. You NEED to be a part of it…. Because when you play this music as loud as you can, and you do it in a place where you can really listen….. JUST LISTEN…. You will feel the warm wind of the northern Kenyan mountains against your skin, the sand of her luggas pressed down under your feet and you will start to move and sway until your spirit jumps with the Morans on the river bed. This is music that transports you and it speaks of the beauty, the trail, the tradition and the majesty of life, the way it has always been here. It will haunt you back to life. *words from Zeke Davidson when he first heard it!

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How it started!…. This is how Gavin describes the moment..

‘The first morning while we were drinking tea on the lugga, wondering how it would start. When from somewhere deep in the bush and down the lugga, we heard the distant chants of an approaching band of people.. Slowly it grew louder and louder, the sound growing in intensity and excitement, until fianlly 25 warriors appeared through the scrub in full tribal dress with spears and full voice.. They had come to sing.. The excitement of that moment will remain with me for the rest of my life!’

This was the start of what developed into an incredible week for all who were involved..

*You can’t pay for it though. Putting a dollar value on a disc would render it worthless. It simply won’t make the marketing values needed on a disc by disc basis. We need you to make a gesture that speaks to the same profound sense of place and spirit that the sounds on this disc will bring into your life. For a donation upwards of $200, the Samburu communities of this region, will gladly share their ancient chants with you!

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*If you believe in wild places, in places with untameable spirits that defy all of the harsh realities of today’s over used world. You want to be a part of a community making their own ways work, unquestioningly. Support Echoes in Samburuland, make these voices heard where you are, and we will send you one of these disc’s to transport you here whenever you can be with us.

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DSC00058.JPG BEN EVANS..

DSC00071.JPG A beautiful trio in looks and sounds!

‘Ldoilo’ means Echoes in the Maa language… An appropriate title given the location of the recording,- a natural ravine, with towering cliff faces that gave a wonderful resonance and echo to the recordings.. It is also has significance in a way that we hope the message of the Samburu and their way of life and custodianship of their environment, will echo from their homeland to spread awareness around the world…

The songs from this area have never been recorded properly before .. We recorded every thing live on location . You will hear the sounds of wildlife in the bush included… We want you the listener, to be transported into the Milgis: to feel the heat, the elements of life, to smell the aroma, and to listen to the sound and songs of the samburu… Close your eyes, be at peace, sit back and TAKE TIME to absorb this extraordinary aural experience!!!

these are the words of Gavin taken from the cover…

Warm up the first evening!! ‘MPARINKOI’

DSC00024.JPG Mparinkoi; This is the first song sung in any daytime ceremony.. The group will consist of singers from different clans. The chants are from different clan members boasting about the achievements of heir own clan, how brave or fast they are.. The clans sing of respect and rivalry between them selves… DSC00027.JPG One day many years ago, I was at a Samburu wedding.. It was just unbelievably colourful and the early morning singing was incredible, but at about midday there seemed to be abit of a lull in the proceedings, so I decided to climb up a small hill and watch from a distance for a while.. Suddenly I heard this roar of voices, which sent a shiver up my spine… It was the elders and Junior elders at the ceremony ‘tuning up’ for this extraordinary show!.. Its abit like an orchestra tuning up their instruments before they play a symphony!.. But this is voices.. Every man throws his voice as far as he can, so that when it comes to this amazing ‘Mparinkoi’ his voice will be heard!… Its REALLY impressive!.. We had to do this recording several times as when they whole group landed on the ground in tandem, Ben’s microphone went crazy!! We worked it out eventually by putting a mattress under the microphones to cushion the vibrations!!

DSC00081.JPG Men, women and children came from far and wide to participate with immense pride and dedication to perform their songs

DSC01463.JPG This beautiful animal is the Milgis’ latest orphan… he needs to be fed!…….

So PLEASE… become one of the esteemed members of the ‘Ldoilo’ clan, and contribute to the Milgis Trust… We have been kindly given a stand at the Ngong Racecourse, Nairobi.. At the Christmas fair on the 1st and 2nd of December 2012… We will be there with the LDOILO CDs!! If you can’t be there you can press the donate button on this page, pay your donation, and you will recieve a reciept from NWHS/Milgis Trust, which you can forward to us, with your postal address…. We will in turn get this unique CD to you!!.. Other wise don’t hesitate to contact Helen or Gavin..

Opening Eyes for the Elephants…

HORR VALLEY NOVEMBER 2nd to the 9th 2012 Milgis/MEAK Eye mission KINDLY SPONSORED by Andrew Prudnell Bruce, Ina Astrup and friends…

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This lovely Lady on the left was completely blind in both eyes, and was brought into Ngurnit in 2007.. He she is now leading another blind person in to the Mission at South Horr!

As I have mentioned many times!, the Elephants want to return to their old haunts, and Mt Nyiru is one of their favourite areas… But they are taking it very carefully as 40 years ago every single Elephant on this beautiful Mountain, and paradise for these animals, was killed by poachers.. One of The Milgis Trusts aims is to see them back safely.. This does not ‘just happen’, as there are many obstacles to tackle… One big one is the People in this area have forgotten how to live with these Gentle Giants, so NOW need to be gently reminded!..( Actually 40 years ago they probably weren’t so gentle as they were being annihilated, now they are cool!, and are ONLY looking for a safe place to live) No better way to get your message across, than to get into the communities personally and talk to them.. So why not give them a present while your at it! Give as many blind people in the area their sight back!

This a small collection of pictures taken during the week in South Horr, that says it all..

ARRIVING.. Any one with an eye problem is welcome..

DSC01294.JPG This woman is completely blind..

DSC01335.JPG The vehicles go out to the whole area and collect every one that has been screened by Daniel learaman, our warrior EYE man who can identify Cataracts and Trachoma

DSC01344.JPG After a long drive through the Chalbi desert this man takes a loooong drink.. hopefully the trip here will be worth it and he will go home with his sight..

DSC01171.JPG THIS IS STAKWELLS SPORT CENTRE IN SOUTH HORR, now turned into a eye centre!

Every one gets their Eyesight tested first ..

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Then to see the Doctor.. Dr George Odiambo Ohito, who came up with the LIONs team from Loresho Eye Hospital.. Carol, Grace, and Macharia, plus Jerry and Phylistas, DSC01186.JPG

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This poor girl below, had to have her eye removed.. But at least she will be much more comfortable..

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DSC01210.JPG The man on the left has a wonderful story… He is a Rendille man, a great character, who has been travelling for several years by foot down to wards Tanzania, buying and selling cattle.. He was on his way home finally, and was walking down the Milgis Lugga, on his way back to Korr, when he heard that there was an eye doctor coming.. He jumped on the car, and has not looked back..He had his cataract removed, and now will spread the conservation messages far and wide!!

DSC01208.JPG Lesoloyia, the Milgis Manager making up amusing soft banter at the gateway into the surgery room, so as to calm every one down!!

The scary room where it all happens,

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But they’re soon out, being carefully lead to a place to rest by our scouts..

DSC01358.JPG This woman has just had a cataract removed..

DSC01369.JPG Looking for her shoes!.. She had Bilateral TPR, as a result of Trachoma.. The Eye lashes turn into their eye and scratch until they lose the eye.. One of our main aims is to eradicate this problem.. see below..

Resting after the operation..

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DSC01366.JPG A child from the desert enjoying a a square meal.. Her Mother had a Bilateral cataracts..

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The Kitchen.. There was 6 girls and many volunteers who worked tirelessly cooking and looking after their every need around the clock, for the patients!

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Grubs up!!

DSC01280.JPG After a long Journey somebody went around and helped every one wash there hands.. Luxury!! At home they probably don’t have enough water for this…

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DSC01244.JPG these three Lady’s enjoying seeing their meal!

DSC01242.JPG At least my lovely woman had a nice meal while she was there!

Early morning cup of tea, before the Doctor comes to remove the bandages..

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DSC01314.JPG this little girl came in from kargi , she has cataracts and was referred to Nairobi.. Her grandmother accompanied her .. She had 2 cataracts done..

The wonderful happy stories after their patches are removed are special..

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Dr George did 214 operations in the week.. 182 Cataracts, and 28 Tprs and 4 others! 4 children were referred to Nairobi..

I love this picture below, its my old Rendille friend telling all the new comers from Kargi, thats all going to go well.. We had nobody in the building who could speak the language! So wasn’t it lucky he was there!

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A Huge amount of THANKS to MEAK,

DSC01381.JPG and by the way… this woman had a broken arm and came to find help… Can you believe it MEAK had an orthopaedic mission going on at the same time in Nanyuki, so she was rushed off to Nanyuki in an aeroplane, two days later she was smiling with gratefulness!!

PARAMOUNT ‘THANKS’ to Andrew and Sophie Prudnell Bruce, and Ina Astrup and all other contributers for raising the funds for this amazing mission..

Thankyou Beverly Othwein for being there for us,

LIONS Loresho Eye Hospital,

Samburu Sports Centre, and Stakwell.. who was unbelievably kind to the hundreds of people that came, and was helpful every where..

The many volunteers who worked tirelessly..

Marwell Wildlife, for lending an extra vehicle to collect the patients..
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Tropicair, for bringing the Doctors and Nurses up to South Horr for costs only..

Also so many thanks to Isabel Wilcox for all the support you give to the Latakwen Dispensary, and Rita Lekisaat pictured above with Supukan Lesoloyia, the Milgis Trust Manager..

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Daniel learaman, who is kindly sponsored by Jane Furse has spent the last year walking the entire area that the Milgis trust operates in and further , tying to explain to people that they need to wash there faces, in order to stop the flies laying eggs on their eye lids… The awful suffering,Trachoma that follows is not kind to any one..

Thanks to all!!