Category Archives: Eco-tourism

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..

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

‘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..

To be successfull in conservation you have to work with the communities….

The Milgis Trust takes this issue very seriously, working very closely with the Samburu and Rendille pastoral people who live here.. Together we are endeavouring to keep this WILD AND BEAUTIFUL place in Northern Kenya preserved..

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While out on an evening walk on our last safari, these two Elephants are out in the open with out a concern in the world! It certainly was not like that a few years ago in the Milgis Lugga! I’ve just read in the Laikipia Wildlife Forum newsletter a quote that I found really fitting from Guiseppe, a man who’s just spent just over a year filming through out Laikipia.. In his travels he came to this great conclusion!…… He learnt that co-existence between man and beast is possible if the right attitude is in place.. The point here being ‘ATTITUDE’! Ideas should be implemented only when people are ready to embrace them.. Ideas should be proposed, NOT imposed.. …… This was his final comment, complimenting the LWF in its work there!!

I AGREE with these words entirely, and time working with the communities is extremely important..

DSC00499-001.JPG Many of the Trusts activities are supported by the visitors who come on the Wild Frontiers Walking Safaris .. People who’ve enjoyed this magnificent part of the world, the beautiful people, wildlife, and exceptional scenery!.. Its impressed them, and they want to keep it that way!.. Thanks to all.. Your support is invaluable.. ..
So what does the Milgis Trust do to include the Samburu and Rendille communities in Conservation.. To make sure that even they will beable to see the Elephants in generations to come… First we remind them… ITS THEIR COUNTRY AND ITS THEIR FUTURE!!… So it should be well in their interest, to keep their home country in tip top shape!… That means LIVING IN HARMONY WITH NATURE!!.. ..

We spend alot of time holding meetings, and creating awareness through out the area.. Our Manager Moses Lesoloyia, believes the Samburu and Rendille are natural conservationists any way, but somehow greed, foreign intervention, and politics had affected them… We are reversing the damage as best we can together NOW.. We employ 28 scouts, and 19 informers from through out the 6000 square kilometre area that we are currently covering, who work tirelessly with their communities in creating awareness.. They all come to the Milgis Base every two months for a meeting and all aspects of conservation with in their areas are discussed..

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Some of the issues that came up at the last meeting….

Ceder Trees are being cut down on top of the Ndoto Mountains, and are being sold to traders.. The scout from the area could be closing his eyes to the problem, and was reprimanded.. A group of scouts will try to unravel who is involved in what here.. The trading will stop!..

Many scouts reported that Wild Dog, Cheetahs and Leopards are killing livestock.. This is always a serious concern, and we have tried to counter act this problem, by paying double the camp fees to the areas we camp on safari if we see any of the predators.. Its the least we can do to try to resolve this problem.. Then the people losing goats and sheep will get compensated…. Its helps.. But what we really need to try to do is increase the natural food for these predators.. The problem here is of course the antelopes have one kid, the predators have 4 cubs… its unfair!.. Other wise Lions are on the increase, and the good news is only one was reported killing livestock on the lower Milgis, the others are behaving!..

Somebody stole a gun, from a home guard and he had threatened to kill Elephants.. The scouts and community are taking this threat very seriously..

People are killing Ostriches for their feathers… Also young Ostriches are being taken by people who think that if they keep Ostriches the tourists will come and see them, they all died … Others are stealing Ostrich eggs in the name of research.. this will be followed up, by scouts and the community, and KWS will be informed.. ..

DSC00419.JPG We saw at least a 100 Ostriches, dancing, on the Elbarta plains the other day.. What a sight.. We also were happy to see 4 Adult and 4 young Grevy Zebra.. Good to see they are breeding..

Back to the meeting!.. Elephant poaching is a serious threat and every one must keep their eyes open, and be careful.. KWS are working closely with our scouts on these issues.. 3 armed men were seen, and followed by the scouts and community members.. They also threatened a child who was looking after the goats.. They were followed until they left the area to the North, but not with out stealing a goat!.. The people here are very vigilant on the tracks and its quite difficult to go any where with out being noticed!..

these are just a few of the issues our men and women face … All in a days work!!.. Other wise, many scouts reported good news.. Elephants living peacefully with plenty of water in most places, because of unseasonable rain which graced many places in the Ndotos.. The Scout in Seren said that the community there watched in absolute awe as the Elephants were sliding up and down the banks of one of the new dams!……. The Awareness trip in June was very successful, and they managed to cover many communities from West of the Matthews, both sides of the Ndotos, through to Mt Nyiru… They showed films on conservation issues, they then discuss it all with the communities.. The big issue up at Nyiru is the return of the Elephants..

DSC00411.JPG They are even brave enough to walk strait down the road now!!.. But when they get there the people are so excited to see Elephants that they are chased away again.. Nyiru is a very important refuge for the returning Elephants, and we need to make sure they are safe..

Rabies, rears it ugly head now and then, and many communities are asking for help with this.. Over the last few months, we have injected many dogs, and camels against rabies…

Several places scouts reported Wild animals are increasing.. Especially Giraffes, greater Kudu and gerenuk..

A good start to keeping with the locals is employment, the Milgis employs over 50 people from the local area, just in conservation alone..

DSC00289-001.JPG Quite alot of the Milgis team…

Other things that are going on as we speak in the Milgis…

Building a new eco-friendly Classroom, Thanks a million to TOTO TRUST… Who have also raised the funds for a teacher for the Milgis Primary School! DSC00700.JPG This will be Class 7… One more to go!

Digging pan dams, for people, livestock and wildlife..

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Leroiya and Service (21).JPG Our tractor at work in Leroiya..

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DSC00284.JPG finished product.. we gather yesterday they had a big storm here and the dam is now full of water..

Water projects.. We have just done a recce to search for the 5th VOSS foundation water project.. We drove 300 kms, all around the North end of the Ndotos, and found 3 places with serious water issues..

DSC00361.JPG Kasipo.. Theres a good bore hole but the hand pump is broken.. NO WATER!

sDiscussing the water project with Chairman of Masiketa.JPG In Masiketa, they have a very good bore hole, but getting Diesel for the pump is a big problem.. When they do get it the pump only pumps for two hours then it gets too hot! The community are anticipating a huge influx of people into the area, which usually happens at this time of the year, hope not as many as last year! The East side of the country will not get rain until October.. They are desperate for a solar pump, and asked us to come and see the problems there.. Pete discussing the situation with the masiketa community..

Seren tank that leaks.JPG Seren, they had a very expensive water system!! Unfortunately very short lived because the floods came, the well was destroyed, the pipeline washed away!! What wasn’t washed away was broken by the Elephants because they were not part of the equation of water beneficiaries! At Seren theres lots of tanks, and NO WATER! and whats more if they did have water, this tank leaks!

Other community help we try to give is… Sponsoring children to go to secondary School, and we help with health issues…We renovated the dispensary in Latakwen, and we employ a good reliable nurse, and helper so as to help the sick… thank you isabel.. http://www.happeningafrica.com/kenyan-nurse-rita-makes-it-happen-a-well-run-clinic-in-northern-kenya/
In November we will bring cataract surgeons in conjunction with MEAK to help the blind see again.. ..

DSC00140.JPG Lastly quite a funny story!.. ‘Our’ Elephant in the sand (refer to my last blog) nearly caused a serious stir in the communities! One of our Scouts who was on his way to the meeting came across it and the hairs on his neck immediately raised with fear!.. He checked it out, and studied its implications, and rushed on down the Lugga to report to the rest of the scouts, that there was a very dangerous sign in the Lugga, and that there was an imminent plan to attack from the Turkana and its pointing to Ilgwe Eldome! .. Just shows how different cultures can misunderstand each other! Part of every day life in northern Kenya is livestock raiding between the tribes, and sometimes the Turkana when they are planning to raid they will make a structure, or effigy on the track facing the direction they intend to attack.. Our Scout took one look at ‘our ‘ Elephant and had a ‘fit’…

DSC00723.JPG The Milgis Lugga catching the morning light.. July 2012..

Elephants can take the credit for less fires…

Hello every one…No I’m not dead, just been very busy travelling, or safariing as we say! DSC03472.JPG

For those that don’t already know this is how I make my living!.. Walking safaris through paradise and beyond with camels carrying the gear!..

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Loooong time since my last blog!! We have walked the length and breadth of the area that the Milgis Trust covers with our camels since December 2011… From Mt Nyiru in the north, a huge massif, just to the South East of Lake Turkana..

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DSC03606.JPG photo taken from the lovely grassy plains to the East of the Ndotos.. Ol Donyo Mara are the hills to the right

To Baio to the East, this amazing Mountain in the Kaisut desert catching the beautiful evening light..

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across the beautiful Ndoto Mountains.. sony jan 10 033.jpg 3 times!, Once from the South, then the North and then we went with the VOSS women to open the new water project at Urra in the foothills to the West of these magnificent mountains!
And lastly Lenkiyio (The Matthews).. Through the lovely forests and into the Ngeng valley.. jan. 06 025.jpg This is Matthews Peak

Over the top with the camels!!.. quite a feat..

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It has been absolutely fabulous to see for ourselves the good work the Milgis scouts are doing, and what we are achieving…(Now 28 scouts and 15 informers!!) AND I think we now have proof that the Elephants can take the credit for no fires burning on the Mountains!!.. Its absolutely wonderfull news!!.. Contrary to a news paper article saying that Elephants don’t like to climb mountains.. I don’t think its true actually!.. Because numerous times we have followed Elephants up very narrow and steep paths, and with out there good work we would be still cutting our way through!!

This dung up near Aldera rock proves it!!olympus oct 09 - jan 10 196.jpg

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IMG_0335.JPG And these paths is what they create… With out them this thick bush is impenetrable!! In the last 30 years because the Elephants weren’t around, all up the flanks of our valuable ‘Islands in the desert’ , the water towers of Northern Kenya, the bush became so thick that when the people could not get there animals up in to the mountains for dry season grazing they started lighting fires.. Absolute destruction beyond belief was happening, BUT now the Elephants are back this ridiculous passtime of burning, has has become a thing of the past I am happy to say.. Hip hip hooray!! AND

A HUGE ‘ONE UP’ FOR THE ELEPHANTS!!!

We have been watching in total dismay as Mt Kenya and the Aberdares, both National parks have been burning completely out of control.. Huge huge fires.. I don’t know how they started, or by who but they have been very serious, just for fun i took this picture on the 15th March, just before sunrise… DSC03737.JPG

The sun rose right over the top on this day!!

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Back to our Mountains the Ndotos and Lenkiyio (Matthews) and Nyiru.. Yes so far, there have been no fires and if you have been following my blogs you would know how desperate it has been in former years.. several Blogs on this terrible and stupid situation …Fires lit by people who have decided it would help to get rid of this very thick bush, and of course one just can ‘ Kiss goodbye ‘ to the whole side of the mountain.. With the strike of one match the Samburu have no idea what damage they are doing to their very own future.

If you don’t find time to read the others Please read this one blog I wrote way back to know how frustrated I was…Click on this….

beautiful night animals…

We can not believe the excitement, and enthusiasm, we have found among-st our Camel safari team all Samburus, and even myself… All of us born and brought up in this beautiful country, in the bush surrounded by these wonderful creatures of the night.. BUT you NEVER see them, or you see them sometimes but rushing at high speed out of your way.. We would really like to thank Marwell zoo from UK for introducing us to these night cameras.. It is so special for the Samburu them selves to see these pictures!! They can’t believe them.. And the reason is they seldom use a torch at night, and never have a strong beam, and they are always on foot!!

porks.jpg every night while out on our walking safaris we put the camera out on a path, and these are some of our lovely results!! This porcupine, ready to defend himself, having got the feeling theres somebody else around!!.. The camera!

IMG_0010.JPG This is an Aard wolf.. Compared to the striped hyena below! It eats ants!!

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IMG_0016.JPG Then the bush pig.. This so rare to see, and what a formidable animal.. There were two striped youngsters, with them, but not a good picture!!

IMG_0001.JPGIMG_0002-1.JPG Sadly abit thin..

IMG_0004.JPG The all extraordinary Civet cat.. It loves to eat millipedes, and various beetles, and fruit!

IMG_0002.JPG My last Blog was about the Grevy Zebra ‘high way’ to water.. This beautiful female, was on her way.. I wonder if she got some that night.. Its heart sadness stuff to watch these beautiful animals, fight for survival out there, while most of us have a drink when we want one..

This Elephant was just about to walk into out tent, 15 meters more and we would have seen the same view!! But the next picture, was of him deciding we were too close for comfort..

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IMG_0003.JPG Our main interest with these cameras is to catch the wonderful creatures of the night, .. but also will be useful for identifying our various eleys!! This one has a bump on his leg!!

genet.JPG And to finish off a lovely Genet cat, trying to catch an insect.. Lots of these here, and many white tailed Mongooses!!..

When we are out on safari with the camels I always tell the guests, as we are all trying to walk quietly through the bush.. ‘ The problem we ‘foreigners to this land’ have is the animals can hear the different sound that our shoes make as we walk on the gravel, they are used to the Samburu shoes sounds, but not our Reeboks etc!.. Its an interesting problem that we have on our walking safaris!!.. Early in the morning we leave camp, in dead silence, because.. Two things.. First we want to see the wildlife, and there is no better feeling than seeing animals at the same level!! Also no two… I think its good for people to be quiet every now and again!, and I think you notice more of your sourroundings!! Its no good talking about the price of milk in the London supermarket,with your friend, while out walking.. But you know I hear it often!!

Droughts come in ten year cycles, but each time its worse…

Why?…. I suppose its because there are more people on the world??….. IE More trying to live off less… In Northern Kenya we can expect a pretty bad drought every ten years, but its worse each time… And this time its no exception… I’ve just come back from another beautiful safari in the Matthews, we climbed to the top, but we could not avoid seeing the people and animals enduring hard times…. And doing more damage just to stay alive… As in the pictures below…

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Two valuable trees cut down for hungry livestock to try to keep them alive… But then what will they eat tomorrow?… We have so much work to do on this issue..

During our safari we saw plenty of Elephants, but every time one could not but think … Where is the nearest water?, for this beautiful herd of Elephants… Most of the wells we came across are over 20 feet deep, not even a chance for them, but we found flowing mountain water, thanks to the beautiful forest above on the slopes of the Matthews range, in the Ngare Narok Lugga, where the De Brazza monkeys frequent.. Indeed two herds of Elephants came into drink, at the same time, just behind our camp, plenty of trumpeting went on, which made our little camp with the camels all hobbled abit restless!!..

Strangler fig in Newtonia...jpg Huge tree in the Matthews range… Strangler fig, growing up a Newtonia..

Below is a positive note from a geologist who comes out to Kenya a lot… and he seems to be giving us some bright news!

Lets look at the forecasts at the Climate Prediction Centre and the
International Research Institute for Climate and Society. We are
currently moving into an El Nino year, slightly anomalous sea-surface
temperatures in the W Pacific, the El Nino/Southern Oscillation is
coupled with the Indian Ocean Dipole that influences E African
rainfall. They are not yet sure about the strength of the El Nino if
it comes later this year. El Nino means more intense short (oct-nov)
rains for most parts of E Africa. The prediction maps do not show any
difference in the rains from other years except for Oct-November where
there is a 40% probability of heavier rains in this time of the year.
Well, get an umbrella soon!!!

Our Milgis Trust website has been updated, If any of you have got time to read whats going on, it out lines all our plans and goals…

Finally a little note on how Pete is doing!! Hes walking!!… But the Doctor is still working on getting all the dead tissue, killed by the Snakes poison, out of his foot… What a palaver… but hes in good spirits, and looking forward to getting back to the bush…

Spitting Cobras! friend or foe.???

We are all conservationists , us lot who write the blogs and our readers!, but I can see we are divided, about SNAKES!!..Thanks so much for every ones nice ‘ good recovery’ comments to Pete!… Actually he is back in hospital, as now the secondary infection which we have been warned about is coming out.. Abscesses, but we hope to have that under control soon, and get on to the ‘home strait soon’… Ay, Ay, Ay…The moral of the story is don’t get bitten by a snake! We all know that but as Anna hopes, and I hope!!, it was a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time… But Anna, I thought two wrongs made a right!?? To be positive the Right of this is we’ve all learnt abit more, and all your comments are adding to our experience…But Sheryl, when you come to Africa, if I’ve made 48 years with out even a threat from a snake, don’t worry!!.. I’ll send a Samburu into the shower with you with his ‘rungu’ because after two days here we won’t beable to live with you!!!

Our trip to the doc., turned out to be a ‘funny’ story, now at least, as Pete has got over it, and the doc apologised!! We had been told that if there are any signs of soft swellings etc to go and see a doctor…So we make an appointment, and head to Nanyuki Cottage hospital, Dr Butt is an expert on snake bite, but as we are getting out of the car we get a phone call that don’t bother to come unfortunately there has been two emergencies, and he can’t see you, but we persevered and waited, and we were told 2 hours and he will be with you… Good news.. !! But suddenly, 15 minutes before our ‘D’ time a vehicle comes racing in at high speed..There was guy who had been shot, so we were told sorry but you’ll have to come back tomorrow.. Luckily the head nurse had seen Pete, and she told the doctor… Sorry please give Pete 5 minutes… When he saw Pete’s ankle, he now realised he had two more emergencies, but the operating theatre was already occupied.. The doc made a quick decision, and Pete had to endure a ‘bush type op.!’as if he had left it any longer, it would turned into septicaemia… Pete nearly expired!.. But he survived to tell the tale, and today he is feeling so much better!!..

Bob, actually probably the snake expert of all of us!… glad you saw my blog, actually was going to contact you on this experience, when you update your book, you must ask Wamba hospital, about all the various, esp.red spitter bites they deal with.. While we were there was a woman who was bitten on her finger, and they actually brought the snake in for identification!… On our part, at 3 am with Pete there was no sign of panic, or surprise they went about getting the Fav-Afrique anti-venom, into Pete as soon as possible!!… Two weeks before two children sleeping in the same bed, one was bitten on the cheek, pretty big reaction, the other one was bitten on the forehead,.. no reaction at all .. obviously all the venom had gone into the first, one!.. Both cases were lucky to be close to Wamba!.. That Rendille kid was pretty lucky to find you!.. The good news!!, as most of us conservationists believe… is really, snakes are usually heading in the opposite direction, and don’t want to know… What is strange about this incident is… The snake came from the out side.. he was not cornered, Pete actually was, although he did not know it, until it was too late.. !! Wrong place at wrong time!!.. or what??

Stellas bedroom!!!!

Sorry every one… The most important photo on Stellas Blog, is the picture of her bedroom at Elkanto, but it did not go on… So I’m trying again…Stellas African bedroom...JPG

If it hasn’t come up, I’ll try to describe it for you… Imagine a 360 degrees view from your bed… Remember you are on a hill, 600 hundred feet above the surrounding area…

Elkanto hill.. taken from Parsaloi Lugga.JPG Elkanto Hill taken from the Parsaloi Lugga.. Matthews behind..

At night… There is no light pollution at all so you can see every star and planet, and any thing else exciting out there in the sky, bright, bright!, right to the horizon… you can sometimes see the north star, and we are only 1 degrees north of the equator! Hey Stella, ‘ You are not meant to sleep well at Elkanto, because you will miss every thing!!..’ Including all those beautiful night creatures that pass your bed on their way to water!.. Yes we have water, pumped by a solar pump… IE when the sun rises, water comes up the hill!! for the animals and birds..

In the morning this is what you wake up to… To the south.. You look down the Laana Nikan Lugga, as it snakes its way about 40 kms down from the Sware plains [ some people call it the Seiya Lugga, because thats what it says on the map!, but actually the Seiya is further up stream flowing out of the Kirisia hills and it becomes the Laana Nikan where it meets the Ngeng flowing out from the southern end of the Matthews!] beyond that sometimes you can see Mt Kenya, 150 Kms away..

Mt Kenya taken from Elkanto.JPG Mt Kenya, taken at Dawn through binoculars, from Elkanto!

Going round to the East you have the full range of the Matthews. Then the Milgis Lugga [ this picture] as it meanders off towards the Kaisut desert, when its clear you can see about 100kms, the dramatic rocks of Laisamis, and Losai.. Turning to wards the north the full range of the powerful looking Ndotos, a majestically blue look to them, with the brown rolling hills of Latakwen in the fore ground, turning to the west, again the huge Parsaloi Lugga winding its way from the northern end of the Kirisia hills…. Many people that visit this remote, secluded spot.. Are generally speechless, not because they have walked up the hill!, but because the view in all directions is exquisite!!!

From Concrete to Kenya… By Stella

I had been working in one of London’s top advertising agencies until something ‘clicked’ and I realised my skills, abilities and passion for life were being squandered on an unworthy cause…I wanted to go to Africa and work in conservation, there was no doubt about it, but the question was how and where?

So I started with researching Richard Leakey. I knew of his work and his good reputation within conservation and I soon found out he had created a blog site for networking called Wildlife Direct. Reading through the recent posts I came across a wonderfully avid blog from the Milgis Trust. So there it began and having followed Helen Douglas-Dufresne’s passionate and straight-to-the-point snippets of life in northern Kenya I made a decision to take my first step and emailed her asking whether she might consider me as a willing volunteer, not expecting to receive any reply at all. So quite unexpectedly, she replied saying “just come” with her go-with-the-flow outlook on life…and as they say the rest is history…here I am in the depths of Africa and loving every second!

Here’s just a little snippet of my life so far….

Elkanto.jpg Delicately thatched roofs appeared like a mirage in the balmy morning haze as the plane gently swooped over Elkanto’s peak (the Trust’s HQ). I regrettably had little chance to see much else on the flight up from Nairobi to the depths of Samburuland as I struggled against my queasy belly as it twisted and churned with the current of the wind and the lurch of the plane. Thankfully my complaining stomach soon heaved a sigh of relief as Pete’s gentle dive glided us effortlessly along a humble runway dotted with dozing camels and tufts of bush. Clambering out onto terra firma the warm fresh air filled my lungs, as fiery rays of the African sun flushed colour back into my cheeks.

I marvelled at the muscular hills that rolled smoothly around me; the towering Ndotos and the emerald mounds of the Mathews stretching as far as the eye could see.

I soon focused on a figure striding across the runway; a colourful kikoi twisted around her head. Adorned with bright beads and Samburu trinkets Helen greeted me with a warm smile and a welcoming hug, and led me to a table standing under a shady tree laden with tasty treats for brunch. I was then greeted warmly with firm handshakes and smiles all around by Helen’s loyal Samburu crew, of which a few were dressed gracefully in their proud Samburu regalia radiating with majestic aura.

A slow and bumpy drive in the back of a ‘Landy’ pulled us up the west side of Elkanto. Hanging on tightly I watched as long-eared Dikdiks scuttled into the thick bush at the bottom of the hill and multi-coloured birds fluttered into the bright blue sky.

Enchanting singing suddenly echoed from the peak of the hill, thinking someone had turned on the radio I paid little attention. As we rounded the last corner a procession of Samburu women greeted us with their soothing song. Dressed to the chin in delicately entwined beads and lengths of vivacious cloth they danced in perfect unity….The women of a community half a day’s walk away in the blistering sun had come to see Helen. Presenting her with a beautifully designed hanging, beaded in Swahili reading ‘Mama Helen’ they humbly finished their mesmerising performance. I soon found out they had come to ask Helen for help with finding a market for their jewellery and Samburu arts and crafts so they could afford some independence.

So I had only been in the Milgis for half an hour and I had already been well and truly immersed in this amazing land.

An early start was awaiting me in the morning, as I tried to imagine the celebrations the water opening would bring the next day, so I retired to bed.

Torch securely in hand I retraced my steps back to my bed, which now sat on the edge of the hill away from the shelter of the banda. ‘When was the last time you slept under the stars’ I was casually asked.’ Enjoy the night’! As wonderful as it was, it went against everything I had known. Every noise and shadow played tricks on my imagination as I pulled the bed sheets tighter under my neck.

Venus moon and Jupiter.JPG

Not even the smiling stars could soothe my twitching nerves as the gravel scratched under my bed and I pictured a hungry leopard deciding which limb to gnaw on first. At one point I had to laugh – was I dreaming? The sun soon rose, shedding safe light over the hill as I awoke from my light slumber. My fears had obviously tired me out and I had slept restlessly at total surrender to the creatures that prowled the night. Regardless of my fears it was an experience I will never forget and one that I think should be had by all. Especially when I had my morning shower under the bough of a helpful tree and elephants meandered peacefully just a stone’s throw below.

elephant below Elkanto.jpg

This is real nature; we’ve all just evolved so far away from it!

Well, the Latakwen celebrations -where do I begin?! I think Helen has summed it up wonderfully but from an outsiders perspective you really can’t quite describe the joy and gratefulness that emanated from these beautiful people. Their songs, dances and smiling faces touched every emotion and at times I had to bite back the tears (happy tears that is) it was just so overwhelming. Everything about these people, their life and their amazing environment attacks all the senses and makes you feel truly alive!

I’ve certainly found something worth fighting to protect and I can’t express how wonderful it is to be part of something so special.