Category Archives: elephants

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..

Frozen Elephants?

In May 2010, we were camping on the South side of Mt Nyiru, when one of the Samburu came and asked me if I had seen the Frozen people…… What on earth was he talking about? So off we went to check it out!..

to find the rest of the story please go to the ‘The Milgis Journal’

http://milgistrust.wordpress.com/2013/05/28/frozen-elephants-or-elephant-matywooins/

And this is the main link http://milgistrust.wordpress.com/

If you would like to be reminded each time I write a blog, please follow these instructions!! On the left hand column of the homepage of the Milgis Journal there is a button called FOLLOW US HERE – above that button is a box where you can write in your email address. Write in your email address and then press the button FOLLOW US HERE –

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

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!!!!!

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..

Well done learaman..Learaman the milgis Eye Warrior.JPG

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!!

The Milgis is roaring!

In more ways than one!! Scouts working hard, and Elephants happy, Tractor going strong, Schools going well, Sponsor kids back at school, etc, etc but perhaps today the most important bit of news, on this one year anniversary since Pete’s mega walk on Oct 15th 2011…. IT IS RAINING in Northern Kenya!!.. Soooo Exciting..

DSC00891-001.JPG This picture was taken last week as we walked up the Milgis Lugga, on our way home from a safari from Ngurnit.. *it was hot, really HOT!.. The signs for rain were looking good!.. Not a cloud in the sky in this picture, but thats the last thing to happen out here!..

DSC00900.JPG *The winds blowing up the Milgis Lugga between the Matthews and Ndotos have been very impressive… The white in the picture above is the sand being picked up.. Its looks like a mirage, but it is sand, and it really stings your legs!..

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That same afternoon, we played a football match on the beautiful flat sand of the Barsaloi Lugga.. Actually it was one of the funniest football matches I’ve ever watched.. Samburu V Norwegians… The score was a draw, at least we thought it was .. Every one was laughing so much.!! ..

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One week later ….. This is what the Milgis lugga looks like today!!!… A roaring, raging muddy river !!.. Thats where we were walking one week ago…

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*But again we had plenty of warning as the flowering Acacias were absolutely fabulous..

DSC00569-001.JPG Acacia Melifera.. The Honey Acacia in flower as far as the eye can see..

*And of course whorl winds all over! DSC01074-001.JPG You can see the Acacia Melifera in flower in the fore ground..

DSC00518.JPG DSC00519.JPG The Aroma is extraordinary..

The Elephants were on the move again !!http://milgistrust.wildlifedirect.org/How on earth do the Elephants know its going to rain??

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*The wind storms in Kaisut desert were amazing.. Lifting red dust high into the sky.. *The Guinea fowl were singing the rain song… *The trees were all bursting into leaf.. *The 9th October morning the clouds arrived… So its all good in the Milgis… …(*signs of rain coming)

Other bits of good news….

Despite unbelievable winds, NO FIRES this year in the mountains and in the Luggas.. .. I am really proud to say that the message has got through, and apart from the odd accident its been an amazing dry season…

Mureya, now a beautiful young Rendille girl, and normal, but when we first met her, she was completely crazy.. She lost her Father and Mother, also her own baby in a cholera outbreak about 2 years ago… She met us on a safari back in August at Ngurnit, and it was a pitiful sight.. Moses Lesoloyia, held a kind hand out to her and invited her into the camp, gave her a cup of tea, and I think this was the first time she had felt kindness to her since she discovered her family were gone.. .. We sent her down to the Nakuru mental hospital, and with in a few days she was back home but this time with people who cared for her..

Just a couple of pictures of a beautiful Grevy Zebra, taken at Anderi, on the East side of Mt Nyiru… Isn’t it a magnificent Animal.. They’re only about 2700-3000 left in the whole world, and one of their biggest problems is getting to water in the dry season.. They walk miles and miles to find it.. Here all is good and the water was easily available to them..

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Masiketa are going to be the lucky ones for the next VOSS/Lena Bergum water project. What is the connection here of Lene Bergum and Masiketa.. Lena Maria Bergum was killed on Utoya Island in Norway, and her parents want a memory that means something… The people at Masiketa centre which is about 30 kms North of Elkanto, have been asking us for help with water for a long time, and this may be very fitting for the Bergum family .. This an amazing place because they live with the permanent stress of attacks from armed stock thieves, and yet people choose to live there.!! 6/11/08 heres a harrowing story.. not for the fainthearted though… Why do people choose to live there, with this permanent threat on their shoulders?? Because the grazing for their animals, their livelihood, and ‘bank’ is good.. There is a school, and a clinic there, plus a pretty good number of people..There isn’t a single family here that hasn’t lost, or had wounded a member of their family to the bullet.. But they are very resilient and always look forward to a new day!. There are times when many, many people come from far and wide ( as far as 200 kms away) to find grazing for their livestock.. Talking with Elders at tank site.JPG Heres Pete discussing with the Elders of Masiketa on where to put the main tank..

As I have mentioned several times in my blogs, the Elephants have this urge to get back to Mt Nyiru, which a few have done, but have returned to the Ndotos, because they are not sure… One of the biggest problems is because they have not been seen there in the last 40 years, every one wants to see them.. This of course makes them nervous.. We still have alot of work to do on this, and theres no better way than spending time, and creating awareness while helping people with their eye problems!.. The Milgis Trust in conjunction with MEAK will be doing another Eye mission up at South Horr on the 2nd of November for a week..

DSC00239.JPG In May last year this girl was almost blind, but thanks to MEAK and the Lions eye team she is back on the road..

Doctor George Ohito with 5 nurses from the L.I.O.N.S Eye Hospital will be there.. … We are hoping once again to reach out to many people who live in darkness but with a simple cataract operation, they will get their sight back.. Also many people with Tracoma need help.. Daniel Learaman ‘our Warrior eye man’ has screened far and wide, right up to Loiangalani and Mt Kulal to find patients who can be helped.. He has screened over a 1000 people, and he has 400 on his list!.. I am sure some people may chicken out but many will benefit.. Then I can get my bit in while they are recovering about the Wildlife, and Forests!!

Finally a great picture of an Elephant .. Its on the wall in a little road side shop in Ilaut.. There has not been Elephants here for 40 years.. This is a positive sign!

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again a huge huge THANKS to all who support the Milgis!..

WE ARE WINNING!!

By the way Our CD ‘Samburu Echos’ is nearly ready.. We are hoping to sell it to raise money for the Milgis Trust.. ‘Samburu helping Samburu’ through song… Next Blog will have all the info.. Its really beautifully done thanks to Gavin Hogg and Ben Evans, and many other generous people…..

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..

World environment day was celebrated in the Milgis also!!

And what a special day it was!!… Right in the remotest corner of Northern Kenya the children from the Milgis School came to celebrate with us on the Lugga! One might call it World Elephant day!, as it all seemed to be about Elephants! But thats ok, because they are the talk of 2012..

DSC00195.JPG This was their wonderful creation..

And the idea came from this! Eley hedge (1).jpg All the way from Penpont in Whales.. This beautiful hedge was the very hard work of Gavin Hogg, who came to the Milgis with Ben Evans on a mission to record the beautiful songs of the Samburu people.. All in aid of raising money for the Milgis work ‘Samburu helping Samburu’.. ‘ Echo’s ‘ what goes out, comes back to preserve this wonderful place!

DSC00035.JPG More on this incredibly exciting project coming soon but lets concentrate on the day in question… WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY.. which was on the 9th June, and Gavin said he was going to draw a huge Elephant in the sand, and the children from the Milgis school are to fill it in, with sticks, stones or what ever they could find in the Lugga.. It was a brilliant idea… The children all arrived in all their finery and Gavin got them all to work!!

DSC00134.JPG ” Collect any thing you can find to fill the elephant in.”.

DSC00117.JPG The beginning of the Elephant, just the out line.. The enthusiasm was extraordinary and soon there was over 100 children, and 20 warriors rushing around gathering what ever they could find to fill him in!

DSC00109.JPG From the little guys to the head boy!

DSC00126.JPG The warriors finding white stones for the tusks..

DSC00130.JPG A group of camels on their way to water, pass by!! and below two women wonder past.. none of them even fazed!DSC00155.JPG Finally the Elephant has taken shape and all the children climb up the side of the canyon to view their creation.. DSC00143.JPG Gavin with his arms up.. This was such an exciting day for him!!

DSC00157.JPG With the Elephant below them, the children sat in silence just looking…. Then a few words on what World Environment day is all about.. Our honorary Scout Kosma gave them a story from Dr Zeus’s Lorax book.. Thanks to Julia Hailes in England for sending this excellent story with a very strong message.. Its all about how greed destroys the world…. Kosma did a brill job talking them through the story.. mmmmm, aaahhhh, oooooo.. Were the comments from the children.. Shocking they said! From a people who are usually very unselfish, and incredibly generous this was an aw fall story..

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Later Kosma explaining it to a group of warriors! DSC00092.JPG

Next… The children did a small play..

DSC00180.JPG This was a very moving show… ‘Samburu love Elephants, and will protect them forever’.. was the jist.. It was for me a tearjerker of note!! .. The singer was calling for all Kenyans to look after these gentle giants…

DSC00189.JPG The School environment Club with their teacher Titus Lekirere, having an animal discussion!

Finally a rip roaring dance, performed by the Milgis School cultural club, under the guidance of their teacher Mike Lesiantaam.. DSC_0343.JPG

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The Canyon in the Milgis was alive with colour and absolutely beautiful ‘Echos’. What goes out will come back!!

Milgis news!!

What on earth happened to the year.. It was only January the other day, now its May, the rainy season already!!… mmmm… But we do have good news from the Milgis!

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Elephants have been on the move once more!. Back to places 30/40 years ago they were completely wiped out of.. Now its a safer place to be as an Elephant than most places!, with our help, and our scouts and informers are being extremely vigilant.. Water is their problem now, which we have tried to solve for them also with pan dams, on their routes!

The smart new Nursery classroom in Latakwen

Some sad Eley news too… A two year old youngster that we darted and treated with Matthew the KWS vet, with a very swollen leg is taken by Hyenas..

Water for the people in Urra, west Ndotos.. THANK YOU VOSS!!

5 more needy children are lucky to go to school,

Most of the now 24 pan dams we dug have water in them!! Unfortunately the rains seem to have been quite patchy through out the area… But its sufficient, because luckily the people here are still nomadic, and if they haven’t had rain at home they can move.. ..

Despite this incredible show in the Matthews, it didn’t pour with rain this night..

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But impressive sight anyway !

DSC03952.JPG 18.55.. The same cloud just over half an hour later in the moon light, and not a drop of rain!!

Great excitement on the radio this week as the news of 34 Elephants venturing north into areas that they have not been seen for a very long time.. For obvious reasons with the situation at the moment I am not saying where, but a very significant happening as it means that they are generally feeling safe up here… I would like to say well done our scouts, and informers and also especially to the communities, who are now working incredibly close with THE MILGIS TRUST to keep their wildlife safe!..Good for them!

DSC03970.JPG As our Milgis Logo portrays.. The Camel (the communities) protecting the Elephant ( the wildlife)..

DSC03793.JPG ‘Gentle’ being the operative word! they don’t want to bother people! This is a painting, done by Nderitu on the wall of the new class room in the Milgis school! Portraying again, you mind your on business, the Eleys will as well!.. Talking of new!!.. We also have a huge thank you to Toto Trust for the beautiful new colourful Nursery classroom in Latakwen..

DSC03716.JPG Thank you TOTO TRUST!

While we are on the subjects of Elephants.. This is a sad story about this poor little youngster.. We had a call on the radio that there was a small Elephant, the size of a donkey all on his own dragging his leg, down in the lower Milgis.. Matthew the KWS vet flew up with Pete, from OlPejeta to dart and treat him.. But its not as easy as that!! We battled to get to where he was, and against our better judgement we decided to follow the Milgis Lugga to where he was.. mmmm Not a good plan!! Because the rains in November/December had been so good the sand on the Milgis Lugga was incredibly soft we got stuck and stuck and STUCK!!.. Eventually we walked the last 6 kms in the heat of the day!, carrying all the veterinary gear to where the Elephant was being monitored, by our scouts, and a very helpful KWS team from Marsabit.. By the way KWS we are so grateful to get your support up there!
DSC03840.JPG We were lucky after an hour in the incredibly thick bush to beable to dart and treat his very swollen leg.. probably a bullet wound.. We got him up again and our scouts spent a week with him, watching his every move as much as they could in the thick bush, and from all reports he was making a good recovery.. DSC03851.JPG They were trying to make friends with him, and making good progress, so that we could move him to an easier place to monitor him.. Then unfortunately we got a report that they had started seeing Hyena tracks around.. Before we were able to make the next complicated plan, about 30 hyenas came in and killed him in the night..

I’m afraid we were devastated …. This is another result of poaching sadly..

To happier things!.. We THANK VOSS foundation once again, for all the incredible support they give to the Milgis.. We are unbelievably lucky to be working with you… In February friends of VOSS walked with the camels from the Milgis out to Urra, west of the Ndotos, to open another water project !! Once again an beautiful celebration, people came from far and wide to say THANK YOU… This is now the 4th water project we have done with VOSS.. The others are in Latakwen, Sware, and Ol Donyo Nasipa!

DSC03541.JPG The girls from Norway! Thank you for coming all this way to help..

DSC03540.JPG Urra is a little centre, in the foothills of the western side of the Ndotos.. There is a small school, and many people live around in manyattas..

DSC03526.JPG The well, and solar panels, and the watchman’s house.. His job is to look after the solar panels, and well, and to make sure there is plenty of water for the people of Urra, and the Elephants!!

DSC03530.JPG The beautiful Samburu women singing their praises to the Voss visitors.. Wonderful singing and dancing, and lots of fun was had by all..

DSC03534.JPG Beautiful clean water up at the Urra school..

Before! Why did we choose Urra.. DSCN0869.JPG During the dry times the people in Urra really struggle to get to water, and when they do the Elephants kept on breaking their wells every night, but they put up with it!! People from 20 kms around were also coming for water here as well.. It became an impossible situation.. SO They came and asked for help!

DSCN0865.JPG A carpet of Dung in the drought, from all the animals visiting the well..

Logistics of doing these water projects.. Interesting!!

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The sponsorship programme…

DSC03954.JPG This Samburu girl from Parsaloi is very clever!! She passed all her primary school exams with flying colours but her family could not afford to send her to secondary school.. All the family livestock had been stolen in a raid, and her father had died.. So she was sent back to primary school.. But the teachers said this was ridiculous, so asked the community to try to help.. The community tried their best to help her out, but she did not have enough to see her through to the 2nd term so would be sent home, so I am pleased to say the Little Troll Foundation has guaranteed her through the to the end of her schooling.. Thank you so much, to them and to the others, wanaduma, and other Norwegian friends this year who are helping us send 5 new children to school, making the sponsor programme now helping 25 children.. All who have the same story as this girl..

All the Dams are full, or nearly!! Below is the newest one at Lorok Onyoke, a really really dry place usually.. In the dry season the nearest good water is around 15/20 kms away.. thank you to our friends in Portugal..

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Before and after pictures!

Lorok Onyoke pan dam.. DSC03922.JPG