Category Archives: Forest Fires

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…..

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

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….

‘Painted Wolf’ Bonanza!! & Thank you, Marwell..

Happy New Year to every one, and heres to a safe, and happy 2012 to all creatures great and Small.. … We celebrated our new year near the WILD Dog’s… What a pleasure !!!..

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These 3 pictures were taken by Lemagas, with an ordinary camera!!

DSC02914-1.JPG Inside their den…

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Then this little sequence of beauty’s with the night camera, in the same den!

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Theres at least 12 puppies, and maybe 14 adults

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We left the night camera in the den for a week, and found the dogs had, had a good chew on it!! But it still works..

DSC02950.JPG Painted wolves.. Thats a better name for these beautiful animals..

The Milgis Trust Thanks Marwell Wildlife and Zeke Davidson for your support.. Below is a small introduction by Zeke of the work we are doing together.. .. The technical side of things!.. ( Sorry his pictures would not post, so I’ve improvised with mine)

Hello to all the Milgis Trust Bloggers! I still feel new to the Milgis, but have been visiting here for the past 18 months or so now. I work with Marwell Wildlife, a Uk based charity dedicated to the conservation of biodiversity and other natural resources. We achieve this through restoration of species and habitats, promoting sustainable living, and by inspiring change through science, education & public engagement – which is something of a mouthful!

grevy.JPG Marwells Speciality.. The Grevy Zebra.. Thanks to Marwell Zoo introducing us to these night cameras, they really opened our eyes.. Theres far more out there than one thinks, but its very nocturnal!! H

Suffice to say that when the trust approached Marwell in January 2010 with a request to look at “some data” they had, and help to get some monitoring established, we jumped at the chance to work with this dynamic, dedicated and intensely passionate team. The data is turning out to be a quietly understated GOLDMINE for conservation action. We will get to more on that in a few months time as we develop analyses out of the historic information we have in hand already. But I am sure I don’t need to explain the value of continuous sightings reports from 24 scouts making daily observations of wildlife in the Milgis ecosystem over the past 5 years! We hope to plot the return of elephants to the Milgis and beyond, to catalogue her amazing biodiversity and to provide information that will help people living here make real time decisions about conserving their environment, while maintaining their livelihoods and traditions in a timeless lifestyle that is still relevant today.

As we settle into 2012, we can happily say that the ground work has been laid for a long term partnership between Marwell and the Milgis Trust. We at Marwell are thrilled and feel really honoured, not to mention incredibly lucky, to have been sought out by Helen and her team. Over the past two years we have instituted regular training workshops for the growing force of scouts, ( now nearly 30, and 12 informers) we have standardised observation methodologies and entered the digital age by converting the data collection onto a computer based database.

And that is the real nub of this post, because not long ago we had word that our efforts to help Milgis Trust raise funds specifically for elephant conservation and research have been successful. In a phone call from their Head Quarters, the US Fish and Wildlife Service African Elephant Program confirmed that we had been successful in our grant application. We are now ready to begin a wide scale elephant conservation project, underpinned by the scouts and their data collecting activities, and the ongoing work of the trust.

This is hugely significant news. The focus on elephants will serve as a flagship to understanding not only how the Milgis functions, but how all her species use the land, her resources and coexist alongside the pastoralist Samburu people who live there too. Elephants have lead the way for our partnership and just as the young ones follow the old matriarchs back to Mt. Nyiru and beyond, we will follow them too. Learning from their travels which habitats are most important, which areas need close protection, which water points are their old standbys for crossing the barren lands and how we can ensure their permanence now that they have returned.

wider area bgs-3.jpg The area the Milgis Trust covers.. remember wildlife does not know borders, so the scouts follow their migrations.. There are NO fences, and these important water towers are needed to keep the Fauna and Flora well watered and fed!

This elephant project will focus on conserving habitat connectivity for African elephant (Loxodonta africana) populations in Northern Kenya , and will be the most northerly based elephant conservation study in East Africa. So this work is a vital expansion of the direct efforts being brought to bear on the global conservation of African elephants. As Helen has always maintained, elephants have historically inhabited this ecosystem, although were absent for several years from the mid 1980’s until more recently thanks to poachers. By formally undertaking research and monitoring on these mega herbivores we will maintain the area as a holistically functioning ecosystem, without fences or segregation between wildlife and local pastoral communities. This area is an important migratory corridor between the complex of protected areas in the south, (Laikipia and Samburu, Buffalo Springs and wildlife reserves), the Marsabit Massif to the north east (the northern extent of the Samburu-Laikipia elephant population) and Mt Nyiru ( in the north west.)

However, much of this information is still based solely on local anecdotal knowledge. To ensure that it is accepted by both the communities and planning authorities we will have to put the Milgis elephant highways on the map with irrefutable data. In spite of the serious depletion in elephant numbers since the late 1970s, this area is currently home to the second largest elephant population in Kenya. The area is extremely isolated geographically, and elephants are facing several threats, including, among st others; intensifying habitat loss and fragmentation owing to the expanding human population, severely limiting climatic conditions, persecution by commercial ivory poaching and indiscriminate and illegal killing..

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The Milgis Trust Elephant Project (MTEP) will be continuing to investigate this human/elephant conflict and the spatial dynamics of the population through the established network of Milgis scouts and engaging pastoralists in a programme of community based conservation activities. The project will seek to understand elephant habitat use and behaviour, sustainability and conservation in remote northern areas, and will also engage local communities in education workshops and participatory planning, in an effort to increase awareness, involvement and ownership of elephant conservation. In this way we are building a legacy of community based conservation and management with less dependence on foreign aid and external funding. These are tried and tested methods that have been used with great success in areas such as the Ruaha wilderness in Tanzania where large carnivores have had a reputation of man eating, the Tsavo-Amboseli Ecosystem in Kenya where lion guardians are recruited from the Maasai warrior caste who have historically hunted lion as a rite of passage, and for the long term protection of mountain gorillas in Queen Elizabeth National Park, Uganda, to name just three examples.

Already we have begun to build a detailed Geographic Information System (GIS), or electronic map, to be able to visualise the landscape the Milgis elephants are using..The urgency for providing scout training is growing as increasing elephant presence in these areas might potentially also increase the opportunity for conflict with people and livestock. Conflict is chiefly anticipated over water availability, especially during times of drought. It is therefore vital that the Trust’s operations continue to promote elephant conservation to local communities whilst increasing community awareness of the benefits of elephants.

You might wonder what the trade off for living with elephants would be to a family living in a simple manyatta right in among st these giants. Well, local communities have already expressed positive attitudes to wards elephants as they are perceived to provide essential benefits to their pastoral lifestyles. There are many examples, but just one here, they maintain open routes through dense bush and provide access to mountain grazing areas. This access facilitates sustainable grazing as herds of livestock can be relocated to allow lowland areas to recover during dry seasons. Until recently these areas had been lost to community grazing management as elephants had been absent from the area for many years. The people were now turning to burning, to beable to get their livestock into the mountains, with devastating results. However, with the elephants gradual return, these valuable resources are slowly becoming available again. This observation comes directly from the people living in the Milgis area and is a key reason why the Trust has established this project. This work is a direct response to the communities request for assistance in securing their livelihoods and forms part of the Trusts commitment to improving resources through conservation action.

All this is a very neat fit for Marwell’s conservation goals through the restoration of species and habitats, promoting sustainable living, and inspiring change through science, education & public engagement! But you can follow all that on www.marwell.org.uk and on Twitter and Facebook too.

From dust to the land of milk and smiles!!

These days in Northern Kenya you can not walk past a manyatta ( pastoral homestead) with out somebody calling from inside inviting you in for a cup of milk!! They have too much, and its just extraordinary times up here! We have had more rain than any one can remember!… What an extraordinary change from a few months back when it was dust, famine, raging winds and desperation and now long grass, flowers in their billions, calm days but unbelievable floods to beat all years!!

A couple of before and after pictures! Dust at Leamu in the evening light..

october 2010 067.jpgDSC02782-1.JPG Same spot a few months later!!

A couple of Elephants passing Elkanto in June.. 2011
It was just a few days after the first rain came, so it has greened up abit..
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DSC02490.JPG Same spot Nov 2011.. Heliotropium flowers!

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A month or so ago, in fact before Pete’s walk these Luggas were highways, every one from Humans, Livestock, Elephants, Hyenas and cars were charging up and down.. Luckily they’re so big there is no possibility of a traffic jam!.. NOW they are huge flooded rivers, just taking any thing down thats in front of them.. This is the Seiya up stream, where the Ngeng comes in..

DSC02447.JPG DSC02477.JPG The Junction of the Laana Nikan and Parsaloi, below Elkanto, where they become the Milgis.. Its now over a km wide! Below is the Milgis at Leamu..

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The floods this year have been very very exciting, and we gather that people who have not waited for the rivers to subside have lost vehicles… ( In the old days if you came across a flooded lugga you waited till it went down before you crossed, but these days people don’t have the patience or the knowledge) BUT even the trees have to hold on really tight, ..

DSC02775.JPG 9.15 am.. there one minute .. The next.. DSC02776.JPG 9.22 am GONE!!

Sadly now I have heard that about 200 trees, Acacia Tortilis, and Doum Palms have been washed away!..

DSC02804.JPG We had breakfast under this Acacia on our last safari… Oh so sad after all they’ve been through!

Well with these good rains we now have Pelicans on our bird list!!
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And so many types of grass!! Yes this is in the NFD! ( in the colonial days one had to get a permit, to go to the harsh Northern Frontier District!.. It was known to be such a hard place for people to survive, and if you got lost, or you broke down, you would struggle to survive, and where would the authorities start to look!, you only got a permit if you knew what you were doing!) This doesn’t look harsh!!

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DSC02728.JPG A lovely male Desert warthog, Hes got very impressive tusks!!

Then of course the most wonderful thing is the Flowers.. Below is not hail, but Heliotropium!

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DSC02626.JPGDSC02801.JPG Fallen petals..

And the scented air.. After all that dust and wind imagine how pleasant it is now, no wind… calm…. cool!!

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Look how this lovely flower below holds the water..

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Interesting thing also… This area in the picture below was burnt by a Rendille guy by mistake, when he lit a fire to try to keep the Hyenas off his sick camel that could not get up.. I think it was an unfortunate or lets say careless accident.. oh well, he also lost his camel, burnt around 5 acres of valuable camel browse, and look also nothing has grown at all..

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And this below was burnt in 1999, and there is still no grass, after a record at least 10 inches of rain!.. So why do they burn.. It is a thing I will never understand, but there was very little burnt this year, and with the invasion from Marsabit it was surprising.. Does this mean we are winning!! I think so!

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A real reason to SMILE!! THREE actually!!

THE FIRST REASON IS THESE TWO CAN SEE AGAIN, AND THE SECOND IS SOME OF OUR NEW PAN DAMS HAVE WATER IN THEM!!!!! THIRD ‘ JUST AROUND THE CORNER ‘ ART AUCTION was ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!!!!

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This brother and sister, had never seen each other before!! WHY?? Because they were born blind!!.. With the wonderful LIONS club Eye team, and MEAKs incredible organisation, and dedication and TROPICAIR‘s Generosity, well over 100 Nomadic people living in the Milgis Ecosystem, are better off than a month ago!! About 140 Cataract and TPR (tracoma complications) operations were performed, but many were bilateral..

THANK YOU VERY VERY MUCH TO ALL WHO WERE INVOLVED IN THIS GREAT MISSION… Especially to Beverly for making it possible .. You are amazing..

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Beverly who has supported the Milgis in many different ways, was back again to help physically, and financially.. Here is a very very happy person, thanking her, and Daniel Learaman, who found her! He has been out there walking from Manyatta to Manyatta, for 4 months, identifying peoples eye problems, and telling them to come to Latakwen, 1st may 2011!!

DSC00947.JPG Daniel in the field identifying the problem..

DSC07636.JPG Daniel is absolutely thrilled to sit next to this lovely girl, who he has taken alot of trouble to bring to the Mission.. Below she was handed a mirror, and she immediately admired her beads, and adjusted them!..

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The vehicles went far and wide to collect patients, and sadly the only rain we have had this year fell during this week!.. Most of it upstream but it still made it incredibly difficult to gather all the waiting patients, from miles around..

DSC00917.JPG Crossing the Milgis Lugga, on the first day, but later it was not possible to cross by car as then a huge flood came down.. Although the rain was a ‘ God send ‘, people who could not see, were stranded very where.. But the drivers worked day and night to try to collect every one.. How could they miss such an incredible thing.. An opportunity to see again, for free!! Free food, and transport…

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As usual the MILGIS MESSAGE was spread far and wide, Below, Just before the vehicles left to take each group of people back to theirs homes.. All the scouts and the manager Moses Lesoloyia, would spend half an hour explaining where this help came from, why, and how.. The Milgis was started because of two things that happened.. One there was an enormous destructive fire in the Matthews Forest, and secondly there was a beautiful bull Elephant, shot in the knee, and eventually died of its wounds.. This is what sparked it off, and all these fringe benefits come to people who CARE FOR THE FUTURE OF THIS AREA AND ITS FLORA AND FAUNA!!

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DSC01019.JPG Ready to go well armed with good eyes,and a serious message to take home!! ‘ Look after your future’!!

Some places had pretty good rain.. Certainly the big luggas were flooded for a few days… But the rain was very patchy, and some places had none.. But a few of the pan dams I am happy to say have a little water in them.. The people who have been absolutely struggeling for water in Aarge area were the luckiest!! ..

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I have to tell you that they deserve every drop they got, because they get the prize for not cutting one single tree down for their goats, and sheep, no burning, and have been thoroughly responsible in every way.. We are delighted!! This area to the South East of the Ol Donyo Maras has been very very dry.. I know our friends in Portugal, will be ‘ over the moon ‘ .. Thanks to you both..

LAST But not least.. The ‘ JUST AROUND THE CORNER’ ‘ art Auction has been and Gone, with absolutely unbelievable results… Well done ALL, and THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH FOR BELIEVING AND SUPPORTING VOSS foundation AND MILGIS PROJECTS… LONG LIVE THE MILGIS ECOSYSTEM.. its people, forests and wildlife!

The Milgis Trust needs more scouts to fulfill our mission…

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This Elephant is sending a clear message!

‘PLEASE HELP MILGIS TRUST PROTECT ME AND MY ENVIRONMENT’……..

The Milgis Trust has now been operating in the Samburu District for over five years. It has built a wonderful rapport with the tribal communities, chiefs and elders and it works hand in hand with the communities in regards to all its operations…

BACKGROUND…

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In just five short years the success of the Trust is visible in all our conservation objectives….

We now manage 22 full time scouts all employed from the local communities as well as 2 radio operators all of who work around the clock 365 days a year creating and sustaining an invaluable security network not only for the people but for the beautiful African wildlife that lives in the Milgis ecosystem.

Along with our scouts and manager we have gathered a Community Conservation Committee made up of chiefs and elders from all the surrounding villages,

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as well as an Eco-Screen Awareness Team that coordinates conservation screenings each month.

None of the projects we do, would be possible without the stable structure of the Milgis Trust Headquarters and the team that keep it running. Without our loyal team we would not be able to support the unforeseen situations that regularly arise in this remote and tough land, from emergency hospital transfers to elephant rescues.

Our radio station is always alive with communication and activities that need the assistance of one of our scouts who are always ready at hand 24/7.radios save so much time and money!.jpg

died from lack of water.jpg This warthog was found down a deep well, it jumped down too thirsty to think how it was going to get out… The scouts rescued it but it was too late.. It died after it had spent the whole night and most of the day down there…

There are five distinct areas to our core operations:

1. The Milgis Trust Radio Hill

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This is where our two radio operators live and work manning the radio waves and coordinating activities;

CORE OPERATIONS

2. Our 22 Scouts and local Manager…..

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Each of whom works full time in their allocated conservation range equipped with radio, GPS and binoculars ; as well as patrolling which they all do on foot, they create monthly records and reports on communities, livestock, wildlife and land degradation, whilst actively promoting and conserving the areas they patrol.

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3. Project Coordination…. The trust now always has a conservation project on the go and heavily relies on the team at the headquarters to manage and coordinate all activities on site, be it the building of the school or the opening of an elephant kisima (water hole).

wells for Elephants.jpg When the water table goes too deep for the Elephants to dig then the scouts help out, and open the wells for them so that they can get in and out safely…

4. Awareness meetings & Campaigns… The Trust holds several monthly and quarterly meetings with the scouts, the Community Conservation Committee as well as with the KWS and other conservation conservancies in the area. On top of this we regularly integrate the surrounding communities and believe it important to incorporate them in all our plans by holding village meetings.

5. Contingency Operations… Every day we receive emergency calls or visitors, be it for illness, wildlife emergencies, poaching, deforestation or fires. We always need to have the resources available to be able to deal with the situation quickly and effectively. In the last five years alone we have had to coordinate five baby elephant rescues to the DSWT orphanage in Nairobi;

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The Milgis Trust Core Operations Team in just five years has built 1 primary, and 2 Nursery schools and provided drinking water to 3 schools and 2 centres. We have refurbished the local clinic, and employed a nurse…Amoungst many other small projects..

PROJECT IMPACT…

With the Milgis Trust’s gentle support the ecosystem is now regaining its balance. Already elephants are responding to the security presence provided by our scouts, which is exhibited by their increasingly relaxed behaviour and their expansion into parts of their former range . Our habitat which supports other key species including the Greater and Lesser kudu, Grevy’s Zebra, DeBrazza’s Monkey and many of the large predators including the endangered African Wild Dog, are rebuilding in numbers and thriving. A harmonious relationship is slowly being created between the wildlife and people of this area, and the communities are becoming excited and more accommodating to the creatures they once used to live in harmony with; thus reducing issues of habitat loss, competition for resources and human wildlife conflicts which was the main cause of wildlife deaths in the area.

All patrols are done by foot..

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Scout patrolling the mountains.jpg On patrol in the mountains..

WILDLIFE HAS NO BORDERS, AND THE MILGIS TRUST NEEDS TO KEEP UP WITH ITS SUCCESS… WE CAN’T LET THE WILDLIFE DOWN! If there is any one who can help support just the core ops, or even better to support a new scout, you would be helping conserve one of the most AMAZINGLY SPECIAL PARTS OF THE WORLD…We need to increase our scouts, as well as support the existing ones … Read more about how you can support the trust by going on safari!!!!http://www.responseabilityalliance.com/html/support_our_scouts.html

If there is any one out there that is willing and able to help out, please contact me… [email protected]

Mud, mud NOT so glorious Mud…

This picture shows things in the good times, plenty of water..

good times on the banks of the luggas...jpg This is the Elephants favourite area, at Ol Donyo Waas.. This special salt water that they come to every day… And lots of cover around.. This is now completely dry, and the well than Nchan was rescued out of is in the middle of where the water is…

all thats left for the cat fish, and Animals.jpg and this one shows another elephants favourite drinking spot in not so good times… I gather from the oldest people around that its never been this dry, at this particular spot, in there life time.. It must have been affected by the fires up stream…

And this picture shows just how bad it can get…desperate situation for these cat fish.jpg There are about 200 cat fish, in this stinky mud hole, and each day it gets dryer.. They have their head up to breath… You see them open there mouths, and the air goes in and muddy bubbles come out through there gills… Every two minutes there is a complete frenzy to try to get to the cooler mud below ..Imagine how hot it must get at mid day, in that disgusting smelly mud hole….. yesterday I got a report that they are nearly all dead now… Shame, shame.. nature is cruel…

Beautiful little animal.JPG mean Knashers.JPG This beautiful little young animal, the desert warthog is just another victim of these dry times, he was found stuck in the mud, on the Milgis Lugga.. The scout cleaned him up and brought him 15 kms to try to save his little life but he was not lucky… I just wanted to point out the incredible defences he has, at this very young age!! They can draw blood quite substantially with a quick side swipe!…

continuation of 26 th March celebrations in pictures! Toto Trusts day… Thankyou!

I just wanted to show you to what lengths the headmaster of Latakwen primary school took to show their appreciation of having water piped to his school, and for the New Nursery building… As I said before the people of Latakwen ‘pulled out all stops’ to celebrate, and these children, where no exception…. Below is the all the older pupils, about 300!, leading the youngsters about 100 past the old Nursery building before they lead them to their new building!!… They gave us a wonderful show of old Samburu traditional songs, and dances…

saying good bye to the old class room.JPG A goodbye dance past the old nursery school by by the primary school children…

inside the old Nursery.JPG Lesiantaam the nursery school teacher, could not resist a last sit, for old times sake!, with his pupils in the old Nursery school… This is how he has been teaching them for years!!… But I can assure you Lesiantaam, with his co-worker, madame, in the picture on the left, with their enthusiasm, eccentricity, superb supervision, and ability to make life fun in any circumstances, have never missed a beat even if the kids were sitting on the floor!! As he lead his little children, all having been dressed up for the occasion… [where they got it all from I don’t know!] down towards the new school, dancing and chanting sweet songs already you could see it in the childrens eyes… They were so excited!!

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Nursery teacher blessing the school.JPG Lesiantaam, to the chorus of the children blessed the school, the people who gave it to them, TOTO TRUST, all the animals and trees in the picture above them, and last but not least a full tank of ‘VOSS’!!

Waves of joy.JPG The chief, sub chief, councillor, head master of the primary school, the chairman behind, Lesiantaam in front, and Madame in amongst the kids… It was such a show we were all speechless…

crowds bigger than latakwen has ever seen!!.JPG The crowds in Latakwen on this day… on this self pronounced holiday!, so that the people could celebrate, was larger than they have ever known… All to show their gratitude for the VOSS water, and TOTO TRUST Nursery building… What a wonderful day was had by all…

Large gathering of people.JPG To round the days celebrations off, a little more of a serious moment, the leaders, the headmaster, the KWS based at Latakwen, myself, and others made use of the fact that there was such a crowd, and all had a few minutes to talk.. Having done all the thanking, and mentioning that ‘don’t forget us’, sort of talk, we went on to the most serious issue, the current fires being the most important one, we all sat under this tree, and each person that spoke ‘droned, and drilled’ on and on about the harm they are doing to them selves!! The response was good, and the meeting on 31st march was organised, which lead to the formation of committee members, who’s job it is to STOP the fire madness… So far so good… all quiet, and cold on the Northern front!! Nobody wants to have his wife taken away!!, or get a curse put on them!!..

TOTO TRUST have also paid for two other classrooms in the Milgis primary Eco-school… THANKS SO MUCH… Happy Easter every one!

Frenzy of fires wakes up the leaders of Matthews/Ndotos region…

I gather the fires burning in Kenya one week ago became world news… I have never seen any thing like it… We heard on the news that the Mau forest, and Mt Longonot, where burning and we witnessed the terrible fires on Mt Kenya… Too awful, and then I fly up to the Milgis and this is what we were greeted with… A complete frenzy of fires all over, from the Matthews right across to the Ndotos… This tends to happen at this time of the year, just before the rains..Its some how related to the fact that they think that the smoke makes clouds, and looking at the fire in the Ndotos it looks as though it could be possible! but NO rain to be seen!!

fires.JPG The beginning of a fire down on the Milgis Lugga.. Although it looks ferocious, luckily it burnt out before it did too much damage to the all important Tortilis trees, further up stream..

fire in the Milgis.JPG The same fire gaining momentum… the main trees to be burnt were Tamarix……. not so important as a food tree, although, the goats can feed on it when there is not much else, and the Elephants chew on the roots… The big advantage is the cover for hundreds of different animals… Bush pig, warthogs, civets, caracals, genets, mongooses… etc to name a few

Fire in the Ndotos.JPG Massive fire on the southern flank of Upe peak, of the Ndotos… Re burning an area that had a desperate fire a few years ago and I showed you the results of in my recent blog on the klipspringer being caught out… I’m afraid I also have to give the very sad news that it died after a month…

On the 25th March we flew up to the Milgis with two women representing VOSS, to hand over the ‘WATER’ to the Latakwen community… It was quite a party and will give you the news in my next Blog… Also present was Stella, who will be introducing herself to you soon! BUT the celebrations were marred by people burning the forests, an embarrassment to all… This led to the following meeting which is yet another attempt at stopping the slow ‘eating’ away of their recourses… You note I say THEIR… Yes these guys are cutting their own throats by burning, and yet they continue???? The Original Samburu fought long and hard to keep these mountains as their land, why are the men of today not respecting their ancestors who saw the value of them… Really what has happened…

As a result below is a report from Moses Lesoloyia… The Milgis Trust Manager..

The meeting took place on 31/3/2009 at Mpelengos. the meeting was attended by elders from Nkare Narok 12, Ngwe entome 23, Latakweny 23, Sererit 3.. Milgis Trust scouts 10, chief 1, councillor 1 and KWS rangers from Latakwen at the beginning..

The meeting was chaired by the councillor from the Ndoto ward who asked elders from each of these areas to talk and say what thoughts they have on the fires and whether they are willing to stop burning or should the burning continue??. Each group talked against burning and all agreed that they are ready to stop burning. the councillor asked the elders to tell what methods and punishments are there traditionally to deal with those who burn the forest. the following methods were mentioned;

1. cursing by elders

2. banishment from the area

3. fining

4. taking their wife away ( even if it is children or women all the blame goes to the man, he should have told them about it.)

5.being refused to graze in other areas.

The councillor asked the elders to decide on which methods to use to stop this menace. The elders agreed that one or more of the methods can be applied together. The elders said that because the people are becoming stubborn they will use cursing and fining. They will put a fine of 5000 and goats for the elders when they meet to discuss the perpetrators. The number of goats depend on the number of elders who meet. …18 men were identified to have burnt the forests and were to bring this money which will be used to pay bursary for school children. The councillor promised to present the issue during their full council meeting and bring councillors from Nkare narok and Nairimirimo. He will inform us of the dates so that we can organise for a meeting and the plan according to the situation by then.

The elders cursed whoever will burn the forests again and the message seems to have gone through as there has not been any fires except for one on Ndoto that evening and one at Ndonyo nasipa yesterday, maybe the message hadn’t reached them yet… We sent two scouts, grants Gazelle and lesser kudu to ndonyo nasipa to find out what happened.