Category Archives: Grevy’s Zebra

Lena Maria’s spirit will live forever in Masikita!

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

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

DSC04609.JPG artist Nderi-‘2’

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

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

A beautiful safari from the Milgis Lugga, up into the foot hills of the Northern Ndotos, and finally across the El Barta plains to Masikita…

On the road to Masikita.. A sit down for 5 minutes!..

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lene Maria clean water for Masikita

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

and gently putting the solar pump in..


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

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

DSC04514.JPG Which wires goes where!!..

DSC04533.JPG Discussing the situation..

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

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


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

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



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

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

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!..


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.!! ..


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…

Impressive Milgis.JPG

*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 !! on earth do the Elephants know its going to rain??




*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..

IMG_0045.JPG IMG_0136.JPG

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!


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


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…..

‘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 !!!..


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

DSC02914-1.JPG Inside their den…


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




Theres at least 12 puppies, and maybe 14 adults



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..

hi girls.JPG

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 and on Twitter and Facebook too.

13th June 32mm of rain! More than we’ve had in 3 years!….

DSC00362.JPG And look at the change in two weeks in this semi desert land.. On the 13th June the land looked parched, the trees dead, and the animals desperately thin.. There didn’t seem to be a reason to look forward to tomorrow!! Then 14 days later, the grass is greener than green,the trees and bushes have come to life, and blooming.. The animals are skipping..

DSC00280.JPG We saw these beautiful Grevy Zebras to the East side of the Ndoto Mountains.. Don’t they look magnificent and we’ve really had such a drought.. Sadly alot of the wildlife did not look as good as these Zebras though, and it was hard to watch.. Above shows how dry it was, and below as we set off on safari on the 14th….DSC00296.JPG

DSC00303-1.JPG This was the cloud pattern the day after the rain.. Its the Dragon relaxing having done a good job!!

Then that night, a FULL ECLIPSE OF THE MOON!


And then the MILGIS LUGGA in full flood!!


Every every little hole, rock, pan was full of water!! Then look at these extraordinary water Lillie’s, all coming to life.. All the seeds lying in wait for the water!DSC00543.JPG




Desert RosesDSC00570.JPG

DSC00710.JPG Even the Elephants were blooming!! They were out in the open enjoying the freshness….

DSC00736.JPG Unbelievable flowers every where.. Some like this one only flower one day, its all gone the next morning..


Morning Glories.. you would never believe those usually dry sticks produce this incredible site!.. DSC00739.JPG

DSC00757.JPG The smell is extraordinary!!

DSC00768.JPG Then its the beautiful song in the air when the Samburu people hear the cattle come home.. The mooing and bells is music to these peoples ears.. These Warriors have been nurturing their sacred animals all through the drought, and now they can relax..


beautiful night animals…

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

Ngare Narok, lower.JPG IMG_0008.JPG

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

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

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

Looong safari for grevys to get to water..

All they need is a simple drink, but its not easy for them… I found it so sad that an animal that is so rare, between 2000-3000 in the entire world has such a desperate time just to find water.. But so is life up there, every one is desperate for water, and we met some incredibly hard working people.. Including us!!..

DSC07320.JPG We have just spent the last week driving around in our smart 1950’s ‘limosine’, DSC07315.JPG

investigating the water situation for the wildlife and people on the East side of the Ndoto Mountains and North to Ol Doinyo Mara.. ITS DIRE THATS FOR SURE.. What is amazing, is that there is plenty of wildlife out there in this very dry country including giraffe, cheetah, hyena, caracal, white tailed mongooses, Gerenuk and Grants gazelle who definitely have no way of finding water.. We saw two beautiful cheetah , female, and cub and many more tracks.. BUT sadly Grevy Zebras although they live in these semi desert places, have to get to water regularly… The Grevy Zebras we found are walking 30 kms or more just to get a drink every two/three days.. We followed their tracks to water for miles..

Grevy highway!. DSC07433.JPG

DSC07431.JPG Every day Grevys trek along these paths, on their way to water… DSC07440.JPG


Their destination is Apach…. Its a little rocky canyon on the east side of the Arsim valley

DSC07447.JPG which was a tiny spring coming out of the mountain ten years ago, but this incredible man had a look, and decided there was more to this tiny drop of water!..

Nov.Dec 2010 297.jpg His name is Lerete… He does not know how to stand still!! .. For ten years he has been quietly chipping away at the stone until he has built an incredible pass for the animals to climb up to a well he has dug from the hard rock… DSC07470.JPG

DSC07454.JPG this is above the well, here he has re-routed the lugga above so that it goes around his well, which is about 20 feet deep.. DSC07459.JPG

DSC07456.JPG Some kind person helped him with some cement to save the well from falling in, or being flooded.. And made a trough for the animals.. All these people are his sons!..
Of course it was mainly for his cattle, all 25 of his had enough to drink.. And they were sure thirsty! DSC07466.JPG but when I asked him if he allows the Grevys to drink .. He almost looked angry, and said they are like my cattle as well, and we ALWAYS leave them water, but its not enough for all of them..

This dirty puddle at the bottom of the rocks won’t help to much either, and the next water is at least 12 kms away.. The Zebras of course have to walk through many manyattas to get to Arsim lugga, being the only water in the area now… THE DROUGHT IS BITING HARD AGAIN… NO PROPER RAIN FOR EIGHT AND A HALF MONTHS NOW..

Considering the extraordinary achievements this man has done we decided to offer him, a small token to look after the Grevys needs, as much as he can.. First job is to clean this dirty puddle out, DSC07449.JPG His mandate is to try to make sure the thirsty Zebras can find something at least.. What prompted us was last week a female had a foal at Apach, and she was desperately frightened, until the people decided to move the foal out of the canyon, she was pretty fierce, but they managed… She had not been able to find water in the night, and had to wait for her youngster to get up before she could move on.. By then it was already morning and she would not have been brave enough to go through all the people at Arsim.. BUT I was happy to see a tiny Grevy foal track on the Grevy highway!..

Below.. This water catchment was dug by the same man… you can see the wheel barrow marks on the sand… Its about 40 x 30 feet in size.. He has dug 4 now, the others not quite so big, but he says two are for wildlife, and he has let the other people in the area use the other one, its taken his whole life to do all this work… Nov.Dec 2010 295.jpg We await the rains to fill all the catchments up, and to ease the hardships of living here..


This rainbow is a bad omen…

Nov.Dec 2010 035-2.jpg

MILGIS LUGGA ‘FRAMED’… (both meanings of the word)

Beautiful as they may be, a rainbow is not good news as far as the Samburu are concerned, they believe the rainbow holds the rain back, and I must say this one ‘framing’ the Milgis Lugga is not what we were hoping to see!! We had just had the most incredible wind storm, lifting the sand hundreds of feet high, (that hill in the picture is 1000 feet high!),

Nov.Dec 2010 026.jpg

and thought that there was going to be good rain behind.. But the Samburu were certainly right this time, the rainbow was telling us what we don’t want to believe.. We have had 6 mm of rain at the Milgis base this season… Its too bad, having thought that all was good when the elephants crossed the Seiya end of October, but sadly there was no more.. The rains have failed…Its now very very dry in the Milgis..

The Elephants don’t know which direction to walk… Actually nor do the people and their livestock… We watch as people, and Elephants head east, a few days later another lot go west… It does not stop…Our job now is to make sure that ALL can get to water… Luckily there is plenty of food around after so many good months of rain in the beginning of the year… ANYWAY….. ‘WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE TOUGH GET GOING’!! Which I am sure is a Samburu saying, because they never complain about these situations, actually they don’t have time!! They just move the gear into low and go, go go.. Which is what our tractor team have been doing!!

Nov.Dec 2010 346.jpg elders watching on..

Nov.Dec 2010 319.jpg Pete giving instructions!!

We started with the ‘Water harvesting’ team on the North/East of the Ndoto Mountains, where the Samburu and Rendille meet, as there is always a terrible problem for water here, and we will be opening up all the old washed out water catchments and putting in pan dams, in sensible places.. This below is their first pan dam, Nov.Dec 2010 272.jpg at Ntil…

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below is the view from the rocks which will be a fantastic water catchment,for the pan Dam…

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Now we wait for it to rain!.. Next picture, will be water in the dam, and grevy zebras drinking!!

This below is their second job.. Opening up an old dam site, that had silted up..

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Nov.Dec 2010 351.jpg Loosening the earth.. Nov.Dec 2010 356.jpg

Nov.Dec 2010 331.jpg The elders in the area came to bless the dam, and poured milk around the wall and on the machine, so as to chase away any spells on our work… One of the hydraulic pipes on the machine had burst and the support car had broken down!.. It was a Beautiful prayer to their God, Ngai, who as I’ve said before I think is Nature, saying thankyou, for bringing help to their area… We then sat down, and talked about future work for the machine, opening up pans etc, and the history of this area, where they have not seen Elephants for so many years… They told us that, where we were sitting, which was in a small dry dam built in the colonial days, that it was the Elephants that had originally started the dam, and it was decided all those many years ago to substantiate it into more of a catchment….. The Elephants used this small dam as one of their important water sources for years until they were mowed down by poachers.. THE MOST IMPORTANT MESSAGE FROM THE ELDERS WAS THEY HOPED THE ELEPHANTS WILL COME BACK, and if the do they promised to look after them!!..

This BEAUTIFUL ‘Christmas’ OWL (spotted Eagle Owl) landed on the rocks as we were walking back to camp in the evening…
Nov.Dec 2010 375-1.jpg This is to wish you all ‘HAPPY DAYS’ … AND MANY MANY THANKS FOR ALL YOUR HELP THIS YEAR…. We are really making a difference… I promise you…Please CLICK here to check out our news from 2010 in a nut shell… 5230

‘Milgis’ projects gaining momentum.. First WATER!

1) Water Harvesting projects…

a) Thanks to our friends in Portugal!! Every year our scouts report many wildlife deaths because of lack of water.. In the lower Milgis several Grevy Zebra died trying to get to water this year… It is absolutely paramount that we deal with this problem, and not ignore it….. Its not an easy one, but we are trying our best…If we don’t do any thing at all we will continue to see wildlife disappearing off the face of the earth…. We only get about 3 or 4 months of the year when it rains, thousands/millions of gallons of water, rush off the Ndotos, and Matthews ranges, and disappear into the desert…The best we can do is harvest this water!! We have a very exciting new addition to the Milgis team…

This !! Dam machine 002.jpg

nov 10 014.jpg loading the machine onto the lorry for transportation to Northern Kenya…

We have spent the last two months teaching a Samburu man to drive it… they don’t grow on trees!.. But Lesukat from Maralal is ready to go and the team have just left for the East side of the Ndotos.. Hopefully we will have some results to show you soon!

Thank you to Gemka (center), leso's pics 111-2.jpg from B.P.S.for having the patience!, to teach Lesurkat, and lolbirdai to operate the machine!

b) Thanks to INTERNATIONAL ELEPHANT FOUNDATION… As you all know last year was one of the worst droughts to hit Kenya… Death was rife.. It was a terrible time.. Amongst many other Wild animals, including Grevy Zebras, we lost about 20 young Elephants due to not being able to get to water in the deep wells… Our scouts tried their best but we could not keep up with the demand.. All pics fr Lesoloyia Nov 09 133.jpg

All pics fr Lesoloyia Nov 09 205.jpg

To avoid the possibility of the same problem this year, we wrote a proposal to IEF asking for funds.. We were now covered and ready to employ enough people to make Eley friendly wells, but as you know the rains came, and up to September this year the Elephants have not had any problems with water!!… ( I hear today all the luggas are flooding, finally some more rain up north!, it has been abit slow)

In stead, because the Elephants are trying to make the break to get to Mt Nyiru, but there is big problem.. no water enroute, and the pans that they used to drink from have not been kept up… What I mean by this is Elephants keep their own water holes open, by bathing, in them, and throwing mud around.. So each time they visit them they help keep them open, but as I mentioned in my blog in 22/6/10 the Elephant have not been there for decades due to poaching.. So recently we have opened up two pan dams by hand, one on the north side of the Ndotos, and one south west.. Basically on the route to Nyiru!

IEF dam project 007.jpg Old pan dam site, that was not holding water any more..

digging the pan outIEF dam project 011.jpg ..

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Finished pan Dam.. next picture will be full of water, we hope!, with an Elephant in it..

2) Clean Drinking WATER, Thanks to the VOSS foundation, to the Center of Ol Donyo Nasipa..

swari water launch 017.jpg The elders blessing the well at Sware in feb. 2010 in the traditional way with milk..

In Febuary 2010 we had a fabulous safari from the Milgis to Sware, with some very enthusiastic Norwegians, and at the end we handed over to the people of Sware, a little center about 5 kms south of the Seiya Lugga, a special gift ….WATER, yes water!! Thats all, but they were extremely happy.. It was a beautiful opening with a lovely show of ‘thanks’ at the school, Clinic, and at the main outlet… All the Women ‘dressed up to the nines’, to celebrate this special occasion…. It was especially satisfying for me as 20 years ago I lived there, and they asked me several times to try to organise water to this little village… Finally they got it in Febuary 2010… Now when somebody has malaria, he does not need to walk 5 kms to get a cup of water to swallow his pills!!.. And Sware is booming!

swari water launch 026.jpg The children sang beautiful songs about water, and the eldest girl recited this poem..



swari water launch 070.jpg Some of the Norwegian women, who came for the opening.. It is very important for people on both sides, the giving (above)and the receiving (below) to meet, and exchange there feelings!!

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The women of Sware sang as usual with so much energy, and were very emotional.. and wholesomely thankfully..

On the way to Sware, two things hit us hard.. First we came across the children from Ol Donyo Nasipa school, down in the Lugga collecting water.. No harm really, but except they had walked 4 kms, of good school time, plus they had to carry 5 liters of water back up the hill 4 kms, some of the children very small, and then get on with school… We followed the children back up to the school, and some of the Norwegian women, tried to carry the water and found its quite heavy actually! Also several things could have happened in the night to the well.. … like a flood could have passed in the night, or Elephants could have ruined the well, like here! a well destroyed by Elephants....jpg so no water for the children at all.. or even worse a flood comes through when they are still in the well…

Then later on when we were sitting having breakfast on the bank of the Lugga we saw a woman carrying a 20 liter gerry can up the hill… For those that have tried to carry 20 liters, how far did you get!! Its heavy… Very!!.. Her Donkey had died in the drought and this was her only option… This tweaked the Womens consciences!.. So at the beginning of next year the little center of Ol Donyo Nasipa will have clean drinking water, for the school, and center, and we hope the government will then put a clinic in!!

The tank and pipes….loading the lorry-1.jpg being loaded, on to the lorry..

Digging the well..
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Putting the casing into the well, so that the sides do not fall in..
putting the casing down well-1.JPG

You can not do a conservation project with out the local people that live in the area.. So all these projects keep us ‘ALL on the same ship’! Also a percentage of funds from all these projects goes to the core operations… Thank you all!.. NEXT blog.. More projects.. Women Scouts, M.E.A.K.,milgis cheetahs football team, and Milgis Trust with all its success needs a vehicle!!..

The Milgis Trust needs more scouts to fulfill our mission…


This Elephant is sending a clear message!


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…


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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;


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.

logging important data..dedicated to keeping records.jpg

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;

rescueing an infant elephant.jpg

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..


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..

following and monitoring tracks..following and monitoring tracks.JPG

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!!!!

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