Category Archives: Matthews range

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

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



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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Leroiya and Service (18).JPG

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

Leroiya and Service (24).JPG

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

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

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

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

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

Other community help we try to give is… Sponsoring children to go to secondary School, and we help with health issues…We renovated the dispensary in Latakwen, and we employ a good reliable nurse, and helper so as to help the sick… thank you isabel..
In November we will bring cataract surgeons in conjunction with MEAK to help the blind see again.. ..

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

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

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!

DSC03942.JPG 18.14

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..

DSC03943.JPG 18.21

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!!




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..

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!..


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..


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..


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..


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

sony jan 10 509.jpg


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


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!!


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 !!!..


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.

”Happy Days” from all of us in Northern Kenya…

Its been an amazing year in the Milgis!.. Drought, Death, Rendille ‘invasions’, Rain, Floods, beautiful flowers, Elephant poaching, Grass and LIFE!!!!!… These are some of my favorite pics from this last year !..

P8173505.JPG Rain brings Lillie’s!

Elephant xsing (1).JPG Elephant Shadows!

Baio layers.JPG Mountain layers.. South Ndotos..

Beer hippo.JPG The only hippo in the Ndoto’s! With a ‘tusker’ on his nose…

close to my fav.JPG This striped Hyena is so beautiful..

DSC00459.JPG Guerenuk???fire ball.JPG Elkanto sunrise!

P8173508.JPG The suns early morning golden rays catching these Lillie’s..

flooded.JPG Flooded… for those that have been to Elkanto!! We could not get a vehicle off the hill for a month!

goo track.JPG A White Tailed mongoose passed here!

leo.JPG Leo himself…

Milgis light.JPG Early morning travelling… This is what we do for a living when we are not loosing sleep to keep the Milgis alive!!

gardinia.JPG Gardenia dew!..

one of my favorite places.JPG Serpent??

poi shadow.JPG Poi in the mist!

song and dance.JPG Celebration of life!.. Red billed hornbills..

camel train.JPG ON Safari! (You might come across a very nice article written by Lucia Van Der Post in the Tatler Travel mag., but I am sure Hugo did not choose the pictures for the article.. This is my favorite of that safari!!..)

special spots.JPG self taken again… This angle OK???!

Eleys love views.JPG Who said elephants don’t climb mountains!! We climbed this very steep hill for a sundowner to find that our Friends had enjoyed several sundowners, and bitings (no trees left) before us! THEY LOVE VIEWS!!

the oldest pl.JPG Cycad.. Endemic to this region.. This is what the Matthews Range and Ndotos Mountains are famous for? Yes its one of the oldest plants in the world, but its not all these exquisite mountains have to offer…

pointing up.JPG Equal pointers!

warrior!.JPG Cave drawings…

We three kings know where we are going.!!.. the three boys-1.JPG

ratel track.JPG Ratel track…

Elephant xsing (7).JPG Eleys and Shadows… Beckoning us into the new year!.. How does it go?.. .. ‘Come all ye faithfull’ to the Wilderness..GET IN LINE AND LETS GO!

Our aim for the Milgis is to keep these beautiful animals safe, calm, and living harmoniously with the proud and cool Samburu people… LONG MAY MAN AND ANIMAL LIVE IN TUNE WITH EACH OTHER!!!!


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..

DSC02490.JPG Same spot Nov 2011.. Heliotropium flowers!


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..


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!!

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!!


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!


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!!


Look how this lovely flower below holds the water..


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..


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!


WOW!! You are all stars!! Thank you..


Well Pete is now ‘ pumped up ‘ and reckons he can walk from Ngurnit and back again, hes so excited, by the response.. He can’t wait to get this walk done now.. THANKS A MILLION every one.. He is absolutely impressed with the support and the generosity.. and we are well on our way !! We can definitely dream on!… Safe Elephants living in the space they need and lots of lions!!

The picture above is the equivalent of Pete’s mood today!! Actually he will be walking strait past this actual Desert Rose, on his way to wards the Milgis Lugga.. He will be about half way here, it will be starting to get hot now!!.. He’ll be happy though as the views are fabulous!! Thats the Matthews Range behind..


Pete and I are heading off back on safari.. So sorry if I don’t answer your emails! He hopes to do the walk around October the 15th.. Below is just a few more pictures of that incredibly spectacular land up north.. Starting with the Valley that the Ngurnit river flows down.. From nearly 8000 to 3000 feet in about 3 or 4 kms


Poi Rock, just North of Ngurnit..


The Ndoto Mountains from the south..


By the way, and just as important! This was our PRIZE on our last safari.. The Samburu call them ‘ White Tails ‘ … I can see why.. The hunting dogs up in the north, seem quite alot darker with alot of white in the tail.. Five of them came out on to the Lugga, and first time for me that they stayed long to photograph, and to hear them barking!.. So often we hear them communicating between them selves their beautiful hooo, hooo, hooo, and we see their tracks but not often so lucky to see them……….. DSC01373.JPG

Not Such good pictures, but I just want you to know they exist!! We are getting alot of reports from the scouts of hunting dogs..


About 3 years ago we found a dead dog in the Ndotos, which had a very old collar on it.. Just shows how far they can range, as the nearest collaring as far as I know is in Laikipia.. I still have the collar if any one is interested..



Pete’s mega walk in 1 day for the Lions and Elephants..

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Pete is 65 years old, Ngurnit is 65 kms away from Elkanto, and Pete hopes to raise 65000 or more!! UK Pounds, dollars, or at the least Kenya Shillings to try to help our Milgis Elephants stay safe and to try to do any thing we can to save the famous Milgis Lions, which are disappearing fast.. Pete is going to do this walk in one day for them, before he reaches 66, on the 22 of January!..

We all know that the lion, ‘ THE KING OF THE JUNGLE ‘ is a huge frightening animal, and he needs alot to eat, but its no excuse for us Humans to say there is no room left for him, so lets blot him off the face of the Earth… forget it!!.. .Yes the lion especially in our area, is very nomadic, and they are not lost yet, BUT one was killed the other day by warriors, because it killed a cow!! .. What is the answer to stop this?.. Ideas are welcome from any one out there.. Its incredibly sad to watch them go one by one.. These days the only thing we see is the odd track, because they are so persecuted….

lion. 1.jpg

Why are they disappearing?.. Well if Lion had lived in Europe and America in the last century, they would be all gone.. They would be classified as vermin, and blotted out.. So we have to give the people in Africa huge credit for still having them!.. But sadly now the modern world is catching up, and the human has given up trying to live with the THE KING.. BY the way the Samburu can not do a ceremony with out a piece of Lion skin, so their protection is of paramount importance, so how do we do it??

The Elephants need to be especially protected against this despicable poaching that is happening in Kenya.. We have now lost 3 to poachers bullets, and we are very sad.. ..


Pete will do the walk with Kosma, for company! Kosma has no doubt about Pete making it!! Its going to be an extremely tough and hot walk, and its a long way!.. They will leave at 4 in the morning from Ngurnit, following the track around the south end of the Ndotos, up the Milgis Lugga, and finally up Elkanto hill.. 65 kilometres!

DSC01523.JPG Pete , out practising, keeping his fitness up! DSC01527.JPG

DSC01551.JPG Hot dry country!

Why does Pete want to do it.. lots of people who have done this route with us on safari and taken 4 days, say hes crazy, but actually Pete wants to make a statement…

Looking for elephants Jan 09 258.jpg

The Milgis area was the home of some of the biggest majestic Elephants and the toughest Lions.. Twenty two years ago when I first started walking there you only saw Elephants running for their lives, after the terrible slaughter in the 70s and 80s.. There came a time when there were no Elephants left North of the Milgis Lugga, except on Marsabit Mountain.. If they hadn’t been shot, they had run for their lives further south, their families had been broken up, and they were lost.. Back then there was very little help for the Elephants in this area, and the poachers had a free ride.. NOT THIS TIME!!

Elephants walking in the lugga in the day time.. DSC01099.JPG DSC01598.JPG

We also truly believe that some of our Elephants are descendants of the Famous majestic Elephant called ‘Ahmed’, who lived to a ripe old age in Marsabit.. We need ours to live as long as he did and to have the chance to impress the world..


20 years later.. THIS TIME WE ARE THERE AND MILGIS TRUST IS THERE!! We are determined to make sure it does not happen again.. But we need help from YOU! Over the last few years the Elephants have been slowly probing their way north again, checking out if its safe, and going back to their old haunts, special salt areas like near the Suguta valley, the best browsing areas, checking out the water situation, and they still are trying to go further North to Mt’s Nyiru and Kulal.. They have already made with caution, because they don’t forget, the Matthews Range, Milgis, Seiya and Parsaloi Luggas, and the Ndoto Mountains their home.. They are incredibly relaxed, and this is because we have worked hard to make people aware how important these animals are, AND of course how special and valuable they are alive!.. This time they are being pushed from the south, where the ones that managed to escape once sought safety!.. The pressure now is the human population, which is growing so fast.. Fences are being erected to keep the Elephants away.. Elephants need the space that the Milgis area can give them…

SO PLEASE WILL YOU ALL HELP US TO ACHIEVE THIS… Please support Pete’s wish to raise GOOD money for the Elephants and Lions in the Milgis Ecosystem, and north..

THE ROUTE….. Aug 08 152.jpg

Starting at Ngurnit , the most stunningly beautiful place, on the East side of the Ndotos.. Poi in the background.. He will walk past

August 2010 096.jpg the famous Aldera mountain.. On wards through Maragi, and the Keno valley.. This is Pete showing friends his route! He calls the sharp peak ‘the chicken’ , and beyond is the Matthews Range jan. 06 128.jpg

First sight of the Aug 08 259.jpg

Milgis Lugga .. Where it then cuts between the Matthews and Ndoto Mountains..

Up up the Milgis Lugga Dec 07 012.jpg

Milgis and Ndotos.jpg

To wards Elkanto.. Matthews on the Right and Ndotos on the left..

Nov 08 097.jpg And FINALLY ….

The 600 ft climb up ELKANTO…

If Pete does it.. We would ask any one who is willing and able to donate any thing with 65 in the amount for this very important cause… either through NWHS, (The donate button on this page goes strait to them) , or a cheque to Milgis Trust, Box 93, Naro Moru 10105, or a transfer to Milgis Trust account.. I can give you the details.. If he doesn’t make to at least sponsor him as far as he gets!..


Million thanks to all, & good news!

First and foremost, all of us in the Milgis, and that includes the ‘wildlife’ say THANKYOU very very much for keeping up with whats going on and helping us out generously to achieve our mandate…Which is ‘ The Milgis Trust aims to conserve the Wildlife, their Habitat and the Peoples way of life, in the Milgis Ecosystem! ‘ I used to not sleep very well, with the worry of where the next cent was coming from, but its now trickling in thanks, to all you caring, good people, and to ‘Catman’, NWHS who is really helping.. We are very very grateful…

Just to remind you…


Nov.Dec 2010 005.JPG

We call this elephant.. mammoth Hes seriously cool..PA052771.JPG

The desert Warthog…

PA022652.JPG This Lesser kudu has to be a record..



Above.. the Beautiful Matthews Forest

DSC07373.JPG East Matthews

DSC07396.JPG The South/East Ndoto’s



Typical scenes around a well..



Some for me …………… And some for you!!


August 2010 139.JPG

Milgis Trust Vehicle… You’ll all be very happy to know that we are making fantastic progress on it.. We decided to go ahead, be positive, order it, (on hire purchase, thanks to Esso Motors Nanyuki, who kindly waived the fees).. So we are delighted to tell you that the funding is coming in slowly, and surely.. !! Thanks to all friends of the Milgis.. We are very excited to have a decent vehicle now, it will REALLY HELP!.. Thanks every one !!


And lastly, You may be wondering how lovely slinky ‘Aarge’ is doing… Shes doing very well indeed growing up fast, and still best friends with the dog!


By the way I hope you all saw the BBC Human Planet .. ‘Rivers’ Its amazing!! Our part is all about how the nomadic people follow the Elephants to find water … Its filmed in the Milgis Lugga!.. 1.jpg

The search for water 5.jpg6.jpg

thirsty camels!!7.jpg

Digging for water8.jpg

9.jpg Theres water!.. thanks to the elephants!

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…


Milgis team.jpg

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,

meeting with the conservation committees.jpg

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

radio hill.JPG

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


2. Our 22 Scouts and local Manager…..

keeping in touch with the local warriors.jpg

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]