Category Archives: Mt Kulal

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

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

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

DSC02914-1.JPG Inside their den…

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

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Theres at least 12 puppies, and maybe 14 adults

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Milgis Trust needs more scouts to fulfill our mission…

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This Elephant is sending a clear message!

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

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

BACKGROUND…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are five distinct areas to our core operations:

1. The Milgis Trust Radio Hill

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

CORE OPERATIONS

2. Our 22 Scouts and local Manager…..

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

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

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

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

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

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

PROJECT IMPACT…

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

All patrols are done by foot..

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

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

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

So much going on I can’t keep up!!

As I’ve said before… Nomadic communities, to put up with living with wildlife has it trials and tribulations… There are numerous reports from the scouts of predators of all kinds killing the peoples goats, cows, and camels… Elephants break their wells, that have taken them hours to dig, they tear down trees, when we are telling every one not to cut them!!…etc… All those ” bad ” things that wild animals do!!!… So people need to see benefits, or they will not see the point in looking after them… We do camel safaris through out this area, and we pay camping and conservation fees to the communities, and lots of people get employment, but we are not big enough for every one to benefit…Other wise there is very little tourism in the area… Its maybe too remote…[suits me!] Anyway the Milgis Trust has many other projects… Schools, employing teachers, water development, we help with many health problems… It all seems to be happening at the moment…

The SOLAR PANELS ARE IN FINALLY!!…Justus O, Karen B, Nora L, Robert S, and Charlotte B…Thank you all of you from all the Elders, Women and Milgis Pre-School Students from Ilgwe Eldome for giving them water again… Nobody in this wild area ever in their wildest dreams thought that somebody could cut the frame and get away with 4 big solar panels… Although there was somebody looking after them he wasn’t too serious, they had no idea they were so valuable… To them they look like a piece of magic glass, that takes water out of a well and pumps it 4 kms up a hill… !! We are sure it must have been some visiting tradesmen who took them…This issue became a huge problem in the community… When Diane Terry from Private Journeys, came on safari in July they could not stand it either and pledged the money!! Thanks so much…But what a palaver getting them up there in their metal cast so that nobody can steal them again….. So we do apologise that it has taken so long…. The elders waited all day, while they were being installed so that they could put a spell on the panels, in there own way…We now have two serious watchmen!!…

Elders fasinated in the proceedings!.JPG The elders came to say a special prayer to stop the solar panels from ever being stolen again…

We are building TWO new class rooms, one in Latakwen, and one at the Milgis School… Plus a store for the MS and we have fenced the school, with live comifera trees…65 Women did it in one day… All thanks to TOTO TRUST UK….

This week the water will be in Latakwen…Thanks to the VOSS foundation… The community are digging the one and a half km trench from the well to the town, schools and dispensary… All residents of the area have been given there quota of digging… great team spirit… I don’t dare try to put more photos on this page…

Three children were picked up by aircraft yesterday!!… thanks to East African Air Charters, and MEAK [ Medical and Educational Aid] and taken to Nairobi… Two with heart problems, and the other was the girl who was shot through her mouth… Dee Belliere of MEAK has decided that she needed further care and took her to the amazing Bethany children’s hospital in Kijabe for further treatment… Today she is undergoing a big operation.. Thanks to all…

Lastly… But very important for Milgis every day operations..VHF BASE RADIO moves to a higher hill for better communications…We are moving the radio room to a hill that is almost 1000 feet higher than Elkanto, just across the Parsaloi Lugga…. We need better communications to our VHF Radios to the North, and the radio will be on all day and all night…All the materials are being carried up with manpower!, or camels if they can, fit them on… Water and food will be delivered once a week by camel… Thank you Shikar Safari Club Foundation..for helping.. especially in our endeavour to see the Elephants safely home to the Northern mountains…

Finishing the roof of the New radio house...jpg Tyeing the makuti [ palm thatch] on the New radio house on Orok Onyuki hill…The North end of the Ndoto mountains in the distance…The view from this hill is fabulous… I want to be the radio operator!!….