Category Archives: Ndoto Mountains

Frozen Elephants?

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

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

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

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

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

Elephant Matywooins?

sorry but for some reason I can not get the pictures to go on? I have tried again under a different title but still the same..

Kosma our Milgis Honorary scout gets married!

And what a special day it was… The Colours, The singing, The dancing.. and most important The seriousness of Kosmas big day!!..

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Most people who have been on safari with us will recognise Kosma.. He along with Lemagas, are the heart and soul of our Safaris.. Kos works incredibly hard and keeps all our guests very happy!!.. Hes was chosen as our Milgis Honorary scout because every time we have had orphaned animals brought in, he has taken it upon himself to get them through their young days.. His prize was Aarge the cheetah who was so emaciated and lonely when she was found, and he gave her a reason to live.. In Samburu tradition it would be unusual for a young man to be so important in the Milgis Hierarchy but after the walk he did with Pete.. 65kms from Ngurnit to Elkanto for the Elephants and Lions he gained it naturally!!.. His radio call sign is ‘LGWAAK’ which means Hadada Ibis, a bird with plenty to say!. Kos has always got advice and lots to say on the Milgis radio network!

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Kosma and his best man.. And below All ‘his’ warriors! at least on this wonderful day..They were there for him!

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I love this picture below of all the warriors headdresses.. This is them singing the ‘baringoi’ the song that is the starter at all ceremonies..

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THE JOURNEY to collect his beautiful bride!!.. Starts in Sware..

DSC04410.JPG The two all important sheep, one for the brides mother ‘pakerr’ and one for someone poor who will be lucky!

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Flooded rivers to cross.. Matabauwa..half way to Ngurnit!

NGURNIT.. Finally there.. 27th April.. The girl is from the neighbouring Rendille tribe, their traditions are very alike.. but their language is completely different… although living on the border of Samburu she at least speaks the language!!..

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Delivering the ‘Pakerr’ to the brides mother..

DSC04433-001.JPG The cow that will be slaughtered at the wedding, has to be pure white with no makings on its skin..

DSC04823.JPG The women sorting out all the meat.. Each part of the cow is carefully cut and shared out to the various groups of people..

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The bride ‘Gaiberten’ and her friends she will be leaving behind.. Poi mountain in the back ground.. Ngurnit is the most dramatically beautiful place.. Towering mountains on one side and desert on the other.. and with all the colour and song it was extra beautiful!

THE PARTY STARTS!

DSC04472.JPG The married men and women generally dance first.. Every one gives it there best..

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Then its the warriors and girls that take the show on.. From 2 pm till midnight they danced and sung, the most rhythmic beautiful sounds..

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Every one that is not married can join in.. Hours and hours they will dance like this.. .. How they keep it up is beyond me.. Right into the full moon night..

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We camped very close to the party, in fact from where I took this picture, and of course one was not able to sleep! But what it reminded me, is to tell all those that have the Ndoilo CD that always make sure you listen to it in a special place, with no other distractions, or noise.. Turn it on when theres a full moon coming over the horizon, or when you have a breathtaking view to look at.. Turn the volume up!, take a glass of wine and relax…. Don’t try to listen to it as back ground music!!

Anyway… Back to the wedding!.. THE NEXT MORNING.. every one waits patiently for the bride to come out of her house for the last time..

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DSC04870.JPG Finally our beautiful ‘Gaibarten’ arrives in all her finery, and carrying her baby on her back.. Yes kosma has a baby!!

DSC04875.JPG Here she is waiting to be lead out of her old home by her two men!

DSC04877.JPG The blessing from the elders as the three leave the manyatta for the last time..

DSC04884.JPG The best man must look after every need of the girl, as Kosma can’t look back wards.. Her feet must not touch any water all the way home, so in theory the best man has to carry her, but luckily for him this time he will be spared!..

DSC04882.JPG Taking a drink of milk to quench her thirst, as she has a long journey..

DSC04890.JPG The 3 of them must not look back.. Only forwards..

Usually of course they would be walking the distance back home, but because of Kosmas long years of hard work and wonderful reliability he managed to buy himself an old landrover!.. So she’s abit lucky!! Although its going to be long and hot ‘safari’ in the front of that Landrover, for about 130 kms over roads that most people would not call a road! especially now after our amazing rains this year! It will take two days..

DSC04902.JPG Going Home! And by the way the fire she will light in her new home has to be started with dung from a young Elephant!

The Milgis Trust aims to conserve the wildlife, the habitat and the peoples way of life.. This means we admire the culture of these beautiful people and we truly believe they should not lose any of their old ways.. They are good, sound and make very good sense.. This wedding was true Samburu/Rendille tradition at its best! HAPPY DAYS KOS FROM ALL OF US…


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other community help we try to give is… Sponsoring children to go to secondary School, and we help with health issues…We renovated the dispensary in Latakwen, and we employ a good reliable nurse, and helper so as to help the sick… thank you isabel.. http://www.happeningafrica.com/kenyan-nurse-rita-makes-it-happen-a-well-run-clinic-in-northern-kenya/
In November we will bring cataract surgeons in conjunction with MEAK to help the blind see again.. ..

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

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

Elephants can take the credit for less fires…

Hello every one…No I’m not dead, just been very busy travelling, or safariing as we say! DSC03472.JPG

For those that don’t already know this is how I make my living!.. Walking safaris through paradise and beyond with camels carrying the gear!..

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Loooong time since my last blog!! We have walked the length and breadth of the area that the Milgis Trust covers with our camels since December 2011… From Mt Nyiru in the north, a huge massif, just to the South East of Lake Turkana..

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DSC03606.JPG photo taken from the lovely grassy plains to the East of the Ndotos.. Ol Donyo Mara are the hills to the right

To Baio to the East, this amazing Mountain in the Kaisut desert catching the beautiful evening light..

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across the beautiful Ndoto Mountains.. sony jan 10 033.jpg 3 times!, Once from the South, then the North and then we went with the VOSS women to open the new water project at Urra in the foothills to the West of these magnificent mountains!
And lastly Lenkiyio (The Matthews).. Through the lovely forests and into the Ngeng valley.. jan. 06 025.jpg This is Matthews Peak

Over the top with the camels!!.. quite a feat..

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It has been absolutely fabulous to see for ourselves the good work the Milgis scouts are doing, and what we are achieving…(Now 28 scouts and 15 informers!!) AND I think we now have proof that the Elephants can take the credit for no fires burning on the Mountains!!.. Its absolutely wonderfull news!!.. Contrary to a news paper article saying that Elephants don’t like to climb mountains.. I don’t think its true actually!.. Because numerous times we have followed Elephants up very narrow and steep paths, and with out there good work we would be still cutting our way through!!

This dung up near Aldera rock proves it!!olympus oct 09 - jan 10 196.jpg

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IMG_0335.JPG And these paths is what they create… With out them this thick bush is impenetrable!! In the last 30 years because the Elephants weren’t around, all up the flanks of our valuable ‘Islands in the desert’ , the water towers of Northern Kenya, the bush became so thick that when the people could not get there animals up in to the mountains for dry season grazing they started lighting fires.. Absolute destruction beyond belief was happening, BUT now the Elephants are back this ridiculous passtime of burning, has has become a thing of the past I am happy to say.. Hip hip hooray!! AND

A HUGE ‘ONE UP’ FOR THE ELEPHANTS!!!

We have been watching in total dismay as Mt Kenya and the Aberdares, both National parks have been burning completely out of control.. Huge huge fires.. I don’t know how they started, or by who but they have been very serious, just for fun i took this picture on the 15th March, just before sunrise… DSC03737.JPG

The sun rose right over the top on this day!!

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Back to our Mountains the Ndotos and Lenkiyio (Matthews) and Nyiru.. Yes so far, there have been no fires and if you have been following my blogs you would know how desperate it has been in former years.. several Blogs on this terrible and stupid situation …Fires lit by people who have decided it would help to get rid of this very thick bush, and of course one just can ‘ Kiss goodbye ‘ to the whole side of the mountain.. With the strike of one match the Samburu have no idea what damage they are doing to their very own future.

If you don’t find time to read the others Please read this one blog I wrote way back to know how frustrated I was…Click on this….

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

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

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

DSC02914-1.JPG Inside their den…

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

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Theres at least 12 puppies, and maybe 14 adults

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

”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!!!! http://milgistrustkenya.com

HAPPY DAYS TO YOU ALL… AND THANKYOU!!!..

From dust to the land of milk and smiles!!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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DSC02626.JPGDSC02801.JPG Fallen petals..

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

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Look how this lovely flower below holds the water..

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

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

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Thank’s to all for keeping the ‘Milgis’ busy!!

We would so like to THANK every one who supports ‘THE MILGIS’… So many people!!! What with Pete and Kosma’s walk which has been a great success… You can be sure that our scouts are out there working hard to look after those WISE OLD ELEPHANTS… AND trying their best to keep those Milgis LIONS safe!! A very very special thanks to Bruce who pledged £65, but times ed (X) it by 100 ! !WOW!! Thanks to Bruce, and thanks to all.. As I said before the Elephants can continue to trumpet, and those Lions WILL roar again! Kosma, you are now an ‘HONORARY’ scout to the Milgis… We will turn to your incredible wisdom (for such a young man!) for help, for many years!! Aarge is your claim to faim, but you have done so much more!

The Supporter list for the Milgis is Long, and so we are being kept very busy with all the projects!!!!!

SO WHATS GOING ON AT THE MOMENT!!

We are going to put a water project in at Nyiroiya… We THANK the ‘Just around the corner’ art auction and VOSS FOUNDATION for supporting the Milgis operations, and for the funds for a very interesting new water project in the desert East of the Ndotos Range!!.. The Solar panels have arrived in Kenya and we are going to start work as soon as the rains stop!! YES its still raining up north!

DSC07294.JPG This hand pump broke down ten years ago!! When we went to recce this project we came across some PRETTY THIRSTY PEOPLE… This project is going to really be of great help to many NOMADIC people, and animals..

DSC01287.JPG The nearest water especially in the dry season is about 20 kms away from here, near the Ndoto Mountains.. There are many people living here, who would dearly enjoy an ‘easier’ drink….

USFW ( US FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE) for a HUGE amount of support to our Elephant’s… The scouts, and operations.. Thank you…

IEF (International Elephant foundation) for facilitating water for the Elephants.. They supported a project to dig wells for the Elephants in the Luggas when the water was too far for them to reach.. Also two pan dams were hand excavated, on important Elephant routes, this we did with the communities.. These are now full of water now!! The Elephant are having a field day!

MEAK is supporting the Latakwen dispensary, employing a Nurse and cleaner and a scout, who’s job is to eradicate Trachoma, and to inform people if they have a cataracts.. ( seen in the background by the car in the striped shirt checking an old mans eyes for cataracts) Also helping so many people who have no where to turn to for help for some absolutely terrible ailments… Bringing the LIONS team in may 2011 to operate on cataracts and perform TPR ops, was very successful, and September 2012, the team will be back.. Not forgetting the new Milgis Vehicle!!

DSC00937.JPG Our prize for the year! Thank you to every one for the funds to buy, run and maintain this extremely useful pickup!!

TOTO Trust and Wanaduma continue to support several schools in the area.. building class rooms, and supporting teachers, buying books, and materials to keep the schools running.. .DSC01248-1.JPG This is the Nursery school built in Latakwen thanks to Toto Trust.. Its the smartest building in town!! DSC00746.JPG

The building on the right is new, and will soon be adorned by our Artist, Nderitu’s beautiful paintings of wildlife and habitat messages!

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Assembly at the Milgis school! Now at least 150 children.. We have now built 5 class rooms, an office, store, a small Kitchen, staff houses and a Nursery… So we need to build 3 more class rooms, ONLY and then its a full school!! The school has running water, brought up from the Lugga.. Well it did until the floods came, the well was swamped a few days ago, but we will sort this out soonest!!

Marwell zoo, and Zeke… Here he is pretending to be an Elephant!!

Scout and Sponsor kids meeting 8.11 (11).JPG He is giving a lecture on how close one should get to an Elephant… Present is all the Milgis scouts, and the children who are being sent to school in our sponsorship programme.. You might ask why would Zeke know better than, the Samburu!, but remember the Elephants were wiped out of this area by poachers, in the 70s and 80s, and some people have forgotten how to live with these wonderful animals!.. Scout and Sponsor kids meeting 8.11 (13).JPG

A little earlier on we had been watching an Elephant in the Lugga below the base.. Then we saw a warrior walking down the lugga obviously not looking around but when he saw this Elephant, lets say 50 meters in front of him, he did a 180 and headed back in the direction he came from at high speed, but suddenly thought to himself ”why am I running!!” Actually the Elephant was just standing there, and had not even seen him!!DSC01615.JPG You can see the warrior in the middle of the lugga. These dry river beds of course are used as highways, but theres a big ‘jam’ in this one!DSC01616-1.JPG You can’t see the warrior too well in the picture but hes quite close in the shade on the left bank!! Now the Elephant had noticed him, but was cool… The warrior obviously had a loooong way to go because he was keen to get past him, and on his way, so was edging along the left side of the lugga, only to his dismay, out popped 3 others,!! He then hot footed back to go a different way!! What Zeke was trying to explain is Elephants have comfort zones, and how close they like ‘the enemy’ to get to them is to be noted! They don’t have good eye sight, but very good hearing! It obviously depends on the mood of the Elephant !! And as long as we respect that you are pretty safe!! But these Elephants here were very quiet and content!!,

Scout and Sponsor kids meeting 8.11 (15).JPG Every two months all the 28 scouts and as many of the Milgis Wildlife Ambassadors walk to the Milgis base for a meeting, and when we can we incorporate the children that we are sponsoring to go to secondary school… In the holidays we hold a weeks adventure for these mostly very poor, quite clever children at the base.. We call it the wildlife club.. Thank you to mostly the ‘Women helping Women’ from Norway for this highly appreciated help..

Scout and Sponsor kids meeting 8.11 (16).JPG The whole group… Milgis Scouts and Wildlife club members, that enjoyed Zekes lecture!! We now have 20 children who are sponsored to go to secondary school… Thank you to all the sponsor parents from Norway and England..

Thank you Zeke and Marwell zoo for all you support in trying to monitor the wildlife in the area.. and lots more! Scout and Sponsor kids meeting 8.11 (33).JPG Zeke with the scouts, putting their last two months GPS co-ordinates, in the records..

Andre and Maria… We are very grateful for you contacting us! Andre is a water expert! Invaluable up there.. And Maria is going to help the communities, make sell-able artifacts, and to market them.. .. Watch this space!!

The Dam project is just amazingly successful.. Thank you to our friends in Portugal, for unbelievable continuing support here… Water is life, life comes from water!!… Since the tractor arrived last year on site we have built 14 dams… and they are ALL FULL TO OVERFLOWING NOW!!!

DSC02425.JPG Our newest dam in Ilgwe Eldome! Already has water in it.. not quite full in this picture, but it is now!!

DSC01745.JPG I love this picture of Elephant tracks in the mud!!

Wildlife Direct… you have been amazing!! Thank you for helping us all out .. That is… To GET OUR MESSAGE OUT TO THE WORLD.. WE WOULD BE ‘NO WHERE’ WITH OUT YOU… Last but unbelievably important is CATMAN of NWHS… Never a dull moment with you!! How are your two Tigers doing???? We really really thank you!!

FINALLY A NOTE TO FINISH ON…… I thought that Daphne Sheldrick hit the nail on the head with her comments below…

It is never just the poached elephant, but the dependent young that die too, and the whole herd is torn apart and irreplaceable wisdom lost as matriarchs fall. Those with the understanding and vital knowledge of how to guide their families through the harsh dry seasons that grip these areas almost annually, with the knowledge of where vital water sources lie, where safe migratory passages are, all that crucial wisdom goes with them. The beautiful big breeding bulls whose guidance and discipline is so vital for the younger male generations growing up in their wake, their demise is immeasurable too. If Africa’s elephants are to be saved the demand for ivory has to be eliminated within its far eastern destinations… Only a total ban on the sale of all ivory and ivory products, whether legal or illegal, will stem the slaughter. Impoverished communities living alongside national Parks, and in areas like ours cannot resist temptation of this nature. Elephants are being killed daily so that there tusks could be calved into a decorative ornament, or hanko. Thank goodness for DSWT and KWS that have saved many little Elephants, for they too would have been the ivory demands collateral damage.

POACHING RAVAGES ELEPHANT SOCIETY

THANK YOU TO ALL THE MILGIS VOLUNTEERS< SUPPORTERS< DONATORS< Especially to all our very special personal friends, who’ve been on safari with us and been so so generous.. From Pete and Helen, and Moses Lesoloyia, our manager, and all the Samburu who are benefiting from your incredible donations.. who’ve I forgotten??

The Elephant Whisperer made it !!

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NGURNIT TO ELKANTO IN ONE DAY FOR THE MILGIS ELEPHANTS AND LIONS… Well done Pete and Kosma.. AND WHATS MORE THEY WERE GREETED AT THE END OF THEIR LONG WALK BY THREE BEAUTIFUL BULL ELEPHANTS!!

DSC04674.JPG Early in the morning, the three ‘ Sangalais ‘ arrived to meet the walkers.. seen here crossing the Parsaloi, to get into position!…

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Not knowing which direction the whisperer was coming from they stood in the middle of the Lugga waiting for news!

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As the news of where they were coming from filtered through, they decided to get to a better spot to meet the walkers!! And by the way Kosma and Pete walked right into them at the confluence of the 3 luggas!

So how did the walk go!.. 13th October.. ON OUR WAY TO NGURNIT…

DSC02035.JPG Pete checking out the route.. Hes looking a little apprehensive, it looks rather a long way.. Below Kosma not worried about a thing!..He knows Pete can make it!DSC02038.JPG

DSC02047-1.JPG The weather looking interesting.. Lodermurt, near Laisamis catching the sun.. DSC02060.JPG Ngurnit Runway!

DEPARTURE FROM NGURNIT 4 am 14th October 2011!!

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OFF THEY GO!!

Half an hour after they left, it started pouring with rain.. POURING DRIVING RAIN!.. It rained until 2 pm the next day.. They literally squelched their way to Elkanto!!.

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11 am we finally get a bit of news of our walkers!! They are doing really well, and are near a place called Motio.. No point in stopping, as they are completely soaked.. These pictures are taken of the runway at Ngurnit.. Now I’m worried that Pete and Kos are going to make it to Elkanto before me.. (which they did actually!)

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Finally at 3 pm I managed to take off from Ngurnit, while it was still drizzling!

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My Flight home!..MILGIS IN FLOOD!! The day before, there was not a drop of water in the Lugga!.. Today a raging torrent!

DSC02084.JPG Motio..

DSC02088-1.JPG The two of them are somewhere in these two pictures!! I just managed to catch them from the Aeroplane, as I flew over, as they head towards the junction of the 3 Luggas below Elkanto.. .. Below is the final crossing of the Parsaloi Lugga.. It was their great worry that it would be too full to cross, but in the end it was fine!!DSC04836-1.JPG

The Climb up the 600 foot Elkanto hill was really challenging for both of them.. They were really hungry, having had a cup of tea and biscuits on departure at 4 am, and now they had literally not been able to light a fire in the rain en route.. They tried twice to get a fire going but every thing was soaked through, and so could not waste time as they had ‘ things to prove and places to go ‘! The second time, Kosma, did something completely ‘ not on ‘ in his tradition, feeling so hungry and desperate for a cup of tea, was forced to go into a manyatta and ask for fire, but the woman, having asked him where he came from and where hes going said ” No! I can’t … What if my husband sees smoke following you down the trail, he will know!! ”.. Kosma even tried this on her.. ” The white man down there,” pointing at Pete, ” needs a cigarette!!” ( Pete’s never had a cigarette in his life! ) but the woman was not having it!! Oh well on wards and for wards said Kos..

Arrival at Elkanto!!

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‘Kosma I here by make you an ‘ HONORARY SCOUT ‘ of the MILGIS TRUST..Thank you for coming with me ”.. Kosma really deserves this title, not only because he accompanied Pete on this walk, but he has been instrumental in helping us with our Milgis work.. He was of course was the man that brought Aarge the cheetah back to life.. (And by the way while I am on that subject she is doing very well, shes beautiful and inseparable from her friend the dog.. A special friendship continues…)

Pete and Kos.. DSC04857.JPG checking out where they have come from!! They don’t look like they have walked from Ngurnit to Elkanto, and they’ve got lots to tell us!! WHAT A DAY……….

The two of them set off from Ngurnit in high spirits, heading off into the dark, because can you believe it it was VERY CLOUDY!! Pete has a problem seeing in the dark, and that was the whole reason to walk with the light of the near full moon, but it was not to be!! Pete just followed Kosma’s white Shuka, and all was going well, BUT after 30 minutes of walking, the heavens opened.. Rain, like nobody had seen for many years.. Ngurnit area was suffering from the same drought as North Eastern Kenya.. What a coincidence that it should rain on this day that Pete had decided to do his walk.. He had been talking about it for many years.. How he will deal with the heat and distance, how many re hydrate drinks and bananas he will carry, and how they will stop at ‘ The Desert Rose ‘ for porridge and tea on the way , etc etc.. None of this happened, it was now absolutely chucking it down, and Pete and Kos are going as fast as they can to beat the flooded luggas!! DSC02094.JPG In this picture, Pete is telling us about how his arms went completely white in the rain from the sun cream!! Kos made us laugh!.. He said that they were sailing along the path that was flowing water, and suddenly Pete was down, flat out on the ground.. He had stepped in an Elephants track, in the mud, which sent him flying!!.. When he got up he had mud every where, including along the rim of his hat!!.. They met very few people on the way, but the few they did were absolutely amazed.. and asked ”Where have you come from?” ”Ngurnit.. ” ” What today? absolutely no way.. No white man can do that they said!!.” But were also very encouraging for the rest of the way!! ” Ok.. Anchom Ngai ” (Go with God!!)

A very big THANKYOU to all who have responded to our plea for the Elephants and lions and those who have been so generous.. We are extremely grateful.. If there are any others who are willing and able to help us out we would be so happy.. You can either donate on this page through NWHS, or I can send you the Milgis Trust bank details..

SAD NEWS… I’m afraid, in the pouring rain while Pete and Kosma were walking, some poachers shot another very big bull Elephant on the west side of the Ndotos.. We have all our scouts there to follow up, and to try to catch the perpetrators.. We feel sick with sadness.. Unfortunately we are not getting the back up we should be with KWS, but have already nominated two new scouts, with the money collected already from Petes walk, to work on it.. So many thanks, and we are trying our best.. ..