Category Archives: Rendille

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!!..


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!


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


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..


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!


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!!..


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..


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!


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


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..




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..


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..


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…

‘LDOILO’- Echoes from Samburuland

FINALLY MY DREAM HAS COME TRUE!!! I’ve been talking about it for sooooo many years, 25 years actually!, ever since I first heard their voices, and now we have it!.. A beautiful recording of songs, chants and sounds from the Samburu!..

DSC01482.JPG The front cover fittingly in the colours of the Kenya Flag!!


*You can’t buy this. This is not for sale. This is more of a gift from the soul of Samburuland, than just another CD.


This CD is absolutely beautifully presented and is a wonderful selection of Northern Kenya’s every day, sounds, songs and flute music from the Samburu people in the Milgis Ecosystem… ..

THANKYOU GAVIN HOGG AND BEN EVANS and every one else involved in making this masterpiece of music!!… Especially the Samburu people for believing in us! In believing in the ‘Milgis’ and producing such special sounds!! Its ‘brilliant’ to have your full support!..

* BUT, YOU can be a part of it. You NEED to be a part of it…. Because when you play this music as loud as you can, and you do it in a place where you can really listen….. JUST LISTEN…. You will feel the warm wind of the northern Kenyan mountains against your skin, the sand of her luggas pressed down under your feet and you will start to move and sway until your spirit jumps with the Morans on the river bed. This is music that transports you and it speaks of the beauty, the trail, the tradition and the majesty of life, the way it has always been here. It will haunt you back to life. *words from Zeke Davidson when he first heard it!


How it started!…. This is how Gavin describes the moment..

‘The first morning while we were drinking tea on the lugga, wondering how it would start. When from somewhere deep in the bush and down the lugga, we heard the distant chants of an approaching band of people.. Slowly it grew louder and louder, the sound growing in intensity and excitement, until fianlly 25 warriors appeared through the scrub in full tribal dress with spears and full voice.. They had come to sing.. The excitement of that moment will remain with me for the rest of my life!’

This was the start of what developed into an incredible week for all who were involved..

*You can’t pay for it though. Putting a dollar value on a disc would render it worthless. It simply won’t make the marketing values needed on a disc by disc basis. We need you to make a gesture that speaks to the same profound sense of place and spirit that the sounds on this disc will bring into your life. For a donation upwards of $200, the Samburu communities of this region, will gladly share their ancient chants with you!


*If you believe in wild places, in places with untameable spirits that defy all of the harsh realities of today’s over used world. You want to be a part of a community making their own ways work, unquestioningly. Support Echoes in Samburuland, make these voices heard where you are, and we will send you one of these disc’s to transport you here whenever you can be with us.



DSC00071.JPG A beautiful trio in looks and sounds!

‘Ldoilo’ means Echoes in the Maa language… An appropriate title given the location of the recording,- a natural ravine, with towering cliff faces that gave a wonderful resonance and echo to the recordings.. It is also has significance in a way that we hope the message of the Samburu and their way of life and custodianship of their environment, will echo from their homeland to spread awareness around the world…

The songs from this area have never been recorded properly before .. We recorded every thing live on location . You will hear the sounds of wildlife in the bush included… We want you the listener, to be transported into the Milgis: to feel the heat, the elements of life, to smell the aroma, and to listen to the sound and songs of the samburu… Close your eyes, be at peace, sit back and TAKE TIME to absorb this extraordinary aural experience!!!

these are the words of Gavin taken from the cover…

Warm up the first evening!! ‘MPARINKOI’

DSC00024.JPG Mparinkoi; This is the first song sung in any daytime ceremony.. The group will consist of singers from different clans. The chants are from different clan members boasting about the achievements of heir own clan, how brave or fast they are.. The clans sing of respect and rivalry between them selves… DSC00027.JPG One day many years ago, I was at a Samburu wedding.. It was just unbelievably colourful and the early morning singing was incredible, but at about midday there seemed to be abit of a lull in the proceedings, so I decided to climb up a small hill and watch from a distance for a while.. Suddenly I heard this roar of voices, which sent a shiver up my spine… It was the elders and Junior elders at the ceremony ‘tuning up’ for this extraordinary show!.. Its abit like an orchestra tuning up their instruments before they play a symphony!.. But this is voices.. Every man throws his voice as far as he can, so that when it comes to this amazing ‘Mparinkoi’ his voice will be heard!… Its REALLY impressive!.. We had to do this recording several times as when they whole group landed on the ground in tandem, Ben’s microphone went crazy!! We worked it out eventually by putting a mattress under the microphones to cushion the vibrations!!

DSC00081.JPG Men, women and children came from far and wide to participate with immense pride and dedication to perform their songs

DSC01463.JPG This beautiful animal is the Milgis’ latest orphan… he needs to be fed!…….

So PLEASE… become one of the esteemed members of the ‘Ldoilo’ clan, and contribute to the Milgis Trust… We have been kindly given a stand at the Ngong Racecourse, Nairobi.. At the Christmas fair on the 1st and 2nd of December 2012… We will be there with the LDOILO CDs!! If you can’t be there you can press the donate button on this page, pay your donation, and you will recieve a reciept from NWHS/Milgis Trust, which you can forward to us, with your postal address…. We will in turn get this unique CD to you!!.. Other wise don’t hesitate to contact Helen or Gavin..

Opening Eyes for the Elephants…

HORR VALLEY NOVEMBER 2nd to the 9th 2012 Milgis/MEAK Eye mission KINDLY SPONSORED by Andrew Prudnell Bruce, Ina Astrup and friends…


This lovely Lady on the left was completely blind in both eyes, and was brought into Ngurnit in 2007.. He she is now leading another blind person in to the Mission at South Horr!

As I have mentioned many times!, the Elephants want to return to their old haunts, and Mt Nyiru is one of their favourite areas… But they are taking it very carefully as 40 years ago every single Elephant on this beautiful Mountain, and paradise for these animals, was killed by poachers.. One of The Milgis Trusts aims is to see them back safely.. This does not ‘just happen’, as there are many obstacles to tackle… One big one is the People in this area have forgotten how to live with these Gentle Giants, so NOW need to be gently reminded!..( Actually 40 years ago they probably weren’t so gentle as they were being annihilated, now they are cool!, and are ONLY looking for a safe place to live) No better way to get your message across, than to get into the communities personally and talk to them.. So why not give them a present while your at it! Give as many blind people in the area their sight back!

This a small collection of pictures taken during the week in South Horr, that says it all..

ARRIVING.. Any one with an eye problem is welcome..

DSC01294.JPG This woman is completely blind..

DSC01335.JPG The vehicles go out to the whole area and collect every one that has been screened by Daniel learaman, our warrior EYE man who can identify Cataracts and Trachoma

DSC01344.JPG After a long drive through the Chalbi desert this man takes a loooong drink.. hopefully the trip here will be worth it and he will go home with his sight..

DSC01171.JPG THIS IS STAKWELLS SPORT CENTRE IN SOUTH HORR, now turned into a eye centre!

Every one gets their Eyesight tested first ..



Then to see the Doctor.. Dr George Odiambo Ohito, who came up with the LIONs team from Loresho Eye Hospital.. Carol, Grace, and Macharia, plus Jerry and Phylistas, DSC01186.JPG


This poor girl below, had to have her eye removed.. But at least she will be much more comfortable..


DSC01210.JPG The man on the left has a wonderful story… He is a Rendille man, a great character, who has been travelling for several years by foot down to wards Tanzania, buying and selling cattle.. He was on his way home finally, and was walking down the Milgis Lugga, on his way back to Korr, when he heard that there was an eye doctor coming.. He jumped on the car, and has not looked back..He had his cataract removed, and now will spread the conservation messages far and wide!!

DSC01208.JPG Lesoloyia, the Milgis Manager making up amusing soft banter at the gateway into the surgery room, so as to calm every one down!!

The scary room where it all happens,


But they’re soon out, being carefully lead to a place to rest by our scouts..

DSC01358.JPG This woman has just had a cataract removed..

DSC01369.JPG Looking for her shoes!.. She had Bilateral TPR, as a result of Trachoma.. The Eye lashes turn into their eye and scratch until they lose the eye.. One of our main aims is to eradicate this problem.. see below..

Resting after the operation..


DSC01366.JPG A child from the desert enjoying a a square meal.. Her Mother had a Bilateral cataracts..


The Kitchen.. There was 6 girls and many volunteers who worked tirelessly cooking and looking after their every need around the clock, for the patients!


Grubs up!!

DSC01280.JPG After a long Journey somebody went around and helped every one wash there hands.. Luxury!! At home they probably don’t have enough water for this…


DSC01244.JPG these three Lady’s enjoying seeing their meal!

DSC01242.JPG At least my lovely woman had a nice meal while she was there!

Early morning cup of tea, before the Doctor comes to remove the bandages..


DSC01314.JPG this little girl came in from kargi , she has cataracts and was referred to Nairobi.. Her grandmother accompanied her .. She had 2 cataracts done..

The wonderful happy stories after their patches are removed are special..


Dr George did 214 operations in the week.. 182 Cataracts, and 28 Tprs and 4 others! 4 children were referred to Nairobi..

I love this picture below, its my old Rendille friend telling all the new comers from Kargi, thats all going to go well.. We had nobody in the building who could speak the language! So wasn’t it lucky he was there!


A Huge amount of THANKS to MEAK,

DSC01381.JPG and by the way… this woman had a broken arm and came to find help… Can you believe it MEAK had an orthopaedic mission going on at the same time in Nanyuki, so she was rushed off to Nanyuki in an aeroplane, two days later she was smiling with gratefulness!!

PARAMOUNT ‘THANKS’ to Andrew and Sophie Prudnell Bruce, and Ina Astrup and all other contributers for raising the funds for this amazing mission..

Thankyou Beverly Othwein for being there for us,

LIONS Loresho Eye Hospital,

Samburu Sports Centre, and Stakwell.. who was unbelievably kind to the hundreds of people that came, and was helpful every where..

The many volunteers who worked tirelessly..

Marwell Wildlife, for lending an extra vehicle to collect the patients..

Tropicair, for bringing the Doctors and Nurses up to South Horr for costs only..

Also so many thanks to Isabel Wilcox for all the support you give to the Latakwen Dispensary, and Rita Lekisaat pictured above with Supukan Lesoloyia, the Milgis Trust Manager..

Well done learaman..Learaman the milgis Eye Warrior.JPG

Daniel learaman, who is kindly sponsored by Jane Furse has spent the last year walking the entire area that the Milgis trust operates in and further , tying to explain to people that they need to wash there faces, in order to stop the flies laying eggs on their eye lids… The awful suffering,Trachoma that follows is not kind to any one..

Thanks to all!!

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..

”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!


Going home with a ”spring in their stride!!”… with the Elephants following!!

After many months away from home ‘on the run’ literally, looking for grazing to keep their herds, ( their fortune ) alive, the Rendille and Samburu from the East side of the Ndoto/Matthews and Marsabit are on there way home!… Its a wonderful sight!! A GREAT RELIEF…

DSC02217.JPG Camels

Thousands and thousands of Livestock animals again on the move.. This time going East!.. back home..

Cows, and goats and sheep, in their thousands are heading back to wards their homeland.. across the Kaisut Desert to Marsabit, Kargi, Korr, and beyond..


Donkeys loaded to the hilt! return (6).JPG

The only thing that is left behind is hundreds of these empty bomas!



This is what caused it!.. Rain… and plenty of it!!



What an absolute relief for every one.. WHAT A SIGHT!!.. Watching the people from the ‘desert’ go home with totally positive thoughts… The noise is extraordinary… the bells, the singing from the warriors, the laughing and joking as they pass by! The tiny baby Goats, Camels and Calves all lagging behind crying out for their mothers, but the people taking it all in their stride, coaxing them along and stopping for them to feed the moment they get too far behind..

The long road home… the marks in the sand left by their hooves..


They’ve many many kms to go !… This time they will do their best to leave nobody behind, a luxury they did not have on their way here.. You can’t wait for the weak when in a drought, but now its rained they have no more worries!…LONG LIVE THE BEAUTIFUL PASTORAL LIFE!

With them are the Elephants… They aren’t going home they are looking for new browse, they love to go East into the lower Milgis when its wet.. What is nice is the People going East with them have managed very well to live together with the wildlife, particularly the elephants.. So they all go down the Milgis together..

DSC01795.JPG Elephants and Camels all living and eating together.. This is one of Milgis Trust’s most important messages.. WE CAN LIVE TOGETHER!!

DSC01813.JPG Big herds of Elephants passing below the Milgis Base.. ..


I LOVE THIS PICTURE!!.. the Elephants and the shadows…

It seems these days its all or nothing!??

The only reason for us to believe there is a drought in North/Eastern Kenya is because I keep on getting concerned emails from all of you out there asking how we are fairing, and that we continue to see our friends from the Marsabit mountain, and the Kaisut Desert and beyond coming in their hundreds and thousands to the Milgis and past.. Its an amazing sight!!

DSC00963.JPG more stock on the move…

DSC00956.JPG Neighbours for the night!, the wonderful singing from the warriors, ringing through out the night..

DSC01038.JPG Onward! and Forward to greener pastures..


On our last safari we came across wall to wall cows being watered in the Suiyan lugga.. most of them are the ones that had passed us last month! Rendille on the move.. Unbelievable sight !! We estimated it was around 10,000 cows, with thousands of Warriors.. Each warrior singing to call his own group of cows to his water hole, that he has dug in the sand.. A sight that will stay with me forever.. Its impossible to get pictures of this, I wouldn’t put it past one of them to take a pot shot at me!, but just the odd pic., that we managed to steel!, just to show you!!



Unbelievably two days later we find them on the move again!, heading higher into the hills, all of us using the Mighty Milgis lugga as a high way..



Through out the safari once again the Acacias are blooming, They were right! AGAIN!!


Every where we looked the Acacias were flowering.. This mountain side is covered in Acacia Melifera, the honey Acacia.. The Aroma in the air is DELICIOUS.. Like the last time!! We were warned by the Flowering Acacias…

DSC01174.JPG Just too delicately beautiful!


DSC01330.JPG The snakes are moving too!!.. INTERRESTING!!!


Later on that day… Our highway is beginning to look Dangerous!


No sooner were we off the Lugga, and round the corner came the water… WOW!! IT WAS EXCITING!!



P1150552.JPG This was the fastest and angriest flood I’ve ever seen..


The only way to describe it is its like a Tsunami.. Any thing in its path is destroyed.. We heard of 18 camels that got washed away..




P1150602.JPG 4pm 11th August..

DSC01487.JPG 7 am 12 August!

The next morning!! Our highway is back to normal!!

So to answer all your questions about how we are fairing !?! Actually very well, and never a dull moment up here in Northern Kenya.. We measured 39 mm of rain at Elkanto, half the hill was washed away!! The grass is growing, the trees are green, and things are good.. There is still water in the luggas, and our happiest Friends are the Elephants!! Absolutely delighted..

DSC00997.JPG lots of glorious mud!

P1150893.JPG And food!

Rendille on the move.. Unbelievable sight !!

I’VE NEVER SEEN ANY THING LIKE IT!! We have all been hearing on the news of the drought in North Eastern, and this is what we saw on our last safari!! A MIGRATION OF NOTE!


Wave after wave of animals passed us on the Milgis Lugga, heading from East to West.. It was the most unbelievable sight!! Hundreds and thousands of Cows, Camels, Goats and Sheep, were being herded gently by their loving owners, coaxing them through thick ( Incredible dust storms ) and thin ( no water or food ) to find greener pastures towards the west.. This has been going on for days and days..


They just seemed to keep coming, and disappearing into this dust.. The little calves following their mothers.. ALL HEADING TO THE AREAS WHERE IT RAINED PROPERLY LAST MONTH..


Their owners are the Samburu and Rendille who live in the Marsabit area.. Marsabit is a beautiful mountain right in the middle of the desert about
100 kms to the East of where we were on the Milgis Lugga, and they will continue to walk until they find pasture.. The Animals all looked amazingly well, and the people herding them tough and determined.. They will stop at nothing to save their livelihoods..

DSC00885.JPG The wind blowing down the milgis is extraordinary..You can see how strong it is on the doum palms behind..

DSC00912.JPG The hill sides are dotted with thousands of goats and sheep .. Its hard for the local residents to watch their valuable Graze and browse being eaten up.. They them selves had moved out to let it recover.. BUT its Samburu policy, and I admire them so much for this.. YOU DO NOT LET YOUR NEIGHBOUR STARVE..


A whole house on a donkey..


Can you imagine watering these huge herds, all done by hand like this..

P9222358.JPG The goat and sheep kids are carried in side these donkey saddles..



People tell me that its time for people to settle, time for people to own land… I say.. No they will die.. LONG LIVE NOMAD ISM… Long live these beautiful people, and the pastoral life..

DSC00801-1.JPG Even the Marsabit Elephants have moved in!! Interesting though they started arriving a month ago.. Very soon after the rain in on the 13th June.. Very clever!!

BUT…. BUT SEE BELOW… NO MORE OF THIS!! They must NOT cut the trees down any more in this way, to feed their hungry livestock.. .. Our scouts are busy following them, and explaining that this has to stop.. This is a result of September/October last year when the Rendille moved into the south end of the Ndotos.. The destruction was terrible, but this time we are determined to stop the mass destruction, if they do abit of pruning to feed their stock it does no harm….

DSC00647.JPG young commifera trees hacked down to feed their livestock.. DSC00652.JPG This Whole tree cut down for their stock.. They could not have been able to get to the higher branches..

DSC00183.JPG An Acacia Tortilis hacked down.. This tree saves the stock so often (when its alive!).. The leaves, flowers and seed pods are very nutritious.. If they do this to it WHAT NEXT?? WHAT WILL THEY EAT NEXT YEAR?

Our scouts and the manager have just toured the whole area, from the West side of the Matthews, to all around the Ndotos to explain the repercussions of cutting trees.. an awareness campaign to show what can happen if they don’t care.. They showed films kindly donated to us by
in the evenings at 12 different places, then the next morning held meetings, and had heated discussions… ALL IN ALL IT WAS A GREAT SUCCESS.. We hope the residents who are welcoming the Rendille and Samburu from the drought areas will make sure that the trees are spared..

Looong safari for grevys to get to water..

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

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

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

Grevy highway!. DSC07433.JPG

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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