Category Archives: Turkana

To solve some of the major problems emerging Milgis Trust unveils our new vet proposal…

Milgis Trust

Vet Unit, northern Kenya

In a place as remote as the Ndoto Mountains and Matthews Range of northern Kenya where do the people turn when their animal is in trouble?

Our conservation veterinary unit will not only offer desperately needed veterinary services to the livestock of the incredibly remote Samburu, Rendille and Turkana nomadic tribes, but will campaign without fail to improve quality rather than quantity of livestock in the hope of reducing the degradation of the land, the struggle for water and therefore the presence of human/wildlife conflict.

On top of this, because it is such a inaccessible area, with approval from the veterinary department of the KWS we will give first aid care to the young or sick wild animals, that we find abandoned…Either to nurture them back to being fit enough to return to the wild with the least trauma, or to arrange for them to go to further care.. Just this year we have had several animals brought in that needed help.. [The Greater Kudu calf, mother killed by hunting dogs, baby warthog, found stuck in the mud were perfect examples, of animals that may have survived if they had had vet care ]

This project will be life changing for the people, and their valuable livestock and the entire ecosystem of over 4,000 sq kms that the Milgis Trust team works tirelessly to conserve.

very young greater kudu...JPG Very young greater kudu… his stomach lining was bleeding having been picked up after his mother was killed, by wild dog, and fed from dirty bottles…

This Vet Unit will practise standard veterinary care and help to coordinate referrals and transportation for wildlife to other wildlife care/veterinary units in emergency situations. It will be a permanent presence at the MT headquarters with a full-time qualified vet charging a small fee for services for community livestock. There would not be any thing like the amount of lose of stock this year if the animals were healthy before the drought begun.. It will also be a conservation campaigning unit that will offer advice and guidance on how to improve quality rather than quantity of livestock, as well as livestock marketing and work to combat land degradation, human/wildlife conflict and drought crisis.

Dead livestock.jpg Common scene every day…

The Milgis Vet Unit’s 4 objective S’s & how we can accomplish those objectives:

SPEED of response to emergency calls

(Patrolling scouts, vet on call, communication devices, vehicle)

SKILL of a trained field vet in handling calls and campaigning

(Permanent trained field vet located at MT HQ)

SAFETY of the animal whilst in our care

(Trained staff helpers, quality equipment, medical supplies, feed and resources)

SUSTAINABILITY of the aftercare of the animal its accommodation and its safe release

(Permanent veterinary building and enclosure, continuous collaboration and support from conservancies in the area)


1) Construction of Vet Unit building and enclosure at Milgis Trust HQ

· Building 1. Vets accommodation on site.

· Building 2. Veterinary surgery, feed store, medical store & equipment store

· Enclosure. 2 x Fenced Pens and 2 x Covered pens

2) Purchase of Vet Vehicle

3) Purchase of supplies

· Medical equipment

· Medicines and supplies

· Animal feed

· Transport resources and petrol

4) Hiring permanent government qualified field vet

· Interviewed by KWS and Milgis Trust

5) Set-up an efficient communication rapid-response radio system

· Connect Milgis Trust scouts, Mini Vet Unit & KWS

6) Create an Emergency fund & backup support

· Air transport backup if needed to DSWT or other in Nairobi

7) Create Community awareness and fee list for veterinary services for community livestock

· Communities would pay a fee to have their livestock treated

· Regular and continual livestock campaigns to reduce quantity of stock and raise quality

· Health checks and rabies vaccinations of domestic dogs

14 th may… Radio bubbling with news…

It started at 6 am with the scouts down at Kudup, [please see my last blog] having had an eventful night, but no sign of the youngsters mother, nor of any herds…sadly, but the lugga came down in a massive flood in the night, so luckily the baby was safe and not still in the well….They stayed the night near
the well in the hope the mother would be back but just one old bull came in to drink, he took a long thirst quenching drink at the well, and did not show much sympathy for the little boy, who was calling, and just wanted to go to him, but there were also lots of Hyenas around keen to have a nice tasty baby
elephant!!, and the scouts stayed awake all night… I strait away got on to the phone to tell DSWT, who were ready at any moment to help… I have just received news from Angela, that he arrived in good form, thirsty for milk, and ‘full of nonsense’! The scouts tell me that he was like that for the whole night!!

As we were settling down to a cup of coffee, We had not slept too much either, hoping that the guys would come on the radio with good news!, The dream outcome.. ‘ The mother is here, and the baby is safely back!’ BUT so such luck…one of the scouts in the western slopes of the Ndotos, piped up on the radio, ‘PLEASE I need help, I am being hunted down by a mad man who wants to kill me because I caught him shooting a greater kudu, I have been hiding all night, he went to my manyatta, and luckily I was not there, but he is looking for me… Please send the home guards to help me, call the chief, come quick in the car’… I quickly answered that the car was miles away in a nother direction, carrying an Elephant!, and that he must find some elders, to help, hope fully there will a home guard,or he must run away to safety, and as soon as we can we will send a team of home guards to help, and have a meeting with the elders on what to do next… Later on he came on the radio to tell me he was safe, the elders had come out ‘en mass’ to help!! Yesterday, the 15th, the team went up to the area, had a long meeting and resolved the problem… last news I had was they will be late because the elders had given them a goat to eat!! [ Who are the Home Guards… they are police reserve, its a wonderful way of keeping the peace in these remote areas, certain responsible people are given a training, and a gun, they live amounst the communities an ordinary life, do not have a uniform and they are called up when there are problems like this or attacks like the next report!]

Next to come up was there had been an attack in the early hours of the night, on a Samburu boma with alot of cattle, near the Suiyan Lugga west of the base!.. One person was shot dead, and one wounded, but the owners of the cattle with the home guards managed to fight off the attackers, and save the cattle from being stolen… Unfortunately unrest between the tribes has reared its ugly head again and there has been quite a few skirmishes north of us, between the Samburu and Turkana… Mostly about cattle rustling, but also old quarrels that have not been resolved.. We had an important meeting that was supposed to take place on the 19th may in Baragoi, on the plight of the Grevy Zebra, which of course is always caught up in these skirmishes.. The meeting has been cancelled..

Last but not least their was alot of relieved talk about rain.. alot of excitement, but its the 16th today, and the rain has gone again… At least we had one good flood down the luggas..And the desert is bursting into life.. little bits of greenery popping out of the ground all around us!! Soon lots of flowers! Today we will be an emergency meeting with the scouts responsible for the wells.. We need to think again of what to do about wells… Its a complicated problem..

The Genet is old enough to be released.. which we did a week ago at Elkanto.. He is very happy in his new home, learning the tricks of the wild again… Hes found all the good places to hide, and we see him every night… He looks forward to his food, but slowly he will disappear off into the wild..

No pictures as we are using a satellite phone, but will put some up asap…There are some great ones of the two baby Elephant rescues!..

We feel that this project will help the future of wildlife in arid areas???



Project description

Following efforts from the scouts and the entire community within the Milgis ecosystem, we have observed a significant and rapid change in the behaviour and distribution of wildlife populations over the last few years. Overall, both wildlife and local communities appear to have become more relaxed and wildlife, especially elephants have been opening up old movement routes into the Matthews-Ndoto Ranges which they used historically. This has benefited local communities living near the mountains, providing them and their livestock access along these new elephant routes to areas in the mountains. Also the elephants are now feeling safe enough to probe the areas north of the Ndoto mountains, in the hope to go back to mounts Nyiru and Kulal.. where they were almost completely wiped out of during the tragic poaching of the 1970s and 80s..Those that were lucky enough to escape south, are the ones probing to go back… What they don’t know is that things have changed and human populations have increased dramatically, and the water sources are not where they were when they had to run for their lives…

As a result of the increasing presence and movement of wildlife under the protection of the community scouts within the area, the opportunity for conflict with people and livestock over water and pasture during the dry season presents itself. Conservation efforts now have to strike a critical balance: Wildlife and habitat conservation needs to be clearly understood, and the benefits need to be the communities.. Our conservation efforts need now to be even more vigilant as a result of our success, which leads to an increase in demand for resources. One of the major sources of conflict in northern Kenya is over water, the resource is scarce in this region and the little that exists is needed by all.

In the northern frontier district, there are huge tracts of land that are unoccupied because of lack of water. Opening up such areas would ease the population in those currently occupied as the wildlife and even nomads would spread out and reduce the damage to the environment that is caused by over crowding. This will also ease over stretching of the available resources. Opportunities for accessing water to the communities living in the drier parts are enormous, there are numerous pans and dams that are no good, because of silting, while there are plenty of dry streams where flood waters during the rainy season can be harvested by developing new dams or Haffir tanks.

We are therefore requesting for support… A water project that will involve accessing water to communities and wildlife in northern Kenya… Some wildlife species like the Grevys’ zebra that are endemic to this region, are threatened by lack of water. The Trust will continue its security and monitoring operations which have been responsible for the encouraging change in the behaviour and distribution of wildlife in this region and in gradually building positive attitudes towards wildlife. This stability provides the platform from which the Trust can implement its other conservation activities which will ensure that for wildlife and natural resource protection to be sustainable there needs to be real development opportunities made available.This includes education, security, health care, livestock marketing and water development.

The specific objectives of this project are; De-silting pans and dams that are dry, and opening up new dams in arid areas. Creating water resource conservation, use and management awareness among the communities…


  • Mitigating human wildlife conflict within the Milgis Trust area

    The Trust is dedicated to conserving the environment and wildlife in the long-term through the provision of real economic benefits to the communities…, To this end, the Trust is taking steps to make water accessible to the people to try and reduce situations that cause conflict with wildlife. By making water available to both the nomads and wildlife, opportunities for conflict will be reduced, and the communities will start to see wildlife as bringing benefits to them. This will strengthen our conservation efforts and the people will start to be more accommodating to the wildlife..

  • Easing the elephants water problems, as the Umbrella species for all wildlife..

    ‘The Elephant’ is under pressure from fences and human populations to the south, so they are probing routes to go to places with less pressure.. The presence and movement of elephants within the area naturally increases the opportunity for conflict between people and livestock over water during the dry season..

  • Especially easing the endangered Grevy Zebras plight of travelling huge distances to water …
  • Accessing to water to communities, and solving overgrazing, and erosion …

    Through the Milgis Trust community scouts and the Manager, continued awareness creation on the importance of conserving the available water and other resources in sustaining human livelihoods is undertaken. Meetings are arranged… discussions take place on local conservation concerns with particular focus on water resource use issues especially during the dry season. The communities will be trained on catchments area protection, the relationship between the environmental destruction and water shortage among other conservation issues.


The Milgis Trust would do this by purchasing equipment to undertake this activity. Purchasing our own equipment will ensure sustainability of this project.

Project Impact:

As an established field presence, the Milgis Trust scouts have made a significant impact on improving security for wildlife and natural resources within the Milgis Ecosystem, in the three year time frame they have been operating… The role of the scouts has therefore been instrumental in maintaining the momentum of conservation and awareness activities across the region. Once this program is under way the following benefits are anticipated;

ü Reduced erosion due to congestion in areas where water is available, once water is made available to other areas the community will spread out.

ü Reduced human wildlife conflict over water resource use.

ü Improved human wildlife relationship and co-existence.


Tractor, ripper and Dam Scoop, and Back up pickup…

1 x SAME LASER TRACTOR 125 4wd ..

· assembled in Italy using European components… meets all current European specifications · 125hp DIN, 140hp SAE
· 6 cylinder, 6000cc turbo charged engine
· rear tyres 18.4 R 34
· front tyres 16.9 R 24

1 x 3.5 cubic meter Dam Scoop

1 x Ripper

offer 7 free services to our customers however depending on where this tractor will be located we will negotiate what we are willing to do for you as soon as we have further details.

Training: We offer full operator training for your operators and service maintenance training for your mechanics. The training is offered free of charge with only incidental costs of transport, food and accommodation etc being charged.

1 x 4wd pickup backup vehicle..

Extras… camping equipment…

Total costs to set up the Dam unit… …………………………………………….aprox Ksh 10,750,000/-

aprox….. US $ 150,000.

Operating costs per month… Fuel, maintenance, wages, and food… aprox Ksh 200,000/-

per year x 12 = Ksh 2,400000/= US $ 32000.

I am putting this on the Blog, because especially after this last drought, we have decided this is one way we can hopefully ease many of the problems… I am not expecting just any one to come up with this sort of cash!, but if anyone knows of any organisation that may beable to help…We really want to get this project going…As a independent mobile unit… Run By Pete Ilsley.. a Milgis Trust Trustee….

Heres a harrowing story… Not for the faint hearted though…

Its a lovely thought, that here we are out here in the heart of Samburuland, the Americans have just voted in these historic elections, if you turn on the radio, its the topic to talk about…In fact I’m sure every ones talking about it… And yet these guys are quietly getting on with their lives, talking about the rains, and which Lugga is crossable at the moment, and when will the cows come back home!..The lovely thought also, is one things for sure is they will probably suffer least in the credit crunch!!

This is not a conservation story, but its a story that shows how amazingly positive, and proud these Samburu people are.. A couple of days ago a very nice man, called Lesarge, pitched up to the hill to see me, he had an envelope full of papers to show me… This was the man who’s manyatta had been attacked in April, by Turkana raiders….. He was in fine form telling me of how things were going in the area, that has now moved to… Don’t blame him, because then he went on to tell the story of the night of the attack… He had gone shopping at the little centre called Masiketa, that was about 5 kms away from his home… As he was heading home at about 8 pm, his bag of maize meal, sugar, tea leaves in hand, for his family he heard some shooting in the direction of his manyatta… He hurried along but nothing prepared his mind for what he was going to find…The raiders had aimed all their bullets into his house… The Samburu live in very low temporary houses made of thin sticks tied together with bark, and skins and woven mats that go on the roof… His whole family were inside…His wife with her little tiny baby, 12 year old daughter, and his 5 year old son.. plus 3 warriors… His son was dead, his daughter had had her lower jaw shot off, his wife had been shot through the knee, and 1 warrior had been shot through the calf … And all his camels had been taken… Unbelievable.. A night mare to beat all.. He was happy this day because finally he had managed to get his daughter out of the hospital, in Nairobi…So now all that was left is to pay the bill… He wanted to discuss how ‘ we ‘ could do it… What I can’t understand is why hes got a bill at all.??.. I asked him how the girl is…He said ‘ shes OK, and shes happy to be home.. she can talk, but shes still got many problems with her throat, and she can’t eat of course, the hospital really tried, but they could do no more to help her…They were very kind and caring to my daughter.. They even rallied together, with some Samburu people in Nairobi, to help me pay for the massive bill of Ksh 450,000/- , I only owe Ksh 131000/- now… ONLY!!.. and hes lost all his camels… I asked him if any one had followed up on the camels, and he mentioned that the government had taken alot of camels from other Turkanas, but he could not take them because they were not his, and they were taken off Innocent people… He told me he will build his herd up the Samburu way, he will ask his friends to give generously!!… His only worry is his bill… We decided that each of us would try which ever way we could.. He was going to ask his friends for goats… And I was going to ask my friends for ‘ Goats ‘!!!….

Grevy Zebra killings…Tell readers how they can help…

Comment from Maina.. wildlife direct..

‘I am very alarmed about the Grevy Zebra poaching. What can be done? How can the rest of the world help? It is quite scary given how rare this equine is. We really have to act fast. Tell readers how they can help’.

Maina, How can the rest of the world help…Stop selling guns and ammunition to Africa!…and send some condoms!! Yes it is scary… I feel the only way forward is dialogue… We have to get the Turkana on board, get the message deep into the tribe, get them to understand the urgency of this problem… The Turkana eat every thing, there is hardly a wild animal living in Turkanaland.. With human populations in the Dry Northern Frontier District still growing, guns all over the place, its hard for any animal to survive… and unfortunately these extremely rare and quite the most beautiful equines, happen to live in quite a turbulent place.. The Samburu are revolted at the thought of eating Zebra, the Turkana eat them for breakfast!… With the Samburu/Turkana fighting ‘talking’ is difficult.. Today on the radio I got a message that Lesuuda, one of our Home Guard scouts, who is one of our bravest, who was on his way to the north of the Ol Donyo Mara hills, again no mans land, to investigate a dramatic report, that over the last few months many Zebras, actually the amount was 28??, had been shot, I hope this is not true.. Lesuuda reported this morning that he was going to abort the trip, because there is alot of panic in the area and people are moving their stock…He doesn’t want to get mixed up in the tribal fighting.. We will find out later…The Grevy’s are abit in the same position as the Gorillas in the Congo..

I will get our manager who has alot of experience with ‘talking’/ getting people together, and is quite respected in the area, to really come up with a plan… KWS have been very quiet… We are reporting incidences every day almost and they do nothing… They are short of money, no fuel, and he rangers are not motivated

.. Typical Grevy zebra country..This picture was taken may 07, North of the Ndoto Mountains… Wish it was as cloudy as that now..!!Typical Grevey Zebra countr.jpg

The grave situation for the Grevey’s in Baragoi area…

Only 20 years ago when we used to commute between Baragoi and the Milgis across the Elbarta plains, I remember seeing lots of herds of Grevey Zebra… As children we didn’t even know how rare they were… Every time you drove to Turkana they seemed common. They were all over the place….. It was only ten years ago when It started dawning on us that they were being decimated..We raised the alarm… Nobody seemed to be in a position to help… What we are now seeing and hearing ref. the slaughter of these majestic zebras today has been going on unabated, mainly because of the dangers… Tribal fighting… There is only about 2000 left in the world of this special animal… Moses Lesaloyias words at the end of the meeting between the Turkana and the people [ previous blog], who are concerned for the safety, are true…and thats what we need to work on..

Grevey Zebra Meeting… 8th Oct. 08 Baragoi


Following many reports of poaching incidents in sikira area of Baragoi, a meeting between the Turkana leaders and the Grevey ZebraTrust,[GZT], Milgis Trust [MT] and Kenya Wildlife Service [KWS] to discuss this issue was held at Baragoi on the 8th of October 2008. The following is the proceedings of that meeting.

The meeting was attended by 22 leaders from the Turkana community, 4 staff of GZT, 2 staff of MT and the KWS district warden. The district warden was the chairman of the meeting.

The chairman introduced the purpose of the meeting and made it clear that it was not blame or accusation meeting but one to find out a solution to a problem that has become chronic in the area. He pointed out that KWS has all the necessary force that it could use to counter the poachers but the age of using force is past and the approach is now dialogue. He gave a blame ladder as follows, the government blames KWS, it blames stake holders like MT, GZT, they blame the community, the community blames the youth and the youths blame an individual. He said the government gave KWS mandate to look after the wildlife and it is their responsibility to ensure that all people play their role to protect the wildlife. He opened the meeting and pointed out that only two questions will be addressed by the meeting, what the problem is and what the solutions are. He invited the participants to be free and open in their deliberations.

What is the problem? Why are Turkanas killing the Grevey’s?

· No awareness creation among the community

· Grevey’s soup is cure for yellow fever, TB, and joints problems

· Europeans/colonialist introduced the killing to the Turkana, they shot them for sport and the Turkana learnt eating the grevey’s meat then.

· Clashes-raiders feed on them while in the bush, families raided also look for food from the wildlife

· Sport-youths play around with guns and practise target shooting on wildlife-even those who don’t eat them

· Killing for food

· Poor cooperation between GZT and other stake holders

· Competition for resources

· Youth defiance

· Scouts not reporting their kins-hiding the truth on poachers

· Invisible benefits from wildlife

What are the possible solutions to these problems?

· Strengthen awareness creation on the importance of wildlife

· Recruitment of more scouts among the Turkana community

· Frequent meetings with the Turkana community by the GZT

· KWS team in Latakweny to be more mobile and visit all places

· Arresting reported poachers to deter others

· Employment of intelligence techniques

· Enhance communication

· Improve team work among the GZ ambassadors-Turkana scouts to visit the Samburu ones and vice versa.

· Creation of a conservancy in the area

· Putting a KWS radio in Baragoi

· Access water to the grevey’s areas

· All elders to be educators for the youth

· Form a GZ committee in the area.

KWS promised that it will try and get funds for more awareness creation among the community on the importance of wildlife and will improve communication by setting up a radio base in Baragoi and try to increase the Latakweny team and the future set up another camp in Baragoi.

MT manager cautioned the participants that no matter how much support comes from outside the only time that this problem will stop is when the community accepts the wildlife as theirs and start taking care of them like their livestock. Whether they start a conservancy or KWS brings a thousand rangers or GZT give all they ask for, as long as their attitude towards the wildlife is not positive nothing will happen and the killing will continue. He urged the leaders to go out and create awareness in the community and try to change their attitude and this problem will be solved. The ambassadors were basically employed for this purpose and not just to provide security. He asked them not to think of employment of more scouts but think of themselves as the care takers of the wildlife in the area. The scout programme is not sustainable…

sorry, NO PICTURES again…

Yesterdays Blog had two pictures of our findings, 3 and a half months after the two Elephants died… But for some reason the pictures are not going on…I will be in Nairobi at the end of the month so will find out what the problem is… I’ve got so many fabulous pictures to share with every one…

No rain yet!! Its worse this year as we have had hundreds of people in the area near The Milgis Trust‘s base, who ran away from the fighting, with their thousands of goats, sheep and cows… But in the last few days we have noticed mass movement of stock to wards the west, as they feel its better to deal with the Turkana than to let the animals die of starvation… brave people!! But the Turkana seem to be in abit of a squeeze at the moment, as they are fighting on both fronts… The other front against the pokot in the Suguta..The wildlife in the mean time have had a good break, in that there has been nobody for several months in the Suiyan area, so have had plenty to eat and no pressure over water!!.. The Grevey Zebra, of which there are only about 2000 left in the whole world, being one of the beneficiaries!, of the tribal fighting..

‘Ngoroko’…. Turkana raiders attack 20 kms west of base….

The tribal fighting is really hotting up..15th july…9 dead… 5 wounded.. [including one of our scouts, luckily not serious]… over 200 cows taken.. The Turkana V Samburu.. Big battle was fought 20 kms west of our base where the Suiyan Lugga meets the Parsaloi!!.. Full moon ..a good time to plan this as they can get well away with there bounty before the sun rises…They hit at 12 pm just as every one was settling down to sleep… and fought through the night… but the cattle were rushed off, and the back guard kept the rescuers at bay,,, In the last three months 2 attacks north of here…. in a place called Masiketa..3 people were killed, several hurt including one child who was trampeled by the running cows… Yes.. this is 2008… But this has been going on for centuaries, …And after the latest round of circumsision ceremonis in 2006.. There are many young warriors looking for action!!.. Things have really flared up in the last 6 months…But ‘life goes on’!!!

oct nov 07 358.jpg Samburu warriorZoundry..with the Parsaloi Lugga behind where the attack happend..

Giraffes in the Desert!!

This morning we went for a flight to look at an area south/east of Mt Kulal.. We had been told that there were giraffe in this incredibly dry area… and YES there are… We could not believe our eyes… We saw two groups of 9 and 7 in a place called Elbaa Malisiteti ..These giraffe obviously do not drink regularly as there is no water any where.. Also we saw plenty of gerenuk, grants gazelle, ostrich, and abit further to the west at Lago 5 grevey Zebra.. We know that these Greveys are drinking north of South Horr, walking up to 40 kms to get there and back every two days..In May 07 crossing the Horr valley, on our way walking to Turkana we counted 23 fresh tracks going into Anderi Lugga for water.. Considering there are only about 2000 of these magestic, gracious zebras left in the world, alot living in these these very dry areas, and water being the biggest threat to their survival, the Milgis Trust is embarking on a serious campaign to fix old dams that have broken, build new dams, or even pan dams throughout these dry areas.. From this area right down to east of the Ndotos… Not only would it enhance the survival of the Greveys, it would also help the Elephants on their return to these ‘Islands in the Desert’..[see blog 7th june] Also the nomadic people would benefit in a big way.. ..