Category Archives: Wild Dog

The ups and downs of CARNIVORE conservation??

As ‘we speak’ I’m listening to the VHF radio full of never ending talk between 3 teams of our scouts and KWS who are busy following a wounded Elephant, shot at by poachers 3 days ago in a valley on the southern slopes of the Ndotos, and he has dragged himself down into the lower Milgis, into very thick bush and they now can’t find him.. Hes lost alot of blood, and hes lieing down often.. SAD, SAD.. As every one keeps saying.. The Elephant situation is serious, and its frightening.. ITS A NEVER ENDING BATTLE.. We know who the people are, but unless you catch them ‘red handed’, they just get let out to do it again.. and thats exactly whats just happened..

DSC05389.JPG The lonely tracks of a mother and calf running from danger..

Any way, while that all goes on on one side I have been watching in dismay another saga unfolding again, with our most beautiful carnivores..

IMG_0254.JPG picture taken below Lkanto.. mum and her cubs!

The ups and downs of conservation, with reference to these magnificent animals… In Europe / America, they were called vermin and ALL shot 100 or even 200 years ago.. Thank goodness most of our African friends didn’t behave like that.. They lived with them and accepted and used them.. Not sure about the early Europeans in Kenya??.. You read any book and they killed lions /leopards every other day on their ranches!.. .. Sadly that attitude also spread up here in the second half of last century the cats, wild dogs, Hyenas actually all animals were killed discriminatingly, grrrrrr, the modern world catching up …… I do wonder if ever again wild animals in this world will beable ‘to live and let live’, I suppose we are breeding too quickly, for that dream and soon there will be no space left for animals except behind wire fences.. Believe me its happening in front of our eyes in Kenya.. BUT up here since we started the Milgis Trust we are delighted to say that we are seeing an incredible increase in carnivores.. (and no fences!) We all know what they do when theres no wild animals left to eat.. They go for the peoples livestock which is not popular, but I am always so surprised how accommodating the pastoral people are.. Thank you to them.. and they deserve to reap the benefits! If I have a chance they will and are actually!

IMG_0102 2.JPG Dikdik

IMG_0109 sererit.JPG a fabulous specimen of a bush pig..

The issue that I am watching is food for these big meat eaters, and the reason why theres a problem.. Remembering that we live in a very dry area, where there was never the plains game that other areas of Kenya have, plus the fact that almost every thing was killed by any one and every one.. There is a time when many people told me ‘to forget Northern Kenya its finished’!! Luckily I didn’t but this problem, is now ‘our’ problem, the ‘Milgis’ Problem!

Its as simple as this.. Carnivores have many young in one go and Herbivores have 1 at a time.. plus the Carnivores pop em out much more often than there ‘food’ does.. Just compare these Aprox. gestation periods in days of Lion -110, leopard – 100, Caracal – 80 compared to lets say Buffaloe – 340, Lesser kudu – 220, Warthog -170, the tiny little Dikdik – 170 , these figures are amazing.. Sooo how does one win, in getting the wildlife to rebuild itself when starting again! This is after what I once wrote.( the despicable blanket poaching in the 70s and 80s and into the 90s.. Every one, and I mean ‘everyone’ KWS included for some reason joined the awful ‘band wagon’ of poaching the wildlife in Northern Kenya, in fact almost wiping it out ) The wildlife is coming back slowly but surely, but just watching down below Lkanto, the carnivore proliferation far exceeds the Herbivore proliferation..We, not just me, but all my Samburu friends here at Lkanto, are so happy to see the carnivores, we sit on the rock where these warriors are sitting for hours!! Sadly because their own success they don’t have alot to eat, they must wake up each evening with a hard nights work ahead of them.. But they are surviving and they look fabulous in the night photos we are getting!!.. But this issue is a ‘double edged sword’ really.. and I try to appease the communities not to kill them, when they kill their livestock, but sometimes one feels is an up hill battle.. and I don’t blame them.. When somebody steels money out your bank account, of course one reacts with vengeance.. A leopard tried to kill one of our camels the other day, the camel eventually died, and it hurt.. But I tell them that if they hadn’t killed all the carnivores food so readily before, this would not be the situation.. AND by the way THEY AGREE.. Maybe this is a reason they are so accommodating.. When I take tourists out on safari if we are lucky to see any of the special five of the carnivores we actually double the camping fees that the community gets.. This certainly helps, but only wish there was a simple answer

DSC04973.JPG The warriors very happy to see this lion.. Its a very long time since we’ve seen one below Lkanto, but reports on the radio are on the increase, so something is working!! The Milgis Lugga was famous for its lions in the good old days, but one day we found the gov’t vet in the area dishing out poison to kill the cats, and hyenas.. This guy has stopped now, although sadly they still do it when theres a rabies outbreak..

DSC04965.JPG Much excitement down below lkanto when this lion casually wandered out of the bush and had a drink, and then lay down!!

DSC04984-001.JPG Heres her tracks while she was drinking..

REMEMBER A SAMBURU CEREMONY CAN NOT TAKE PLACE IF THERE IS NO LION SKIN TO TIE ON THEIR LEGS.. !!!

IMG_0146.JPG This splendid lesser kudu bull, has managed to survive several visits of the hunting dogs, this leopard and her two cubs, all the Hyenas and the lion so far, but sadly I think his days are numbered..

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DSC05022.JPG A few days later, 8 am we had this extraordinary show of 8 very excited spotted Hyenas, rushing in all directions making alot of noise.. We sent some scouts to check on what was up, and found that they had been hassling a lion! To put it in the Samburu thinking.. They were telling the lion ‘to hurry up and find some food for them’.. Here they are on there way home having caused there chaos.. In all my years out here and walking throughout, I think I’ve ever only come across spotted Hyena twice in the day time!

DSC05462.JPG Sadly another addition to our orphans, this one is from Lake Bogoria, but we were asked to bring it up in a sensible way and release it here.. She is absolutely beautiful! Her name is ‘Mbaso’, meaning lake..

Luckily there are plenty of these IMG_0549-001.JPG

IMG_0603.JPG and these! If the carnivores can catch them..

After that depressing story heres something to brighten your day up.. Lodermurts different range of hats through out the month of may!! The sun rising to the south on the first picture and out to the north in the last one!

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20.5.13 A hot day coming up??! DSC05011-001.JPG

27.5.13 DSC05027.JPG Lodermurt is the solid rock that we look at down the Milgis Valley.. Its 60 nautical miles away..

The Milgis is ‘breeding content’!

Not sure if the title makes sense, but have a look at what I mean.. Heres our Christmas family coming along well!!.. IMG_0013.JPG

Desert warthogs… Still 3 young ones looking pretty grown up now! I’m impressed as we have been plagued by hunting dogs!! Please note I use that word as far as the pigs, and other poor old creatures are concerned, that must live in complete fear when a group of these very highly dangerous hunters are around.. We are delighted with their very vocal presence..

Last night as I sat there under a crystal clear star studded sky on the top of Elkanto, BUT listening to the Parsaloi flood roaring down towards the Milgis.. We could hear it 15kms away, so a huge amount of rain up stream!! Very exciting!.. I was trying to think of a title for my next blog of ‘mums and babes’ all caught on the night cameras in the last month, below Elkanto…. Have a look at this little show !!!

IMG_0281.JPG Two little Caracal Kittens following mum… there were quite a few pictures of Caracals passing the camera so we can only hope that one of them is ours!!

Bush pigs…

IMG_0454-001.JPG Mum with 6 babes in tow..

Here they come..
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IMG_0036.JPG We have 100s of this scene, but unfortunately the camera was upside down, and too high!!.. none the less we have one picture of a beautiful hunting dog pup, and mum..

IMG_0001suiyan.JPG Keeping watch!..

IMG_0001porky and babe.JPG I absolutely adore this one of the Porcupine, rushing along.. He was going so fast there was not a chance of a second shot!!

Each scouts radio call sign is an animal, and they have to learn about there specific animal and teach the rest at scouts meetings!! My call sign is ‘Eyaiye’ Porcupine in the Maa language, so I have have a special affinity with these wonderful animals!! so if any one out their has more to tell about this creature please do!!

Just a few more pictures of the months catch!!

Threatening!! Hes telling the camera to watch out!.. Come abit closer and I’ll prick you!

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IMG_0154.JPG A beautiful portrait of a wild cat..

IMG_0093-001.JPG I reckon this has got to be a pretty fine specimen of a Desert Warthog!!

Stripy, standing high and beautiful IMG_0311-001.JPG

Finally Leo.. In pretty good shape I would say…

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After the rain all around, this is what we woke up to this morning! A lovely wet Milgis Lugga..

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This is what caused it!!DSC04775.JPG

‘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.

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

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

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

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

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Poi Rock, just North of Ngurnit..

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The Ndoto Mountains from the south..

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

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

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

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FINALLY..THANKS EVERY ONE AGAIN.. WE ARE ALREADY PLANNING WHAT WE WILL DO TO SOLVE OUR WORRIES!!

The Milgis Trust needs more scouts to fulfill our mission…

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This Elephant is sending a clear message!

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

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

BACKGROUND…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are five distinct areas to our core operations:

1. The Milgis Trust Radio Hill

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

CORE OPERATIONS

2. Our 22 Scouts and local Manager…..

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

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

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

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

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

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

PROJECT IMPACT…

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

All patrols are done by foot..

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

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

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

Hard times for the wildlife… So dry..

Just wish we had our dam project up and running, but thank goodness this morning there are exciting clouds billowing over the Matthews Range.. Finally we REALLY hope for rain throughout.. All I am getting news of, is wild animals desperately in need of water… Just to mention a few of the problems…. Two young Grevy Zebras died trying to get to water, on the east side of the Ndotos… And many more animals falling into wells, and not being able to get out .. On the lower Milgis a big elephant spent the night battling to get out, which it did luckily as we did not enjoy the thought of having a repeat of the one in September! Elephant in desperate situation is saved…. PHEW!!! I have added some pictures on the blog which you may like to see….. Another very pregnant Elephant that was going down a very steep path having drunk in the Langata Nanyuki to the south of the Ndotos, slipped down the rocks and landed badly, her front legs were under her body, all her weight was on her neck, and she could not get up… She died before the scouts could find help.. A warthog, which died sadly but two wild dogs where pulled out of a well in Nairimirimo, and released I am happy to tell you… Unfortunately we have got no further with our investigations on our wild dog that was tied up for two days, and supposedly taken by KWS?? [See my last blog] I’m afraid the plot is thickening, and please be patient, we are determined to find out what is going on… But have discovered that there is a trade in wild dogs, going to markets where rich people want these beautiful animals as pets!!..Which explains why we have heard of people looking for puppies… Going back to our ‘poor’ dog… It sounds like she was pregnant, somebody who tried to get a job with us a few years ago, with a letter from the KWS, [ who knows how genuine] suggesting we took him on to look after the wild dogs!!, He made the phone call, and refused them to let it go… What we haven’t managed to establish is whether the dog died or was taken… Our scout has been taken on a ‘wild goose chase’ and he will go back to investigate… He was told the dog died, but when he asked to see the body it did not seem to exist!!… Yesterday a young genet cat was found in a well near the base, which was brought in…Its too small to release but we will as soon as its ready to go… LETS HOPE IT POURS WITH RAIN… PLEASE EVERY ONE WAVE YOUR MAGIC WANDS!! We need the rain so badly..

Who are these people who are taking hunting dogs…

For many years I have been told of people looking for hunting/wild dog, puppies, or dogs… The day I went with one of the scouts to look for the hunting dog den with ‘our cheetah’, Lesuuda, he mentioned that a few years ago he had been offered money to find puppies…. I have never managed to find who is it is, and what they are doing with them?… CAN ANY ONE FILL ME IN???? I am extremely disturbed about what happened the other day.. A fully grown hunting dog fell down a well in Nairimirmo, the area in between the Matthews and Kirisia hills… The Samburu people who found it, pulled it out but it had been in the water for quite a time so was not in the fighting form it should have been in… To my surprise that evening I got a message saying that they were still holding it, and what should they do with it… I was so angry… Why keep it?? LET IT GO IMMEDIATELY…. and if it was not able to go to call us, and we would come to pick it up, to try to save its life… BUT They then got a message from somebody??… Not to release it and 36 hours after the dog was pulled out of the well it was still tied up in a manyatta, and I was told KWS was coming to pick it up… Which they did… But when I tried to find out where this dog was taken, I get a blank …SHOCKING… what on earth are they up to….. I really hope that very rare animal is still alive.. I’m worried for it and all the others that have been taken…

Traditional Samburu conservation methods is Milgis’ way forward…

Uh oh, Luca you are going to be busy!!…You cut these trees down in Samburuland, now you have to pay back the traditional way! Its one goat per tree and and a cleansing ceremony, in which … you need to slaughter the goat/sheep, mix the stomach contents, with the fat and pour the contents round each tree… Then you have be smeared in fat, and this can only be done by somebody who is ‘unclean’ … [Unclean meaning somebody who may have killed somebody, or has no home, a straggler lets say… In Kitchen Swahili we would call it a ‘tangatangera’…We have been delving further into the archives of the old traditional ways of conservation and its fascinating… WHERE AND WHY IS IT GOING WRONG?? … The Milgis Trust is going to try and ‘travel back down this old road’ and bring these strong rules back..

1… As I said above if you cut the branches off a tree, or cut it down you have to be cleansed, Moses Lesoloyia, our manager saw it in Baragoi area when he was a child… Woe betide you if you cut a tree that has been used for a big meeting, or special ceremony… Its just not done!

2… You can not kill an animal unless you intend to eat it… This is why the Zebras have survived in Samburu areas, as they will not eat any horse like animal..

3… If you hack the tusks out of a dead elephant, you will NEVER be able to go to a traditional Samburu ceremony again… You have to wait for the Elephant to rot, and you pull them out.. When the two Elephants died near the Milgis base in may, when the KWS [ kenya wildlife service ] arrived to check on the situation, and to take the tusks, they had to go back to base to find somebody of a different tribe to cut the tusks out, as the three men who came happened to be Samburu!! They could not risk leaving them on the elephant just in case a poacher or person looking for tusks to sell on, took them..

4.. If you kill a black animal you are unclean… IE if you kill a wild dog, then your children can not wear the traditional black skin during the circumcision time.. Also If somebody in your family kills an ostrich, then forever the children can not wear ostrich feathers in their head band after being circumcised..

Newly circumsised boys wearing the black skin, and the ostrich feathers.jpg The traditional black skin worn after the circumcision ceremony, and the ostrich feathers, LABARTAC, in the head band… possibly the guy on the left, comes from a family that killed an ostrich!! The Lesoloyia family can not wear these feathers because someone way back they don’t even know who, killed an ostrich…

This is a strange one!… If a grey animal comes into your boma/enclosure round your house.. This is a bad omen!… this includes dikdik, hare,warthog,elephant,rhino.. and any others.. They have to slaughter a goat… mix the blood, stomach contents, and fat together, and pour this mixture around the perimeter, and the elders will bless the boma… If you are knocked down by any of these grey animals you will be smeared with this same mixture, and again this has to be done by an unclean/hopeless person!! [literally translated] ie he is not going to lose any more by touching this concoction!!

We have a scout meeting at the end of tis month and will be talking about these traditions, and how we can bring them back… If you haven’t read the blog 21/12/08 it has lots more!!