2013 News

… and so Came – and Went, the Months of the Doctors

Dear Friends,

Although it is not yet the end of the year, so much has happened, we need to tell you!

Thank you for your support in 2013!

But, mostly, thank you for your friendship.

Once again, for us at The Gallmann Memorial Foundation, in Ol ari Nyiro, it has been a year of giving.

More news will come with the end of year update, and the Environment update: but because we are approaching the festivities of Christmas and New Year, I thought it appropriate to send you a quick, community, update.

We initiated a sustainable firewood project- from the fast- regrowing lelechwa shrubs: neighboring groups of community women regularly come to maintain the wildlife fence, and go with as much firewood as they can carry.. and local schools come to help themselves, for free.

This project fullfills a basic need and is contributing to stop the denuding of the indigenous vegetation, and to save trees that take over a generation to grow.

We kept feeding the less fortunate kids of our neighbours.

… And, this year, thanks to the support of our friends, we finished at last the building of our Land of Hope community project, complete with a running track, a nursery,a vocational centre and a surgery; and rain water collection system, in addition to the working Bore- hole that gives the most basic, vital, but otherwise unavailable neccessity: clean, free, fresh water to our neigbouring families: now,we are fencing the entire Land of Hope..

and… The kids already love it!

It will bloom fully in 2014, once the fence( a LONG FENCE! Under way) will make it secure- and hopefully we shall be able to secure salaries for all the teachers and staff.

Art and Sports are amongst the extra activities we are implementing there. Music, and play.

And, we have a .. Surgery!

And a kitchen.

… and few months ago, with support from our sponsors, we donated a basic pre-fabricated structure to the community of Ndidika… Whose women had to travel ten km on a cart and a donkey to reach the closest help!

So, as soon as both ready, the generous volunteers Italian of Maisha Marefu, and later Dutch doctors came, these last bringing tons of special adjustable glasses… literally,’blind could see”.. and that included our cook Christopher!

We are blessed to be able to assist the needy, and could not do it without your help.

On the Wildlife and environment side… MUCH has happened! And with better training and improved security, plus outreach to our neighbours, we have lost 4 elephants in 2013 – cross fingers and touch wood, the year has not yet ended!- as opposed to 44(yes. FOURTYFOUR!) in 2012.

There have been some amazing biodiversity discoveries, and developments. This will warrant a separate update.
Watch out for it!

Thank you: we send you blessings from the heart and our love, as we approach the special time of Christmas

Kuki, with Sveva and the Team of The Gallmann Memorial Foundation in Ol ari Nyiroh On the Great Rift Valley of Kenya.
– 10th December 2013 –


The NEW FROG and Endless Magic of The Place of Springs

Dear Friends,

It is a good morning in Ol ari Nyiro, birds singing, in front of my office window endless savannah with wild olives and acacia as far as the eye can see, and everything is possible.

So, I want to share something special with you.

Back in early June 2013 I proudly announced the extraordinary discovery- with relative official description – METAMORPHOSIS Volume 24: 3–6, Michel Libert 1 & Steve C. Collins2 and naming (Aslauga gallmannae)- of a new species of butterfly endemic to our Enghelesha Forest, that Mike Roberts had discovered and very generously named after us.

Today-11th November 2013- I am overwhelmed by another tribute of selfless generosity by Domnick Victor Wasonga, a young gifted Herpetologist from the Department of Zoology of the National Museums of Kenya, to years of single minded conservation efforts of the biodiversity of Ol ari Nyiro : the discovering, publishing – ZOOTAXA ISSN 1175-5326 (print edition) ISSN 1175-5334 (online edition) – OF A NEW SPECIES OF FROG (yes you read correctly, FROG)…and its naming!

Here I humbly- and with glow- present you:

Tomopterna gallmanni SP Anura: Pyxicephalidae: A species of NEW sand frog formerly unknown to science, that Victor and Mike Roberts had found in one of our sixty man- made dams in the central area of Ol ari Nyiro.

During their last visit, the National Museums discovered 59 SPECIES new to our already extensive list( These included 1 snake, 7 birds, 43 invertebrates, 2 fish, and 6 plants). And here I enclosed the Executive summary of this Research.

As we keep exploring in awe and respect the thousands secrets of this land, with gratitude to Victor, and with a singing heart I send you love, blessings and thank you for your support

Kuki, Sveva and all the Team of the Gallmann Memorial Foundation
in Ol ari Nyiro, The Place of Springs
On the Great Rift Valley of Kenya
on 11th November 2013

“To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower’ -William Blake

… and we do need your help -PLEASE- to keep it all going… will write in detail.

tanti tanti baci.

A is a male
D is a female


The Elephant Friends Pay their Respects to the Elephant female and her Calf

DEAR FRIENDS,

On 24th of June 2013 The elephant female was shot and from her womb a dead, unborn calf erupted.

<img src="http://www.gallmannkenya acheter viagra en suisse.org/news/images/04112013/1.jpg” />

On 15 of August 2013 : JUST BONES LEFT

EVERYDAY OR NIGHT ELEPHANT FRIENDS CAME TO MOURN ON THE CARCASS, RANGERS REPORTED.
WE SAW ALL THE TRACKS.

ON 15TH OCTOBER 2013 WE SET AN INFRARED CAMERA.

ON 16TH OCTOBER THIS PHOTOS WERE TAKEN.

THE FEMALES FAMILY THAT CAME IN THE NIGHT TO MOURN AT THE CARCASS OF THEIR FRIEND, WAS THE FAMILY TO WHICH THE POACHED FEMALE ELEPHANT AND HER UNBORN CALF BELONGED.
THE CALF IN THIS PHOTO WAS BORN A FEW DAYS BEFORE THE BOY CALF DIED, UNBORN .
HE WOULD HAVE BEEN HIS SAME AGE.

NO COMMENT: JUST SHAME.

Kuki and Team
From Ol ari Nyiro
On the Great Rift Valley

On 25th October 2013

PS WE THANK OUR GAC TRUSTEE ROGER ROWE FOR THE GENEROUS GIFT OF FOUR INFRARED CAMERAS (THE EARLIER FOUR HAD ALL BEEN ‘EATEN’ BY LIONS!)

PPS In 2012 44 elephants were poached in Ol ari Nyiro. The elephant female, and her calf are 2 of 3 elephant casualties in 2013 .Thank you for your help.


Day Drama, Night Shadows, Does Life go on

In the October morning the shots were heard, and Sveva gave the alarm.

Birds scattered from the talllest branches, trumpeting madly the elephant family ran, and amongst the impassive lelechwa bushes, the young bull elephant lay dead.

His face was hacked off by the poacher’s axe, his soft butchered trunk thrown aside -casually on the grass, like an insult.

The 3rd casualty this year 2013. Last year at this time we had lost 35: and by the end of 2012 we would count 44.

But for as long as even one elephant is murdered for his teeth, there is no complacency.

The rangers found him covered with the branches of the Euclea tree which they cut down to conceal the carcass- two murders- and delay its discovery and the ensuing chase.

The poachers were fast and experienced.
By evening the tusks were already with the Rift Valley trader, hidden in a sack amongst second- hand clothes, soon in the truck on its way to the buyer, and the markets across the sea.

Road blocks..? Road blocks a dream.

During the day the bush tracks look empty.. only Dik Diks like elves leaping through the side shrubs and from dusk to dawn we hear howls of Hyena feasting, lusty throat roars of feeding lions.

But in the mystery of the night back come the silent shadows of the elephant family.
Patient wise presences, enduring veteran survivors of the mindless cruelty of humans.

Life seems to go on- just.

From Ol ari Nyiro,

A very sad Kuki

Tonight 3rd October 2013

 


The Drought and the Floods, and Land of Hope

Dear Friends,

(ouch, this earlier update was left on my outbox… and here it is for you):

In the dry season in Africa, it seems that rains will never come…heat, dust and dry twigs, relentless work to prevent bushfires…

and then…

Clouds gather, skies open, the graded roads become rivers, and we spend hours and nights digging everyone up… including the tractors meant to go to the rescue

Then sun comes out again, everything shines on our magical hills, wild jasmin jewel all bushes… and we start again with firebreaks to prevent future, dry season nightmares.

… and in the meantime at Land of Hope,

the Running track is built, (hundreds of kids use it regularly), the buildings completed …

and and back comes enthusiastic Dr.Cristina with her smile and tons of gifts to help the community

The Ndidika clinic is opened, the waiting place fills with children, uji is cooked, bread, milk, out come the drums, the children are fed and play, and artist Edwin Onyango comes from Nairobi to teach them how to paint… and all join in…

If in town they paint cars, buildings, motorbikes accidents…if in town colours are yellow and red and black, if ‘Town Kids’ – we learnt from him- paint cars and car crashes, buildings and boda- boda bikes, here (he was amazed to see) it is fresh springs and flowers, running streams and cool green glades

Edwin saw his FIRST ELEPHANT, too, his first IMPALA and inspired and dreaming, he created a magical mural of nature untarnished.
Elephants with young young calves come in the night next to my garden, and from a very green Laikipia we send you love and thank you for your support.

Kuki Sveva and the Team
of the Laikipia Highlands games 2013

in Ol ari Nyiro,
LAIKIPIA NATURE CONSERVANCY
on The Great Rift Valley


Peace Elusive, the Horror, the Games

Dear Friends

like every year, the annual fever of activity took over Ol ari Nyiro in the months leading to the SIXTH edition of our Laikipia Highlands Games-Sports for Peace.

From July, a band of Mutaro women worked to clear the fields of anthills, remove hay and rocks.
Our tractor with Joseph cut the grass, and taylor Kariuki Githau churned out hundreds of flags on his old Singer pedal machine, that Fundi Maina and his team of builders stapled on hundreds sustainable sysal poles we bought from Ol Donyo Oloip’s self – help women group, and that the Mission tractor transported.

At Land of Hope Sports complex(!) Coach Kibaru and Silas, -with Ronald Lemuna-trained our youth team.

The Road Gang with Kairu and Dan were flat out on the roads, where the seasonal springs (Ol ari Nyiro = The Place of Springs) bubbled up unexpected making travelling a true ordeal…( all got stuck…see below)

Our women team made enough lelechwa sustainable eco-charcoal for Cooks Cristopher, Wachira and Kamau to cook mountains of samosas and biscuits, and water tanks were transported to the campsites, field toilets erected, marquees, tents, platforms…

Mutaro kids practiced the National Anthem, and when Bianca came back again to train them, there was rejoicing..

and then… rains came, and came and came.. roads became mud baths, tractors got stuck.. and your truly-me- moved to the field to sleep in the camp in a tent to propitiate the Gods of rain and the spirit of nature with ancient enchantments that have never failed me.

Sun rises saw me wondering amongst the bewildered Impala, while warthog scattered, tails straight, all knowing that in a few days they could reclaim their plains.

… and Nature listened: on the day of the Games a bright sun rose…THOUSANDS of festive people and diverse tribes in all regalia, feathers waiving in the breeze and beads gleaming, converged with varied transports on the fields, singing.

We stood for the Anthem and heard the Muslim prayer from the Sheik, the Christian from Don Giacomo and the Jewish Peace Prayer from the Torah from Gil Haskel the Ambassador of Israel (many envoys attending).

All shook hands- love and excitement was the spirit of the crowds. Competitions began.

It was Michele who told me first. Soon all envoys were looking in their smart phones, and the mood changed.

Extraordinary evil had struck at Westgate in Nairobi- and the hours and days of horror and uncertainty began with the unavoidable suddenness of nightmares.
History will tell, explanations are impossible.

Up on the games for peace fields, it felt surreal: nature untouched, untarnished, birds singing, people still rejoicing- all seemed the same, news had not yet reached most.

When the time came for Price Giving and Speeches, and my turn to talk, I asked everyone to stand, to observe a minute of silence in respect for the victims of the senseless, insane, incredible massacre.

Never like this year Sports for Peace were more meaningful and poignant.Never like this year. People held hands, embraced, rejoiced together.

From up here, my friends who care the world over, we send prayers for humanity to find sanity, and for the spirit of healing and peace to come, to come and endure.

Kuki Sveva and the Team
of the Laikipia Highlands games 2013

in Ol ari Nyiro,
LAIKIPIA NATURE CONSERVANCY

on The Great Rift Valley,
on the 22nd of September 2013


Silence of Elephants but Red Lilies bloom

Dear Friends,

It has been a strange month- so much happened in it- and it has flown.

In my next update -soon- I shall talk of community, projects, old tombs, and the magic of Land of Hope. Today, again, it is:

Elephants

It seems a long time ago already when I watched the murdered elephant female being dragged from the water of the lake where she had gone to die, and removed her tusks, so the poachers wont have them.When, to our horror, a fully formed calf exploded from her, dead before being born.

The tusks that cost her her life – small and thin- were weighed and taken by the KWS.

Of the elephant female only a few scattered bones, in the grass trodden by many feet. Nothing is left of her calf.

The scavengers took him.

In the night, when only the moon watches and the roars of lions searching the thick bush for buffalo reverberates from the hills, the elephant come.

The remains of the elephant female are visited by her family: our patrol commander Merinyo Lenawasae watched at dawn one of the rare males approach, stop, feel the scattered bones- gently- with his stretched trunk- and stand head down, for a long time, mourning.
The tragedy of the young mother and her unborn calf, had left a deep impression on the rangers.

In the day we bring the school children, the community, to see, and to reflect.

Merinyo tells them the story of elephants he watched as a child, when herding cattle in the Samburu reserve.

Small and large herds returning again and again to stand by the carcass of a friend, in reverence, sometimes picking up a bone, putting a leafy Mukinyei branch on them- ‘ just like people’.

But it is people who killed them for gain.

We have lots of elephants at this time: shy. We see their dung on the road, but seldom their body.

Only the rangers following their tracks in thick bush do.
Large herds of young, scared, confused, pregnant females coming back to give birth here where they were born, now that rains have come and grass is green and plenty.

The story of the slaughter of the mother and her unborn elephant child has gone through the world, and through the social media reached many.

Some help has been forthcoming, and we have been recruiting more rangers (still far from enough) and undergone – Sunday- one full day of training with the KWS.
We trust more help will materialise.

A little girl called Crosby, in far Away Texas, has taken this as her cause: the dreadful news have captured her imagination, and yet, she has not yet seen a ‘real elephant’ in the bush: she has been walking and walking to raise awareness for the elephant plight.

There is growing concern in Kenya for the ongoing holocaust.
Few days ago four elephants were shot at Sosian-a ranch in Laikipia west not far from us: two dead, tusks of one gone, and two badly wounded-they will die.

A new campaign aimed to bring the message to and stimulate action from the Kenyan grass roots called” Hands off our Elephants” has been launched and is gaining momentum.

Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has agreed to champion it. I attended its grand launch and listened to her moving speech,bringing hundreds of letters from Laikipia Schoolchildren on the subject: “The plight of the elephants and a world without them”.

As Richard Leakey said at the event about committing to put an end to this senseless waste :

“Yes, we can. Yes, we must.”

Back in rainy Laikipia, in the midst of the horrors, from very bush, the red lilies bloom,

and we send you all love, and blessings

Kuki Sveva and Team

In Ol ari Nyiro

Laikipia Nature Conservancy

on the Great Rift valley
on 24th July 2013

a small herd of females and calves, quickly drink and head for the comparative safety of the thick bush
like unexpected hope, the red lilies bloom

 


WHAT did the Elephants Females and their Calves Die for?

DEAR FRIENDS POF THE ELEPHANTS,

with a sinking heart I report from the field:

Birds waking up in the garden, festive dogs, promise of sunshine, work to do. One early morning like many others.

Then…Radio call phone calls phone messages, all at once.
Another elephant found. Dam Kiboko. Dead in the water.Tusks intact.Pitiful tusks.
Rangers deployed, KWS deployed and I drive there, with Sveva.

Official:

Elephant female
Estimated age: 20
Cause of death : shot by poachers
Date of incident: 21/6/ 2013
Date of death: night between 23/24 /6/2013
Location gps:37N 0202345 UTM 0055820
Location-found: dam Kiboko
Time : today 24th 7 a.m
By: Driver Wilson Chelule
Tusks: Retrieved.
Weight: 2 kg and 2.1 kg =total 4.1 kg
Shot by: same three men as report 21/6/2013;they wounded her
Comments: pregnant and about to calve

This is the second elephant female we find in two days; the second casualty overall in 2013.

Shot in same incident, at dusk.Wounded, she survived two days.

Very pregnant. Very young:first calf.

Conceived here, she was born here, grown here to follow her mother and family, migrating periodically to the Aberdares through increasingly fragmented dangerous land, back here every June in the migratory season along their now interrupted migratory routes.
Back here again to be bred in the mating season: and now back to give birth, in what used to be their safe heaven..
She died in the water.
She died in a dam with pelicans, where elephant play; in a forested area they love, where they used to be secure.

What did she die for?

Three dead elephants in two days.

Two here one at Mugie, next door.
But all pregnant females, dead are the calves. Six dead.

What has changed after a peaceful year?Why now?
The Rift Valley dealers are back.

OUR TRACTOR PULLED HER OUT OF THE WATER
UNBEARABLE SADNESS THE RANGERS REMOVED TUSKS AND SLIT THE STOMAC FOR THE PREDATORS to speed up the recycling process.
SEE BELOW.

NO COMMENT!! HE WAS READY TO BE BORN, TONIGHT.

WHAT exactly did they die for?

NO IVORY SHOULD BE LEGAL
NO MARKET SHOULD EXIST

Kiboko Dam, today 24th June 2013

Kiboko Dam, April 2012
(Photo: Bianca Notarbartolo di Sciara)

Young pregnant females are giving birth, now, here. THEY ARE COMNG BACK FROM FAR. WE SEE NO MALES. THOSE HAVE BEEN KILLED LONG AGO,
IT IS THEIR CALVES THAT ARE BORN TWENTY FOUR MONTHS LATER.

We need more rangers to look after them, and we need help.

Kuki, Sveva and Team
in Ol ari Nyiro,

Laikipia Nature Conservancy
On the Great Rift Valley of Kenya

on a SAD SAD SAD
24th June 2013


Requiem for an Elephant Female

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

It is with deep distress and desperate anger that I wish to inform our colleagues of KEF and all friends of the elephants of the first casualty in LNC in 2013.

At a time when Jim Nyamu is completing his Ivory Belongs to the Elephant Walk that we support, and when a golden period – as Paula properly put it- seems to have arisen for the elephants and wildlife in Kenya with concentrate action, successful campaigns, increased penalties, and unprecedented support from President Uhuru and our First Lady, once again the sound of Kalashnikov shattered a peaceful evening, and an elephant female was dead.
Here an edited report of this incident:

Date: 21st June 2013
Time of incident 6 pm
Casualty : Elephant Female
Estimated age: 30 years
Est. Time of death: 6.15 pm
GPS COORDINATES: 37N 0201623; UTM 0060542
Estimated cause of death: shot by poachers
Carcass found:6am 22nd June
Tusks: Both Gone
Weapon-s- used 2 x Ak 47
Number of poachers: 3
Identity of poachers: known (restricted, reported)
Location of poachers home/boma: Precisely known ( restricted, reported)

Report:

At 5.45. pm yesterday-like every evening- all patrol commanders reported to me directly by phone elephants sightings and location.

Patrol Sierra 8 based in the South-West of the Conservancy reported five elephants and one young calf at Kurmakini dam.

at 6pm 12 AK 47 shots were heard and reported to me.
at 6.30 pm patrol Sierra 8 was ambushed a few metres from carcass and over 20 AK shots fired. Patrol returned fire, with their .303 miraculously unhurt.
KWS and our top Centre patrol team were deployed immediately and ambushed known poachers short cut, up to midnight, but darkness prevented further search .

Carcass was found at 6 am next morning.
Poachers tracks were followed to a different short cut out of conservancy and were back at their boma by 10 am (informer).

Further action being taken.

Comment: The female was pregnant and still lactating (photo).

The sun was cold.
As are our hearts.

Kuki, Sveva and team

in Ol ari Nyiro

Laikipia Nature Conservancy
on 22nd June 2013

Aslauga_gallmannae

 


…and the Rare, the NEW Butterfly in our Forest!!

Dear Friends of Nature,

Aslauga_gallmannae

it never really happens, it very rarely does, that in a world where the environment shrinks, where every day thousands of species DISAPPEAR for ever from the face of the Earth; where the destructive greedy hand of man reaches into the few remaining wilderness, to poach and to hunt, to trap water for dams, to pollute, to drill for oil – a curse!- to cut down ancient trees…. a Species NEW to science is found.

It has happened in Ol ari Nyiro-… it has happened now.

A couple of years ago, Mike Roberts, a young Kenyan naturalist who helps us at the Conservancy, discovered in our Engelesha Forest a butterfly that seemed new to him: It has, indeed, been proven a species New to Science .. and with extraordinary generosity, he named it … after me!

After years of ferocious, undivided, single minded nurturing of every plant, every creature, every spring of fresh water, this is a touching proof that nature gives back; that if left alone, if protected, it thrives.

I am proud, moved and honoured to announce to you, who care about the environment, the discovery of Aslauga Gallmannae, by Michael Roberts, in our protected pristine forest of Engelesha.

I wish for this forest, for the magical gorge of Mukutan, and for the untouched ecosystem of Ol ari Nyiro, a treasure throve of surprises, a temple to biodiversity, to remain a protected area, a valuable legacy to Kenya and to the planet in perpetuity, so that the tireless work, the sleepless nights, the deep respect, love and joy received by and given to every living thing in this place for all the time of my long guardianship will not have been in vain-, as Sveva will in future carry on the flame with the same love and dedication.

Thank you, Mike, and thank you all my team and friends, this is a proud moment for us all

Kuki

in Ol ari Nyiro

Laikipai nature Conservancy

on the Great Rift Valley of Kenya

on 16th June 2013


Walking for Elephants, Community, Trees, Leopards and Lions

Dear Friends

May was an intense community Month and June began in the same active/proactive way.

Walking for Elephants

Back in the early ’80s, when Rhino were slaughtered by poachers, a young man called Michael Mayeku Werikhe walked alone, with a rucksack and a stick, all throughout Kenya and later East Africa, Europe and the USA to raise awareness for the ongoing tragedy.

Today that the elephants are poached out of existence, it is Jim Nyamu- who also started to walk from Mombasa, and is covering Kenya on foot with a small group of supporters, who is walking for elephants.

We hosted them for several days at the Conservancy, introduced them to all our neighbouring schools and communities, and thousands were reached by his message.
As I write this, Jim is preparing for the last leg of his trip and a triumphant arrival in Nairobi on 29th June where we shall all greet him and celebrate him…

Jim Nyamu walking with school children through Ol Moran and talking to the Mwenje, Ndidika, Sipili youth . Our Pokot Youth Peace Team acrobats performed for him and the market crowds.

Clinic to Community

In the middle of nowhere, where nights are often shattered by the shots of the cattle rustlers, and no public transport is available, a woman who is giving birth, and old man who falls sick, a child who gets burnt by spilled boiling water, can only wait for help and pray for the best.

We have responded to the Mbogoini and Ndidika women’s appeal and with generous support from Cristina and the Italian girls of Maisha Marefu here is the prefabricated clinic for Ndidika community and women group that we ordered, was especially built, and was delivered last week!

We have engaged a builder to lay a solid floor, the community will participate with free labour, the Government is contributing a health worker, and a dream has come true (Magic Wand…a will is way)

… and the women came to thank us!

Yesterday dancing and jubilation at the Conservancy.
We hosted 25 of them and all sang and prayed and overflowing baskets of food were donated.

EDUCATION

Just before World Environment day, the Matweku secondary school spent a week end at the Wilderness Centre to learn about the importance of nature and later the kids of the Wildlife Clubs of Mwenje and Kiarianini surprised me!

Last year I challenged them to start a tree nursery.. and …- HUGE and proud GRINS on their faces, they surrounded me EACH carrying a spade, each holding FIVE indigenous African Olives they had grown in their nursery and planted with gusto next to our forest edge!

Presents were given; a video of the GREAT MIGRATION Courtesy of Simon Trevor’s Environmental Foundation was shown (NOBODY had ever dreamt to see a Wildebeest!just imagine. KENYAN CHILDREN., a magical day.

Now all invited to a week end of art, environment and magic, our compliments, at our Wilderness Centre next week.

..and Leopard and Lions !

… if the elephants remain secretive, and only their dung on the tracks witness their presence, with plenty of rains, happy buffalo, lions…, and more leopard than ever, have been spotted in recent times, relaxed leopard, well fed lions and in great condition (plenty of baboons, buffalo and Impala)

a pregnant female…………………………………………….. a young male ( both photo by Mike Roberts, around the area of the Red dam.) and, still from Mike,this morning, walking next to our bandas, a most impressive lion!

(watch next update for more VERY exciting news on Mike discovery…..)

Thank you for your support, and friendship that makes our work possible

Kuki, Sveva and team

From Ol ari Nyiro

Laikipia Nature Conservancy

On the Great Rift valley

on 12th June 2013


On June 1st the Kids Painted Elephants, and the Lions Came to Greet me in the Night

Dear Friends,

For my birthday, on June 1st, Madaraka Day in Kenya, a National Holiday- a milestone birthday, as it is SEVENTY years ago when I was born, on June 1st 1943, during the second world war, when the sky of North Italy rained with bombs- I decided to avoid all celebrations, resist all suggestions for a grand party, and to do something I really like- on my own.

Something to mark the way I want my life to go.

I want my twilight years to burn with different candles: not the ones on birthday cakes, but the ones glowing with the light of hope and love and kindness to all living things, with the glory of fantasy and imagination and dreams come true, and I wish for real rewards that are not material, but the everlasting ones of the spirit and of my friendship with the creatures of nature.

So I decided to give some fun and treats to the children of my poorest neighbours instead, an art competition on elephants, a treasure hunt: and then to get lost in the bush on my own to spend the night, somewhere wild and beautiful.

I had bought sweets and biscuits, flavoured milks, balls and toys and crayons, and found a beautiful song that our friends Sophie Barker had composed and sang and recorded, with the same children of Mutaro few years back.

Helped by faithful Ali, I set a new tape recorder on the table on a new lesso printed with yellow hearts for love.

 

THE YOUNGEST ONE TRIED!

I had packed a sleeping bag, a mattress and some food, and later I drove alone to Paolo’s dam.

A quiet clear evening with promise of stars.
Sounds of buffalo. A far away trumpeting.
A coral sunset on the slopes of Mukutan.

A hot soup in a thermos and a ripe banana- food for queens- my birthday treats.
The breeze cold on my face as I tucked up on the sleeping bag, next to my car.

An inquisitive honey badger came exploring and hyena cries filled the silence.

I fell asleep with dreams of forests, and woke up with the moon on my face… 3.30 am said my watch… but it was not the moon that woke me up.

It was not the hyena.

The lions were roaring.The lions were close.

Lions had been roaring at Paolo’s dam most nights waiting for buffalo: I was not surprised.
I stayed totally still- all wrapped up, but ready to spring.
I had gone to sleep dressed and with my soft shoes on and with the zip of the sleeping bag open: the car was already turned, pointing out, parked ready in first gear (lesson learnt long ago).

A sounds of buffalo hooves, snorts, subdued mooing.

The lions moved close. Curious lions. VERY close. TOO close.

Swiftly I threw all in the back of the open car and slid in.
I drove off slowly up hill laughing.

The lion concert grew louder. The lions were feeding.

I found another spot and fell asleep until sunrise.
A new dawn. Magical on the silent untouched rolling hills.

I drew home, to my waiting dogs, and my heart was singing.

With love and blessings to you all

Kuki

in Ol ari Nyiro

Laikipia Nature Conservancy

Northern Kenya

2nd June 2013

 


The Eagle, the Snake, Memories for ever

Dear Special friends,

(challenged by miserable network, this lay in my draft box for weeks, but here it is. After all, time has no meaning.)

winds and heath, work, work work: community, building, children, feeding, fires, Land of Hope…

Escorted by Sveva, Samuel and Ali, the Pokot Boys acrobats travelled to Nanyuki to perform for the new -very nice!- Governor, at his inauguration.

Despite pouring rain, youth kept practicing at Land of Hope, where Sveva dared -with success – to introduce YOGA to the local communities.

All buildings there are now complete, and coach Silas is back to finalise the field running track (state of the art, the first for this region).

winds and heath, work, work work: community, building, children, feeding, fires, Land of Hope…

… and so, quickly went March -hardly time to think- and at last the rains came.. and came.. and came: floods from the scattered clouds, soaking into the dust and clouds the colour of lead lashing down pent up water energy.

The grass grew lusty and tall and fleshy flowers bloomed from tangles of thorns. Guinea fowls went in pairs, and in the verandah of my house at Kuti back came the Woodhopooe, to nest inside the main beam (great honour).

Land of Hope, yoga and the running track.

weeks flew….
weeks flew….

….. And it was again the 12th of April.

12th April 1983
12th April 2013

THIRTY YEARS.

So much happened, that would not have. Good, positive things, to change lives and to remember.

So much will never happen- that we shall never know.

The red Hibiscus bush next to the house had made a special effort. Baskets of red flowers were offered to friends, to pay in tribute.

The sky- pregnant with storms: the grass enamel green- such a difference from the scorched landscape of the old photos of the funeral.
Storming clouds, to the ground, stopped even Iain to come, flying with Oria to us over the Rift.
Saba Oria Iain wrote the most touching words.So many friends, and strangers did.

Other friends drove, flew in, braving the weather.

They had been children, thirty years ago. Now, their children as old as He was then.

Sveva and I stood with them in a drizzle at the graves, lilting Bolero music lifting to the sky, one glass, two glasses, splintered on the gravestones, like every year, to fullfill a promise.

The last photo, by Oria: the motorbike helmet. Different dogs, participant.

Early in the morning the old friends walked. It was afternoon when they reached our gates.
The elders came to pay their respects.

They had been young men, and fit when they dug his grave:
Lotere, Lokolognei, Ndegwa and Tissa. And Patrick.

They had been young women:
Recho my maid, and Flora, who had been a young bride.

I welcomed them with special honour as they stood in silence with me, and each put one red flower on the stone.

They stood gravely, as they had that long night, took off their hats, and Lotere intoned an old Turkana blessing, fierce as a war song.

..after all guests left I drove out alone.

Through the wind screen, beaded with raindrops, a shadow lifted from the middle of the track, flapping large wings…a large bird, an eagle?

In its claws a snake. It was so fast. In few seconds it was gone, a mystery to join a mystery.

Fly for me, Bird of the sun.

But the sun had set.

The sun is rising, new.

We shall never forget.

Kuki with Sveva and team

In Ol ari Nyiro

Laikipia Nature Conservancy

on the Great Rift valley of Kenya

On April 13th, 2013


PEACE AND PEACE PRAYERS

Since the beginning of the year, we hosted numberless community peace gatherings, and partecipated to many, mostly at the Wilderness Centre, but also in the field. I was made the patron of the Ol Moran District Peace Committee- great honour.

We took it very seriously, and put people together across tribes, Samuel, our community officer- busier than ever- zig zagged across the region, tireless with his bike.We tried very hard to have conflicting tribes meet at Ol ari Nyiro, in neutral ground.

The Pokot Boys Peace Team entertains community at a LWEC peace gathering

… and PEACE PRAYERS

So it was that on 2nd of March 2013, two days before the Elections, hundreds of neighbours across religions and the tribal divide, belonging to all neighbouring communities, gathered in Ol ari Nyiro for a Maombi ya Amani-to Pray for Peace.

It was a local affair, not a smart occasion, and it went smoothly: so close to the elections was it that I did not ask guests to come from Nairobi or far away; the symbolic white flags were set by Maina and his team of fundi at Woodehenge- now well known for such unusual gatherings.

After the National Anthem by our Mutaro Children, and my welcome, the Muslim and Christian Prayers by Sheik Mohamed of the Jamia Mosque in Nyahururu, and Father Giacomo of the Catholic Mission at Ol Moran.

Mzee Domoriongo prayed for the Pokot, followed by the Tugen elders, The Samburu with Kijana Lenawasae, The Kikuyu preacher,the Nandi elder and the Turkana elders,

The Pokot women of Tebelekwa and the Turkana Women of Mutaro,

the Borana and Kikuyu women prayed together, and then all women danced…

…and Sveva joined them

All went home safely before dark, we drew a sigh of relief.
On Monday we all voted.


MAISHA MAREFU

Led by the indomitable Cristina – this time with her delightful husband Paolo, also a doctor!- in mid February back came from Italy the generous volunteer doctors team of Maisha Marefu, for a few days of ‘flat out’ visits and assessments of common kids diseases that will lead to an equipped clinic at Land of Hope. From Mutaro to Nagum, from Tebelekwa to Ngare Narok/Land of Hope, they did not touch the ground for a moment! Hundreds of children-and women-were checked-and fed.

And with their help the Land of Hope buildings are now a reality. Grazie, Cristina and team!And many plans and much more action to come!!!

 


FIRES and Fire Breaks

Just in time-with your support- we managed to put in place just about 140 Km of Firebreaks, before our valiant-50 years old!!!- Caterpillar D6 once gain broke down, leaving us to struggle to put off fires set outside the boundary and brought in by tireless evening winds, with our tractor and rom arrow, our hands, our GREAT, selfless staff, soaked old blankets, bedlinen and sacks, and, amazingly, all our neighbours, women,children, and old retainers included. The photo below tell the story of the difference the fire breaks make!!!

Tebelekwa School children came to help: and got a t shirt and a football reward!!!


and the Rare WILD DOGS!!!

In the afternoon light, on the open savannah grass of Ol ari Nyiro, next to the East Pokot gate, the wild dogs ran.

Three wild dogs.
Healthy, tame, one of them with a collar set in far away (!) Mpala ranch, by the Predator Research team of Rosie Woodroffe.
And this made our day, our month, MY year!!! what a gift!

Photos, courtesy of Peder Gronhagen


MEDIA

60 Minutes Australia, filming an Antipoaching training exercise led by the KWS at our Eco Village area.

We hosted in mid February a team from 60 Minutes Australia for a story about us and our work with anti-poaching and communities, that went on air on 3rd March, and was called:
“WILD AT HEART”. Very well received, it generated lots of interest.Thank you Nick and Team!

If you wish to see it, check out these various different videos on YouTube:


THANK YOU:

A special thank you for the assistance accorded to Ol ari Nyiro during the trying times of the fires, is due to:

The Kenya Widlife Services(KWS),
The Antistock Theft Unit Laikipia West,
the Regional Commissioner Laikipia.
Gilfrid Powys for endless flying hours and his Suyan Team, Claus Mortensen and the Mugie team. Thank you.

We are particularly grateful to several friends- some still unknown to us- who have responded to our “Fire No More’ appeal:
Tom Smulders, Kathleen Gerard, our friends of the Shinnyo en, George Bunn, Mary Faeth Chenery,Toc Dunlap, Chiara Cianella, Creating Hope, Lindsay-Watson, Francesco Mantero, Neil Jones, Martin Bernstein, Elisabetta Stevanato, Kimberley Tallmann, Sarah Hardin, Deva Premal and Miten, Sebastiano Caraccia, Kathy Karn, Roberto Curto,Davide Parmigiani,Stephie Moody, Gyrn Steen, Belinda Rethamel, Lynda Bailey, Erin Maloney, Elizabeth Post-Miller and several others I do not have a contact for: Thank you!

Thank you to our friends:

Sophie Barker and her Rainbow Collection for the very generous donation of the bunk beds and mattresses for the Land of Hope vocational centre, wooden tables, solar lights, and metal trunks.

Million thanks to Susie Grant and Ian Hicks for the donation of all the water tanks and the rain collection system at Land of Hope.

We hope to be able to open in June.


The IVORY BELONGS TO THE ELEPHANTS WALK

DEAR FRIENDS,

KENYANS CARE!

A GROUP OF KENYANS HAVE TODAY, 9th February 2013, BEGAN THE IVORY BELONGS TO ELEPHANT WALK FROM MOMBASA TO NAIROBI TO RAISE AWARENESS TO THE ONGOING HOLOCAUST OF ELEPHANTS. THIS INITIATIVE WILL ATTRACT HUNDREDS ALONG THE WAY.

THE WALK HAS BEEN ORGANISED BY JIM NYAMU OF ‘ ELEPHANTS NEIGHBORS CENTER WITH STEVE ITELA OF YOUTH FOR CONSERVATION, ALL COLLEAGUES IN THE KENYA ELEPHANT FORUM THAT SUPPORTS AND SHARES THIS EFFORT.

IT WILL END ON 23rd FEBRUARY at the UNEP HEADQUARTERS IN NAIROBI, WHERE THE MINISTERS OF THE ENVIRONMENT OF ALL WORLD NATIONS IN THE WORLD PART OF THE UNITED NATIONS, ARE GATHERED FOR THE BY ANNUAL UNEP GOVERNING COUNCIL.

THESE INCLUDE INCLUDING CHINA, JAPAN, THAILAND, PHILIPPINES, ETC THE MAJOR IVORY BUYING COUNTRIES

THE MEMORY IS EVOKED OF ANOTHER YOUNG KENYAN – THE LATE MICHAEL MAYEKU WERIKE – AT THAT TIME A MECHANIC AT THE AVA IN MOMBASA, WHO, SINGLE HANDED AND WITHOUT ANY SUPPORT, SPENT HIS ANNUAL LEAVE IN DECEMBER 1982 TO WALK FROM MOMBASA TO NAIROBI TO RAISE AWARENESS TO THE PLIGHT OF THE ENDANGERED BLACK RHINO: MICHAEL AT THAT TIME HAD NEVER SEEN A BLACK RHINO YET, AND IF THE POACHING AND TRADE TRENDS CONTINUES, NO BLACK RHINO OR ELEPHANT MAY REMAIN IN THE AFRICAN CONTINENT IN FUTURE.

OUR SUPPORT, THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS ARE WITH OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS AS THEY WALK WITH HOPE AND DETERMINATION TO HELP END THE MASSACRE.

GOOD LUCK AND GOD SPEED!

Kuki Sveva and all the team

of The Gallmann Memorial Foundation in Ol ari Nyiro

Laikipia Nature Conservancy

on 9th February 2013

CHECK THEIR PROGRESS IN

WWW.ELEPHANTNEIGHBORSCENTER.ORG


FIRE NO MORE

Dear Friends,

The enclosed appeal is self explanatory. [DOWNLOAD THE APPEAL HERE- PDF 960KB]

You who were with me and our team in spirit, while we were trying, against hope, to put out the devastating fires that raged through Ol ari Nyiro for weeks through March and April, know from my emails and messages from the field, what it was like: you had experienced a magical Conservancy, a place of peace in a mangled landscape.
Suddenly, it was hell.

Now with wonderful, unprecedented rainfall for months and months, grass has grown very tall and soon the winds of January, as every year, will dry it, and it will become inflammable as tinder.
As we approach the general elections, and signs of unrest are showing just at our doorstep, with daily episodes of cattle rustling and tribal attacks, and poaching is still rampant in most of Kenya, we fear for the small creatures, for the trees that they nurture, and we need to think ahead and to construct firebreaks to prevent or limit another tragedy.

We need your help.

We have managed to at last repair at huge cost our valiant ancient D6 caterpillar (OVER 50 YEARS OLD!!), and have put it on the tracks; the community is happy to cooperate: but with hundreds ongoing demands on our resources, this is an extra project that we just cannot do alone.
We have out together this attached detailed budget.
What we need for this is not immense, it can be done, and your support, however small, can be a huge help.

I have never done this before, but now I must.
There was a time early this year when I though my life work was going to be lost.

The voiceless need you.

We shall keep you punctually updated about reaching our target.

Thank you on behalf of us all,

Kuki Sveva and the Team of Ol ari Nyiro, Laikipia Nature Conservancy

 


DID WE MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN 2012?

My dear Friends,

With birds flying to perch on my hands and dogs sleeping at my feet in my garden at Kuti, now that the year 2012 has reached its end, it is appropriate to look back at the past months and ask ourselves:

Did we make a difference, in 2012?

Are we better people?

Hard to know where to begin.

Bad part first.

Lets see: with its amazing highlights, and achievements, it has been also a most challenging, at time shattering, year.

The Fires:
Arson by poachers destroyed thousands of acres of vegetation, and for endless nights, during interminable weeks, wrapped in my blanket on top of the Kurmakini hill, I watched in dismay as angry flames seemed to take over the horizon.

As ever in disasters, our staff were magnificent.

Mindless of danger, thirst, hunger and exhaustion, day after day they took turns in putting out fires, armed just with a leafy branch of the sacred Euclea bush- the traditional (and pathetically inadequate) fire-beating tool. We brought them food and water, encouraged them and joined them.

Still, we won the fires at last, and, covered in ashes, took a toll of the destroyed vegetation…the waste.

Your letters of encouragement, your calls, your messages, your support kept us going through all this: I knew all along I was not alone, Thank You!

Now, after abundant rains, grass is green; old seemingly dead trunks sprouted new life, and we need to work urgently at extensive fire breaks – BEGINNING NOW – TO AVOID DRY SEASON DISASTERS. In the process we donate the sustainable lelechwa wood to the local communities, who have no alternative source of firewood for cooking.

The Poaching:
As the price of ivory rose to unprecedented levels, killing of elephants intensified through Africa – and Kenya was no exception.

Up in Ol ari Nyiro, the only protected area in this part of Laikipia, where elephant find shelter, poachers incursions were the order of the day.

I stood with an unbearable sense of loss -and frustration- in my heart, on too many butchered carcasses of elephants.

We tried to rescue the wounded- man and beast-: early in the year one day I frantically drove to get one of my ranger shot through the chest by poachers, brought him to the clinic, then and put him in a plane- he was saved-, and later I sat an entire day with a female elephant with a shot, septic leg waiting for help, only to realize in the end that no help could have saved her.

With your support, though, we managed to improve security, enroll new rangers, increase their salaries, get new uniforms and equipment, new housing, and sent some of them for special training to the KWS headquarters at Manyani; additional training with KWS support now occurs in Ol ari Nyiro twice a month.

This initiative has hugely helped the efficiency of the patrols- and KWS provided exceptional patrols support: no elephant was poached in the conservancy since July.and in the middle of this came Danny Woodley to demostrate a magical gadget-a drone!- that overflew our boundaries and valleys, sending back images of places that we could not have been able to reach: this will be an invaluable addition to our antipoaching and security efforts, and we are concentrating in fundraising to acquire one: the ultimate, non-violent system of environmental protection and monitoring- also to spot and control fires!!

If we lost a staggering 44 elephant in the first six months of 2012 – 43 OF WHICH TO POACHERS – the bitter satisfaction is that the bandits managed to carry away the ivory of only 12!!

Poachers these days shoot at random in a herd: several wounded elephants die in agony weeks later, and their remains are found in thick bush following hyena and lions tracks far from the area of the incident: we are proud of our rangers, who have managed to retrieve, so I could hand them over to KWS, the tusks of 32 ELEPHANTS out 44 !! This is unprecedented.

Biodiversity and Research:
Several Museum researchers teams visited for biodiversity updates: new specimen were added to our list, including the very rare stone fly-an indicator of the total purity of water sources- in the Ol ari Nyiro springs and new birds in the forest and Mukutan gorge.

New archaeological sites were also discovered, and the museums space was completed.This research will develop in 2013.

Education:
Regular local schools visits are ongoing, tree planting, and our bursaries to several clever and needy youth- including a child whose mother was killed by an elephant in 2011.

Moses Lendorope has now finished his Secondary education and has joined our team as volunteer.

Community:
With Samuel Parteri Ninaai joining our team as community officer, our community relations have taken a major boost. From the new wildlife fence on our southern boundary, the support of local crafts, to the zoning exercise.; the triumph of the new Land of Hope Community Project, where clean free water is supplied to local women through the new borehole, while the nursery, kitchen and vocational centre have now been completed, and the sport complex is underway.

Our feeding and relief projects for our less privileged neighbours, started in 2009, proceeded to this day, with clothes, soap, books provided in addition to food and medicine. We helped wounded in tribal conflicts to hospital, and donated substantial firewood to community turning a tragedy into an opportunity for many.

Art and Spirituality:
In March 2012 an extraordinary event took place in Ol ari Nyiro: we were honoured to host the Tenth Anniversary of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, that saw spiritual leaders across faiths converging from around the world, at the Conservancy situated on the Great Rift Valley -humankind common cradle-for one week dialogue, after a very well attended opening at the UNEP headquarters.

The culmination of the gathering was an extraordinary ceremony:Her Holiness Shinso Ito and her entourage of Shinnyo en Buddhist Priests from Japan, a delightful and inspiring group of new friends, officiated a Sacred Saisho Homa Fire and Water Ceremony on our big dam. After months of preparations, Sveva, with the participation of a team of several hundreds local and international artists,- coreographers and musicians, dancers and singers- tribal people, community women and elders, and school children, produced and directed in the middle of nowhere this deeply symbolic and moving event-which was broadcast live around the world.

Sports for Peace:
The fifth edition of our Laikipia Highlands Games saw thousands of tribal athletes, and- for the first time out of the Tana River Delta region-, representatives of the fighting Pokomo and Orma Tribes engaging in peaceful sport contests.

With the coming elections in Kenya our focus is to promote peace at every level and employ and occupy local youth by giving them training, workshops and engaging activities to prevent them to fall into the net of unscrupulous illegal dealers or short term politicians.

Give youth a chance.

Did we make a difference, in 2012?

Are we better people? Will the great herds recover, as the grass and trees have?

We pray for peace in 2013: amongst people and people and people and nature, and hope that the trade of body parts with the consequent killing of elephants and rhino will stop for good.

We pray for the forests and the savannah and the oceans and the lives that they protect.

Let there be healing, love, peace, happiness, fun, imagination, and creativity in this new year.

The photo below tell their story of the old one.

 

Thank you for your special support, and your friendship.

From Kenya, we send you love, smiles, and happy wishes

Kuki, Sveva and the team of The Gallmann Memorial Foundation in Ol ari Nyiro

Laikipia Nature Conservancy, Northern Kenya

on 1st January 2013


THE FIRES AND THE FLOODS

THE TRAGEDY AND THE OPPORTUNITY : FIREWOOD TO COMMUNITY

THE AGONY OF POACHING AND OF TRYING TO RESCUE, IN VAIN

AND THE SUCCESSFUL RANGERS TRAINING AT MANYANI KWS HEADQUARTERS – and back home, with KWS SUPPORT, TRAINING GOES ON

TALKING TO NEIGHBOURS AND COMMUNITY OUR COMMUNITY OFFICER, SAMUEL PARTERI, EXPLAINING ZONING TO THE COMMUNITY

THE PRIDE OF TREE PLANTING, AND TAKING CARE OF THE LESS FORTUNATE WITH OUR TEAM

THE MEEETING OF MANY WORLDS… (the encounters of the Shinnyo en Buddhist priests from Japan, and Her Holiness Shinso Ito, with the Pokot people)

THE LAIKIPIA HIGHLAND GAMES AND THE POKOT YOUTH PEACE TEAM OF ACROBATS (rescuing boys at risk)

THE SQUALOR (THE SCHOOL AT MUTARO) AND THE BEAUTY (OUR SCHOOL AT LAND OF HOPE)

LAND AND HOPE, THE MAKING OF THE RUNNING TRACK

Thank you for helping us make a tangible, visible difference. Thank you for following us through this difficult, but ultimately successful year: for your mails, support, friendship, prayers encouragement.

We send you love, blessings and gratitude, and may 2013 bring happiness, serenity and success in all you cherish

Kuki, Sveva and team

in Ol ari Nyiro

Laikipia Nature Conservancy
Northern Kenya

1st January 2013


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