Looking back 15-12-2015

Dear Friends,

In December it is customary to stop a moment, take a deep breath, and look back at what the year has brought-and taken away.

2015, like all years past, brought us dramas and triumphs, losses and lessons, we took all in our stride, and we move own, older. . . -wiser?- firm and with hopes, plans, and dreams untarnished.
We are particularly proud of our Environmental achievements, and humbled by Nature resilience.

And by the success of our star community project, Land of Hope, and its great team of teachers and coaches.
Sveva and her partner Nigel have thrown themselves into the joys and challenges of a place so different, so unique, and in such a geographically stunning, significant but most difficult of locations.

Here for you, once again, the photos will talk.




Age- and gender- do not matter at Land of Hope.

Kids, women and young men’s education- and ELDERS!- who keep learning in alternative shifts, taught by our adult education teacher, Paul Apopong- a young man himself- , preschool teacher Lucy Jessee, with Edwin Onyango, art teacher and coaches Ezechiel Mayo and Joyce Kun’gu , the cooks, watchmen, fencers, care takers- and VOLUNTEERS!



Inventor Kazuhiro Ishikawa, of the Shinnyo En, demonstrating his firewood -saving eco friendly Sawa Sawa Jiko to the women of land of Hope.



Sveva explaining her brainchild- the Organic Honey project- to her exceptional beehives Team. Beehives were built by and donated to community who were taught about honey production by a specialised team. Honey is one of the most environment friendly of projects, – essential for bees is a habitat unpolluted by chemicals and insecticides.
The community took to the project with gusto. . . and we expect honey gifts for Christmas. . .


Our friend Doju Dinajara Freire, here with Don Giacomo Basso from the Ol Moran Parish- came from Italy to teach silence and meditation, and do did many volunteers.


Elders Youth Women


With Cristina e Paolo and the group of Maisha Marefu- the greatest supporters of Land of Hope, since its first stone.


Sister Lorina ministering to the sick with Moses Lendorope in the background and food distribution at Land of Hope


News came that Cheptosai Selale, my old friend since over a generation, was very ill, her days numbered.
With a heavy heart and simple gifts of food,sugar and a blanket, I drove to Tebelekwa with Ali in the afternoon of a Saturday in early 2015.
Few huts scattered on a rocky slope below a large combretum, old women, two old men, a child. Unchanged- in fourty years. Time had stood still.
Few women in shuka, few goats nibbling on tiptoe at shrivelled leaves, exhausted in the heat, tall trees.

What I saw at first was a tiny bundle of rugs, strewn on a threadbare blanket on the dust. I sat next to her as all watched in silence- and the frail shape stirred:
She moved- eyes filmed with age and flies fluttered open: her worn face , shrunk like a prune, broke into a tentative smile of recognition.
On her parched lips a toothless smile crept. Her eyes filmed with age stared, trying to focus. I hugged her, calling her name.
‘Nguki’ her rasping voice was joyous in a whisper.
She had recognised me.

Below, few images tell the long friendship with Cheptosai – who taught me to love the herbs and respect their properties. She never learnt Kiswahili so I learnt that shared language is unimportant to friendship.


Cheptosai is still alive, at the time I write this.

The Tree of Siteti produces long straight shoots that are essential for the Samburu people to perform the ritual of circumcision of the young men. But it is now extinct in the area where they live. . (!) Only in the bush surrounding my house at Kuti – it seems – these trees are to be found in this part of Laikipia. Former Patrol Commander Merinyo Lenawasae, knew where.
He asked permission to bring his younger brother, Peter Lenawasae (in the black cape of a Layoni), who cut the twigs for himself and his friends, while they all sang their haunting ancient songs. My cosmopolitan dogs did not seem to mind. . .



A few shots of the 8th edition of The Laikipia Highlands Games, Sports for Peace, and the stunning, Fucsia-clad Njemps people .

. . . and the community Karate team performing at Land of Hope



Extensive anti-poaching scouts recruiting and training was undertaken in 2015 and a new vehicle donated.

Here one of the patrols at Enghelesha with our resident ecologist, Enock Ochieng.


So came-and went – the arsons of February and March- a particular vicious and prolonged edition- never before in our time had the gorges burnt so savagely- our loyal team tirelessly working along side us, night after night day after day, together, BUT single handedly managed- God knows how- to save the lodges.
But out of the burnt twigs, eco-charcoal ! here some of the new retort kilns of the Biomass project- that will employ many jobless youth and provide an ecological alternative to forest charcoal.



Pitiful casualties, like these birds, burnt in their nest, which will never learn to fly.

But this crafty chameleon got away. . . just


There is Poaching of Elephants – EIGHT this year in Ol ari Nyiro, shattering- or Rhino, or lions.
and there is the destruction of Habitat-the eco-crime- the most serious crime of all-as without it no species-human inclusive-can survive.

This plant is the sandalwood, once common, and still abundant (WAS) in the protected slopes and gorges of Ol ari Nyiro.


Lured by the 150 KShs per kg, the notorious (always the same) brokers pay them, the gangs are digging it up everywhere.

But this mysterious plant below-whose seeds we are waiting for holding our breath, may be NEW to science


One afternoon Nigel in his motorbike came across a stunning sight: NINE wild dogs on the way to Centre from Red Dam:

Five puppies, One dominant male, One sub-adult male, One dominant female, One sub-adult female

Nigel also found the remnant of the largest Python, the Jinn of the Springs. . . speared and skinned. . . but Enock intercepted another. . . 12 feet of it- sliding unperturbed across the wall of the Big dam. Thoughts of Emanuele.



In an Italy of which we hear depressing news of regression and financial catastrophe, 1123 Italians in festive pre-Christmas mood- gathered for charity organised by Cristina and the generous doctors of Maisha Marefu, and I was honoured to join them.

Here with most of the 150 volunteer waiters- all children of our friends of the group. . !

Happy Christmas from all of us at The Gallmann Memorial Foundation in Ol ari Nyiro, and from The Land of Hope team!

Nigel & Sveva & Kuki

from Sveva, Nigel and me (HERE AT KUTI, LAST CHRISTMAS). . further good news. . .


Ol ari Nyiro
Laikipia nature Conservancy
on the Great Rift valley of Kenya

December 15th 2015

We would like particularly to thank for their loyalty and constant support the team of the Conservancy, with Patricik Ali Apetet, celebrating his 42(!!) year with us.

The Kenya Wildlife Services, The National Museums of Kenya, our friends at NATURE KENYA, the Administration Police, the Kenya Forest Service, and all our invaluable Sponsors.




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