Project Phoenix, Fires Reconstruction 2014 - Yes We Can
This is not the Year update (coming) but the final 2014 update of Project Phoenix -the reconstruction that followed the March arsons- that is almost done (two bandas and banda's kitchen apart - our builders have been distracted from work by the need to join rest to stem the endless wave of illegal grazers invading the conservancy, but we shall get there in the end.)
So, we lost but have re-done -and furnished-:
19 staff houses, 6 rangers outposts, the 10 eco-village bandas and its kitchen and mess area, two stores, the staff duka, the canteen, 8 complete new bandas with 8 bathrooms, and the bandas verandah and mess area, with a new fire place and terrace. Since all furniture was incinerated, we re-did that, as well.
No point in lots of words for this, we know it all.
Evil struck, 9th March 2014, all seemed lost - ten days ten night of inferno. All smelled of smoke, all smouldered. Ashes, stumps, red eyes, black nails, hair singed, exhaustion.
With exceptional team and selfless staff, with basic tools, with spirit, with spunk, we pulled together.
At night, in the early dawn hours before collapsing into bed, watching my reflection in the mirror, while pulling charcoaled carbuncles from my sooth stained face, sometimes I laughed.
I never bargained for all this, those long gone Venetian evenings.
What broke our heart were those small creatures, the baby hares, the tortoise, the remains of a squirrel, the unhatched eggs in the nests, the trees and bushes that could not run away, the dead puff adder snake that Sveva found in what was left of her house.
It was your generosity, your spontaneous response to our distress that made the difference.
Fortified by the support and love of our friends, by the tenacity and loyalty of our staff, who asked for nothing and worked shoulders by shoulder with us, without complaining, and of our neighbours who all came to help, we made it.
Once again, I let the images talk.
Thank you, and blessings to you all. We shall not forget.
Kuki, with Sveva
and the exceptional team
of the Laikipia Nature Conservancy and the Gallmann Memorial Foundation, in Ol ari Nyiro
The centre banda staff
The New Banda
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
We wish to thank all that helped in any way, and especially
NIGEL FOR DIRECTING TEAMS
PATRICK, ALI, MARTIN, MUTHAURA, KAMAITEKE, ENOCH, THOMAS, MAINA, ASAFARI, MACHARIA, JOSEPHAT, JOSEPH EPEYONON AND JOSEPH FUNDI, GITONGA, JAMES, WILLIAM, PAULINA,BERNICE, EVELYN, MARY ANOMAT, ALINA KAIRO, DUNCAN, CAROL, EUNICE, GRACE, EVELYN, GLADYS, CHRIS, JOYCE, KAMAU, WILLIAM,TOM, MACHARIA, FRED,THE ENGHELESHA WOMEN TEAM, THE CENTRE WOMEN TEAM, THE KUTI TEAM, THE KURMAKINI TEAM, EDWIN.
DAN EKIRU AND MUTARO TEAM,
DON GIACOMO AND OL MORAN MISSION SCOUTS TEAM,
NYUNGIU AND MWENJE TEAM,
CRISHON AND ENGELESHA KAMUR TEAM,
NJUGUNA PAUL NJOROGE AND THE LOBERE TEAM
MAMA WANGECHI AND NDIDIKA TEAM,
TOMOKO, DOMORIONGO, JOSEPH AND THE TEBELEKWA TEAM,
THE POKOT YOUTH PEACE TEAM OF ACROBATS-GREAT FIRE BEATERS-,
AND OUR FRIENDS
BIANCA, ALBERTO & EMANUELA, ABBAS, CRISTINA & PAOLO, DALIT, MARIEKE, ALLAN, ANNABELLA, ARANCHA, CELINE, CHIARA, MIA, MIA 2, EDITH AND FRED, ELEONOR, KATE, JOHN AND BUFFY, JOHN LK, JUDY, NANCY, ORIA, SLO, ROBERTO, RUGGERO, SOPHIE, SUSIE AND IAN, TOM, ELLEN, MARTIN, GREG, MARY FAETH, WENDY,
THE SHINNYO EN FRIENDS, MAISHA MAREFU, RABO BANK, MANU CHANDARIA, AND THE MELLON FOUNDATION
We move on at Land of Hope with the Christmas Children
Yes I know, I know, a long overdue update!!
But this does not mean nothing happened.. It means TOO much happened to allow me to even be able to sit down and write a coherent account of what is going on.
It has been, was, is and it will be for a while still, just exhausting, unless there is outside help -so far NOT forthcoming despite regular appeals to all known agencies- and it is THE ILLEGAL GRAZING LIVESTOCK!
Ol ari Nyiro -as we know-, is a Key Biodiversity area, and YES, has become the WATER TOWER for the Great Rift valley lakes, due to the single -minded protection of every tree, every bush, every single plant, over a generation (sob!): the waters CAREFULLY PROTECTED for THE poor BUFFALO, ELEPHANT, GAZELLES AND ZEBRA THAT HAVE NOWHERE ELSE to go here in Laikipia West ).
And now HORDES, yes, HORDES of herders driving thousands and thousands of FAT livestock (there is NO drought in this part of Kenya, none at all!) encouraged (incited?) by some local leaders from other districts (land grabbing is a refined art this side of the Equator), have converged on this magical conservancy, breaking fences, demolishing walls, trashing the grass, squashing bushes, setting random fires, attacking staff, drinking at every lake, polluting the carefully protected land, after having set on fire over 50,000 acres of bush and trees in the now notorious, infamous arsons of March.
They destroy, we rebuild. And keep helping the kids and the needy.
Well, by now they should know: not easy to get rid of me/us.
Impossible to intimidate us.
Not bragging, facts. And the reason is simple, as our close friends know:
At the bottom of my garden at Kuti grow, like memories, two acacia trees that I planted on two long gone days of tears -March 1980 and April 1983-, on the graves of Paolo and of Emanuele, my husband, my son: with that action of having two living African trees growing out of their bodies, I vowed to protect this living land for ever.
Tall trees they are now, where starlings nest and bees forage -and we eat the honey-, and there is nothing, simply nothing that will change my -our- resolve to keep going, no matter what.
Over these long years, we have been of service. The land, the people, the plants, the animals.
So, this established, with your help, Project Phoenix built from ashes new bandas, new staff quarters and new stores (well, there is still a way to go).
And the LAND OF HOPE PROJECT has now blossomed, flourished, taken off in the most magical, fun, creative, worth it and exhilarating of manners.
Happy children, smiling mamas and motivated youth and athletes, have flocked to the magical premises, to create, learn, eat and play, run and kick a ball.
To 'kick it off' during these holidays, with support from the invaluable friends of Maisha Marefu, we employed a team: teachers, coaches, cooks, staff, and helpers.
And an Administrator/Coach: Daniel Kibaru. In addition to a model pre-school and vocational centre for youth, one of the dreams is a High Altitude Sport Performance Centre to keep youth from loitering and give them hope - a different future.
As ever I let the images talk, and will be back with a year update..
We have started: well, we do need ongoing support to keep going, and we know it will come.
Blessings, and thank you for helping us make a difference, in this part of the world.
Kuki, with Sveva- Makena-, and the Team
of The Gallmann Memorial Foundation
In Ol ari Nyiro
on 10th December 2014
here we go:
ECO FRIENDLY SAWA SAWA Jiko and Kazuhiro Ishikawa!
THE POKOT YOUTH TOUCH AN ELEPHANT
Ciao Jon and Slo,
After a week of excitement : -Travelling in our bus and camping in our Nairobi garden -!- walking the streets of Nairobi avoiding the traffic, carrying an Elephant head in Hessian cloth that Sveva had made by a delightful puppet-maker artist, performing to great acclaim at the Global March for Elephants, visiting the Bomas of Kenya, seeing lions cubs and baby giraffe at the KWS Animal orphanage, and finally experiencing the unbeatable highlight of TOUCHING a live baby elephant*-!!- at the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, -the core group of six Pokot acrobats leaders stayed on in Nairobi as our guests, undertaking further specialized training organised by Sveva at the Sarakasi Trust Dome, in Nairobi, Ngara.
Today the Pokot Peace team of Acrobats are returning from Nairobi to Laikipia and East Pokot with a thousand stories to tell:
they came to say goodbye in my office.
* Their highlight, they said - was observing -so closely- the orphan elephants, and were deeply moved by their antics, that they compared to human children, and told us they long to still have elephants in their own land -where once they used to abound- and to create a performance in their villages on elephants - for elephants!
The GMF's Pokot Youth Peace Team is a duly registered cultural group with the Ministry of Culture, and we have opened a Bank account for them.
They have become icons and role models for their peers.
This project, ongoing since 2009, is helping to show the positive, creative and fun character of the Pokot people, from a region of unsurpassed beauty and assets, but long torn apart by insecurity, cattle rustling, and poaching.
It needs a great deal of discipline and training to become acrobats: and it is far more challenging than pulling a trigger of an automatic rifle and kill a defenseless elephant for gain.
This is one of the many community outreach, educational and conflict resolution projects of the Gallmann Memorial Foundation.
Kuki with Sveva
And the the team of trainers minders coaches and teachers the Gallmann Memorial Foundation in Ol ari Nyiro.
On the bus on way to the Global March!
PROJECT PHOENIX, FEEDING, LAND OF HOPE AND THE CHEETAH AS A GIFT
Lots has been going on!
Although we had and still do terrible illegal grazing problems, our projects and committment proceed.
A LONG WAY from those dark days of March with sky stained in smoke and only ruins and tears. With your help, we are making it!
6 banda done and watch next for mess area.
from the fire and ashes, new buildings (with 'unburnable' stone beds...well, we have LOTS of stones..)
COMMUNITY and FEEDING:
ONCE AGAIN WE HOSTED OUR GENEROUS ITALIAN DOCTORS OF MAISHA MAREFU, AND THEIR YOUNG VOLUNTEERS AT THE END OF JULY, AND OUR FEEDING PROGRAMME GOES ON.
Images talk for themselves:
ACTIVITIES at LAND OF HOPE:
A DEMONSTRATION OF THE ECO-FRIENDLY SAWA SAWA JIKO -THAT WORKS ONLY ON SMALL TWIGS: AND SAVES ENERGY AND TREES,
INVENTED BY KAZUHIRO ISHIKAWA
SISTER LORINA FROM THE MISSION COMES EVERY WEDNESDAY TO LAND OF HOPE, WHERE SHE SEES HUNDREDS OF CHILDREN AND WOMEN IN OUR CLINIC. THE EAR SPECIALISTS FROM THE NETHERLANDS CAME TO OUTFIT WITH DONATED HEARING AIDS THE KIDS OF SIPILI SCHOOL OF THE DEAF.
AND A STORY OF BEGINNING TO LEARN..
.... I spotted him at the clinic, as he sat with his father....diffident at first the teenage Pokot boy Kaptikit, joined Chaon, who had been at school.. and slowly slowly learnt to write..
and became VERY popular, in the process!
.... and here comes a third boy, he could not resist...
ON the way back at sunset a creature of great beauty, majestic and solemn sat on an anthill.
A MALE CHEETAH.
As I took my camera it moved out of the way, graceful, unhurried, focused on the mpala.
With love and gratitude,
Kuki, for Sveva and Team
OF THE GALLMANN MEMORIAL FOUNDATION,
IN OL ARI NYIRO, ON THE GREAT RIFT VALLEY
ANNOUNCEMENT :OL ARI NYIRO, IS A KEY BIODIVERSITY AREA!!
Many years ago,when I was learning to come to terms with fate and solitude, my self - discovered therapy was walking alone, with a ranger called Mirimuk, through the valleys and hills of Ol ari Nyiro, as if by tiring my body I could heal my soul.
One evening as the sun was setting behind Lake Baringo, I found myself standing on a hilltop, the depth and mystery of the Mukutan Gorge, immense, below me.
In the silence I discovered a million voices, a million hidden creatures shared that cathedral of Nature and of the spirit with me.
There were not just the great elephants, the giraffe and the buffalo, not just the lion, the rhino, the sleek black leopard, the kudu and the wild dog: there were the thousands different large and tiny plants, the insects, the lizards, the bats, and the birds.
They were life, and so they were powerful: but inconspicuous, and so vulnerable.
In their invisible presence I felt humbled, at the overwhelming realization that I was their guardian.
I can remember the rush of emotion, that became a purpose: I decided to dedicate my own life to ensure their protection.
All around us, the forest was cut, each tree the habitat to a thousands creatures.
Illegal charcoal kilns stained the sky with smoke.
The first thing I did was getting rid of the livestock: weekly dipping in poisons to free them from parasites, killed all insects - the pollinators-, affected the biodiversity.
Protection brought regeneration- and results. This photo here below, and the ones that follow, tell you this story better than a thousand words:
My friends: I am proud, and moved to announce, that I learnt from Nature Kenya yesterday, that, despite the fires, the poaching and the thousand challenges -Ol Ari Nyiro, having qualified in April as Important Bird Area (IBA) no . 64, or an area recognized as being globally important habitat for the conservation of birds populations) , has been officially declared as a KBA - KEY BIODIVERSITY AREA- through Nature Kenya and Birdlife International, a status recognized by the IUCN with the following definition:
"Key biodiversity areas are places of international importance for the conservation of biodiversity through protected areas and other governance mechanisms."
In Praise of the WILD!!
Kuki,with Sveva and team
of The Gallmann Memorial Foundation, Laikipia Nature Conservancy in Ol ari Nyiro on the Great Rift valley of Kenya,
On 30th June 2014.
Facts about Ol ari Nyiro:
- Ol Ari Nyiro (The Place of Springs) is 400 sq km privately protected area, situated at the extreme edge of the Great Rift valley
- It is part of the Eastern Afromontane Biodiversity Hotspots,
- It has qualified as one of UNEP World Designated Protected Areas (WDPA).
- 484 species of birds, 7 of which are listed as globally threatened with extinction in the IUCN* red list,
- 55 species of Reptiles,
- 15 amphibians
- 2350 species and subspecies of plants, one of which Aloe francombei, new to science, is endemic
- 142 GPS documented natural springs of which 64 are permanent
- 60 man made lakes
- Early and Middle Stone Age archaeological sites have been recently discovered there.
OAN was in the news last year 2013, for the discovery, within a few months, of two species new to science : a butterfly, only known from the Engelesha forest, discovered by Mike Roberts, and named Aslauga gallmannae (Libert & Collins 2013) and a new Frog, Tomopterna gallmanni, Wasonga & Channing 2013- discovered by Museum researcher Victor Wasonga (Photo above).
At this time the Kenya Water Tower agency is planning to gazette Ol Ari Nyiro as a WATER TOWER ( they sent a team to assess OAN Vegetation and ground water, and with
more to follow,
We aknowledge with gratitude parastatals, organizations and individuals who have been and are invaluable in this ongoing quest:
- the invaluable professional contribution, cooperation and support of the researchers of the National Museums of Kenya, and in particular of Victor Wasonga, Titus Imboma, Wanyoike Wamiti, John Kochey, Ken Wambua, Morris Mutua,Hosea Wanderi, Dr Malombe, Purity Kiura and especially Dr. Mzalendo Kibunja.
- The cooperation and support of the entire Kenya Wildlife Services , rangers, senior wardens and assistant Directors, and in particular Dr. James Njogu, Julius Kimani, Aggrey Maumo, Eric Aduda, and sergeant Ltungayon Lalaigwanani.
- The Kenya Water Tower Agency with Francis Ole Nkako and Antony Maina
- The Kenya Institute of Remote Sensing, and Dr. Kinyanjui, Christopher Amudavi and Robert Kimutai
- Nature Kenya, and in particular Fred Barasa
- Birdlife International
- Esri and Jack Dangermond
- William Kimosop, Mike Robert, Liz Rihoi, Ali Kaka, Bianca, Michele Candotti
Land of Hope, project Phoenix, and the Snake of Good Luck
As we get on with Project Phoenix-Fire reconstruction - re-building flat out all week long:
(THREE banda ALMOST DONE, SIX WALS BUILT, TEN in all to DO..) now painting with the red ochre)
and details at Land of Hope, on weekends, kids do something different - something creative, and fun: art competitions, singing, playing, treasure hunts, running, and foot ball.
Guided by artist Edwin who came to create murals, and later to help painting the re-built staff houses, kids EAT, get on drawing, young talents emerge and the Pokot Acrobats of the Pokot Youth Peace Team -who have been re-trained by a Sarakasi Trust's Coaches, entertain everyone.
and for me...a sign.. a touch of magic...a deadly puffadder? no, the Snake of Good Luck... a good day... and night brought the elephants at the salt lick...
and few days later, on the eve of my birthday, I went to sit and spend the night alone on the Kurmakini dam....a shuffle, few rumbles.. and my Gift, to share:
With blessings and thank you.
KUKI, SVEVA AND TEAM,
FROM OL ARI NYIRO, ON THE GREAT RIFT VALLEY OF KENYA
on 16TH JUNE 2014
PROJECT PHOENIX...and the Albino Dik Dik
So much to write about... where to begin?
WELL, from the staff houses and staff mess (that will also be covered in thatch)..
The toilets? These were in stones, some exploded, disintegrated... basins cracked, so we rebuilt (ten banda bathroooms.. well, we have PLENTY of ROCKS...)
... the sustainable cypress poles for rafters, came by Lorry from Kisima Timau (Three more lorries on their way..)
I placed a chair from where to direct operation and proportions.. together we figured it out..
some old cedar poles were removed from a fence... and hessian cloth and wire makes it quicker, to be quickly plastered. Plastering ongoing as I write..
We sent the canter down to Nakuru for the papyrus.. the sides are hessian and wire, quicker to build, that we shall plaster in ochre..
and now we cover the roofs with sustainable, fast growing lelechwa thatch - that an army of women has been cutting... we shall make it!
With tents all burnt and post melted...bought small marquee to serve as temporary researchers and volunteers mess/ dining area, that Ali and valiant Taylor Kariuki decorated
Tired? yes, tired, but it is all worth it and the friendship support and solidarity of our friends make it possible.
In the evening fading light, driving up to Makena with guests, a white streak crossed the path in front of our car...a small white animal...a surprise...a portent! an ALBINO DIK DIK!
When a rare Albino animal appears, it is an omen, a good omen... and all will be fine.
Photo: Courtesy Daisuke Okada
I send you blessings, and thank you, from the heart.
Kuki, with Sveva and team
from Ol ari Nyiro, Laikipia Nature Conservancy
On the Great Rift valley
on 28th May 2014
Kuki Gallmann Statement to mark World Migratory Bird Day 2014
Before it is too late!
With blessings - to the BIRDS!!
Kuki Gallmann, Ambassador for the Migratory Species for CMS,author of the bestselling book "I Dreamed Of Africa", provides a Statement to mark World Migratory Bird Day 2014.
With the theme "Destination Flyways: Migratory Birds and Tourism", World Migratory Bird Day (WMBD) 2014 will highlight the links between migratory bird conservation,local community development and wildlife watching tourism around the world.
Project Phoenix! We MUST Move On
Dear Special Friends- the ones I know and the ones I do not yet know:
In tragic moments we count our friends: in the tragedy of these fires, friends and strangers responded from afar. We have no words to thank you.
Slowly, slowly, but with determination, beginning wit the firefighters staff that helped us- with your support we have began to rebuild! As we can and with what we have, and with what we managed to put together.
from Kuki, Sveva and the team of Ol ari Nyiro
on 12th April 2014, Emanuele' s 31st Anniversary
I let the images talk.
Staff mess area:
Metal Houses/Steel Structures
THE BANDA WILL TAKE LONGER- AS WE HAVE NO FUNDS AT ALL for them yet.
MAINA AT WORK ON BATHROOM NO. 1
OUR NEW 'SITTING ROOM" (OH , WELL..)
Staff got presents: on burnt tree new leaves sprout...
.. and, with the superiority of Nature, shy, in the night, elephants come, nonetheless!
Fire Damage Update
Further to my earlier message, here some more images of the tragic fire damage at OL ARI NYIRO.
In addition to the staff quarters and buy content and rebuild from zero the research camp with students researchers and volunteers Banda, -and their mess area- of which NOTHING is left.
Unprecedented and terrifying speed and ordinary extinguishers could not help.
If any of you or your friends feel that the work we have been doing with the GMF/ GAC is valuable, we would so gratefully accept any donation.
WE MUST REBUILD.
Italian friends of Maisha Marefu have donated for emergency staff housing and we have ordered initially 10 metal structures - delivered to day.
A sad hug to all, from Kenya as we try to figure it out.
Kuki with Sveva and team
We have a pay pal number for online donations here
rebuilding the staff accommodation first; we need urgently to re-build the researchers/ volunteers/students banda and the Peace Village_all gone.
the research centre banda accommodation: only standing is the toilet section.
beginning to rebuild staff section
gift of mattresses and bed for some of the staff
SIMON, JOSEPH, JOSEPHAT, MAMA, ABOTO, WAWERU, MAINA
Fires like Devils: NO More Words
At noon on Sunday 9th March, Ol ari Nyiro was taken over by a destructive malicious bush fire.
Carried by unprecented high winds, sparks of the dry fluffy Lelechwa flew over the massive double and triple firebreaks we had been working at incessantly since October, landed on tall dry grass and started new fires everywhere.
An army of flames charged down from our boundaries with terrifying speed. From Sunday morning to Thursday evening we fought an inferno. We needed a miracle. Then the spirit of the Grandmothers sent unexpected a shower of rain in answer to our prayers - and the fires died leaving smoking ruins and broken buildings. We cannot even begin to take in the extent of this damage. We lost all the centre bandas, the mess area, the volunteers accommodation, the stores, a good part of Sveva's house, all building materials, water tanks melted, spares, furniture, equipment, tentage, and most of the houses at our ecovillage, 10 of the staff houses and all their content- staff food, supplies, their personal treasures.
The girls at the Wilderness Education Centre where we host local kids for free, ran inside the water as the Lelechwa around it went up in flames, but we managed to rescue at least those buildings.
A blessing: the fire was very fast, the grass will grow back: and importantly, however, we managed to save all the large trees; the Enghelesha forest, all the sacred Mukutan gorge, all the big trees at Llera, lugga Tunkuri , the Olive groves of Ngobithu,Ol Donyo Oriu,
and Mlima Kissu.
In the choking smoke next to centre firebreaks, a small confused bird flew on me and clutched my hair.
That gave me a measure of strength. I felt so honoured.
I am determined to rebuild. Somehow, even as the enormity of this task is just daunting. After days and nights of fight and no sleep these images speak for themselves. We have all lost our voice. Exausted and difficult to know where to begin.
My determination to protect the wild and voiceless from the mindless devastation of human greed remains untarnished.
Kuki with Sveva and the weary gallant team Of Ol ari Nyiro Laikipia Nature Conservancy We need help.ANY help.
>>>> PS WE ARE GRATEFUL TO OUR FRIENDS WHO CAME TO RESCUE - FLY OVER THE FIRES COMFORT US AND SENT THEIR TEAMS AND EVEN FOOD AND ITEMS FOR OUR STAFF WHO LOST THE LITTLE THEY HAD.
For flying and ground support:
>>> Gilfrid Powys and Suyan team
>>> Marc Jenkins and Jochen Zeit Segera team
>>> Martin Evans Ol Maisor
>>> Claus Mortensen and Mugie Team
>>> Bianca - who drove up and was caught amongst two fires
>>> Mia and Sveva 's Friends who sent up food and gifts for staff
>>> Especially :
>>> The boys of the Pokot Youth Peace Team
>>> The neighbors youth and Elders of Tebelekwa,
>>> The neighbors youth and elders of Mutaro
>>> The neighbours of Ndidika
>>> The KWS.
>>> The Kenya Police
>>> The Ol Moran AP
>>> The Ol Moran scouts
>>> The EXTRAORDINARY team of OL ARI NYIRO with Patrick Ali, Martin Muthaura, Chelule Moses, Tom Merinyo, Joseph Plesian, Lenawasae Thomas, Kamaiteke Enock, Maina Biwott, Paulina Lendorope, Nkala Emanuel, Lentayon Macharia, Evelyn Bernice, Nixon Juma, Dennis Mary, Anomat Selina, Koech Gilbert, the Rangers, cooks, Girls: too many to mention: champions.
>>> I myself was too devastated, too tired to sit and email earlier.
WORLD WILDLIFE DAY: THE NEED TO CARE
On WORLD WILDLIFE DAY my message and a thought to the voiceless beautiful and frail creatures of Nature who have the same right to exist and to be respected that we have.
With special regards
From Ol Ari Nyiro
Laikipia Nature Conservancy on the Great Rift Valley
World Wildlife Day, 2014
The complete statement
Statement on the first World Wildlife Day March 3rd 2014
By Kuki Gallmann
March 3rd 2014 has been chosen to celebrate the First World Wildlife Day.
It is significant that when the world is losing species of animals and plants at an unprecedented rate, and elephant and rhino, if the trend continues, face a possible extinction, people who care are coming together throughout the world, to celebrate the beauty and mystery of the millions creatures we share our planet with, and to pledge our responsibility to protect them.
A new awakening to the importance of wildlife and biodiversity and all life forms, is at last dawning on humanity, and the awareness that urgent action must be taken before it is too late.
The planet only has so many acres: we cannot expand nor stretch its carrying capacity. Poaching, pollution and human encroachment have taken their toll on the wild things.
But, since it is man made, this destruction can be corrected by human action. We must act before it is too late.
We have invaded their space, destroyed their natural habitats, interrupted their ancient migratory routes.
We have cut down their forests, polluted their waters, criss crossed their skies with wires, and dug up the soil of their homes probing into the depth of the earth in our insatiable search for oils and minerals.
We have killed them and mutilated them to rob them of their tusks and horns, skin, fur, glands, fins.
We have pursued them even in the protected areas of national parks, set aside especially as their sacred refuge.
Wise and patient, with inherited determination, fewer and fewer the survivors still continue with their journeys through the skies, earth, and oceans.
The terrestrial migrants are wary of humans. They move silently with the favour of darkness, the only sign of their presence their tracks in the dust of bush trails in the early morning sun.
Even in Kenya, when only in the early seventies, when I came from Italy to live here, one had to stop the car on the way from Embakasi airport to Nairobi to allow the giraffe to pass, things have changed for the Wild, and not for the better.
The huge herds that once roamed the plains are a memory of the past. The forest cover has been reduced by illegal logging charcoal burning and farms.
But there is the positive side, too.
Kenya is now leading in the antipoaching campaign.
Led from the top and at the same time sprouting spontaneously at the grass roots and reaching out to all people, a number of successful initiatives have been launched, to create awareness about the ongoing poaching crisis. I applaud the firm stand Kenya has taken to punish wildlife crimes.
“ Poaching and the destruction of the environment have no future in this country” said President Uhuru Kenyatta on his inauguration, in an unprecedented statement of support for the war against wildlife crimes. Soon after, the President signed the New Wildlife bill into law.
The legislation in Kenya hence changed, and the penalties of 20.000.000 shillings or life in jail, are at long last a serious deterrent for the greedy criminals who have decimated our wildlife.
Action must be taken at every level, without delay.
As we are vigilant in the present, we need now to plan the future: we must at last ensure that all children in this country learn about their own natural inheritance as a matter of course, from primary school, as an obligatory part of the curriculum. Childhood impressions last for ever.
Children who are taught from infancy the respect for and the value of all the wild creatures, are enthralled by the intricate magic of life diversity, their importance for the survival of all things, humankind included, and a generation of caring and responsible adults can be hatched.
My message on World Wildlife day is the need to take action.
To give the ones who do not vote a voice. To find again the lost reverence for the great trees, the respect for the large and the small creatures on which the chain of life depends.
Never like today does humankind have the tools to protect what it has never been easier to destroy.
We can do something about it: and if we can, we must.
The very survival of all life forms on the planet depends on our action today.
For “what happens to beast soon happens to man: ALL IS CONNECTED”.
Kuki Gallmann is a Kenyan conservationist, environmental activist and author, and an Ambassador for the Migratory Species for The Convention for Migratory Species (CMS /UNEP ). She is a Honorary Game Warden for the Kenya Wildlife Services.
In memory of her late husband and son she founded The Gallmann Memorial Foundation (GMF), a trust Dedicated to the Coexistence of People and Nature in Africa. The GMF works in wildlife and antipoaching, environment protection, education, community service, peace and reconciliation through Arts and Sports.
She is the recipient of many international awards for her work in Kenya. She lives, with her daughter Sveva-Makena in Ol ari Nyiro (The Place of Springs), on the extreme West of the Laikipia region, on the edge of the Great Rift valley since over forty years.
She has transformed Ol ari Nyiro into a protected area without any livestock, a jewel of biodiversity in Laikipia, where all life is respected and archaeological sites have been found.
Set on the birds migratory routes, Ol ari Nyiro has the only remaining relic forest in the area, Enghelesha, and the dramatic Mukutan Gorge, considered a treasure throve for rare plants, birds and insects. It is the water shed for the great Rift Valley lakes of Baringo that include Lake Bogoria World Heritage Site.
Due to the strict protection of the environment, exceptional discoveries were made in Ol ari Nyiro two of which occurred in 2013, when within a few months two species new to science were discovered in Ol ari Nyiro by scientists of the Department of Zoology of the National History museum.
It shows that if let alone and cared, for, nature heals herself
A new species of butterfly, endemic to the Forest of Enghelesha: - Aslauga gallmannae*-
A new species of frog : Tomopterna gallmanni **
* ‘Metamorphosis’, Vol.24:3-6. Lippert and Collins
** ZOOTAXA ISSN 1175-5326 (print edition) ISSN 1175-5334 (online edition) -SP Anura: Pyxicephalidae: A species of NEW sand frog formerly unknown to science
In the End, There is Hope: Year Update
Around the time of Christmas, one is overwhelmed with wonderful updates of the great work of colleagues and organizations, and for our past year's update we felt we needed a bit of perspective to balance the good,- the bad -of twelve complex months packed with action, that flew faster than most.
On the last day of January I can do this now.
In the great balance of things 2013 was a good overall, if a challenging year, for us up in Ol ari Nyiro.
The worst thing to happen in Kenya was the tragedy of Westgate- striking as it did in the midst of World Peace Day celebrations,- and for us during our annual Sports for Peace event, the Laikipia Highlands games.
Up here bad was the fires of February, the floods of August, the wounding in action of one of our men, and the four elephant poaching casualties: the image of the female and her unborn calf hunted my dreams and of thousands through the world as a symbol of the horror, waste, and random cruelty of the heartless elephant holocaust.
But much good balanced all this:The improved security and extensive intelligence, KWS help and a new vehicle helped in monitoring intrusions, with only 4 casualties throughout the year compared with forty four in 2012; the solidarity of our friends, who supported the laborious and costly task of creating hundreds of Km of fire firebreaks, and of our neighbours who all came to help putting out the fires. Now we have embarked on the harrowing task of opening fire breaks again, our brave old D6 cutting sections through the Lelechwa bush since OCTOBER, have completed over 200 km and need help to move on.
But, on the Community side, the triumph has been the massive, positive success of our community relations, and the completion- at last- of the buildings of our Land of Hope Community Project, in which so much time, love, energy and funds have been invested.
And, on the Environment, due to the single minded determination to protect the extraordinarily varied habitat of Ol ari Nyiro- shared by creatures small and large-, the DISCOVERY - and NAMING after us!- OF TWO SPECIES NEW TO SCIENCE- a butterfly and a frog-, WITHIN A FEW MONTHS in 2013 .
Photos speak for themselves, and you have no time to read a long story.
Here below then some images, happy and sad, tragic and positive- but all inspiring- of 2013 : to share with you all, visually, our projects, the adventures, the magic, the kindness of old and new friends, and the challenges that you have helped us to overcome.
For you to decide if we made a difference,- with our committment and your support and friendship- for the people and nature of this amazing part of the world. 2014 is going to be a GOOD YEAR! We must make sure of this. With gratitude, love respect and blessings to you all,
Kuki a with Sveva
and the Team
of The Gallmann Memorial Foundationin Ol ari Nyiro,
on the Great Rift valley of Kenya
on 31st January 2014
Here we go:
FIRE and FIREBREAKS
LAND OF HOPE 2013
It was after a visit to this school, that I decided to embark in the land of Hope mission:
Imana and some of the Land of Hope kids
|The new fence at Land of Hope
||THE MAISHA MAREFU DOCTORS TEAMCRISTINA, PAOLO, AGNESE, ERMINIO, GIULIA E CHICCO
Bianca (here with one of her Gifts to land of Hope
We thank from the heart OUR VOLUNTEERS:
DR. BAS VAN DER BORNE AND HIS TEAM
THE DUTCH BIG FIVE: DR. SYTSE AND ERNA SIJBRANDIJ AND THEIR THREE BEAUTIFUL DAUGHTERS
ALBERTO(e MANUELA, PHOTOGRAPHER), GABRIELLA SCAFA
|CRISTINA AND MOSES
GIULIA ERMINIO JACINTA AGNESE MOSES AND CHICCO
The new Clinic at Ndidika
COMMUNITY, FRIENDSHIP AND FUN
MY FRIENDS THE CHILDREN
MAKENA (SVEVA) AND HER TEAM
THE LAIKIPIA HIGHLAND GAMES
SPORTS FOR PEACE 2013
ENVIRONMENT AND BIODIVERSITY :
WHEN IT RAINS, IT POURS....
FIRE AND FIREBREAKS
POACHING AND ANTIPOACHING
THANKS TO IMPROVED SECURITY and the support of the KWS:
2012: 44 ELEPHANTS POACHED.
2013: 4 ELEPHANTS POACHED (ONE, TUSKS RETRIEVED)
the elephant Female and her unborn calf. A family pay respect to their remains, and community youth come to visit, too.
Our patrol Commander Zachary Nderitu ( right, early in the year, during a drilling exercise with KWS) was shot in an ambush when pursuing poachers in the line of duty.
ENGHELESHA: THE ONLY RELIC FOREST LEFT
IN THIS PART OF THE REGIONS
Students look at the Enghelesha Forest.
TWO SPECIES NEW TO SCIENCE WITHIN MONTHS FROM ONE ANOTHER FOUND ON OL ARI NYIRO
1. THE NEW BUTTERFLY: Aslauga gallmannae, Lippert and Collins (discovered by Mike Roberts) a butterfly only existing in our protected Enghelesha forest
2. The new frog:
Tomopterna gallmanni SP Anura: Pyxicephalidae: A species of NEW sand frog formerly unknown to science, that Victor Wasonga and Mike Roberts had found in one of our sixty man- made dams in the central area of Ol ari Nyiro.
PHOTO CREDITS: AMEDEO BUONAJUTI, MANUELA MONTELLA
WITH SPECIAL THANKS
FOR LAND OF HOPE:
DR. CRISTINA CAPPELLETTI AND THE MAISHA MAREFU ITALIAN TEAM
BIANCA NOTARBARTOLO DI SCIARA AND HER FAMILY
IAN HICKS AND SUSIE GRANT
SOPHIE BARKER AND THE RAINBOW COLLECTION
SLOANN GLOAG AND THE JONATHAN GLOAG CENTRE NUTAN MALDE AND FAMILY
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