The Milgis Trust
WHO WE ARE: MILGIS TRUST, Northern Kenya
WHY WE NEED YOU: The Milgis lugga is the heart of a very remote, forgotten, and stunningly beautiful part of Kenya where wildlife can thrive because there’s plenty of space and there are no fences! The Trust is run from the heart and funding has been extremely difficult over the years because of the remoteness and the difficulty of getting the message out, as well as no internet.
HOW MANY PEOPLE WORK FOR OUR CHARITY: 90 people (that is 1 manager, 29 scouts and 2 operators, 32 informers, 4 tractor team, 2 vet and 3 nurse and helper and family planning, 2 driver and water manager, 1 sponsorship, 4 teachers, 16 part time teachers, and water guards).
WHERE YOUR MONEY GOES:
- $95 / £63 Scout per month
- $55 / £36 Informer
- $800 / £533 radio spare battery and solar charger
- $125 / £83 radio maintenance per month
- $136 / £90 Vehicle costs per 100 kms
The Trusts activities at present cover an area of approximately 6000 square km’s, with in the drainage of the West and North of the Matthews (Lenkiyou) Range, the Ndoto Mountains, and further North to Mt Nyiru. These Islands in the desert are valuable water towers for the surrounding semi desert where there is a rich variety of wildlife and nomadic peoples. Our mandate is to ‘pave the way’ for the returning elephants and other wildlife north to Mount Nyiru, Ol Donyo Mara and beyond to Kulal. We believe wild life and the pastoral peoples can live peacefully together as they have done for so long, and should not have borders!
The Trust is run from ‘Lkanto’ hill, 600 feet above the beginning of the mighty Milgis Lugga (known locally as Elgerei) at the confluence of the Laana Nikan (Seiya) and Parsaloi, these huge under ground rivers and many others are life lines for the people and wildlife.
At the crux of our work is the return of the elephants into this area after there complete disappearance north of the Milgis Lugga, due to rampant poaching of all wildlife in the 70, 80’s, and into the 90’s.. For reasons that remain obscure the local people joined the poaching ‘band wagon’, abandoning centuries of peaceful and prosperous coexistence with their landscape and the wildlife that had supported their culture, beliefs and lifestyle for so long; in fact almost wiping out the wildlife, as well as burning and cutting their forests, and generally being irresponsible. It seems a result of misunderstandings and mix up between the modern and traditional world!?? Our mission is to reverse this trend, and restore the area so that People and Wildlife may live in Harmony and every one has enough to live off! Already we can credit the reduction in the number of fires to the return of the elephants!
We have been doing walking safaris throughout these beautiful Mountains for the last 30 years, using camels for back up and have got to know the area and its amazing people extremely well! We felt that it would have been absolutely irresponsible not to start a conservation project!! It has been extremely challenging, and very hard work, funding being the most difficult.
But the results have been extraordinary. The most important thing being the Elephants are able to live in peace. The Milgis is run by Helen Douglas-Dufresne, Pete Ilsley, and our manager Moses Supukan Lesoloyia, a Samburu who has a great belief in the pastoral peoples here, in that in fact they are actually natural conservationists, and with our gentle encouragement, things have turned round very quickly. The communities can see for themselves the advantages of taking the responsibility of looking after the land, and wildlife and reap many benefits.. The Trust employs 29 scouts/rangers uniformed, and equipped with radios, who have 24/7 contact with the base, and under them 32 Lkiramats (informers).. They are recruited by responsible members of the communities through out our area of work, and work closely together keeping a very serious check on poachers and indiscriminate traders entering.. Our men and women are busy!.. Especially at this terrible time of high prices being paid for Elephant tusks, Cedar posts and Sandalwood amongst other things.. They talk with their people about conservation as they water and graze their livestock, fetch water and collect firewood. This living together with the communities is proving a big success in expanding the conservation messages. All the scouts come together [they walk] every two months to our base at Lkanto on the Milgis lugga, where each one has their time to speak and to bring to the management any problems in their area. All the Lkiramats come together every 4 months.
We work closely with the local communities, recognizing that in order to conserve the wildlife over the long-term, they also need real economic benefits, so the Milgis has many different projects operating. These being:
EDUCATION: which is heavily directed towards conservation.
1 Schools: We have built and will continue to maintain an eco-friendly nursary and full primary School at Ilgwe Eldome, near the Milgis base. Also we have built four eco-friendly nursary schools in Latakwen, Leiroyia, Noonchura and on Suruan at the top of the Ndoto Mountains. We help many small schools under the trees by helping with teacher’s wages. We use the schools we support to pass conservation messages through murals drawn on the walls. The scouts also visit all schools and talk about their work as part of their curriculum.
2 Secondary school sponsor programme for the poor but clever boys and girls. 39 children are benefiting from through out the area that the Milgis operates. We also have 6 students going to college. Parents of these children reciprocate by helping the Trust in its conservation efforts. In this way our coverage is increased.
HEALTH AND FAMILY PLANNING
We renovated the Latakwen Dispensary, which had reached a state of disrepair, and there was no where for people to get help except through us, but this was a lot of pressure on us. So we now employ a Nurse and helper, in the gov’t dispensary so there is somebody available when people are in trouble. We conduct mobile clinic’s to reach out to the people living far from Latakwen dealing with health, veterinary and family planning issues. We also try to help people who have difficult health issues that cannot be helped by our nurse by taking them to hospitals that can help. We conduct eye missions every two/three years, mainly dealing with Cataract and aiming to eradicate this dreadful and painful Trachoma problems, our nurse is trained to conduct TPR’s. Family Planning is also an important component of the trusts work, we feel this is paramount if there is a future here.
WATER: water is life!
We have a Volvo BL61 back hoe tractor that is opening up Pan Dams for the wildlife and people in very dry areas. We have dug over 30 pan dams mainly on old elephant routes. This has been particularly helpful for the Elephants on there return, as their natural dams had disappeared. The Elephants themselves will maintain the pans from now. Their ability to keep pans open, and to clear thick bush is seen as a great advantage. Not only that, but traditionally the new marital home fire HAS to be started with young Elephant Dung!
Where there is a need we are putting solar projects for pumping water, for villages and communities, that have major water problems. Especially where wildlife can benefit as well.. Water being the biggest problem in Northern Kenya. We have now helped 11 communities with solar water pumps, which we keep maintained.
We have a vet programme where we teach ‘quality rather than quantity’ because the pastoralists tend to keep too many animals, as an insurance against drought and disease, forgetting the impact it has on the on the land. We also teach them on proper use of medication. As a measure to avert predator conflict we vaccinate dogs, with anti rabies and deworm them so as to have healthy dogs in the manyattas to ward off carnivore attacks on their livestock. Also for the residents to live in peace with their dogs, as rabies is rife.