The people and the Mountains


                     Desert Water Towers

Hi all, Digby here –  I have been incredibley lucky to be getting involved with the Milgis and hope to see off many good years in this area. The Milgis family is better than I could have ever imagined! anyway here is some  insight on these exciting northern water catchments!!!!!

The Ndoto mountains, Matthews range, Mount Nyiro and Kulal are the lifeblood of northern samburu. They are the dry season relief for animals and people alike. Apart from being uniquely beautiful they also play an important role in the balance of these ecosystems.


     The water is the main thing. The pristine forests retain large amounts of it during the rains and act as a slow release mechanism during the drought. Water availability draws people from far out area’s because grazing is available during even the worst of droughts. A recent trip to Poi showed us just how important these area’s are.


Poi Massif

People will go to extreme lengths to get their livestock to new pastures. Like this daunting cattle pass built by one family on Poi in the Eastern Ndoto’s.


These cliff-hanging herdsman have got to navigate the stairways of Poi during the dry season. They lose animals all the time ; but the good pastures are worth the risk.


And HERE ARE are some of the other inhabitants that share these islands of grass with people and livestock!!!!


                                    Bush Cricket – Look at THAT CAMOUFLAGE        

                                           So many rare and well adapted species 



                                   Matthews Range                           

The Milgis just had the most fantastic team building workshop in the northern Matthews range.  Not your average corporate getaway. Our hope is to create a better understanding between the people and the mountains. Therefore it was a sensible idea to get everybody to the top and talk conservation. 


                                                                          It was MAGIC !!!!!!!

Dense forest biomes right up into the heavens. We found ourselves camping on a rock with a view.

a great opportunity for all



But it wasn’t all about good views. We managed to confront many of the problems encountered on the mountain.


like this podocarps tree that was felled by hand to get at a bee hive. All of that effort for a few jars of HONEY!!!!! This tree probably would have grown into one of the many forest giants seen in the Matthews. 

Look at the size of this Tree!!!!!!


It is scary to think that one fire could wipe out hundreds of years of growth. A major topic covered on the workshop was fire. They are so easily started during the dry season, usually by careless honey hunters.

Which is why we would like to start a beekeeping programme educating people on how to harvest honey sustainably without damaging trees and killing bees. 

            And without fires all of these guys can live happily in the Matthews.



                                        Ndoto Mountains                               


The ndoto’s are another unique island of forest and outstanding natural beauty. They too provide dry season shelter for wildlife and livestock. And are home to an incredible array of flora and fauna. img_2606The Samburu on these slopes are lucky to share the habitat with many rare species. There are of coarse loads of elephants, a healthy buffalo population as well as an impressive amount of bird species.

img_2398 A verreaux eagle showing off on our latest expedition. These huge birds rule the skies and are every dik-diks worst nightmare.


The beautiful and illusive silvery-cheeked hornbill

And trees!!!!!! Age-old cedars in the mist belt                        img_2631


East african sandalwood also grows in abundance here – however the modern world it has got a grip it seems. This rare species has been illegally harvested close to extinction. And now we find ourselves in a crisis where it is being extracted from the Ndoto’s and Matthews range. What a disaster!!!!!

img_2366This would be a big loss for the samburu as they use this species to treat mastitis. Not to mention all of the beautiful critters that live in sandalwood trees.

Below you can see the importance of educating traditional hunter-gatherers on how not to harvest honey. Fire is the worst possible enemy as it destroys all in its path!! This fire was also a product of lack of education


Aerials - Fire in the ndotos 2015-03-08 08_29_09

However, this year everybody has been very lucky and there were no major fires during the dry season.

img_2468Lush forest falling away from the peaks feeling lucky to have seen no fire during the drought. The only way to stem these fires is through education and training.


At the north end of the Ndoto’s there is a small community of Samburu who have settled on a very beautiful meadow. Through the good work of the TOTO TRUST they have been able to enjoy the fruits of Suruan pre-primary school. A recently renovated eco-school at the top of the Ndoto’s – accessible only by foot and built with renewable materials. The goal is to provide this people with a well-rounded education in order to secure sustainability within the area.


Lucky children being able to look out of the classroom window and enjoy views like this one.img_2568

I am blown away by this place!!!!!

These mountains are just so so important. I hope you can all one day have the opportunity to come and visit. And through the continued support of all of our friends and partners we hope to see water flowing off these mountains and down these lugga’s for many years to come.

Thank you for all of your interest in support


2 thoughts on “The people and the Mountains

  1. Hi Digby, Wonderful to hear that you are at the Milgis, how wonderful for Pete and Helen, and you!. Hope to see you before too long. love Sue >

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