Old elephant highways busy again… AND incredible forest recovery!!

Our walk into paradise and beyond continues!.. Partly checking on Milgis work, Partly pleasure .. bird watching, walking through fabulous country, and taking a wonderful busmans holiday… !…

This was variable sunbird city.. Every colour in the book… every bush had a ‘variable’ singing on it.. it was extraordinary..

We walked through ‘varilble’ city

The most serious part of our walk is all about the very north end of the Ndotos.. ( Ndoto lesirikan) or  Mussei..


Mussei, just catching the early sun.. beckoning us to climb it!!

The peak… Bokkol

So lets go back to the beginning!!… 20 years ago we settled on Lkanto hill with the most unbelievable view down the Mighty Milgis lugga

Milgis Lugga

,  and to the south/east Lenkiyou ( Matthews) range…

Lenkiyou range, Lamunyani, right through to Lowa Weregoi

to the north/east the whole of the Ndoto mountain range


The Ndoto range.. starting from Mussei( Ndoto Lesirikan), Suruan, Alimissio and Upe the two peaks and south to the thick forest of Manmanet to the south ..

It is one of the MOST incredible  views, many people who have visited are stunned..  and we have the pleasure to live with it!!…

There was one problem…. The northern part of the Ndoto mountains ( Ndoto lesirikan) was on fire…  every week, every month, every year..  we saw these most unbelievable fires burning…  just burning virgin forest, virgin land… WHAT ON EARTH WAS IN THEIR MINDS??? we asked ourselves..?? The ‘Milgis’ came about in 2004, and has worked incredibly hard to stop these fires, and our manager, scouts and lkiramats talked and talked about what will happen next and it did.. The water dried up and EVERY ONE SUFFERED… 20 years later we have just walked over the mountain to see VERY VERY GOOD SIGNS!!!.. There has not been a fire on the mountain for many years.. The scout from Kileswa told me that since he has been employed there has NOT been a single fire!

Here below are the remnants of this crazy burning!.. BIG OLD amazing ceder skeletons still standing after 20 years..

The forests were burnt and the water started drying up..

One could talk about it untill you are blue in the face…  but it took the people living off their ‘breadbasket’ mountain tooooo long to connect burning the forest with no water.. untill it started happening…

The great thing is this has been a good example to all others who want to burn…

You might wonder why the burning!!.. you are asking me??!! I’m yet to understand this BUT some would say burning/remove the thick bush, the grass will grow for the cows?? OR by burning, it opens up the bush and the forest, so lets just light it up!!  (remembering  the elephants were completely wiped out in the end of the last century.. there were no elephants north of the Milgis lugga left, to do this very job??) Some were accidents from honey gatherers, or others…What ever a huge amount of the mountain vegetation was destroyed and the rivers dried up!.. LUCKILY temporarily as nature is amazing if given the chance!!  plus the help of the returning elephants..

ceder skeletons, but at least regrowth NOW..

Again looking positive behind.. a nice young ceder forest growing! See some of the pics below

The results of ten years of burning.. No trees.. NO WATER.. The Lesirikan lugga dried up completely but is showing signs of flowing again..

BUT on a positive NOTE… On most of the mountain the regrowth, is FABULOUS…


healthy forest

Young ceder trees every where!

young ceders

The travelers, enjoying the morning air and view!!

so why the title of this blog!?? Well even more exciting is the return of the Elephants to this mountain, where only 30/40 years ago hundreds possibly thousands died because of their ivory right here….

This young man in red here with the stick . (actually its a whip!..the latest weapon for moving a difficult elephant! a whip crack)  knows this beautiful massif better than everyone, and he says each year it gets easier for him to get through .. AND why because of the return of the elephants.. He is talking to one of our lkiramats (lengewa)… caretaker of the forest, who I met for the first time.. lovely gentle guy and proud to show us his beloved mountain!..


here my new found friend,  showing us ‘his’ mountain… It is VERY easy to get lost here.. What was lovely is he got completely into the birds, creeping through the thick forest after a bird call.. We had such a laugh.. He had all the patience in the world and I cant wait to get back !!

He was so proud to show the major route for ALL the elephant traffic going north..

the GREAT Northern Elephant highway…  I was so touched and happy to have it pointed out!.. We did not see fresh signs of Elephants as it is the rainy season, and they are all down in the lowlands enjoying what there is to eat there.. but all over the mountain was plenty of signs, and our wonderful lad showing us the way kept on saying .. i love these elephants, they make my life so much easier!!

some places are sooooo thick its lucky to have the eley routes to water

There is still very very little water on this mountain after the years of fires its not surprising , so the pathways to the little tiny springs are well used, by all the wildlife …

old old pathways

and through some lovely old forest

glades with healthy growth of young ceders

our camp site!

tacazze sunbird

more lovely luscious and healthy recovering forest..

old olive forests

As we speak, we are making a short film on ‘burning’ the forests.. and the implications.. Freddy Deeble and Harry Williams, along with Digs have been busy, getting good footage, ( the good news is not much of fresh burns!)..  plus they will using alot of props and animations to explain.. We will be going round all the communities to show what happens so that we stop this forever!

bokkol the old mountain peak

Lovely place to stop..

eastern double colared sunbird

Aloes.. Love them, and we found plenty of the beauties..

clinging onto the side of the mountain.. Just always amazes me..



and these fabulous trees in flower..

Erithrina tree flowering in the valley!

Another ‘variable’

what is this tree?

The seeds

Lovely to see the mist doing its work…

beautiful misty forest

misty euphorbias

euphorbia cantelabras

Things are not totally perfect .. and here below is a couple of signs of ceder post extraction, which we must address

on our way down signs of trouble..

posts being dragged out of the forest

The forest is full of exquisite flowers.. These Cadia all along the paths EVERY where.. Just a special flower..

cadia purpurea

And I end with a smile on our faces and a ‘pat on our backs!’ … to the whole of the Milgis team!!  Weldone guys and girls in the field, and to our wonderful supporters.. ..  We are all proud of you..  

JUST a lovely mountain flower!…   hibiscus







3 thoughts on “Old elephant highways busy again… AND incredible forest recovery!!

  1. Helen – you are doing SUCH a wonderful job. Hats off to you and your team. How wonderful to have the ellies back. Those are FABULOUS photos – the views are to die for, and what a treat to see the forests recovering. Are you doing safaris at the moment? If not, when do you atart?I would so love to do another one, before I have to book my zimmer frame!

  2. Another wonderful journal, so heartening to hear about the fantastic work The Milgis Team has done over the past 20 years. To see the forest and water return and the old elephant trails be opened again is truly wonderful. I love the pictures and your personal insights and love and care for this land. Bravo to you all. How I long to do another safari.

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