George Adamson Wildlife Preservation Trustelephants

News

People We were honoured that the Prime Minister of Tanzania, Hon. Mizengo Kayanza Peter Pinda and his wife Tunu, were able to take the time to travel to Gonja to lay the foundation stone of the Gonja Mheza Vocational Training Centre (VTC).  Also there were Ted van Dam and Dik Dekker of the Suzuki Rhino Club; Anne Kilango Malecela, the MP for Same; the District Commissioner, Herman Kapufi and many other regional, district and town officials. [more]

Rhino and Mr BRRRR The two rhino calves are doing extremely well and we are hopeful that there will be two more births over the next few months. One of our senior rhino trackers has been working with Dr Peter Morkel and Dr Idrissa Chuma in the Serengeti National Park on rhino conservation.  Pete was then able to travel to Mkomazi with TANAPA. [more]

Infrastructure We are continuing to work with TANAPA on the road maintenance in the park.  The rains are now taking hold so the work that has been done on the main access roads by the Trust’s plant machinery has been timely.  We are also working with TANAPA on a big project to develop another large water source in Mkomazi National Park for the elephant herds and other wildlife (oryx, buffalo, zebra, giraffe etc).  Elephant numbers continue to be much lower than in previous years, which can only be due to the massive poaching on the Kenya side of the border. [more]

25th anniversary held at the Royal Georgraphical Society On September 25th the trust celebrated the 25th Anniversary of the Mkomazi Project with a reception at the Royal Geographical Society in the presence of our patron HRH Princess Michael of Kent and HRH Prince Michael. Some 150 supporters and funders enjoyed the premier of a new film, produced by Jake Thomson, Astrid Harbord and Henry Morley, on Tony Fitzjohn’s life in Africa. That was followed by a stirring speech by Elisaria Nnko, the project’s Operations Manager and the longest serving employee at Mkomazi. Many of those present had met Elisaria in Tanzania over the years so it was a real treat to have him in London and witness the pride he takes in the project. [more]

Tony Fitzjohn

Tony FitzjohnIn 1975, one of the wild lions near George Adamson's camp inexplicably attacked Tony Fitzjohn, biting him through the throat. The lion was driven off and the badly mauled Fitzjohn was carried back to camp, bleeding heavily. "Am I dying?" he asked when he regained consciousness. "I think you probably are but I'll do my best", George Adamson replied.

Fortunately for African wildlife conservation, Fitzjohn survived. Clearly, it will take more than a disgruntled lion to put paid to this extraordinarily tough and determined Englishman.

Tony Fitzjohn does not fit comfortably into our modern world. He is an adventurer born out of his time, a restless spirit driven by a lifelong passion for the wild. At the age of 22, he threw up yet another dead-end job and hitchhiked to Kenya. His only ambition was to work with animals and, as luck would have it, he pitched up one day at George Adamson's camp at Kora.

To George's delight, Fitzjohn turned out to be a natural with the lions. Within days of his arrival, he had to dominate an aggressive male lion, armed with nothing but his own supreme self-confidence and the sheer force of his personality. So began a working partnership (with Adamson) which lasted nearly 18 years. During their time together, they successfully reintroduced more than 30 lions and 10 leopards into the wild. More importantly, perhaps, they also pioneered the development and management of the Kora National Park, setting up camps, creating airstrips and cutting more than 300 miles of bush roads, as well as fighting numerous battles with ivory poachers and Somali bandits.

The Adamson years were invaluable to the young apprentice, Tony Fitzjohn. It was at Kora that he acquired the knowledge and expertise he now brings to Mkomazi. Kora was a tough school, but it made Tony an expert in capturing, collaring and radio-tracking Africa's top predators, as well as raising and returning them to the wild.

The challenge facing him at Mkomazi demanded all these skills, and more. It required someone who was an experienced wildlife manager, fluent in Swahili, a bush pilot, a skilled engineer and mechanic who could build roads, cut boundaries, strip down and re-assemble 4WD vehicles and plant machinery, set up two-way radio networks, construct and de-silt dams, maintain electrical and power equipment, organize anti-poaching patrols, deal with the bureaucracy, and keep a remote camp supplied. All this, and the ability to establish breeding programs for highly endangered species whilst simultaneously constructing and repairing schools in the villages in the vicinity of Mkomazi Game Reserve, helping with medical dispensaries and maintaining positive relations with the local communities.

Fortunately, having spent the last 30 years living in the African bush, Tony Fitzjohn is uniquely qualified to fulfil all of these tasks. The modern day requirements of an operation such as this, staffed only by volunteers, make it necessary for Tony Fitzjohn to spend much time travelling in order to raise funds and create awareness for the project. This can take the form of lectures at the Royal Geographical Society, schools, zoos, wildlife parks, or differing size groups of supporters. He has also testified at a Congressional Sub-Committee hearing in Washington, DC, on behalf of the Tanzanian Government, on wildlife issues.

In a life committed to the conservation of East Africa, he believes that Tanzania can provide an unrivalled refuge for some of Africa's most endangered animals.