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Conservationists meet at Kora to honour George Adamson

Thursday August 29 2019

George Adamson

KWS rangers at the grave of the late George Adamson near Masyungwa within Kora National Park. A three-day event to mark Adamson's 30th memorial will be held at the part beginning August 30, 2019. PHOTO | KITAVI MUTUA | NATION MEDIA GROUP  

KITAVI MUTUA
By KITAVI MUTUA
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Dozens of conservationists from across the world converge at Kora National Park in Kitui County Friday for the 30th memorial of renowned British wildlife environmentalist George Adamson.

Mr Adamson, who was brutally murdered in 1989, put Kenya on the global wildlife conservation map through his pioneering voluntary work of rehabilitating orphaned lions in the seventies and eighties.

The three-day event dubbed the George Adamson commemoration weekend in the Kora wild is organised by the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and will run from August 30 to September 1, 2019.

BANDITS

He was shot dead by Shifta bandits on August 20, 1989 at the age of 83 and was buried at a site in the park known as Kambi ya Simba (lions’ camp) near Masyungwa in Tseikuru.

Other than his wildlife conservation exploits, Adamson and his wife, Joy Adamson, are best known through the captivating award winning movie "Born Free" and best-selling book with the same title, which is based on the true story of Elsa, an orphaned lioness cub they raised in Kitui County and later released into the wild.

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George Adamson

George Adamson

CELEBRATE ADAMSON

According to KWS Senior Warden Baraka Chongwa who is in charge of Meru conservation area, the event to be held at Adamson grave is aimed at celebrating his conservation efforts and devise ways of getting a new generation of Kenyans to carry on with his legacy.

“Though he was deeply loved and respected by so many people all over the world, not many have visited where he used to work, to see how he used to live, where he was buried and consider ways of continuing with the work he started” Mr Chongwa said.

He said visitors will camp at the grave for the three days and they will watch his films and a gallery exhibition, visit Kora rapids and Kora rock before participating in a cultural festival on Saturday night.

“He is the founding father of wildlife conservation in Africa. His heroic actions, sacrifice and legacy remain an unfailing inspiration to many across the world,” he said, adding that the event will also capture and market unique features and activities in Kora National Park.

DOMESTICATED LIONS

The late conservationist, then popularly known as the father of lions in Africa, kept and nurtured a pack of domesticated lions in the wilderness of the expansive park.

Records at KWS show that Adamson was murdered by people who were unhappy with the success of his conservation efforts and his strange antics to domesticate and live with the dreaded big cats.

It is also believed that armed bandits who often used the expansive park as their hideout killed him because he was a threat to their illegal poaching and cattle rustling.

POACHING MENACE

The three-day event comes as the country grapples with how to contain a poaching menace that has seen elephants and rhinos killed by a suspected network of international poachers.

In October 1989, two months after his death, the government gazetted the game reserve within which he died into a national park in recognition of his conservation efforts.

Other movies in remembrance of the late Adamson include "Living Free", "To walk With the Lions" and "The Land of the Lions".

Adamson served as a senior game warden of the then Northern Frontier District during colonial days and had also tried his hand in authoring books.

He started conservation work after retiring as a game warden in 1961, establishing his lion camp in Kora.