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Helen Douglas-Dufresne

‘Mama Helen’ as she is fondly known by the Samburu, has been welcomed with outstretched arms and is trusted more than any other in the region having worked hard to create respectful rapport and understanding with the communities, elders and warriors of Northern Kenya.

Just over 30 years ago, northern Kenya was still closed to outsiders. It is one of the least explored regions of the continent and is traversed by some of its most traditional tribes — the Turkana, the Boran, the Rendille, the Gabbra and the glamorous Samburu, the elusive cousins of the Masai. The territory also contains some of Kenya’s most spectacular geographic features.

Helen - is an iconic Wilderness Warrior - a Kenyan by birth is well versed in folklore, botany, ornithology and astronomy, an experienced pilot and renowned conservationist has been guiding camel safaris, around the Mathews and Ndoto mountains for more than 25 years. The 5 star tailor-made expeditions are run by Helen, her partner Peter Ilsley (also an experienced pilot and successful entrepreneur) and their experienced Samburu crew. Together they have honed the complex logistics of sustainable and responsible eco- tourism, while at the same time combining modern ‘creature comforts’ with mobile bush luxury.

Photograph by Jimmy Nelson

As a result of growing insecurity leading to the poaching of wildlife and over-extraction of declining natural resources, Helen, in 2004, created and steers The Milgis Trust. Its mission is: To sustain the wildlife, habitat and the pastoral peoples’ way of life in northern Kenya.

The Trust's core area is located in northern Kenya within the drainage of the Matthews Range, Ndoto Mountains and Karisia Hills, spreading out towards Oldonyo Mara, Mount Nyiru and Mount Kulal. The Milgis Trust covers approximately 8,000 sq. kms. and supports a diverse range of flora and fauna and the pastoral livelihoods of several different nomadic tribes. Their continued presence on the ground sustains this trusting relationship and encourages and promotes the successful implementation of projects as well as the Milgis Trust's ongoing field operations.

Take a look at a short interview with Helen at home in Kenya

 

The Milgis Trust - A unique Community Based Development and Nature Conservation project:

 

For more information take a look at Rangers at Risk and Wilderness Warrior

And http://www.milgistrustkenya.com/

Helen’s Blog: http://milgistrust.wordpress.com/

 

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