Born Wild: The Extraordinary Story of One Man's Passion for Lions and for Africa
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Born Wild is a story of passion, adventure and skulduggery on the frontline of African conservation. Following Tony Fitzjohn's journey from London bad boy to African wildlife warrior, the heart of the story is a series of love affairs with the world's most beautiful and endangered creatures -- affairs that so often end in pain, for to succeed in re-introducing a lion or leopard to the wild is to be deprived of their companionship. Tony tells of his twenty years in Kenya with George Adamson of Born Free fame - a time of discovery, isolation and frequent danger living far from civilisation. And when he was prevented from re-introducing any more animals into the wild and made unwelcome in the country he loved, Tony had to start anew in Tanzania.
success. Starring Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna, it had broken all sorts of box-office records, won two Oscars and made George, Joy and Elsa into household names. Since then people were always trying to meet George and asking him to speak at events: in vain. He was the most taciturn of men, who communicated mainly in grunts. His harrumphs, however, spoke volumes. I’ve only met one person who spoke less than George and that was his brother Terence. I think they must have gone weeks without
back to camp a few weeks later, recovered but still weak. It was apparent to us both that we couldn’t leave Suleiman and Sheba locked up in the holding cage and if we let them out they would continue to be attacked by the older groups. Oscar, Kora and Daniel tended to ignore them but Arusha and Growlie hated them and beat them up badly whenever they had the chance. We were loath to think what would happen if Blackantan, a new wild lion who was sleeping his way through the pride, came across
bandits. Every time I went to Garissa I was convinced I would be ambushed by shifta but strangely it never happened. It did, however, add a certain piquancy to the trips. Philip Kilonzo took our safety so seriously that he advised us to dig slit trenches in case we were attacked but, having done so, we kept falling into them after a couple of beers so filled them up again. When the Somali problem was really hotting up we had an interesting visit from an old friend of George’s. Mohamed Sigara was
wildlife guide and former hunter, often used to fly in with his clients and we would always try to show them the lions; we could seldom let them interact with the leopards. These flying visits were always a treat as Dave never came empty-handed and his clients would often leave us a cheque to pay for some camel meat or fill up a car with fuel. On one of his visits Dave delivered a letter from the director of Wildlife. George passed it to me without a word. I feared the worst when I saw the
across the border into Kenya, he flew straight into our camp at Kisima and said: ‘Okay, Tony, you win. Let’s talk.’ This was seditious language. Politically, Kenya and Tanzania were at daggers drawn, but the Tanzanians – aware that Mkomazi had two hundred miles of international boundary – trusted me to behave and keep them informed of illegal activity. It was a grey area for Steve to be in Tanzania at all but it was also insane for us not to be co-operating. So we did. And when the powers that