Monday, 2 November 2009

Afternoon tea at Elsamere

Elsamere is an archetypal colonial abode with lush gardens dropping down to the shore of Lake Naivasha. It was here that Joy and George Adamson – of Elsa the lion / Born Free fame – lived. Every afternoon at 4pm you can visit their home, watch a video of their conservation work and enjoy all-you-can-eat cakes and tea. There’s something slightly distasteful about enjoying high tea when people down the road are living in shacks but you justify it by the fact that all the money made goes to the Born Free Foundation.

Joy and George were passionate about conservation in Africa. George lived in the sticks where he set up various animal rehabilitation centres whilst Joy’s work took her around the globe promoting her various books. All the money she made was ploughed back into the Born Free Foundation and was used to sponsor various conservation initiatives both in Africa and around the world.

Whilst the video discussed their work comprehensively, what it didn’t tell you was how they both died. Talking with a guide the following day, we discovered that Joy was murdered in the very house we visited. She apparently got into a dispute with a worker, accusing him of stealing something. When she docked his wages, he went round to the house and hit her, killing her. She was in her 70s.

George was also murdered. He was hijacked up in the northern border region of Kenya where ‘shifters’ or ‘bandits’ abound. Whilst it could have been a coincidence, our guide John said that some people believe it was politically motivated because he was campaigning against the ivory trade which, at that time, was still legal in Kenya.

Whether the stories of their deaths are true or merely urban myths (I’ll need to do some research to check it out) both Joy and George left the legacy of the Born Free Foundation behind which, even today, works tirelessly to conserve endangered wildlife across the globe.

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