It All Began with a Warthog Named Sir Francis Bacon
I was born and raised in East Africa. Several months a year I reside in the Maasai Mara. During four decades working in the safari business, I have seen growing pressures on wildlife from poaching and predator-livestock conflicts. (Read more about my life in Africa here.)
My conservation efforts began in earnest 1998 when I began to receive visits from a large, wild warthog that lived near my cottage in the Mara. Sir Francis, as we called him, could usually be found lying in the sun or grazing on the lawn in front of the verandah. He sought out my company and encouraged me to scratch his ears, de-tick him and, as he rolled on his back like a puppy, rub his tummy!
One morning, I found Sir Francis outside my house with an arrow embedded deeply in his side. I organized for a Kenya Wildlife Service veterinarian to come and surgically remove the arrowhead. He successfully recovered and years later died a natural death. His offspring still visit me on a regular basis – one young male has even larger tusks than those of his mighty ancestor!
The incident alerted me to the increase in poaching activity and I began to informally patrol the region, searching for other injured animals. My fears were justified when I found several elephants, lion and giraffe that had become badly entangled in a life-threatening wire snares. These were embedded deeply into the animals’ limbs, and the elephants’ trunks, causing unfathomable pain and damage. Remarkably, once the wire snares were removed and the wounds treated, the animals were able to make a full recovery.