on 26 January 2011
I happened upon this book entirely by accident. I knew well the story of Joy & George Adamson and Elsa but was entirely unaware of Tony Fitzjohn's contribution to the conservation of African wildlife over the last 40 years. Well, what a read! From the moment I sat down with the book I was enthralled. I was unable to put it down and felt an energy and passion lifting off the pages towards me at every turn. Tony Fitzjohn is a man to be deeply admired and his obvious lifelong commitment to the lions and leopards (and indeed all wildlife) of Africa is truely inspirational. The personal challenges he faced and overcame are not dwelled upon but the glancing references to them throughout only serve to heighten his achievements in the face of adversity both from within and without. Tony Fitzjohn is a true hero for wildlife and one who tells his story in an entertaining, heartfelt, honest and compelling way. I laughed and cried (in equal measure) while reading this remarkable man's account of his journey to date.
on 18 December 2014
You have to admire Tony Fitz-John, the troublesome little bugger from London who read a book as a child (Tarzan) and decided when he was old enough to travel he would up sticks and move to another country in pursuit of the life of his book hero. So off he goes to Africa where he seems to bumble his way around until a meeting with now legendary grandfather of wild cat conservation, George Adamson changes his life. Although Fitz-John did not write the book, the events contained were drawn from his personal memories, notes and other written material. Working with Adamson, he drew on a new found passion for wildlife and African big cats and I bet he never had an inkling all those years ago when he was a rowdy twenty something that he would today become one of the most respected conservationists of our modern day. Tony has a story to tell and an amazing one at that. From his early days working with Adamson at his remote Campi Ya Simba compound in Kora to the driving force behind turning an area of Tanzania into a national park today, Tony's achievements and dedication to the wildlife of a country he is not native to are remarkable. He has battled loneliness, drunkeness, temporary imprisonment, governments trying to deport him, officials trying to oust him and all in the name of conservation. His story is touching, witty and heartbreaking in equal measures. Fitz-John's personality also resonates strongly throughout the book. He is clearly a man with a sense of humoour and whom doesn't take himself too seriously. If his African adventure isn't interesting enough the pace of the book and his amusing quips make this a thoroughly enjoyable read. It's clear he has grown from a conservation novice to a respected and world renowned conservationist. I felt as though we were old friends and he was relaying his personal accounts to me and when the book finished I wanted to know more. Skillful writing but a thoroughly enjoyable read too.
on 4 June 2014
What an amazing chap Tony Fitzjohn is! This is a fascinating insight into the tough world of African wildlife conservation and what an awful lot one has to put up with from the animals you are hoping to save or reintroduce and the people you are trying to help! Tony must surely be one of a rare breed himself to have lived such a difficult life and given up so much of what most of us would consider home comforts to help animals in danger. But what a lot of fun along the way!! He sounds tremendous - tough as old boots but a big softy. Very well written, informative and engaging book with great struggles and set-backs, sadness and loss but an equal amount of rip-roaring fun, laughs and awe at what Tony and the people who surround him have achieved against all the odds. Really uplifting!
on 26 September 2010
This book was first published in 2010, has 317 pages, 82 colour/B/W pictures and 3 large maps. The book is dedicated to the creatures of the wild. ANTHONY RAYMOND FITZJOHN was born on 7.7.1945 in London. His mother gave him for adoption. He was raised in Cockfosters. He loved scouting. It was the book 'Tarzan of the Apes', that inspired him to go to Africa. In 1968, he sails to CAPETOWN, South Africa. He hitchhikes to Kenya. At the long bar at Stanley Hotel, NAIROBI, he meets Ian Hudges, who takes him on safari to MARALAL and teaches bushcraft. In the south, from LOITOKITOK, he could see Mt Kilimanjaro (19,340ft). After reading 'Bwana Game', Fitz was to meet George Adamson. Terence Adamson, 2 years younger, took him to KORA- KAMPI YA SIMBA (camp of the lions). George indroduces Fitz to young lion - Christian. Fitz stayed at Kora for 18 years. A HUNGRY LION IS AN ANGRY LION.
Joy Adamson did not like Fitz or Terence. Afternoon siesta is a must for Fitz. Terence was grumpy old sod, but loved elephants. At the age of 27, Fitz was very happy at lonely Kora, near the TANA RIVER. From George, he learnt animal behaviour and how to use the sense of smell. In 1972, he visits Isiolo and Lake Turkana (Rudolf). One day Christian shook Fitz and gave him hell of a shock. On 19.10.1974, Kora was made into a Game Reserve. Fitz then meets Leakey and Freddie lion cubs at Kora. With more lions and lionesses, the total rose to 10. After George spent time in Nairobi Hospital with broken pelvis, Fitz was next there after a large lion tore his neck and shoulder. He gets bad malaria. Then George and later Terence get attacked by their lions. The game department wanted Kora closed, just as Fitz got his work permit -Assistant Kora game reserve. He goes to Europe to form a 'TRUST'. Then in 1980, Joy Adamason is killed in SABA.
Fitz is given 2 leopard cubs, so 'KAMPI YA CHUI' is built. He learns to fly. Fitz mother died soon after his father had visited him in Kora. Leopard programme was going well. George and Terence were getting older. On 5.4.1986, Terence had died. In 1988, after been asked to leave, Fitz wanted to move to MKOMAZI, 1350 sq miles, game reserve, northeast Tanzania. He was beaten and locked up. On 20.8.1989, George was murdered. He was 83. Fitz missed 'THE OLD MAN'then and he misses him now. Fitz was now 45. Fund raising started, with it improvements to Mkomazi. After solving his drink problem, he falls in love with Lucy Mellotte. North of Mkomazi, is TSAVO West National Park, Kenya. In 1993, his father died of stroke.
The camp in Mkomazi was in KISIMA (water-well). Black rhino and african hunting dogs were reintroduced. Many political problems faced the reserve including hunting. Fitz and Lucy have their son - Alexander (Mukka) in 1996. They marry in Kora. They then have 3 girls, Jemima, Tilly and Imogen. Work started to restore Kora National Park. Mkomazi finally gets its National park status. Their children go to boarding schools. In 2006, Fitz is awarded OBE. This book is a wonderful addition to books on East Africa. Fitz and his team's dedication is visible and palpable and it is lovely to see Fitz remembering his 'OLD MAN' (George Adamson). Other books with similar theme are:-
(1) Bwana Game, George Adamson 1968
(2) My Pride and Joy, George Adamson 1986
(3) The Great Safari, Adrian House 1993
(4) Born Free/Living Free/Forever Free, Joy Adamson 1960/61/62
(5) Lord of the Lions, Sandy Gall 1991
(6) Last of the Free, Gareth Patterson 1994
(7) The Tsavo Story, Dame Daphne Sheldrick 1973
(8) On Playing with Lions, Virginnia Mckenna 1966
(9) Return to the Wild, Norman Carr 1963
(10)A Lion Called Christian, Bourke and Randall 1971 (2009)
Having born in Kenya, I enjoyed reading this book.
Read and ENJOY.
on 3 July 2013
This is a truly amazing story of courage, love, triumph, and sadness as Tony Fitzjohn carries on George Adamson's great work in rearing lion cubs back into the plains of Africa. Despite the numerous challenges he faces, his courage and compassion really shine through in this book. Heartfelt and emotional, this book will make you smile and cry and touch your heart. Change has to start with awareness, prevention, conservation, and protection, and this book highlights the plight of the troubling events African animals face at man's hands. Anyone with interest in big cats, conservation, and a love of wildlife should read this book.