Once I saw him in the wild.

It happened in Nairobi, he passed by on the pavement on the other side of the street. Dressed as if he had come straight from the bush in northern Kenya. With his distinctive white goattee.  He was far away from his usual hide-out.

George Adamson was born in India, when he was ten years young his family moved to South Africa, but they got stuck in Kenya. At an early age George left organised schoollife. The first in Kenya he was a Jack of all trades. He travelled a lot, for instance in the area of the Kerio-river and of the Pokot. He traded in goats, did odd jobs for the colonial government and for a short time was the manager of a farawy hotel.

But for the longer part of his life he lived in the arid northern part of Kenya. He was asked by the government to be a ranger. This was the life for him. He got to know his area of work by long safari’s on foot, on donkeys, and later on with a motorvehicle. He got to know the people in the area (amongst them poachers) and wildlife.

On one of his journeys he met Joyce, an Austrian woman who was travelling with her husband. The end of the affair was the beginning of a new relationship, for Joyce divorced her Austrian husband and she went to live with george in the northern District of Kenya.

One day George killed an agressive lionness. Shortly afterwards he discovered three cubs, and he and his wife decided to rear these cubs. That is the way the story of Elsa and the other lions started. They almost became part of the household. The story of Elsa has been filmed (with the help of several lions!)

In their retirement George and Joyce trekked for months on end through gameparks where their tame lions had been brought to, looking for contact. Once they met a daughter from Elsa.

George has written down all his adventures in a good way.

After the period described in this book George and Joyce got estranged. In 1980 she was murdered in Shaba National Rserve in the northern part of the country. Nine years later George was murdered by poachers, when he tried to save the life of a tourist. This happened at another camp in the north. Living with lions seems to be less dangerous than living with poachers. And poaching still continues on a large scale in the country. 

The work of George and Joyce (who was a fine artist with her drawings and paintings) has been a stimulus for many others in nature-conservation in Kenya and far beyond its borders. 

 George Adamson – Bwana Game – London 1968 


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I enjoy reading about Africa. New books. Old books. By African writers. By non-African writers. Novel. History. Travel. Biographies. Autobiographies. Politics. Colonialism. Poetry.

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