A native of Great Britain, Fitzjohn joined George
Adamson in his work at the Kora National Reserve in Kenya in 1971. Adamson,
who was killed by poachers in 1989, is known worldwide through the book
and film "Born Free". Together, Fitzjohn and Adamson successfully reintroduced
captive and orphaned lions and leopards into the wild, whilst simultaneously
undertaking the management of Kora National Reserve.
After Adamson's death, Fitzjohn decided to find a new home for the
conservation work. At the same time, the Tanzanian Govemment began to
focus its attention on the Mkomazi Game Reserve to save the remaining
wildlife still living there. By this time, Mkomazi had become badly
degraded. Poaching, overgrazing, deliberate burning and badly controlled
illegal hunting had all taken their toll. After traveling to many game
reserves and national parks in Tanzania, Fitzjohn decided, in a joint
venture with the Tanzanian Govemment, to begin a program of habitat
rehabilitation and endangered species reintroduction in the Mkomazi
Game Reserve. Mkomazi is now a Tanzanian National Priority Project,
with full government support.
On October 10, 1988, the previous Director of the Wildlife Department
wrote to the Tony Fitzjohn/George Adamson Trust, formally requesting
its assistance. With the later promotion of Mr. Costa Mlay to the position
of Director, the request was repeated. The Trustees agreed to help in
any way possible, and supported the idea that Fitzjohn should embark
on a rehabilitation program to reintroduce the African Wild Dog, Cheetah,
and Black Rhino into the Reserve.
By 1992, Fitzjohn and the Wildlife Department's Project Manager had
made great progress in re-establishing the Reserve's infrastructure
-- bore holes had been sunk, the communication system was installed,
uniformed rangers were regularly in the field, camp had been built,
and the reserve's headquarters improved. Over 250 miles of roads had
been carved, three airstrips were in use with an aircraft flying daily,
boundaries for the reserve had been recleared, and water holes desilled.
The results of the hard work are ultimately measured by the health
of the Reserve. The vegetation has started to recover from 15 years
of over-use by cattle and goats. Many of the indigenous species have
returned. The Mkomazi Game Reserve will never have the teeming herds
of some of the great plains areas, but already there is a healthy population
of lesser kudu, oryx, eland, and impala. Buffalo, zebra, giraffe and
kongoni have been found in increasing numbers in the grasslands. In
the summer of 1994, nearly 1,000 elephants were counted, including a
herd of breeding females with their young.
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