"Alan Root almost single-handedly made natural history film-making grow up.” - Sir David Attenborough
The 88 acre plot that now forms the beautiful Kilimandege Sanctuary was the treasured home of wildlife documentary film pioneers, Joan and Alan Root.
Acquired in 1962, the sanctuary was used as a base and planning HQ for the majority of their filming years together, including their internationally acclaimed work for National Geographic and the groundbreaking SURVIVAL series (in which the sanctuary itself features).
"She noted when plants on her property came into bloom, when they went to seed, and when various animal specimen bred- not to interfere but to be prepared in case her help was needed. She knew that animals time their birth cycles to the rainy seasons- and in case of drought, so common in Naivasha, she might have to be there with a helping hand. This woman who could never have children of her own was serving as midwife to infinite numbers of creatures." - from WILDFLOWER by Mark Seal
"One day they awoke to find a fine specimen in their trap. They fed it through a small window in the enclosure at first, until it was acclimated to their human sound and smell. The Joan, as still as the antelope itself, climbed into the trap and fed the bongo by hand." - from WILDFLOWER by Mark Seal
"Frequently prowling beneath the Roots' dinner table was Joan's caracal, a large wildcat with razor-sharp teeth and claws. If guests leaned down to pet it, nine times out of ten it would roll over and let them. But the tenth time it might very well scream and lunge like a living bale of barbed wire." - from WILDFLOWER by Mark Seal
Joan & Alan filming for their 1980s documentary 'Lights, Camera, Africa!'
Alan famously survived an underwater hippo attack while filming their behaviour in Mzima Springs, 1969.
"Constant contact with its mother is essential for a baby elephant, so Joan became a surrogate mother for this one, which she named Bundu, the Bantu word for 'wilderness'" - from WILDFLOWER by Mark Seal
Although Alan and Joan went their separate ways in the mid 1980s, Joan remained on the sanctuary to pursue her conservation work.
As ever greater pressure was put on the surrounding land by business and poachers, the 88 acre sanctuary became increasingly important to wildlife as a safe haven. Part of Joan’s conservation work therefore centered on trying to protect the surrounding environment and lake resources for the benefit of everyone.
Sadly, this undertaking came to and end too soon as Joan was murdered at the beginning of 2006, just days before her 70th birthday.
Kilimandege Sanctuary was created under the protection of a foundation so the work she started could continue beyond her life.
"Give yourself plenty of quiet time alone in order to get in touch with who you are..." - Joan Root's diary.
"The non-risker does not grow, they just get older." - Joan Root's diary
"Let go of negative thoughts - view them as a flight of birds crossing your path. See them fly into view and continue on their way." - Joan Root's diary