15 April, 2009
George Adamson, the "Baba ya Simba" ("Father of Lions"in Swahili language) of Africa, was one of the founding fathers of wildlife conservation and an author. He and his wife Joy Adamson are best known through the book and film Born Free, which is based on the true story of Elsa, an orphaned lioness cub they raised and later released into the wild.
Adamson was born in Dholpur, Rajasthan, India (then British India). He first visited Kenya in 1924. After a series of adventures, which included time as a gold prospector, goat trader, and professional safari hunter, he joined Kenya's game department in 1938 and was Senior Game Warden of the Northern Frontier District. Six years later he married Joy. It was in 1956 that he came to have Elsa the lioness who would gain world fame and affection.
George Adamson retired as a game warden in 1961 and devoted himself to his many lions. In 1970, he moved to the Kora National Reserve in northern Kenya to continue the rehabilitation of captive or orphaned big cats for eventual reintroduction into the wild. George and Joy separated in 1970, but continued to spend Christmas together until she was murdered on January 3rd, 1980.
On 20 August 1989, the 83-year-old Adamson was shot to death at Kora Reserve by Somalian bandits when he went to the aid of a tourist. He is buried at the reserve next to the lion Boy.