arkle - CONSERVATIONIST
WAS AHEAD OF HIS TIME IN MANY NOTABLE WAYS ...'
A man was walking through Shimba Hills' rainforest, when he felt that
he had found the perfect tree and site to build himself a "Tree
this vantage point, he imagined he would be able to sit for hours on
end looking out into his picturesque and exotic wilderness:
occasionally sighting the animals he loved most - the elephant.
man's name? John Arkle.
had began as a personal dream and adventure, years later, has become a
get-a-way paradise for thousands of people from all over the world.
"Shimba Hills Lodge", a tree house hotel built deep in the
Shimba Hill's rainforest, exactly where John's tree house was, is the
result of that dream.
of his time in many notable ways, John insisted, during the
construction of the lodge, on as much tree conservation as possible.
- - John Arkle
man Mombasa Skål Club .
a result, only one tree was cut down to make way for the lodge.
have passions, but only a few live up to their full and creative
potential as John Arkle did.
love for nature and the wildlife surpassed all else.
who knew him or even had a passing moment with him were left in no
doubt that this was a man truly at one with nature.
he led many a nervous but excited friend through the forests, parks of
Kenya's rough terrain.
them an experience of a life time:
John, a life time's experience.
tanned, gun securely strapped, but, for the Khakhi hat, stripped to
the waist; Khakhi shorts and army boots, John Arkle.
had such an adventurous life out in the jungle, that when out hiking
with him one didn't want to miss a thing. It wasn't ever easy.
treks into Kenya's wilderness at times proved to be a lesson in
survival for the fittest.
was more fit than John.
heat, bush nothing slowed him down once he was on his way.
knowledge of the parks culminated in his production of a book on "Camping
no safaris of ours where his book is not our companion", says
Chris, who like many of John's friends will feel the vacuum of his
departure last Tuesday January 4 1994.
in Britain, John came to Kenya following a career in the British Army.
his arrival in Kenya, in 1963, he was the last European recruit into
the Kenya Police.
served there for many years.
was this background, says Chris, "which instilled in John the
self discipline, honour, self esteem, and high standards he set for
himself and others.
also caused him to be occasionally upset when he saw standards of
public life falling and prompted him to write letters to the papers,
signing them Pro Bono Publico".
emerging from a great sense of humour was John's tonic, for a good
description of Chris experience aptly paints the picture of this
determined but rib-cracking man.
goes like this: ".... We were to join John (in the foothills
of the Chyulu Hills).
came down the Chyulus and stopped to survey the landscape ... (but),
what caught our attention instead was the sight of a not-quite-new
Mazda Station Wagon bobbing across the plains with a crate of White
Cap strapped to the roof ... John ... off to watch the sunset, a la
his career with the Kenya Police John Arkle moved into the tourist
was his work with United Touring Company, Cooper Sky Bird, and Shimba
Hills Lodge that helped curve his niche in Mombasa's society.
illness, bravely borne, created a vacuum long before his final
departure, in the town he so loved to escape from.
haven was at home surrounded by the forests of Kwale.
upon a rugged and forrested terrain, his home looks down into the
'thick' and expansive rainforest below, where 'his' elephants can
often be seen roaming. Misty mornings here are surreal - straight
ahead and in perfect view, on a clear day, stands the peak of Mount
surprised none of John's friends, who in the past have flocked here
Sunday upon Sunday, when last Saturday they laid him to rest atop the
hill and facing Mount Kilimanjaro.
were they shocked to learn that a group of elephants had come
"right up to the mango tree" close to the house, only a few
days earlier, "as if to pay their last respects" to their
moving ceremony, his last farewell, and a somewhat happy one, as many
of his friends agreed silently that sadness was just too foreign a
word next to John's smiling suntanned face.
so, to borrow the words from his dear friend , former camping
companion, Chris Groom:
the great Safari man has now embarked on the greatest safari of all.
Njema na Kwaheri".
Liz, Jakie, Johnathan and Edward, take courage.
Pamela de Brouwer