Meru is the area where the passionate animal lovers and recluses George and Joy Adamson (he a hunter turned game warden, she a gifted watercolourist and writer) released their most famous lioness Elsa back into the wild in the late 1950s – a story that became the bestselling book and film, Born Free. After the couple separated, the misanthropic Joy conducted a series of long-term experiments with orphaned cheetahs and leopards in Shaba National Reserve – years of dedicated, lonely work cut short by her murder in 1980. George, meanwhile, moved to Kora National Park, adjoining Meru, where he lived in the bush and continued to work with orphaned lions. He was also murdered, in 1989, by poachers.

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