Monday 24 April 2017
By Danuta Kean
Conservationist, whose memoir I Dreamed of Africa became a Hollywood film, left critically wounded after armed men ransacked a lodge on her estate
Kuki Gallmann speaking at an event in Laikipia in 2006. Photograph: Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images
Author and conservationist Kuki Gallmann, whose memoir I Dreamed of Africawas turned into a Hollywood film starring Kim Basinger, has been shot by raiders at her ranch in Kenya.
The 73-year-old is reported to have suffered extensive internal injuries and is in “a stable, but critical” condition.
In recent weeks, Gallman had sent a string of increasingly distressed messages to a New York Times journalist after heavily armed militia invaded her ranch in Laikipia, a popular tourist destination.
On Saturday, a lodge on the estate was ransacked and Gallmann was attacked after investigating the damage. A bullet shot by raiders went through the door of her vehicle, hitting her in the hip and slicing up through her body.
Rangers from the Kenya Wildlife Service fought off the attackers, and Gallmann was airlifted to a hospital in Nairobi, where she underwent surgery on Sunday. She remains in hospital. Close friends of Gallmann’s told the New York Times that the coming days could be critical.
In her 1991 memoir, Gallmann recounted her journey from wealthy Italian socialite to rancher in the Laikipia plain. A vociferous campaigner for the environment, she moved to the country with her husband and son in 1972. Both died in separate accidents years later. She has long campaigned for the coexistence of people and nature in Kenya.
The attack on Gallmann comes amid mounting violence in the country as a result of a devastating drought, with armed raiders driving more than 200,000 livestock through northern Kenya in search of pastureland. Chaos has also followed last week’s primary elections, with claims that politicians are encouraging the violence.
At least 14 people have been killed, including former British army officer Tristan Voorspuy, who was shot while inspecting a vandalised lodge on his ranch. Hundreds of people have also been displaced from their properties.
Last month, Gallman spoke of her fears after armed cattle rustlers and nomadic herders invaded farms and nature reserves in Laikipia. Gallman’s daughter, Sveva Makena, said she was hopeful things would settle down after local elections. “We remain positive that this wave of terror and mayhem will pass once elections and the rains have come, and that the government are doing what they can to restore law and order one step at a time,” she said.
The shooting of Kuki Gallmann is thought to be in reprisal for the killing of herdsmen and cattle after the Kenyan government deployed troops following the killing of Voorspuy. As well as taking land, the herders have been accused of killing wildlife, including elephants, in the conservation area.
In a statement issued on Sunday afternoon, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta condemned the shooting and warned: “Politicians encouraging invasions of privately owned property or attacks on individuals can expect strong deterrent action.” – The Guardian