Italian-born conservationist shot in Kenya

International News

Renowned Italian-born conservationist Kuki Gallmann has been shot and injured in an ambush at her conservation park in central Kenya.

The author of the best-selling memoir I Dreamed of Africa was airlifted to hospital for treatment.

Ms Gallmann, 73, owns the Laikipia Nature Conservancy.

She also ran a luxury safari lodge that was burned down last month by suspected cattle herders, who have been in conflict with landowners.

Herders have been invading private property in search of fresh grazing in the drought-stricken Laikipia region.

British rancher Tristan Voorspuy, who also ran a safari company, was shot dead in early March while inspecting his lodges in Laikipia.

There is no confirmation of who carried out the attack on Ms Gallmann, who was reportedly shot in the stomach.

She was flown by helicopter to hospital in Nairobi to undergo treatment.

Ms Gallmann owns about 360 sq km in Laikipia, which is home to rare wildlife, birds and trees. Her organisation also runs community, education, arts and sports projects.

She moved to Kenya in 1972 with her husband and son who both later died in separate accidents. She later became a Kenyan citizen.

I Dreamed of Africa was turned into a film starring Kim Basinger.

The arson attack on Ms Gallmann’s Mukutan Retreat last month left it in ruins. There were no visitors staying at the time.

Police believed that attack may have been in retaliation for a police operation that killed 100 cattle in the conservancy.

The herders accused police of trying to force them off the land by shooting their livestock. Police say the livestock were killed in crossfire with the herders, who were using the animals as shields.

Laikipia, which covers about 10,000 sq km in Kenya’s central highlands, is where some of the country’s largest white landowners are based.

Insecurity has risen sharply in recent months as the drought has led armed herders to seek out new pasture, pitting them against big landowners and smallholders.

Tens of thousands of cattle are thought to have been driven on to private land and at least a dozen people have been killed.

The BBC’s Alastair Leithead tried to approach herders last month to ask about their grievances, but was forced to retreat when they shot at him.

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