Kuki Gallmann, a conservationist best known for her book I Dreamed of Africa
, was ambushed and shot while she drove across her conservancy in Kenya Sunday morning.
Gallmann, 73, was shot in the stomach and "severely injured" while surveying her property with rangers of the Kenya Wildlife Service, according to her brother-in-law Nigel Adams and a press release from a farmers' association of which she's a member.
She was flown to a hospital in Nairobi for treatment, and was still conscious and speaking after the attack, according to The New York Times.
Her conservancy, the Laikipia Nature Conservancy, has been the center of a bloody battle for weeks, as a large-scale drought has pushed cattle-herders to extreme measures to try and find grazing land.
NPR's Eyder Peralta spoke on All Things Considered earlier this month about the issue, after the owner of another ranch was shot and killed.
"You have nomadic herders who are moving into private wildlife conservancies with thousands of heads of cattle," Peralta said. "And in response, the Kenyan government launched a military-style operation to push the herders out. But what we've seen is an escalation of violence. Police have killed lots of cows. And the herders have responded by burning tourist lodges on the properties."
In fact, Gallmann was said to be surveying arson damage inflicted on her property, when she was attacked.
Members of the Pokot and Samburu tribes have long grazed on conservancy land in Kenya, but over the past few years things have changed. Herders have brought more and more cows, killed other wildlife, and begun to vandalize property. Gallmann's daughter, Sveva Gallmann, told NPR last month that the escalation concerned her.
"That's not just grass," she said. "That is heavily politicized violence. And that is what's much more worrying about this situation."
She added that she doesn't think the herders even own many of the cows.
"There's a lot of, actually, politicians, people within the police, people within the administration storing their wealth in cattle and laundering ill-gotten money through cattle," she said.
Government officials deny those claims.
Sigh. I've never been to Africa, nor many other places, but a pediatrician friend worked in Kenya for a while, now long ago.