Laikipia conflict gets from bad to worse as Kuki Gallmann shot and wounded


(Posted 23rd April 2017)

Once a luxurious lodge for upmarket safari tourists and source of income for many Kenyans was the Mukutan Retreat burned down a few weeks ago as criminals invaded Kuki Gallmann’s conservancy, not in search of water of pasture but to loot, burn and worse.
The case, one of several were such lodges and safari camps were burned to ashes, raised global attention on Kenya’s growing challenge to restore law and order in this part of the country, with the government treading softly to avoid upsetting voters in the upcoming August elections.
Now, weeks after the first incident has Kuki Gallmann been targeted again. She suffered of at two gunshots in an ambush aimed to assassinate her and survived the shooter’s bullets only narrowly as she was evacuated by air to a Nairobi hospital for emergency surgery.
Kuki, now a Kenyan citizen after moving initially to the country in 1972, rose to fame over her art work and book ‘I dreamed of Africa‘ which was later turned into a major Hollywood production starring Kim Basinger.
This is the second very high profile case over the past months, after local farmer, rancher and conservationist Tristan Voorspruy was killed on his conservancy after riding out from his home to investigate reports of an invasion by armed raiders and looters on his property.

Kuki, now 73 years old, is said to be in critical but stable condition in a Nairobi hospital, but given the nature of the wounds sustained can no predictions be made at this stage about a full recovery.
The constant attacks and raids have deeply unsettled Kenya’s tourism and conservation fraternity, already concerned over the upcoming elections and the impact on their businesses and one source from Nairobi expressed utter dismay over the news, expressing fears that the result of such a shooting could go well beyond the Laikipia area where booking by overseas tourists have already started to reduce to a mere trickle.
There are now more security personnel deployed but it is not nearly enough. Kuki’s shooting shows that these criminal still roam at will and only a total saturation of the area with army and other security forces will push these guys out of Laikipia. They belong in prison plain and simple and must be arrested and brought to justice. Dozens of Kenyans have died in these invasions and property worth millions of Dollars has been destroyed, lodges, camps, farm houses and residences. Even livestock and wildlife have been killed. If this continues, tourism in Laikipia will never be the same again because visitors will fear for their lives now‘ said the source.