Conservationist Sveva Gallmann shot at as bandits set fire to Mukutan Retreat

Laikipia Nature Conservancy executive director Sveva Gallman /FILE

One of Kenya’s most prominent conservationists said on Thursday she was repeatedly shot at when she ran to her baby as armed men set fire to a lodge near her home in the drought-striken north, where such attacks are becoming increasingly frequent.

Pokot bandits raided Mukutan Retreat on Laikipia Nature Conservancy on Wednesday, burning property and leaving several people injured.

This was revenge for operations on LNC, owned by conservationist Kuki Gallman, which allegedly involved police officers shooting of invaders’ cattle – a charge denied by IG Joseph Boinnet but confirmed by witnesses.

“Yesterday evening our operations buildings and our house came under direct gunfire from armed men,” Sveva Gallmann said in a statement released after Wednesday night’s attack.

“My nine-month-old daughter was in the house with her carers and I was shot at three times as I ran between the buildings to get to her.”

 The Gallmann family own the 100,000-acre (400 square kilometre) Laikipia Nature Conservancy and employ 250 Kenyans on the luxury lodges, ranch, and other businesses on the land.

Residents say politicians hoping to win votes in an August election are encouraging herdsmen desperate for grazing to bring tens of thousands of cattle into the area.

This month, the government announced it would send troops to the area after herdsmen shot dead a British military veteran who ran a safari company in Kenya when he went to inspect a friend’s house that had been burnt down.

The soldiers were deployed on Wednesday night after the Mukutan raid.

Kenya has a history of ethnic clashes and political violence. The last election, in 2013, passed relatively peacefully but more than 1,200 people were killed following a disputed poll in 2007.




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