Conservationist Kuki Gallmann shot by cattle herders in Kenya

An Italian-born author and conservationist has been shot in the stomach by suspected cattle herders in northern Kenya.

Kuki Gallmann was ambushed as she was driving in her conservation park in Laikipia.

She was on her way to inspect fresh damage to her property after invaders had burned down a retreat on her land - weeks after they torched a luxury safari lodge she let out to guests.

It is believed the gunmen laid a tree to block her way before their attack.

Rangers from the Kenya Wildlife Service were able to intervene and fight off the attackers.

The 73-year-old's driver took her to a nearby airport, and she was flown to a hospital in Nanyuki for treatment. She has since been transported by helicopter for surgery at a hospital in Nairobi.

Ms Gallmann's daughter says her mother is able to speak despite the shooting.

There has been a surge in violence across Laikipia because of a drought, which has been declared a national disaster after affecting half of Kenya.

Many of the herders involved in violence are searching for pasture to save their animals from drought.

Herders have invaded private farms and ranches with tens of thousands of cattle - and at least 14 people have been killed.

Martin Evans, head of the Laikipia Farmers' Association, said: "Dozens of people have been killed or wounded and subjected to robbery and vandalism of their property.

"Kuki is a world-famous author and conservationist - but the LFA urges sympathy for all."

Ms Gallmann is known for her bestselling memoir I Dreamed Of Africa, which was turned into a film starring Kim Basinger.

Meanwhile, Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga said: "We have watched in bewilderment as hooligans take advantage of the drought to subject these ranchers to unwarranted attacks ... the government is clearly unable or unwilling to bring these attacks to a stop."

Last month, a British military veteran who ran a safari company in Kenya was shot dead at a private ranch in Laikipia.

Tristan Voorspuy had gone to the ranch to inspect the remains of a friend's home that had been burnt down.