Gunmen shoot conservationist Kuki Gallmann in drought-hit Laikipia, Kenya

Tareq Haddad
Kuki Gallmann

A renowned Italian-born conservationist has been shot in the stomach near her home in Kenya.

Kuki Gallmann, writer of the bestselling novel I Dreamed of Africa, was driving in the central region of Laikipia when she was reportedly ambushed by a group of gunmen.

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She was taken to Nanyuki County Hospital for emergency treatment following the shooting on Saturday (22 April), but was then flown to Aga Khan Hospital in the capital of Nairobi the following morning.

No further update about her condition was available.

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Gallmann moved to Kenya in 1972 where she and her husband acquired a 98,000-acre estate in Laikipia, which was later transformed to a luxury conservation park, frequently visited by European tourists.

The area has become home to a wave of violence in recent weeks as severe drought has forced armed cattle-herders to raid private properties in the search of fresh pastures.

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Faced with fines for trespassing or have their herd die from dehydration, herders have risked illegally entering properties, which can lead to confrontations.

"We can't let our animals die when there are plenty of pastures and water in these farms," herder Joseph ole Rapanke told Reuters earlier this month.

"I can't risk losing more," he said. "I would rather graze on private land and ranches and be fined 500 shillings than risk losing an animal worth more than 20,000 shillings (£150)."

At least 14 people are believed to have been killed in Laikipia in recent weeks.

The area is home to a largely white population of landowners, which are sometimes seen as remnants of colonial times.

Residents of the area have accused local politicians of fanning racial tensions in order to drum-up support for upcoming elections.

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

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