A 74-year old conservationist is nursing injuries at her home in Malindi Sub County after she was attacked by an unknown assailant as she tried to stop a logger from stealing her trees.
Ms. Silvia Jenkins Pirelli, a German national, suffered stab wounds in her back when she confronted the man as he was cutting trees in his 21-acre farm in Mere area of Ganda Ward Tuesday.
Sub County Police Commander Stephen Lekuta confirmed that the woman reported the incident at Malindi Police Station with police launching investigations into the matter.
“I heard someone cutting trees deep inside the forest moments after the night watchman had left and I quickly rushed to the forest, where I found the culprit in the process of cutting trees.
“I got angry and started fighting with him, but he stabbed me in my back and I fell down as blood oozed from the fresh wound,” he told journalists when they visited her on Thursday morning.
She said she was saved by one of her workers, Mr. Bidii Charo, who was using the forest route to report to work. On seeing Charo, the assailant stopped his attacks and disappeared in the forest.
“Charo rushed to my house and took some disinfectants, which he applied on the wound and asked a motorcycle bodaboda to help take me to hospital, where I was treated and discharged,” he said.
Pirelli told reporters that she had for the last 20 years had a rough time with members of the community who are against conservation, but with old age catching up with her, she was almost reaching a point of despair.
“It is difficult to work alone in the forest, which has grown with many indigenous trees with wild animals that need protection,” she said.
She said she had received support from the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and the Kenya Forest Service (KFS), but added that the two government conservationist organizations could do more as the help they were providing was not consistent.
She said illegal loggers destroyed more than 30 trees early this year and expressed fear that the entire forest could be extinct in the not very distant future owing to her old age.
“My efforts to reach Environment Cabinet Secretary Keriako Tobiko have borne no fruit and this has really disappointed me, since my work complements government efforts to plant trees and conserve them,” she lamented.
She said it had become dangerous to venture into the forest and asked her workers not to patrol the forest without company as they could also be attacked.
Charo confirmed that her employer and fellow workers have had great challenges from people who were keen on cutting trees inside the forest.
“The government should recognize the German conservationist’s work as she alone cannot fight the injustices going on,” he said.
By Emmanuel Masha