RIP Joan Root, 1936- 2006

Joan Thorpe Root, a British wildlife filmmaker and African conservationist, was murdered on Jan. 12. She was 69.

Mary Ellen Mark
Photo credit: Mary Ellen Mark

Root was born in Kenya (her father was a coffee farmer and safari guide) and “always had a passion for animals and even raised an orphaned elephant calf.” She and her former husband “collaborated on nearly a dozen critically-acclaimed wildlife documentaries,” and after their divorce in the 1980s, Joan “moved back to Kenya and became an outspoken conservationist. She frequently railed against poaching and illegal fishing on Lake Naivasha, the Rift Valley’s only freshwater basin. Her 88-acre lakefront property also served as a refuge for orphaned animals, including waterbucks, dik diks, an aardvark, a hippo and an African porcupine.”

(“Naivasha is the centre of Kenya’s multimillion-pound flower-farming business, growing roses and vegetables for export to European supermarkets, and its economic growth has driven rapid population growth but also boosted crime.”)

“Root was lying in bed inside her farmhouse when armed intruders broke the nearest window and fired an AK-47 assault rifle into the room. Two of the bullets struck her in the leg; one hit her in the hip. Root tried to staunch the bleeding with bed sheets, but died of massive blood loss. The assailants left the scene without taking any valuables. Kenyan police later arrested two men in connection with the slaying.”

Source: Blog of Death. Her obituary is in the NYT and in the Guardian.

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