Guest Post: Meet Gabriel Baker, Master’s Student

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Guest Post

Gabriel Baker, Master’s Student
by Victoria Tait


At the beginning of Tusk Justice Davina Dijan, my mentor and the Managing Director of Gaia Conservancy in Kenya, gave the keynote address to attendees at a local wildlife and conservation conference.  She was due to address members of the Giants Club Summit, but she was murdered.

For my Master’s degree I am researching the reasons for the decline in the African elephant population in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.  Without action, the African elephant is heading towards extinction.

In 1900, the number of elephants in Africa was estimated at between 10 and 12 million. This number dropped to an estimated 1.3 m in 1979, when Iain Douglas-Hamilton conducted the first pan-African elephant survey.  Now we believe there are only 350,000 left: a reduction of 97%.

In Kenya the elephant population was hit hardest between 1970, when there were an estimated 275,000 elephants, and 1990 when just 16,000 remained.  Because of a ban on the International Ivory Trade in 1990, and the Kenya’s tough stance against poaching, the number of elephants has risen to an estimated 26,000.

I have been extremely lucky to study these great beasts first-hand at Gaia Conservancy.  Here is an extract from the keynote address I wrote for Davina, which she presented at The Laikipia Conservation Society Conference in April 2016.

“The Importance of Conservancies in Enhancing Wildlife, Supporting Communities and Generating Income.”

Conservation is ‘the protection of plants, animals and natural areas, especially from the damaging effects of human activity,’ Cambridge Dictionary.

So developed the separation of people from animals, and the protection of one against the other.  In Kenya this policy led to the formation of game reserves and National Parks.  Thereby creating protected islands of wilderness within a populated landscape.  The wildlife was allowed to flourish whereas people were displaced from their homes and land in these areas.  Fences were constructed around the parks and reserves to protect against activities such as poaching, hunting and firewood collection.  

But these physical boundaries further divided local people as access was determined by economics, and only those who could afford the admission price were allowed entry: tourists and wealthy local people.

There are no protected wildlife areas within Laikipia County [Laikipia, which means treeless plains, is a vast plateau of 9,462 sq. km located in the Rift Valley, and Nanyuki town sits on the eastern edge].  Twenty years ago it was principally a cattle and sheep producing area and wildlife was not tolerated: wildlife was seen either as livestock predators or competition for grazing.

But like our Gaia Conservancy, which was recently granted protected wildlife status, modern ranchers see themselves as custodians of the land.  Perceptions have changed and wildlife can coexist with livestock.  The wildlife biomass in Laikipia has increased by 7.5%.  It would now be too costly in political, social or economic terms to restore wildlife to many areas of Kenya, so we need to concentrate on Laikipia, which has the geographical diversity to be a flourishing wildlife area.

Conservancies rather than ranches are better able to develop partnerships with the local communities, which in turn leads to social stability.  A considerable number of private ranches have converted to private conservancies.  The government needs to recognise this and give them protected status.

Davina had many faults, but she was passionate about the conservation of wildlife, and not just preventing further reductions in their numbers, but building a sustainable future.  

I am impressed with the work I’ve seen in Laikipia and the willingness of all parties, landowners, local communities and conservation groups, to work together and create programs which are effective now and into the future.  The increasing income from tourism is a benefit of this approach and, as long as this money filters into society as a whole, this partnership should continue and more ambitious plans can be in


Can Rose trap the murderer before she ends up as the next target? Tusk Justice is the second book in the thrilling Kenya Kanga Mysteries series by Victoria Tait

About The Book

About The Book:

At a summit on poaching, the keynote is homicide. Can a veterinarian solve the case before she becomes an endangered species?

Kenya, 2016. Community vet and skilled sleuth ‘Mama’ Rose Hardie is passionate about saving elephants. As she runs her monthly clinic for the animals at the local resort, she plans to attend a conference on the issue with her ailing husband. But things turn sour when a world-renowned conservationist is found brutally stabbed to death.

With the authorities tied up in Nairobi, Rose sets out to bring the killer in herself. But with multiple suspects all hiding secrets and scandalous truths surrounding the victim, the culprit may be too slippery for the aged amateur detective to handle.

Can Rose trap the murderer before she ends up as the next target?

Tusk Justice is the second book in the thrilling Kenya Kanga Mysteries series. If you like quirky characters, lush African locales, and a love of animals, then you’ll adore Victoria Tait’s adventurous whodunit.

Book Links:  Amazon / B&N / Kobo  


About The Author

About The Author:

Victoria Tait is the exciting new author of the Kenya Kanga Mystery series.  She’s drawn on 8 years living in rural Kenya, with her family, to write vivid and evocative descriptions.  Her readers feel the heat, taste the dryness, and smell the dust of Africa.  Her elderly amateur sleuth, “Mama Rose” Hardie is Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple reincarnated and living in Kenya.

Like all good military wives, Victoria follows the beat of the drum and has recently moved to war-scarred Sarajevo in Bosnia. She has two, fast-growing nearly teenage boys.  She enjoys horse riding and mountain biking but is apprehensive about learning to ski.  Victoria is looking forward to the sun, sand, and seafood of neighbouring Croatia when the world returns to normal.

Author Links


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