Mordecai Ogada Threatened at Gunpoint During Game Drive

Acclaimed author Mordecai Ogada pictured during a past lecture
Acclaimed author Mordecai Ogada pictured during a past lecture

UPDATE Thursday, July 23: The Ol Jogi Conservancy on Wednesday, July 20 denied accusations that it harassed Mordecai Ogada, accusing him of distorting the facts in a strongly-worded statement.

Ol Jogi Chief Executive Mike Fischer further denied accusations that the conservancy was racist and urged the public to await the outcome of the government investigation.

“The security officer while in his car, then enquired from Dr. Ogada whether he had any mechanical problems with his vehicle, after which he kindly requested him to refrain from taking photos as this was a pretext that poachers have used in the past to scout for an opportunity to poach endangered wildlife in the conservancy,” Fisher wrote maintaining that their team observed security protocols.

UPDATE Monday, July 20: Tourism CS Najib Balala HAS issued a statement promising to launch investigations into the incident involving Mordecai Ogada, a Kenyan conservationist.

He asserted that the ministry would not tolerate discriminatory harassment, particularly by private conservancies in the country.

"The Government of Kenya and my Ministry will not condone any undue harassment or intimidation of Kenyans who are going about their normal businesses and enjoying their God-given heritage by anyone," the statement read in part.

Mordecai Ogada, scholar and co-author of The Big Conservation Lie, told of a harrowing experience he faced during a game drive with his family in Nanyuki, Laikipia County on Saturday, July 18.

File image of author and scholar Mordecai Ogada
File image of author and scholar Mordecai Ogada

The acclaimed author, known for his hard-hitting takes on the Western-dominated conservation field in Kenya, vowed to file a police report at the Nanyuki Police Station on Monday, July 20, following the incident.

According to Ogada, he was driving along the public Nanyuki-Kinamba road, an animal and bird-rich area with his children when the events occurred.

He was unexpectedly approached by a Land Cruiser, he stated belonged to the Ol Jogi Ranch, with a fully armed security officer stepping out of the vehicle.

The armed man proceeded to demand who Ogada was, with the author citing his credentials. The ranch officer was, however, unwilling to listen and trained his gun at Ogada.

He demanded that the author steps out of the car and called in reinforcement, with his armed colleagues promptly arriving.

Ogada, however, refused to get out of the car and maintained that he was doing nothing wrong. According to Ogada, they told him that he was barred from taking photos of animals at Ol Jogi ranch despite being on a public road.

Referencing the Black Lives Matter movement, he claimed that racism played a role in the incident as the armed individual who stopped him told him that poachers were people who looked like him, with a gun still trained on Ogada.

The author threw his card out of the window and stayed in his vehicle before the team from the ranch decided to leave him alone.

"His colleagues quickly arrived in tactical mode, guns at the ready. Meanwhile I refused to get out of the car and threw my card at them, informing them that they shall be hearing from me.

"I refused to get out of the car, looked at them and dared them to shoot or back off, then one of them suddenly realszed that they were out of their depth.

"It was the hardest thing to maintain my happy Dad/uncle demeanour for the rest of the game drive, but I managed and we got back home safely," Ogada wrote.

He promised to pursue the matter through all possible channels, maintaining his stance that the dominance of private ranches and foreign-owned conservation outfits had to be checked.

Ogada has long argued that many of the structures created by such organisations fail to offer benefits to communities, disadvantage ecosystems and put lives at risk.

Ol Jogi began as a retreat for the famous Wildenstein family, an American-French art-dealing and horse-racing dynasty, who built a lavish manor house and its adjacent cottages in the late 1970s.

In 2013, it opened up to the public as an exclusive-use safari property.

File image of a section of Ol Jogi Wildlife Conservancy
File image of a section of Ol Jogi Wildlife Conservancy
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