Photo: The arrow had to be broken to be able to remove the remaining shaft after this attempt on his life.
Olarro Conservancy manager, William Hofmeyr was shot with an arrow on Thursday 13th October. Mr Hofmeyr, tracking elephant, did not see his assailant until the attack occurred. The arrow punctured his right cheek and entered his mouth making it impossible for him to speak clearly. Unable to convey his location on the radio, Mr Hofmeyr fired warning shots and unsuccessfully attempted to pursue his attacker but was forced to bravely drive himself back to the Olarro Conservancy Head Quarters. From there he was rushed to the Ngoswani Health Centre, where the arrow was removed.
Mr Hofmeyr explained that he was on a routine patrol, checking on one of the elephant herds in the Conservancy. Mr Hofmeyr, who hails from the small town of Grahamstown, grew up adjacent to the famous Addo National Elephant Park. His Grandfather regaled him with stories of how his family protected the last surviving Addo elephants, resulting in the creation of the Park, and his passion for conservation was sparked. His goal in Kenya is to leave a legacy for all our Grandchildren to proud of and to create a working socio-economic atmosphere within the communities to benefit all. His outlook is that “without the communities, we cannot practice conservation, therefore all should benefit from the conservancy, including the wildlife and environment.” He has implemented grazing plans and sustainable use plans, amongst others, for the community to further benefit from the conservancy.
Olarro Conservancy is based near the Maasai Mara National Park and offers a unique model for conservation. The land is leased from the local communities and they are paid a lease fee for the use of the land. In addition, the Conservancy team (members of the local community themselves) have initiated community projects, spearheaded by William, including building boreholes, upgrading local schools and providing various means of additional income for the community. The Conservancy is a non -profit organisation. Mr Hofmeyr said: “I am overwhelmed by the support shown to me by members of the community after this incident, even with the ongoing conflicts being instigated by a few troublemakers."
Mr Hofmeyr's dedication to conservation in Kenya was shown by the fact that three days after the attack, his team, together with the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Mara Elephant Project, were treating a wounded female elephant with a calf. Four years ago, Mr Hofmeyr was shot by a rifle while investigating a poaching incident, resulting in a serious injury to his arm. This past year, the team has treated over 30 wounded elephants. This dedication to wildlife and conservation saw Mr Hofmeyr being appointed as an Honorary Kenya Wildlife Service Warden, a position he still holds.
His attacker is still unknown and the Kenya Police Service is still investigating. Sources in the community blame politicians who have been creating disharmony to promote their personal agendas. Mr Hofmeyr, undaunted by the incident, still persists in his passion for conservation, wildlife and the betterment of the communities. His words being “even if I’m killed, I am confident that my passions and dreams will be continued through my Warden, Justin Mathews, rangers and staff and conservation will prevail as we will continue to do whatever it takes to ensure that this goal is realised and that everyone benefits from Olarro’s conservation and community initiatives.”
Regardless of the ongoing threats on his and his Warden, also from a prominent conservation family in Kenya, and staffs lives, they continue to do their utmost to achieve their goals as outlined above. To quote William, “we don’t know how to do anything else and wouldn’t want to anyway, we’ll only change the level of security precautions and continue with our work!”