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Joanna Stuchburry

Joanna Stuchburry, seen here in file photos, is recognized for having helped save Kiambu forest from development.

'This Is Sickening': Forest Defender Joanna Stuchburry Shot to Death in Kenya

Stuchburry's efforts to defend Kiambu forest and work "fighting for the rest of us" drew renewed praise.

Andrea Germanos

Conservation advocates across the globe expressed sadness Friday in response to the killing of environmental defender Joanna Stuchburry outside her Nairoibi area home in Kenya.

The news was first shared on social media by renowned Kenyan wildlife conservationist and writer Dr. Paula Kahumbu, who tweeted that Stuchburry "was shot four times in her driveway" on Thursday and that "nothing was stolen" during the event.

According to the local Kenyans.co.ke, which spoke to her neighbors, Stuchburry was ambushed. "The gang waylaid her at around 5 pm as she was strolling in the neighborhood," the outlet reported.

"At the time of her death," said Fridays for Future-Most Affected People and Areas (MAPA), Stuchburry "was defending the Kiambu forest against developers."  

"Kenya seems to be a deadly country for environmental activists," added Fridays for Future-MAPA, which also pointed the killing ivory and rhino horn detective Esmond Bradley Martin, who was stabbed to death in 2018 at his home in Kenya.

Stuchburry's killing also elicited responses from U.S.-based consumer advocate Erin Brockovich and Kenya-based climate activist Elizabeth Wathuti, who both referenced the broader war land- and environmental-defenders face worldwide.

"This is sickening. This is a war. There are lives being lost. Lives taken silently by the poisoning and destruction of the earth and those murdered fighting for the rest of us," said Brockovich.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta also condemned the killing.

"For the longest time, Joanna has been a steadfast champion for the conservation of our environment and is remembered for her relentless efforts to protect Kiambu forest from encroachment," he said in Friday statement.

Kenyatta also vowed that authorities would "pursue and apprehend the criminals behind the killing" and not allow "misguided individuals to continue shedding blood of innocent people working hard to make Kenya a better place for all of us."

Julius Kamau, the chief conservator of forests, paid homage to Stuchburry's "selfless" work to protect the Kiambu Forest Reserve and said her efforts would "not go in vain."

Fridays for Future-Kenya is calling on Kenya's Directorate of Criminal Investigations to "speed up the investigations" into Stuchburry's killing "and bring the culprits to book."


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