Kuki Gallmann

Author, poet, environmental activist, and conservationist

Kuki Gallmann

Gallmann, best known for her bestselling book “I Dreamed of Africa", which became a movie by the same name starring Kim Basinger, is also a dedicated humanitarian and environmentalist.

Kuki Gallmann (born June 1, 1943) is an Italian-born Kenyan national, best-selling author, poet, environmental activist, and conservationist. The daughter of Italian climber and writer Cino Boccazzi, in 1972 she moved to Kenya with her husband Paolo and son Emanuele. They acquired Ol ari Nyiro, a 98,000 acres (400 km2) cattle ranch in Western Laikipia, in Kenya's Great Rift Valley which she would later transform into a conservation park. Both her husband and son died in accidents within a few years.

Kuki decided to stay in Kenya and to work toward ecological conservation in the early '80s, becoming a Kenyan citizen. As a living memorial to Paolo and Emanuele, she established the Gallmann Memorial Foundation (GMF), which promotes coexistence of people and nature in Africa and is active in education, biodiversity research, habitat protection, reforestation, community service, peace and reconciliation, poverty alleviation and public health. GMF promotes environmental education of Kenyan students. She dedicated Ol ari Nyiro to this ideal, converting it into the Laikipia Nature Conservancy.

Gallmann has published five books, all global best-sellers. The first, her autobiography I Dreamed Of Africa, became a feature film starring Kim Basinger and has been published in 24 countries and translated in 21 languages. Her other books are: African Nights, Il Colore del Vento, Night of the Lions, and Elefanti in Giardino.

To bring attention to major environmental topics through art, in 2006 she founded the Great Rift Valley Trust together with her daughter Sveva and other Kenyan personalities. The Trust invites artists to create original fusion art with Kenyan 'slum' artists at the Laikipia Nature Conservancy. The Trust also co-produces the Laikipia Highlands Games, sports for peace, and the Earth Festival to help the environment.

In 2008, after Kenya's post-election violence, she founded the Laikipia Highlands Games (Sport for Peace) to put together, through peaceful but challenging competition of sports, youth across the ethnic, tribal and political divide. The LHG won for Kenya the 2009 Event of Year World Award by the Peace and Sport Foundation in Monaco. The LHG promotes peace through sports amongst previously warring tribes.

In 2010 she founded Prayers for the Earth, to involve local tribal elders and youth to recapture the traditional respect for the environment on which their livelihood depends, and reconnect to the Earth through traditional worship.

In 2011, with her daughter, she acquired and donated 300 acres for a model community project called "Land of Hope" in Laikipia West, which aims to benefit impoverished communities of the area. With support from Maisha Marefu, an Italian Onlus, the project was brought to life: a vocational centre for women and youth, a nursery school and feeding programme, a dispensary, and a high altitude athletics training centre are part of the scheme. This last athletics centre, in partnership with Martin Keino, of Keino Sports Marketing, was completed in 2013.

Sveva, her daughter, holds an MSc in Human Sciences from New College, Oxford and coordinates the award-winning 4 Generations Project, an educational scheme to proactively protect local endangered cultures, by bridging the inter-generational gap. Sveva is also leading several art projects and community projects amongst local tribes to promote peace and improve their living standards.

Despite these circumstances, Kuki succeeded in maintaining Ol Ari Nyiro as a largely untainted reserve of scientific and cultural value. This is witnessed by the recognition of several important accreditations to Ol Ari Nyiro, including being recognized as a “Eastern Afromontane Biodiversity Hotspot”, as one of UNEP World Designated Protected Areas (WDPA), and being officially declared an Important Bird Area (IBA) an area recognized as being globally important habitat for the conservation of birds populations, and as a KEY BIODIVERSITY AREA (KBA number 064) through Nature Kenya and Birdlife International, a status recognized by the IUCN with the following definition: "Key biodiversity areas are places of international importance for the conservation of biodiversity through protected areas and other governance mechanisms." Additionally, since 2015 Ol Ari Nyiro is part of Kenya Wildlife Conservancies Association (KWCA 087). Not only is the Conservancy an area of outstanding natural beauty, but also, as a result of the protection that has benefited for over forty years under Kuki's guardianship, the natural springs were preserved and Ol Ari Nyiro now serves as the Water Tower for the Great Rift Valley Lakes. The Mukutan Gorge was defined by Professor Truman Young as “the most varied botanically non forested area in East Africa”

Go back

Gallmann Memorial Foundation

The Foundation proves that Africa can survive out of the ecological, creative and sustainable use of its natural resources. She transformed Ol ari Nyiro into a Nature Conservancy (LNC) managed holistically after selling the livestock. Due to relentless protection, Laikipia Nature Conservancy is a biodiversity oasis that supports and protects an extraordinary variety of plants and animals, the only pristine forest in the area, which includes endangered species such as elephants, cheetah, over 470 species of birds and rare and endemic plants and insects, in addition to archaeological sites.


The Order of the Golden Ark by the late HRH Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, 1991

The American Association for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Founder Award, New York, 2002

Illchamus Elder 2005

The Peruvian Order por la Protección del Ambiente, 2006

Event of Year World Award by the Peace and Sport Foundation in Monaco 2009

The Africa Hero Award by the Africa Foundation (US, New York) 2010

The Mimosa d’Oro for Woman of the Year award in Catania, Italy, 2012

Grosso d’Oro Veneziano International Award for Lifetime Conservation Achievement (Italy) 2012

Lifetime Honoris Causa literary Award Gambrinus Mazzotti for Adventure and Exploration 2017


World Ambassador for the Migratory Species by the United Nation Convention for Migratory Species (CMS), 2006

Honorary Degree in Human Sciences at the St. Lawrence University, US

Honorary Warden the Kenya Wildlife Services

Former Trustee, National Museums of Kenya Endowment Fund

Patron District Peace Committee

Courtesy: Wikipedia

SVEVA GALLMAN (daughter)

Sveva Gallmann, is a conservationist, theatre director and anthropologist who lives in a 100,000-acre Kenyan wildlife conservancy.

'When my mother and father first bought Ol Ari Nyiro ('The Place of Springs’) in the Laikipia region of Kenya in 1972 it was a barren, dusty, dry working ranch with 12,000 cattle trampling the land. They’d fallen in love with Africa and decided to move there.

My father died when my mother was pregnant with me, but my mother stayed and has regenerated the place into a gem and dedicated every moment of her life to it, pouring all the money she’s made from books and film into the conservancy and protecting it for 40 years.

It’s where I grew up and I have a deep closeness to the local Samburu and Pokot people. I’ve set up grass-roots artistic, conservation and community projects at home such as Four Generations, which encouraged local tribal children to seek out and share the wisdom, oral traditions, songs and rituals of their elders.

Source: Laura Sevier, The Telegraph 2012

Go back


I Also Dreamed Of Africa by Golriz Moeini at Huffington Post 2013.

Author and conservationist Kuki Gallmann shot in Kenya by TOM ODULA, Associated Press April 2017.

60 Minutes Wild at Heart on MSN (Video) 2014.

Go back


Go back