A TV night full of wild animals and cruel people

A TV night full of wild animals and cruel people
A TV night full of wild animals and cruel people

In a good story, your world view sometimes tilts not just once, but continuously and again. Bram Vermeulen brought such a story for the foreign program on Thursday evening Frontline of the VPRO. He visits the ranch of the Italian writer Kuki Gallmann in Kenya. Thirty years ago she took ownership of this 400 square kilometer Kenyan piece of land – from one side to the other it is an hour and a half by car. She wrote her book about the vastness and the splendor of it I dreamed of Africa. She shares the land with elephants, giraffes, rhinoceroses and until recently with tourists. Prince Bernhard used to come and stay there for a week. You think: yes, white lady, land taken, luxury playground for the rich.

That image is reinforced when Vermeulen shows what happens outside the fences of the ranch. Carcasses of goats, cows and sheep. The drought of the past forty years has scorched large parts of the country to barren plains. Itinerant shepherds no longer find a blade of grass for their animals and beckon to the green land of the white woman. They break the gates to let the cattle graze. “It’s also called a land invasion.” Very illegal, says Vermeulen, but you do understand.

Also read: Her dreamland, Kenya’s largest private estate, has entered a spiral of violence

So often a story gets stuck in black and white, one against the other, good versus evil. How complex the front line is on the border of desert and nature reserve becomes clearer image after image. The daughter of Kuki Gallmann can only reach her native land in an armored car with armed men on board. Standing in her front yard, she hears the rattling machine guns of shepherds on her land, who also hunt wild animals along the way. Where they let their animals graze, paradise turns into desert.

Gallmann was shot twice by her neighbors, the shepherds of the Pokot community. Vermeulen is going to talk to them. They’d better say ‘sorry’ for the shooting. But they also think: land can never be someone’s property, land belongs to everyone. It is precisely to protect the land and the animals that Gallmann enlists the help of the government. The army is not afraid to kill stray cattle and set fire to the shepherds’ homes. With that kind of protection, you’ll soon have only enemies.

Actually, the Kenyan story is hard to tell, just watch it. And try not to despair about the withered grass in your own country when you see that it finally, finally rains in Kenya. Rain means peace, says a shepherd elatedly. Armistice in an escalating climate war.

Elephants as toys

From Kenya to Thailand, but we stayed with wild animals and cruel people. The documentary Elephant Mother is a story of good triumphing over evil. Lek Chailert has set up a sanctuary in Thailand to shelter elephants. “The world sees Thailand as a playground,” she says, and the Thai elephants are the toys. Tourists can ride them, beggars attract attention with them, but the worst are the circuses with hula hooping elephants and animals on bicycles. Chailert’s neighbor runs such a circus, and is at war with her. Old, discarded and unruly elephants are taken care of in the nature park. Tourists still circle around the animals, but they are only allowed to watch.

That’s how it was until 2020. Then corona broke out, the tourists disappeared and with it the income. Chailert comes to her neighbor’s aid. She brings food to his chained elephants and the people who care for them. The credits show that the neighbor died in 2022 (corona sometimes?). He left his herd to his neighbor. And that ends this story. But is the ending good, all right?

The article is in Dutch

Tags: night full wild animals cruel people

PREV Milan grabs full booty at the last minute after crazy extra time at Empoli, injury for Saelemaekers | Serie A TIM 2022/2023
NEXT NEIGHBORHOOD REPORTING. Along the F11 bicycle highway between Antwerp and Lier: “It’s quite a social event here” (Deurne)