Documentary about natural history filmmaker-turned-conservationist Joan Root, who was killed in mysterious circumstances on the shores of Lake Naivasha in Kenya in 2006.
Browse content similar to Murder on the Lake. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
For more than twenty years, filmmaker Joan Root had a life of romance and endless adventure,
making documentaries with her daredevil husband about the wilds of the continent that she loved.
..independence means a better life...
But it was a love that could not be sustained
in an Africa that was changing.
A love that would become dangerous when she tried to save a lake that came to define her whole world.
Joan didn't realise that this is a life and death question to people, to families, young,
still hungry, wanting a life.
She bailed him out of trouble.
She paid people off to keep him out of trouble.
And we don't know what hold he had on her, or why.
She knew she was trapped, she knew she was going down a pipeline
and she desperately wanted out, but she didn't know how.
Whatever happened, whatever Joan did, whatever caused somebody to think
that she deserved...
what she got...
..I find that very difficult.
..to track the gunmen and are under pressure as this is the latest in a series of murders of white people...
..and suspect it was an act of retaliation for her conservation work.
The attack happened at her home near Lake Naivasha.
Alan Root and his wife, Joan, are reckoned to be
the best wildlife filmmakers in the business. Just watch them.
They're coming back, Alan, are you ready?
It was an endless adventure.
She was great, very game and didn't complain,
and loved it. And I think she did love it.
We'd come down from the far end of Uganda, you know, Kadepo National Park, right up near the Sudan,
one day in Nairobi, turn around, and we'd be off to the Serengeti or wherever, just non-stop.
What is it the Roots have that makes them the A-team?
Well, for a start, they are obviously just that, a team.
She was absolutely great. I could come and say, "Hey, we're off to wherever."
And she'd say, "How long?" and I'd say, "About a month,"
and that would be it. And the next thing I'd know, she was filling the house with supplies
and I'd have to pack them in the car and the trailer and off we'd go.
Through the 1960s and 70s, Joan and Alan Root made nearly 40 ground-breaking documentaries,
capturing images of wildlife as never seen before
and opening the world's eyes to the wonders of their beloved Africa.
Joan was born into the ruling class of colonial Kenya, the only child of an English settler.
Her family had made a fortune, first as coffee farmers,
and then as pioneers of the emerging safari business.
Joan enjoyed a life of elite schools and endless safaris.
When she returned to the colony after finishing school in Europe,
her reputation preceded her.
I'd heard about this girl, a lot of guys were talking about her.
She'd been away to school in Switzerland and had just come back and caused quite a stir.
She was definitely one of the most beautiful young women in Kenya at the time.
I drove up in my battered old Jeep to a lodge in Ngorangora crater in Tanzania,
and there was this big safari wagon covered in mud
that just drove in with a big cage full of chickens on top.
And out stepped this stunning girl in a sort of safari outfit,
well, I was instantly smitten.
It was about a year later we got married.
The Roots spent their honeymoon filming in the bush.
It was the beginning of a project to reveal to the world
an Africa different from white hunters seeking the excitement of the kill.
The Roots' Africa was delicate, beautiful, pristine
We saw nature holistically.
We never made a film about a single species, because that isn't the way they are,
everything is interconnected, there's so many sub-plots, if you like.
She was incredibly observant.
She would say "Hey,
"look at this, there's something else going on here."
And we'd be able to incorporate that into the story.
Joan and Alan were a complete unit.
Alan was the sort of genius and Joan was the side-kick.
They knew how each other thought.
Joan had got the right lens out almost before Alan asked for it.
Both of them loved what they were doing.
She knew exactly what was needed and she presented it.
Anybody who saw films like that, it was new.
Millions of people around the world watched the Roots' films and now wanted to visit Africa.
Discover it. The wild is where you find peace,
where you feel that nothing much has changed for the last 200,000 years.
By the late '70s, more than 250,000 people a year were flying to Kenya.
Within the world of wildlife and conservation, the Roots were celebrities.
Completed last year, the film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary of 1978.
With extraordinary patience and ingenuity, a husband-wife team of naturalist-photographers has...
Joan organises their trips and uses her vast knowledge of wildlife to contribute to their scripts.
Though she looks fragile, her appearance is deceptive.
We'd both wanted kids when we first got married,
but decided to put it off until we got established.
And she just went along to have a check and the doctor said,
"I'm sorry to tell you that you're having premature menopause symptoms
"and I don't think you're going to be able to conceive."
And sure enough she couldn't.
She was so successful in every other field and...
and couldn't have children.
You could see her pain.
And she never really discussed that with me or with anyone,
and so there was never ever a discussion about whether we should adopt.
It was just closed, a closed subject,
and she just internalised that pain and she lived with that.
Something that I learned later in life was that her parents had followed this strange doctor's idea
of bringing up children, which was that if a child cried, you just let it cry.
And then it knew that no help was coming and it would grow up knowing that it was on its own
and independent and not yelling for help when it needed it.
It was almost as though that upbringing had produced this behaviour
where you just didn't call out for help.
Early in their marriage, Joan and Alan settled on the shores of Lake Naivasha,
the only freshwater lake in Kenya, known the world over for its extraordinary plant and wildlife.
It was paradise. It really was. I mean...
they were just ranches around the edge.
The land was spread out and full of wildlife, masses of wildlife coming down to drink in the lake.
Full of hippos,
vast areas of water lilies
with thousands of water birds.
It was just incredible.
We had a net about this long,
which we had just waist deep out from the edge.
You could walk out to unload the fish
and that provided us and our staff and our otters and our tame heron,
we got all the fish we needed from a 6ft long net.
Their lakeside home became a sanctuary for the menagerie of wounded animals they'd adopted.
And provided a break from the gruelling schedules that pulled them across the continent.
We spent so much time together.
We'd be in the vehicle from dawn to dusk, just every day, every day.
We often joked that we had five years of togetherness
for every normal year of marriage.
And I think that actually got to us after a while.
It wasn't something we could discuss, so it just didn't get discussed.
And if you don't talk about those kind of problems, they don't get solved.
In 1983, after more than 20 years of marriage, Alan had an affair.
But after three years of turmoil, they both agreed they wanted their old life back.
A couple of days after I got back, Jenny, the lady I'd been with,
was told she had leukaemia and had probably two years to live.
I felt that I couldn't abandon her...
..and I think Joan felt, "Well, two years, you know, it's been eight months already,
"let's hang on. This is something Alan needs to do."
And I felt I needed to do it.
And so, there was just a tacit agreement that that's what would happen,
that I would stay with Jenny and that I'd be back.
Jenny lived another 15 years.
Joan was absolutely devastated. I mean, Alan was just the other part of her.
They were two halves of a whole as far as she was concerned.
And she really was lost when it all broke up.
Here, you lose your whole life, really,
as a business, you lose your vocation, you lose your best friend,
you lose your partner, you lose your lover,
you lose your husband, you lose everything in a very short period of time. How do you cope with that?
Joan moved to live down here in Naivasha, which had been their home since 1960,
but, basically, it was a dumping ground between filming trips.
She didn't know Naivasha, she didn't know the area, she didn't know the people.
And, suddenly, she was a lonely woman
sitting in this big lonely house
with her only friends, the animals, around her.
Joan turned in on herself,
a woman in her late forties who'd lost her place in the world.
For the better part of a decade, she spent much of her time tending to her land and feeding her animals,
as the Africa around her changed.
And Nelson Mandela walks to freedom,
betraying only the hesitation that comes of a man thrust into the spotlight again after 27 years.
..the Hutu exodus from Rwanda continues.
Today, a constant stream of frightened people made the crossing to Zaire.
They're fleeing what may be...
..the scale of the crisis is evident...
It was the lake that gave her a renewed purpose.
In the mid-'90s, more than a decade after her split from Alan,
she started noticing changes in its levels,
and the behaviour patterns of the plant and wildlife it sustained.
The outside world, in the form of industry, could no longer be ignored.
She loved nature. That was her life.
She cared about the great infrastructure of nature and how it worked,
and how one small change in nature can have such a big chain reaction.
She was looking at it from a complete ecological standpoint.
Things were changing on that lake.
She saw the effects of the lake going down and coming back up, the different algae that was produced,
the different things that would start growing at certain times of the year,
and she was concerned about why the ecology of the lake was changing.
It didn't surprise me when she started to concentrate on the lake
because it's such a personal thing, you know,
we had several hundred yards of lake frontage which had once been pristine and untouched,
and the odd fisherman would go past in his canoe and wave.
And then suddenly, she'd have 50 acres just down the road is covered in plastic.
They were pumping water straight out of the lake,
there were pollutants going back into the lake in the form of pesticides and fertiliser and so on.
And so I think she had a very good case against them.
And once she took it up, I knew she'd be passionate and militant about it.
There's a timeless feeling on this lake, but things are changing here.
The woods that once cloaked the surrounding hills have mostly been felled.
And now the lake itself may be facing new threats from man.
The threats come from the flower farmers that have burgeoned
on the shores of Lake Naivasha, roses and carnations for the living rooms of Europe.
The flower industry started more or less probably by accident
in the late '70s with two companies, a Danish company called DCK and Oserian.
Both these companies were really struggling like pioneers do,
and last minute they got it right
and actually paved the way for the industry.
On the back of these two companies, many other entrepreneurs jumped on the bandwagon.
Infrastructure on the farms was developed, infrastructure in Nairobi was developed.
The freighters started to coming in and it sort of developed
into a serious exporting business for this country which, at this point,
can be considered as probably one of the biggest success stories in sub-Saharan Africa.
Walk into any supermarket, you'll notice flower displays placed strategically near the door.
We spend £750 million a year on cut flowers from supermarkets and they deliver big profit margins.
Flower growing is Kenya's big success story,
fast catching up with coffee and tea as its top employer, and a major export earner.
The large farms employ anything up to 4,000 workers each,
they come from all over the country to this Mecca of employment.
Most of these immigrants end up living in slums.
Prior to the 1980s, it was just people living here, it was a small community.
But once the flower industry started, that requires a lot of employees,
and suddenly Naivasha boomed and expanded big-time.
A lot of migrant workers moved in and with them come more people again,
because there's a service industry as well for people who have a wage.
The problem is that the pressure around the edge of the lake from the horticultural industry
and the people who work in the horticultural industry together
are creating what scientists call "eutrophication",
which just means the lake is over-fertilised, overfed really.
The algal growth gets thicker,
it becomes a pea soup at times.
The end species that thrive in the highest concentrations produce toxins
and when they're in really, really high concentrations,
the toxins that get into the water are in a high enough concentration to cause damage to mammals.
Joan saw that the increase of the development and the agricultural development
and the industry round the lake was actually the prime cause
of the changes on the lake.
She was not afraid of standing up and voicing her opinions.
She wasn't afraid of standing up and actually implementing her opinions,
if she thought that they would have an impact,
Joan helped to persuade the flower farms to stop building on riparian land,
the delicate band bordering the lake that is crucial to the local plant and wildlife.
She joined a growing campaign to reduce their use of fertilisers and pesticides.
She drew attention to the millions of gallons they were siphoning weekly to water their product.
Then she took on another, more sensitive issue.
As people continued to flood into the area,
desperate for work on the flower farms, they and their families needed to eat.
They turned to the lake for free food.
By 1998, Lake Naivasha was dangerously low on fish.
The local department of fisheries was powerless in the face of this assault on the lake.
Its enforcement staff consisted of just three men and a boat, often with no fuel to power it.
With the department's support, Joan stepped in with a plan
that went beyond the one year fishing ban already being discussed.
We were literally running out of fish,
so it was agreed that the fishing on the lake should be shut down totally for a whole year,
but, of course, it didn't stop the illegal poachers,
who were dragging their nets through the shallow waters,
which is an illegal way of fishing, does a lot of harm to the submerged vegetation
and takes out all the baby fish before they've had a chance to grow big enough to breed,
which of course totally went against everything that Joan believed in.
The poachers were unbelievably bold.
You would see them in the riparian land of many of the flower farms,
fishing with complete impunity because they knew nobody was going to come and challenge them.
They were quite capable of being violent, quite capable of attacking anybody.
So she went off and thought, "Well, what's the best way of dealing with this?
"Let's get poachers, turn them into gamekeepers." Good idea, good plan.
Enter Mr Chege.
Mr Chege was very, very plausible.
He was a very, very intelligent young man.
He was a great marketing man, he was a great communicator, and he got Joan's confidence.
She put together, with him, a little task force
that ranged from eight people to 15 people just to control and make sure fishing was protected
so that you didn't overfish the lake.
"February 3rd, 2001. Spoke with Chege.
"He came up with good points, illustrating bad fishing methods.
"I spoke about my plan to patrol with 15 guys.
"Nets - 19 x 3½ inch three-ply.
"1 x 3½ inch three-ply. 3x3 inch two-ply.
"5x4 inch two-ply.
"500g nylon wire,
"one 400g nylon wire..."
For a while it did very good work.
The number of nets that they managed to confiscate was unbelievable.
There were always a mountain of them in her back yard.
Chege and team pulled up about 40 2x2½ two-ply nets.
Long talks with Chege about their operation.
Yesterday they went to Kabonge where they burnt ten boats and caught three poachers.
There's no Swahili word for "poachers".
It's a colonial word. It's bad, it's evil.
Any poacher is something that has to be eliminated.
Poachers don't know where to put themselves, because they're not evil.
They're ordinary people just trying to make a living.
They don't see any way they've wronged.
They've not gone to steal, they've not gone to kill anybody, they're not even stealing nets.
They've only gone to fish in a God-given lake.
"Naivasha Fisheries Report. Two years leading up to April 2003.
"Improved sizes of fish leading to partial..."
"General improvement on shoreline ecology..."
"Confiscation of over 3,000 illegal fishing nets and more than six arrests..."
"Arrests of over 400 suspects."
The poachers Joan was trying to eliminate were like most
of the 350,000 people living in the slums that now surrounded the lake.
Only one in ten had found employment on the farms.
The rest scraped out livings as best they could.
The flower industry is directly responsible for the slums.
I'm not talking necessarily every flower farm,
but the flower industry in Naivasha,
I think one could say, must be responsible for the slums.
Firstly, because their workers come from there, they're not housed on-site,
and, secondly, because they have
indirectly encouraged the massive growth of satellite industries
and migration of people into this area who weren't here before,
who have come to look for jobs
or to be supported by the one or two of their family who have jobs on the flower farms.
Where do these people get their firewood? Where do they get their charcoal for cooking?
Where do they get their meat?
A family of five uses one bag of charcoal a month.
Now, there is 60,000 households around Naivasha, where do they get their charcoal?
It has to come from the catchment.
Is there any trees specifically planted
to be able to meet the charcoal demand so it can help counter the deforestation of the catchment? No.
Joan knew that the disappearing fish
were just part of the larger environmental destruction of Naivasha.
What she didn't know, or perhaps chose not to acknowledge,
was that the fish the poachers didn't eat they sold onto middle men,
who were part of a criminal industry that stretched all the way to the capital of Nairobi.
I did worry about her.
Where food is concerned, it's a big issue in this country, especially if you're white,
especially when you've got enough food and there's people,
you know, around the place that are all looking for the cheapest source of protein they can get.
I suppose a lot of people were making a lot of money from those under-sized fish.
There's a consumer, there's a buyer, there's a wholesaler, so if they're not getting...
if she's making it difficult for these tiny fish to be sold,
then that's very much infringing on their business.
But if Joan knew, she didn't let it stop her.
She had bankrolled the task force for four years now
and watched with mounting excitement as the fish returned to the lake in healthy, marketable sizes.
The fishermen were relieved because they were back to earning a living.
The community was happy. There were now plenty of fish to buy at market.
To celebrate, she and the fisheries department held a public burning
of the thousands of nets they'd confiscated.
Joan's mission was succeeding.
The task force filled a big empty space.
She was part of a gang, in a way.
I think it was, you know, quite exciting.
She was able to achieve something.
Every day, she had to get up and do something that was quite compelling.
But as time went on, questions were starting to be raised
about the motives and methods of the man Joan had put in charge.
"Payments to Chege, 9th of November 700 shillings, 25th of December..."
Chege grew up in the slums
in that young, changing Kenya with limited opportunities.
Joan grew up with almost, what you would say, unlimited opportunities,
and then went to pursue wildlife photography and wildlife conservation,
which in itself is almost a different class from the realities of what Kenya is,
a changing country, a new generation coming, hungry, wanting to be able to take also opportunities.
Joan, she wanted to preserve the lake as natural and pristine as she'd seen it in her lifetime.
To Chege, here is a way, a vehicle to make all the money he want.
What is conservation?
Well, I don't think Chege really understood what conservation is.
From a poacher who was humble and trying to sell his fish,
given the power, he became an absolute dictator
with the total power to crush things.
He realised within no time that, "I am the man, I have the power,"
and he used those powers brutally.
They fight. You've got to retaliate, haven't you?
And retaliation is arresting someone with the minimum of amount of force necessary, which you can do,
but sometimes, you know, you go too far,
or one is able to go too far.
They were the force.
They were the law.
There was no need for court - they were the court.
So they had the right to beat you up, the right to humiliate you as much as they want
and inflict any fee they deem fit within the time.
But to the local realities, we want food.
The task force did not realise that this is a life-and-death question.
They have to feed their families.
They have to have a living.
By early 2004, a war had broken out on the lake,
with both sides resorting to increasingly desperate measures.
Then an incident involving a young poacher named Joseph Ojare changed everything.
I go to the hospital,
and I find Ojare there to the hospital crying,
He told me, "Andrew, I was beaten serious.
"I was beaten my whole body."
He told me, "Mr Chege
"and all of task force."
There was no evidence that Chege had been personally responsible for the assault.
But as rumours spread through the slums, human-rights organisations began to scrutinise the case.
The task force was facing a public-relations disaster.
Gaymer and Chege know if this man is here,
they will be prosecuted, because human right...
.they will follow this channel up to the police commissioner,
so they know this is a serious case.
So what we have to do,
we have to...
take this man away.
And they go to the hospital
and tell the man, "Leave about human right.
"They cannot help you, they cannot give you money, you leave about them.
"We want to give you 50,000
"and hide you away from Naivasha."
Ojare returned to his village.
Several weeks later, he died from complications from surgery to repair his broken leg.
In that story, the man was in the hospital
and you or Chege paid for him to go home because this was going to become...
-an issue for the task force. Is that true?
But Joan paid, not me.
What exactly did she do - Joan?
I think through Chege
they went and paid the hospital bill and got the man out and gave him enough money to get home.
And their reasoning was...?
There was going to be more trouble had he remained with a broken leg
and everyone could point a finger at the task force.
So Joan actually paid.
Joan paid a lot of money on things like that,
and I'm sure she paid a lot that I didn't know about and never got to know about.
News of Ojare's death spread around the lake.
The task force and anyone associated with it were now perceived to have blood on their hands.
Ojare's death was part of a changing Naivasha.
By early 2005, the area had become a hotbed of violent crime.
Rapes, car jackings and armed robberies were common.
Whites and blacks alike were being murdered, sometimes for as little as 50 or a mobile phone.
Yet people kept coming,
lured by the dream of getting some of the run-off from the riches of the flower industry.
The industry was now a global player, one of the top three flower producers in the world.
Over 20,000 employees and their families are dependent
on the flower-growing companies around Lake Naivasha.
Flying them to the USA, Canada.
A lot of countries, from France, Belgium, Italy, Russia,
Far East, Japan, Poland, Scandinavian countries.
It's extremely important to Kenya economically.
It's an industry of which we are very proud. We are trying to do our best.
What's happened here in Naivasha is a form of industrial progress.
Industrial progress demands compromise.
To the eye, if you come here into Naivasha coming from the escarpment
and you see these acres and acres and acres of plastic,
yeah, of course it looks different than 30, 35 years ago,
where there was no plastic and no shanty towns, and no everything, and it was absolutely pristine.
I could run down a 1½ hour list of projects
which have been done by the private sector around Lake Naivasha which is actually not our responsibility.
Schools are not our responsibility, roads are not our responsibility,
hospitals are not our responsibility.
At the end of the day, half the schools wouldn't be here
if there wouldn't be flower farms, and half the hospitals wouldn't be here.
The huge number of flower farms
in Naivasha at the moment is unsustainable.
It is going to kill the lake.
Because the flower has to be fed.
It has to have that constant water to meet the market dates and to meet the required production standards.
A rose is 70% water,
and it's flown all over the world,
every single day, 365 days, constantly.
That is Naivasha water pumped out of the area and flown all over the world every single day.
Joan was very realistic and realised that this was just part of the way it was going,
development was the human way of life.
Because of the encroachment of the farms, the greenhouses,
the development and all the rest of it,
she really felt that there should be some place that was
in its natural, untouched virgin state.
She wanted her land to be an example to others
of what this area used to be like.
And I think her passion for what she did here was a silent protest.
In May 2005, John Sutton, a security consultant
hired by Naivasha landowners to reduce crime around the lake,
rented the cottage adjoining Joan's house.
He was immediately struck by Joan's connection to her land.
You could see that it was very much part of her being, her existence.
She was like part of it. It was like she had roots in the ground.
When she was moving, her steps and everything was like just part of it.
She would stand still and the mongooses would be around her, and wild animals,
but they weren't afraid.
I was fascinated by this connection to nature.
It was something I'd never, ever experienced or seen in my life before.
Amazing. Er, she was really in tune.
It wasn't long before Sutton discovered that not everything was as harmonious as it seemed.
Joan had a Stone sign that had JR written and painted on it.
I started finding that stone in different places.
I found it upside down, I'd find it in the tree,
I found it with what looked like blood had been poured on it.
Sometimes I'd come to the second gate and there was a chicken, not stuffed.
It had been put with straw on the gate.
I was worried, because witchcraft in this part of the world is serious stuff.
When I confronted Joan about the situation, she told me it had been going on quite some time
and she explained that it was a neighbour thing and that it was actually a personal feud.
I said, "OK, but perhaps we should get the neighbour over to come and talk and maybe find out what's..."
"Oh, no, no. I can't. She won't come and talk to me. She hates me."
I said, "What do you mean, she hates you?"
"Oh, yes, she hates me. That's another story."
For as long has Joan had lived in Naivasha, Diana Bunny had been her neighbour.
Like Joan, she'd been born into the colonial world.
Her grandparents had arrived as missionaries early in the century
and her father had been the local doctor for 40 years.
She, too, had a clear vision for her land.
It was a place of peace,
joy and encouragement, and hope.
We've felt it was God's property.
When you come here, you feel God's presence here. It's different.
You feel the love and care. That's what people have said.
And they've loved coming,
so warm and welcoming.
So that's the reputation it has had.
Since inheriting the 22-acre plot from her parents,
Diana, a single woman, had struggled to make ends meet.
For Joan, Diana's hardship presented an opportunity.
Joan wanted that land for the animals.
She wanted to leave it as it is, clean, wild for the animals,
which are lucky enough to get in there, to be there and be safe.
I think she was very worried that one day Diana would leave this to a church group
and it would all be sold for development in some way that Joan wouldn't have liked.
She told me that they were the best of friends,
and they were the best of friends until such time as she'd made a bid
and she'd wanted to buy that property.
And since then, that was it, they were absolute enemies.
"I have been very distressed and deeply hurt since I received your letter..."
"I should be careful before throwing out false accusations.
"I too am heartily sick of incidents that have happened..."
"It is very upsetting when what I do or say is misconstrued.
"Please let me know what..." "No-one can underestimate God's power.
"And as I have told many people, this is God's property."
We were very friendly with her,
invited her over,
but behind one's back the terrible things she said
were not true
and trying to just get us out, really.
It was all quite a dangerous game.
Sutton discovered that the feud with her neighbour wasn't the only intrigue in Joan's life.
By now, Joan had downscaled the task force to Chege and four others
whose only job was to patrol her lakefront.
Yet former members were still coming and going.
Joan was known to be generous,
but Sutton sensed that these men weren't looking for new jobs or handouts.
One evening, when Joan shared an ominous text message with him,
he got a glimpse of the complicated web in which she was caught.
I asked Joan, "What did this mean?"
And she said, "Well,
"what this is is members of the task force who are protecting me
"against illegal fishermen who we had apprehended during the time of the task force
"who now want to come and do me in."
I asked her, "How do you know it's happening?" "Well, I don't know," she said.
"I'm being told this by my main guy, because I trust him.
"He's protecting me. He's the only person that's protecting me from all these situations."
I became very concerned.
I didn't understand this relationship,
I didn't understand where the levels of loyalty lay and so on.
And there were too many contradictions at that time. Things were not adding up.
Things were not right.
Sutton now feared for Joan's very safety.
Then he found out something that made him worry even more.
Four months earlier, Joan had been car-jacked as she drove home from the bank with the staff's wages.
The gang had slapped her around and stolen her phone and cash.
Some of her friends were suspicious that Chege had been involved,
a charge he'd vigorously denied and for which the police had found no evidence.
Joan's faith in him had never wavered.
Chege really had her confidence.
She liked him, she respected him, she thought that he had integrity.
She really thought that he was there for the reasons that she was there.
In actual fact, he wasn't.
It was very personal.
I don't suspect they were necessarily having a physical relationship,
but, spiritually, they were so entwined, that she was wrapped in that and he was the focal point.
"Dashed to meet Chege to give him 22,000 shillings."
"Chege phoned. Last night they ambushed at Bushey Island."
"Three of them were attacked by 18 men."
"Chege wrote me a letter wanting to buy a small motorbike."
"Chege came to tell me latest intrigues from Fisheries."
"Told Chege to send Umwara tomorrow as a spy."
"Chege came and we discussed Saturday and Sunday."
The more I questioned, the more I realised how...
wrapped up Joan was in this whole security situation.
It had become a way of life. It had entrapped her completely.
And it was almost like it was like a drug for her.
The intrigue, the mystique,
the cloak-and-dagger kind of scenarios,
it was an alternative existence to the outside world.
It was a life where she was in charge, she was in control,
where she was able to take care of herself.
And this was, I think, going back to perhaps...
The start of all that was the breakdown of when she departed from her previous marriage.
She talked about Alan quite a lot.
He was still, in a funny way,
a part of her life, in that he was very much a presence in her house.
The sitting room had the same covers on the sofa and the books on the shelves.
The dining room had stayed the same way.
Though she wanted to change the house, she couldn't bear to take away a lot of the memories.
She told me on several occasions that Alan was the only person
that she was able to share and experience nature
in the way that she loved to do it.
There was nobody that she could walk around in the bush with,
and they would both notice and be interested in exactly the same things.
She really, really missed that.
She really missed...
being with him.
..I think she always thought they'd be together again.
And she came over one evening with a letter that I think he'd written to quite a few friends.
She read the letter to me with tears in her eyes.
It was the realisation that they weren't going to be together again,
and the letter was basically saying that he had met Fran and that they were going to have a baby together.
And I suppose that was the end of a dream and a hope that she'd had.
"Long talk with John about the task force.
"He advised me to completely close down, get rid of Chege and all five of them.
"At night, stayed awake worrying what to do about Chege."
For weeks, a member of Joan's house staff had been stealing money from her bedroom.
When she discovered that the thief had a close connection to Chege, she finally accepted that he had to go.
I said to Joan, "Remember the laws of the land, the perception of the laws of the land.
"You're going to have to pay him off."
I said, "When you do pay him off, you'd better be generous,
"because you don't want anybody coming back in the back door saying, 'You didn't see me.'"
Joan reached a settlement with Chege and found him a job in western Kenya.
He and his family left Naivasha.
Two weeks later, Sutton had a rude awakening.
I heard this shouting. I stick my head out to see what was going on,
and I saw somebody running up, and he was shouting and shouting, "Mama has been taken.
"Mama has been taken."
I thought, "Oh, my God, Joan's been attacked, she's been abducted and she's been taken down to the lake."
I fired two shots into the air.
Within a couple of seconds after firing the two shots,
I heard another replying shot.
I rushed downstairs, and as I got to the door, my phone rang.
It was Joan saying,
"I'm OK, I'm OK."
And I said, "Joan, where are you?"
She said, "I'm in the staff quarters."
She'd managed to escape out the back door.
They had broken into the house.
The fact that they had gone through some drawers in the office
suggests there were some documents they were looking for.
I do know that Joan had been keeping some title deeds of land
whilst the staff were repaying the loan.
Joan had bought property for some of her staff,
I don't think she chose to read clearly the signs -
too proud, too sucked into the energy of being...
in her home, on her land.
Perhaps had lost sight of...
the fact that life would go on on her lawn without her.
Perhaps scared to move.
Perhaps... I don't know. It wasn't... It wasn't...
She shouldn't have stayed.
I would say to her, "Joan,
"you need to go on holiday. Just go on holiday.
"Just tell everybody you're old, you're tired, you need a break.
"Just tell everybody. And don't tell them when you're going, just one day you're not there."
I was trying to get her out of the environment,
it was getting to the point whereby it was threatening her security.
It really was threatening her security.
I'd been going to her house once a week for a few months
and I'd never been invited in, not even onto the veranda.
Well, after her murder I find all the security she's putting in the house. I knew nothing about it.
I believe she kept me out of the house because she didn't want me
to find out that she was going to that extent of putting security in
to save her life, and she must have been very worried about something.
"Chege and Esther back in Karagita.
"Chege trying to get a job through Barry. Barry been informed."
"Very stressed pm.
"John phoned to say he'd rushed to Nairobi for emergency.
"Then power cut. No supper cooked. That night felt insecure so soon after break-in, and John away."
As 2005 drew to a close, Sutton was often away on business across the continent.
Joan was increasingly alone in her house.
On the night of January 12th 2006,
Sutton was 400 miles away in Tanzania.
It was about...about midnight when I got the first phone call.
Joan said, "They're back. They're here." I couldn't understand what she was going...
and then I heard the siren going again and I knew that intruders had come into the house.
She said, "They're trying to get in through my bedroom door."
I told her to get down and go to the bathroom,
"Stay put. I'll call for help."
I called the police.
I called the people and said that there was an attack taking place at Joan Root's premises.
I then had another phone call within, I don't know,
a minute, not even, perhaps. Can't remember exactly.
And Joan was now talking to me.
I could hear people shouting for her to open the door to let them in.
She was sobbing and just kept calling out my name.
And I could hear this banging going on,
and I thought they were using a sledge hammer to bash the metal door down,
but I knew that as long as those doors held they wouldn't get in.
She was obviously very afraid.
But she wasn't hysterical, she was just kind of sobbing, and she was out of breath.
She was obviously in shock.
She was afraid.
..her voice got lower and lower.
I thought she was talking, just quietly talking just so they wouldn't hear her
but she didn't want to disconnect, she wanted just to talk,
she wanted to hear somebody's voice or something. I don't know.
And I was just reassuring her.
Her voice just...faded away.
And it just got quieter and quieter and quieter, and then stopped.
I heard a few more bangs.
I disconnected the phone.
I called again the cops and said, "For God's sakes, you're running out of time.
"Get there before they get in."
They arrived at the house.
They said, "The lights are off, but we can see inside,
"and there's a huge...
"..you know, sort of marks of blood on the floor
"and it's leading into what looks like the bathroom."
I tried calling her back.
They said, "No, we can hear the phone ringing in the bathroom."
I knew that... I knew what had happened.
They found Joan in the bathroom lying on her side,
holding the phone next to her.
Her sobbing and everything - she had obviously been hit.
Her voice fading away, that was her last breath of life.
And I was sitting in a hotel...
..hundreds of miles away. Couldn't do anything.
Couldn't do anything for her.
That was the first time I'd been back for 15 years.
Er, and, you know, outside was just the same,
just the fabulous views, the peace, the animals and birds.
They all came out to say hello.
And then the scene inside,
just of the sort of fortress that she'd turned the place into,
and then, you know...
the bullets stuck in the furniture and the blood everywhere, and...
just such a contrast.
The police were all there, and they were introduced to me and knew who I was,
and so within a short time they opened the house to us,
which was actually quite strange to me,
because I would have thought that they would still be there
trying to find whatever they needed to find or what forensics needed to be done and so on.
We found several bullets in there,
in the mattress and places like that, which I thought they would've done during the night,
but they didn't.
We think that they came straight round the back of the house,
directly to her bedroom window.
I'm convinced it was a contract murder.
I'm convinced of that, absolutely convinced of it.
Police in Tanzania are hunting the killers of a British filmmaker, Joan Root.
She was shot in what friends suspect was an act of retaliation for her conservation work.
The 69-year-old filmmaker and naturalist was shot
in the early hours of this morning at the farmhouse in Naivasha.
They tried to break the door,
and finally they catch up with her in the bedroom,
whereby they fired seven rounds of ammunition from supposedly an AK-47.
Police are using dogs to try to track the gunmen
and are under pressure, as this is the latest in a series of murders of white people in the Naivasha region.
Friends believe her stand against poachers cost her her life.
She was involved in dangerous ground,
and wherever you are trying to regulate an unregulated market
or impact on illegal activities, you're under threat.
So my first feeling was, of course, that perhaps this was
in some way the illegal fishermen getting back at her.
Immediately, I thought Chege would probably have been involved.
There were too many of Chege's family involved with Joan,
with either loans or title deeds or one thing or another.
They thought they would be better off with her out of the way.
Joan's murder was the most high-profile case in years,
and the police were under enormous pressure from the white community to find her killers.
Within 24 hours, a tracker dog identified three men from the slums.
The next day, Chege was also taken into custody.
While we are here to celebrate Joan's life and the many benefits it bestowed on us,
let us now allow our celebration that she lived become a cover or concealment for the way she died.
I can't imagine anything more terrifying for anyone
at two o'clock in the morning to have that happening,
and, you know, I wish to God she'd collected one in the head and gone down,
but instead of that she fought back
and dragged herself into the bathroom.
Joan was compassionate, to the point of being a soft touch.
Nowhere is this more evidenced than in the loans and help she offered,
not just to her own people, but others, too.
Indeed, it may have contributed to her fate.
I can't imagine that she screamed. I honestly can't imagine that she screamed.
And if for whatever reason you need to be forgiven by Joan,
let that forgiveness come now and let go of any hurt.
When I came up to talk, the crown cranes, who I just have a way with,
because I've always had cranes, came and danced around me.
If there was something you thought you still wanted to say to her...
It was just all so moving.
Everything we did back in those years together
she made possible. She was my right arm.
She was the wind beneath my wings.
And if we flew high and far in those days, it was because of her.
Lots of tears.
And then it rained.
And, yeah, you can't have anything better in Kenya at a funeral or a wedding than for it to rain,
because it was dry as hell and they needed rain.
And a lot of people said, "Hey, she's up there and stirring it up already"!
Chege and the three other suspects languished in prison for more than a year before their case was heard.
The judge found them innocent, citing no evidence.
Chege and the others walked free.
This place just doesn't work. The sort of politically correct term I think is "poor governance",
but "poor" is a pretty mild term
to describe the sort of intellectually impoverished kleptocracy that run this place.
There was no way that there was going to be a proper trial with proper evidence.
Barry Gaymer and I found half the bullets in the room that the police hadn't bothered to look for, even.
The investigations that the police did were below par.
The evidence was governed in a very shallow manner.
Other than the shoes that were from the suspects,
there was nothing of worth from the exhibits that were taken from the scene.
There was a lot of interference from the white community here.
I do think...
the interference started from the scene of the crime.
The way things were being done by Luckhurst
and the other members of the community who were living there,
surely there is something they wanted to conceal.
The story was far from over.
Nearly a year and a half after Joan's death,
the circumstances surrounding it were once again the subject of speculation.
Her former neighbour, Diana Bunny, stood in the dock of the Naivasha courtroom.
She and her cook, James Ombui,
were charged with conspiracy to murder a former tenant of Diana, Brian Freeman.
For some people around the lake, the near-fatal attack on Freeman had disturbing echoes.
I had no idea who had murdered Joan at the time of her death.
But Naivasha being a small community, of course everybody talks,
and it soon became sort of common belief
that Chege had done it. And nobody really thought further than that.
It was only after the attempt on Mr Freeman's life that I and a few other people started to wonder
whether there wasn't a similarity or a connection
between his attempted murder and Joan's actual murder.
Initially, when we moved in, it was a very sound relationship,
but we'd only been in the property six months, and the water was turned off.
She said we hadn't been paying our bills, when, in fact, we'd been paying the agent.
And then it escalated.
The dog was poisoned. We had a whole load of chickens - they were thrown over the fence with broken legs.
We came across this mound of earth that had just been dug, looked in and there was this red pot.
And we know James is a Kysi man, we know that the Kysis are well known for their witchcraft -
we call it juju.
So, um... I immediately became suspicious.
Why was it laid in the middle of the road, our road?
Freeman barely survived the assault.
A bullet from an AK-47, the same model used in Joan's attack, shattered his left arm.
The gun had misfired when pointed at his head.
There's no doubt in my mind the person behind the attack was Diana and James.
I have since seen police statements
where they've admitted that they had meetings
with a Mr Fixit
who subsequently got the gang together
and, in fact, stayed with them for three or four days before the attack took place.
So it was a contract, really, put on my life by them.
And I think the reason why was to get rid of me from the property.
I had shown an interest.
I have since learnt that because I showed that interest in buying the property
that they no longer wanted me to stay.
Someone told me that you'd confessed, you'd written some statement.
Erm, there was... I think it was under...
I just wasn't myself at all, and I don't even know what I'd...
I was forced to, er, write things that I didn't...
..even know I was writing.
But, admittedly, there were probably some weak points.
I haven't a clue what I wrote.
I wasn't in my right mind,
and I half-wondered if that was, erm, witchcraft,
because you really don't know what you're...
Were you behind the Freeman attack?
I could never, never do that.
The only weak part was that some of the gangsters
were on the property, and I didn't know at the time they were...
Occasionally there was a room we let visitors go into,
James's visitors, as I thought at the time, but, erm...
There were just a couple of them, and I didn't know it at the time, which is terrible.
But other than that,
I'd never dream of doing anything like that.
Brian Freeman and his wife Esther had been living in Naivasha for only two months when Joan was killed.
Esther had been on their property the morning after the attack
and later told her husband what she'd seen and heard.
She said that...
Diana Bunny and James came across the fence.
James was talking to the staff,
telling them what he had learnt about the murder.
Diana immediately came up to Esther and said, "That evil woman is now dead.
"She's lying down dead.
"Thank God for that. She's no longer here." Words to that effect,
which surprised Esther very much.
Not only did she say it, but she gestured as if, you know, she was really pleased about it.
Her ongoing feud with Joan had made Diana feel her very physical safety was at risk.
Do you think Joan was literally trying to get rid of you?
Yes, she was. Yes.
In what way?
I don't know how she would have done it, but she was out for doing it, probably with her task force.
-You mean to kill you?
There's also a rumour, and I feel I have to ask you this,
because of your struggles with Joan Root that you might have been behind her attack.
Erm, I suppose one's been gradually broken in over the years,
because some terrible things have been said which aren't true,
but it does hurt.
But, erm, it break's one's heart, really,
to think people can think that way, especially in the crime sort of way.
That really does hurt, because I've never...I wouldn't...
I wouldn't even dream of even thinking about it.
In late 2009, Diana Bunny was acquitted of all charges relating to the attack on Freeman.
All people like Joan who put their head up and survive
or put their head up and don't survive, they do make an impact.
We have progressed probably in the last 20 years or so
from people like Joan being seen as cranks,
only interested in butterflies and birds,
to people who actually understand the fact this planet as we know it at the moment
is the only planet we know which is habitable.
Whatever anybody says now,
they will remember the contribution that Joan Root made,
creating an awareness of the environmental issues around Lake Naivasha.
Joan Root started that.
Joan Root was the one that actually put that in place.
From my perspective, I have a different sort of legacy of which I would consider Joan.
And it is this way.
Here is Joan, with her idea, an ideal to try and conserve the lake.
This task force thing
took her out of the closet into an entirely different - almost - universe
to which she had no idea how it works, how it operates,
what difficulties and challenges, plus expectations it had.
As a Naivashan,
as someone who grew up here,
what she funded is a brutal force.
So it's a legacy of a bit of pain and suffering
and a rich person there telling us how to live,
and yet they live and have everything and we only trying to make a living.
And she even funds some of the people that we know to suppress us,
to deny us the chance,
a chance for livelihood.
Joan was a through-and-through conservationist.
If there's progress, wherever the progress is,
there's always certain sectors or elements who won't be happy about the progress.
So here it is...
on one hand, a very strong commercial, economical progress
which is to a certain degree,
um... in conflict with the environment.
I guess her life, really, and her life story was a...
microcosm of what is happening
not just to Kenya and Africa, but to the rest of the world,
that in the name of progress, we're destroying so much of value.
It's terrifying, the speed at which wildness is disappearing
everywhere around the world.
It's all getting paved over and turned into shopping malls and flower farms and you name it.
I really am thankful that I have two little boys
and have to hope that the world is going to at least be liveable for them,
although it's going to be nothing like the world I knew.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Joan Root, with her husband Alan, produced beautiful and famous natural history films, born of her deep love of Africa and its flora and fauna. This delicate but determined member of Kenya's Happy Valley was gunned down in January 2006 by intruders bearing AK-47s. Four men were charged with her murder, including David Chege, the leader of a private vigilante group Root herself had financed to stop the illegal fishing that was killing Lake Naivasha, the beautiful lake beside which she lived.
Chege was from Karagita, the largest of the slums that has sprung up beside the lake in the last twenty years. In that time, the population of Naivasha has rocketed from 30,000 to 350,000 as a desperate tide of impoverished migrant workers arrived in search of employment on Kenya's flourishing flower farms. This has created squalor, crime and, in the minds of Root and her fellow naturalists, ecological apocalypse.
This film tells the story of the extraordinary life and brutal death of Joan Root, and of her campaign to save the lake she loved. Who killed Joan Root? Was it the fish poachers, whom Root stopped from plying their illegal trade in a bid to save her beloved Lake Naivasha? Was it her loyal lieutenant Chege, whom Root ultimately cut off from her payroll? Or was it one of her white neighbours, with whom Root had feuded?
Through the telling of Root's story, the film opens a window onto contemporary Africa and the developed world's relationship to it. For it is the Kenyan rose, which is exported by the millions on a daily basis from Naivasha, that has brought not just jobs and foreign exchange earnings, but a population explosion that has caused the destruction of the environment Root worked so hard to stop. Her campaign may have ultimately cost her her life.