Joan Wells-Thorpe or better known as Joan Root is a woman who was born in Nairobi, Kenya, January 18, 1936. She is an environmental activist, ecologist, and nominee of the Oscar. Together with her husband who is director and filmmaker Alan Root, she makes a very famous series of wildlife movies.
Edmund Thorpe, a father of Joan Root is a British banker who immigrated to Kenya to start a new life and become a successful coffee grower. The couple eventually divorced in 1981 and Alan Root settled in Nairobi after the marriage was over.
Career from Joan Root
The wildlife films are played by famous actors like Orson Welles, David Niven, James Mason and Ian Holm. “Mysterious Castles of Clay”, was the documentary that they made in 1979 and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary.
The Roots introduced Dian Fossey to the gorilla who eventually died because she wanted to save her. The Roots couple also took Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to Kenya to take part in their hot air balloon and trekked most of Africa on the famous single Cessna machine, as well as amphibious cars, and their balloons were equipped with rafts for a water landing.
After Joan’s divorce from her husband, she received the Lake Naivasha farm, along with the plane and shared the proceeds from the profits of the movie they made together.
She also led and funded an anti-poaching “Task Force” in the area. The Task Force imposed strict fishing restrictions around Lake Naivasha. It also catches fishermen and confiscates and burns nets, in an attempt to stop overfishing especially small fish. However, this is quite controversial for the locals because according to them Lake Naivasha is the source of food needed by them.
The Story of the Last Year of Joan Roots
In the last years of life from Joan Roots, she experienced harassment and threats. On one occasion, someone threw a brick through the window of her living room and stole her cell phone, but the thief did not get caught and went out from the back door.
The year before, her car was plowed and she received a text message threatening on her cell phone, but she refused to leave her home.
After the robbery that occurred in September 2005, four months before her murder, Root installed steel doors on each side of her room and also already had bars in every window. However, she will not go – even when an informant allegedly leaked the news that a gang would commit a murder on her.
On January 13, 2006, five days before his 70th birthday, Joan Root was murdered at her house in Lake Naivasha by four men who came to her house carrying an AK-47.
There are some suspects such as task force, organized criminal group, her former employees, hunters, those whose economic interests are threatened by activism and even those whose economic interest are threatened by her activity.
The four men arrested and charged with her murder pleaded not guilty and were released in August 2007. Some who were involved in the case believed it was a planned, but the question of who paid for it remained unanswered.
Before died on January 13, 2006, Joan Root had written her last will. In the will, she declared that her land would be converted into a nature reserve where everyone could freely enter without any charges.
Joan Root’s relentless effort for environmental protection remains to the heart even inspirational stories about Joan Root will be making in a movie starring Julia Robert.