The body of a dead giraffe can be seen in the Mugie National Park in Laikipia, Kenya, 3 February 2017. Shepherds are attacking safaris and wild life reserves with the desprate search for water and fodder. Photo by: Str/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

SAMBURU NATIONAL PARK, KENYA—For conservationists stationed in politically volatile regions, life can be harrowing. Last October, John Doherty had to take refuge under his desk here for nearly 2 hours as armed herders, angry at grazing restrictions, attacked a nearby ranger headquarters. He could hear shouting and frenzied footsteps outside and bullets smacking into his office wall. “I was wondering whether I should call my family to tell them I love them,” says the zoologist, of Queen’s University Belfast in the United Kingdom.
In recent months, drought and overgrazing in northern Kenya have sent thousands of herders and their livestock into national parks and other protected areas, intensifying tensions over land and grazing. Violence has taken the lives of several rangers, and a surge in wildlife killings is devastating populations of one of East Africa’s most majestic beasts: giraffes. “This affects all wildlife, but giraffes may be particularly hard hit,” says …