Richard Leakey is a man of principle and purpose who has made international headlines for over 30 years. Serving his native country of Kenya as a senior government official, a member of parliament, an opposition political activist, a conservationist, an administrator, a museum director, a scientific researcher, an author and a farmer, Leakey has been both successful and controversial. The son of the famous Dr. Louis B. and Mary Leakey, he is also the world’s best-known paleoanthropologist, credited with some of the most significant fossil discoveries of the 20th century.
Uncompromising in his crusade against government corruption and unwavering in his devotion to his country, Leakey, a lifelong critic of the mismanagement of Kenya’s wildlife, was appointed Director of Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) in 1989, where he led the effort to end elephant poaching in Africa. He drew international support for a ban on the trade in ivory and raised $150 million for wildlife conservation. However, his tenure was interrupted when his plane crashed in 1993 claiming both of his legs. The following year, Leakey resigned his post, declaring that government corruption had undermined KWS.