The highest honor bestowed by the Wildlife Film Festival, will be awarded to Dr. Richard Leakey, this October.
Paleoanthropologist, politician, political activist and environmentalist Richard Leakey has been making international headlines for more than 40 years.
As Director of Kenya’s National Wildlife Service, Leakey was called on to rescue the country’s chaotic park system and combat an epidemic of rhinoceros and elephant poaching. He created well-armed anti-poaching units when gentler measures failed, to counter well-armed poachers who had the upper hand for years. In 1989, Leakey staged a dramatic burning of 12 tons of confiscated tusks, setting the stage to stabilize Kenya’s elephant population.
After surviving a plane crash that cost him both his legs, Leakey founded an opposition party, Safina, to combat the corruption of the Kenya government and to advocate for reforms and better government. Subjected to constant harassment, death threats and even beatings by the regime’s supporters, he became a member of Parliament, where he continued to press for constitutional and legal reforms. Later he resigned from Parliament to take up the challenge of heading Kenya’s Civil Service and serving as the Secretary to the Cabinet, to campaign against corruption in the civil service and he secured a resumption of international aid. Now retired from politics, he remains a passionate and effective advocate for the environment, for the rights of the disabled, and for the cause of democracy in his beloved Kenya.
Now a Professor of Anthropology at Stony Brook University and an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of London (FRS) in 2007, Leakey recently founded WildlifeDirect, an online service that supports conservationists and allows anyone to play a role in the survival of the world’s most endangered species. He initiated the Turkana Basin Institute at Stony Brook University which is a multidisciplinary research institution.
Now accepting nominations for speakers and topics. Please email Lisa Samford with suggestions.