Richard Leakey, a world-renowned Kenyan conservationist and fossil hunter, has passed away at the age of 77.
His pioneering work helps to recognize that Africa is the birthplace of mankind.
He also spearheaded a campaign to stop poaching in Kenya and is famous for burning down the country’s poaching ivory stocks.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said that the niche “serves our country in an outstanding way.”
Leakey has held various positions in the Kenyan government, including the National Museum of Kenya, the Kenya Wildlife Management Bureau, and has served as the head of the civil service.
“In addition to his outstanding career in public service, Dr. Leakey is also known for his prominent role in Kenyan civil society, where he founded and successfully managed many institutions,” said Mr. Kenyatta.
Niche followed in the footsteps of his parents in paleoanthropology-looking for ways to understand human evolution by studying fossils and ancient tools.
In his 20s, Niche made important discoveries of his own and explained the emergence of the modern human ancestor Homo erectus in two seminal books (Origin and the Lakers).
His work contributed to growing evidence that the earliest humans lived on the African continent.
In 1981, he starred in a seven-part BBC TV series “The Creation of Mankind”, which made him a household name.
In the late 1980s, when poachers were wiping out the entire elephant and rhino population in the country, he switched to the head of the Kenya Wildlife Service.
He told his rangers to shoot when they saw poachers and organized a spectacular public burning of large amounts of ivory.
In 1993, the small plane he was driving lost power and crashed. He survived, but his legs were amputated below the knees.
This did not prevent him from entering Kenyan politics and establishing a new political party. However, his political career did not last long. In 1998, he served as the head of Kenyan civil servants with a mission to combat official corruption.
Before returning to the Kenya Wildlife Service, he served in a role for three years.
At the time of his death, he was serving as the chairman of the Turkana Basin Institute at Ishishu University in the United States. The Institute is dedicated to promoting research and education in paleontology and archaeology in northern Kenya.
The Vice President of Kenya said that Niche “inspired many Kenyans with his loyalty to the country. He loves Kenya”.