Economy & Politics

Prince William conservation body to honour KWS chair Leakey

Kenya Wildlife Service chairman Dr Richard Leakey. PHOTO | FILE
Kenya Wildlife Service chairman Dr Richard Leakey. PHOTO | FILE 

A wildlife charity, whose royal patron is Prince William, has announced that it will honour Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) chairman Dr Richard Leakey with a lifetime award for his contribution towards wildlife conservation.

Dr Leakey, a renowned paleoanthropologist who gained global recognition for discovering the 1.6 million year old skeleton of a homo erectus youth, will be feted with the 2017 Legacy Award by Tusk Trust - a UK-based conservation charity.

Tusk said Dr Leakey will be recognised for his tireless efforts that reduced poaching in wildlife sanctuaries across Kenya during his tenure as the chairman of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS).

“He re-organised Kenya's national park systems and dramatically reduced poaching levels. Leakey continues to tirelessly campaign against the slaughter of African wildlife,” said the statement.

Dr Leakey is currently seeking a Sh30 billion ($300million) cash injection to help revamp infrastructure within all State-owned wildlife sanctuaries and has since held preliminary discussions with the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA 2) commissioner on investments to fix infrastructure in Kenya's national parks.

In an earlier interview, Dr Leakey said other senior KWS officials were also holding talks with World Bank officials with a view to raising the much needed funds in order to upgrade perimeter fences to electric ones to help reduce human wildlife conflict.

Dr Leakey said the planned developments are set for commencement later this year where road networks within the national parks will be improved into all-weather roads, thereby ending decades’ old challenges where they become impassable during rains.

The KWS chairman lauded the positive response from donors and other wildlife charities as commendable saying an implementation programme would be released soon.

“Obviously, Kenya has had problems and we have discussed these problems of corruption and this organisation has a zero tolerance principle on graft. There were problems in the past but we have since addressed this by involving international auditors,” he said.

Film producers Richard Ladkani and Kief Davidson will also be feted alongside Dr Leakey with this year’s Game Changer Award for their Oscar shortlisted Netflix documentary 'The Ivory Game', which is executive produced by Leonardo DiCaprio.

The filmmakers infiltrated the sinister world of ivory trafficking that took them to China, Vietnam, the United Kingdom and several African countries where they held one-on-one interviews with members of ivory cartels and government officials.