Richard Leakey is a descendant of Kenya’s well-known Leakey paleoanthropology research family. He has fought for nature, free thought, and conservation for more than fifty years. He has pursued professions in politics and the enforcement of animal protection legislation despite severe health concerns. He was born in Nairobi and had an exciting childhood filled with experiences in the African wilderness. Early on, he advocated for racial equality and was persecuted by his colleagues in Kenya’s colonial culture, which was common at the time. He became a photographic safari leader, bone identifier, and general outdoorsman while honing his talents as an aviation pilot and employing his knowledge in wildlife care. He hesitated being engaged in his family’s paleoanthropology business, but his passion for the subject surfaced when he went to work for his father. Later, as a self-employed anthropological, he led multi-national teams of anthropologists to Ethiopia and Kenya, where they uncovered key early human fossils. As he enforced elephant protection legislation with creative techniques against ivory poachers, his focus shifted to conservation. He formed Kenya’s ‘Safina Party,’ which advocates for liberalism, social fairness, and environmental issues. Leakey is currently an anthropology professor at ‘Stony Brook University in New York.’
Childhood and Adolescence
Richard Leakey was born on December 19, 1944, in Kenya, and his early years were impacted by the post-World War II era, which provided chances for autonomous wildlife research as well as sobering reminders of racial inequity.
In 1950, he and his siblings captured small herbivores and protected their prey from lions and hyenas. They wanted to see if they could live in the same way as primitive human boys did.
He injured his head while horseback riding in 1956. Richard, who was feeble and unwell, begged his father not to divorce his mother, and was successful in keeping his family together for several years.
In 1956, his classmates mocked him for speaking out in support of racial equality. When they put him in a cage and poked him with sticks, their torment became physical.
Career of Richard Leakey
Leakey became self-sufficient at the age of sixteen, dropping out of school to start a business identifying bones and eventually leading photographic safaris. His genuine paleontology career began when he and his colleagues went looking for fossils around Lake Natron.
His colleague KamoyaKimeu discovered a specimen of ‘Australopithecus boisei,’ an early man that lived in the area around 1.2 million years ago during the ‘Pleistocene Era.’ Two similar excursions were led by Leakey and Kimeu in 1964.
He founded the ‘Kenya Museum Associates’ after quitting ‘Louis Leakey’s Centre For Prehistory and Paleontology.’
He directed the museum’s efforts to ‘Kenyanize’ its officials, placing native Kenyans in positions of higher responsibility, while seated on the board of directors.
In 1967, Leakey proposed expeditions to Ethiopia’s Omo River basin, which had previously been undiscovered paleoanthropologically.
From 1972 through 1978, the expedition discovered numerous finds, including a ‘Homo rudolfensis’ skull, a ‘Homo erectus’ skull, and a full ‘Homo erectus’ cranium.
The important discovery of ‘Turkana Boy,’ now known as ‘Nariokotome Boy,’ near Kenya’s ‘Lake Turkana,’ occurred in 1984. It is the most complete early human skeleton yet discovered, dating from the early Pleistocene and estimated to be 8 years old at the time of death.
Kenya’s president appointed him head of the ‘Wildlife Conservation and Management Department’ in 1989, and he championed conservation. To combat elephant poaching, he implemented a daring approach that included anti-poaching forces with the authority to shoot poachers on sight; poaching activities decreased dramatically.
In 1989, Leakey and President Moi destroyed 12 tons of poached ivory in ‘Nairobi National Park.’ Due to his incorruptibility, such harsh actions garnered Leakey opponents.
He resigned from the conservation group in 1994 as allegations of corruption surfaced within the organization. The focus of his activities then shifted to Kenyan politics. A year later, he became a member of the ‘Safina Party,’ a group of intellectuals who advocated for green politics, liberalism, and social justice.
From 1999 until 2001, President Moi appointed him Cabinet Secretary and Chief of the Civil Service. The next year, he was employed as an anthropology professor at ‘Stony Brook University’ in New York, where he still lectures today. He is the ‘Chair of the Turkana Basin Institute’ at the institution.
In 2004, he started ‘WildlifeDirect,’ a site that supports African conservationists. In 2007, people from all over the world played a direct role in assisting the world’s most vulnerable animals, particularly the Congo’s mountain gorillas.
Major Projects of Richard Leakey
In 1993, he and Roger Lewin co-authored ‘Origins Reconsidered: In Search Of What Makes Us Human.’ In the book, he evaluates prehistory based on his Lake Turkana finds, contrasting his prior work with modern data and analytical methodologies.
In 2001, he published ‘Wildlife Wars: My Fight To Save Africa’s Natural Treasures,’ which describes his battle against elephant poaching. He had previously been engrossed in the study of hominids.
Achievements & Awards
The ‘National Geographic Society’ awarded him the ‘Hubbard Medal’ for outstanding achievements in study, exploration, and discovery. In 1994, he was awarded.
He was named a fellow of the ‘Royal Institution in London,’ a learned society for science, in 2007.
The ‘American Humanist Association’ awarded him the ‘Isaac Asimov Science Award’ in 2013. The society promotes a life based on the greatest ethical standards, with the goal of serving humanity as a whole.
Personal History and Legacy
In 1965, Leakey married Margaret Cropper. Anna, the couple’s daughter, was born four years later.
Richard married Meave Epps in 1970 after divorcing Cropper the same year their daughter was born. Louise and Samira were his two kids from his first marriage. Louise’s field of study is paleoanthropology.
Estimated Net Worth
Richard is one of the wealthiest Paleontologists and one of the most well-known Paleontologists. Richard Leakey’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.
Angelina Jolie announced plans to depict the life of this famed paleoanthropologist in 2014. Leakey will be played by Brad Pitt.