Friday, May 18, 2012

Richard Erskine Frere Leakey

Richard Erskine Frere Leakey

Born in 1944 at Nairobi, Leakey is a celebrated paleoanthropologist, environmentalist and politician. He’s the son of the famed anthropologists Louis B. and Mary Leakey who are known for the “Turkana Boy” among other hominids. He is currently a Professor of Anthropology at Stony Brook University (SBU) and elected Fellow of the Royal Society of London (FRS). His is also the chairperson of Transparency International-Kenya.
Leakey on capital talk

Being a man who has spent his life searching for the origin of mankind and in the civil service, Leakey is one of the most influential Kenyan of the Century. He will always remembered for his battle with poaching that saved the elephants of Kenya and the fight against corruption in the country.
He attended the Duke of York School (now Lenana School) for his secondary schooling. He left school at the age of 16, he took up animal collection as a hobby and a business venture. Few years later, he was searching for human fossils and went to as far as Omo Valley in Ethiopia.   
A walk through his life:
In 1965, he concentrated his work at the Koobi Fora area in Lake Turkana and the same year was appointed as the director of the Kenya National Museum.
In 1972, he had a breakthrough in finding of a skull (identified as number 1470) with a brain capacity of about 800cc, which was later taken to be Homo Habilis.
In 1983, he published his autobiography ‘One Life’, which was during his recovery of a terminal kidney disease that he had battled with for more than a decade.
In 1990, he was appointed director and executive chairperson of the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS).
In 1993, he had a tragic airplane crash that led to him losing both of his legs and almost taking his life. However, this never slowed his will and his desire to join the Kenyan political scene he later formed Safina Party in 1995.
In 1995, he became an Honorary Associate of the Rationalist Press Association. He is also an Honorary Associate of the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists.
In 1997, he was elected for a parliamentary seat.
In 1999, he was named one of Time’s 100 Greatest Minds of the 20th Century.
In 2000, he was honoured to sign the Humanist Manifesto.
In 2001, he said goodbye to politics and choose to teach of his over five-decade experience in anthropology at Stony Brook University.                                                                                       
He has authored over 100 scientific articles and books, which include ‘The Origin of Humankind’, ‘The Sixth Extinction’, and ‘Origins Reconsidered’.
Others include ‘Origins and Wildlife Wars: My Fight to Save Africa’s Natural Treasures’ and ‘People of the Lake: Mankind and its Beginnings’ (with Roger Lewin).
He also founded WildlifeDirect, an online portal for conservationists and protection of world’s endangered species and the Turkana Basin Institute in 2005.
In 2009, the Village Times Herald was named the Man of the Year.
In 2011, he was the leading consultant on the IMAX Film ‘Born To Be Wild’. His latest Film with National Geographic, ‘Bones of Turkana’ aired on Wednesday this month on PBS TV.

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