RIP Richard Leakey

Fossil finder Richard Leakey has just passed away. His was a big name in the world of Archaeology and Conservation.

Richard Leakey (1944 – 2022, aged 77) was a staunch defender of elephants and waged war against poaching in Africa. A wild fact about him is that he pulled major publicity stunts to set tonnes and tonnes of poached elephant tusks on fire, to show that ivory taken from creatures has no intrinsic value. Text links to fascinating interview.

The same fire burning the seized elephant tusks. Image Source: Wiki Commons

• He, with Kamoya Kimeu, found a near-complete skeleton of an 11-year old boy in the 1980s in Africa.

• To be clear, the skeleton was 1.6 million years old, and is dubbed ‘Turkana Boy’, widely accepted to be a Homo erectus specimen.

• His daughter Louise de Merode is a famous palaeontologist in her own right… and she (and her daughters) are Princesses. This is through marriage into the Belgian monarchy. I know these days it is just a title, but I like fairytales, and can’t help but regard this as charming.


I pulled this quote by him from the Scientific American article:

When I studied fossils, I was dealing with species that became extinct because of climate change, because of over-predation. Today, when I stand on the magnificent Kenyan landscape in the midst of so many of their successors, the survivors—now different species—it’s a very powerful experience. I feel I’m at home with them. I understand myself better. I sense my place within the larger continuum of life. So the paleontology is not separate from my concern for wildlife, it is very much a part of it.

Rest In Peace Richard Leakey. I hope your example shows many more people how we are all on that Continuum and how we should defend it. May elephants guard you on your walk to the next world.


11 thoughts on “RIP Richard Leakey

  1. Wow, I didn’t know that Belgium has a monarchy. I guess they don’t make as much headline as those British royalties. So true. Tasks belong to elephants and they are not supposed to become decorations for humans.

    Liked by 1 person

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