Tuesday Jul 20, 2021

Kenya’s Eco-Warrior with Dr Paula Kahumbu

In the latest instalment of Positive Solace: Women of Vision, Attika chats with Dr Paula Kahumbu, a multiple award-winning wildlife conservationist, well-known presenter of Kenya's Wildlife Warriors and Chief Executive Officer of WildlifeDirect, a conservation programme launched by Richard Leakey.

She is well known for spearheading the "Hands Off Our Elephants" campaign, which has been successful in reducing the poaching of elephants, but now the campaign is focusing on change in the behaviour and attitudes of the people towards wildlife and especially elephants where new villages or developments encroach on the elephants' feeding habits. As a result of her work, the campaign has succeeded in getting governments to bring in laws enabling the successful arrest and prosecution of known ivory smugglers.

Kenya sees some of the highest migration of animals in the world every year, with more than two million wildebeest, zebra and many other species. Paula wants people to be better-educated about the wildlife and environment around them; she wants them to become conservationists. Her latest project is to build a centre as part of the First Protected Area in Africa specifically designed for children, in the Wildlife Warrior Kids programme.

How did Paula develop such a passion for conservation and wildlife? Growing up just outside of Nairobi, Kenya, Paula has been raised with nature and wildlife around her. When she was younger she was greatly influenced by Richard Leakey and he became her mentor. Now, as one of the loudest voices in Wildlife Conservation in Africa, Paula wants to educate the people to own the wildlife and nature around them. But there are forces that oppose what Paula is doing and these are not just the poaching organisations.

Paula was shocked by the recent killing of Joannah Stutchbury a conservationist who staunchly defended Kiambu Forest from developers. Dr Kahumbu says that prominent conservationists have been targets first because of the ivory trade and now for opposing development and encroachment by land-grabbing building companies. “We work in an environment of fear for our lives,” she said, “and Joannah's death proves this is no exaggeration.”

She has written a book which has been translated in 27 languages and has sold a million copies. 'Owen and Mzee - The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship’, based on the unlikely friendship between an infant hippopotamus and an Aldabra giant tortoise.

You can find out more about Wildlife Direct, including how to donate, here: www.wildlifedirect.org

A sneak peek of season 2 of Wildlife Warriors https://vimeo.com/507900821

With Thanks to the Positive Solace Team. Subscribe to never miss an episode.

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Attika Choudhary

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