Renowned paleoanthropologist, fossil expert Leakey to speak at Tarleton

Photo courtesy American Academy of Achievement

Photo courtesy American Academy of Achievement

By Savannah Baxter

Special Contributor

On Tuesday, April 8, Tarleton State University will host an internationally renowned paleoanthropologist, Dr. Richard Leakey, who is also a political advisor and environmentalist.

The lecture, “An Evening with Richard Leakey: Exploring a Life of Discovery,” is part of the university’s Speaker Symposium Lecture Series.

The event is at 7:30 p.m. in the Clyde Wells Fine Arts Auditorium. Admission is free and all members of the public are invited to attend.

In preparation for the lecture, Dr. Marcy Tanter, associate professor of English, said those planning to attend may enjoy watching a National Geographic documentary on Leakey. Here’s the link:

Being the son of famous fossil hunters Louis B. Leakey and Mary Leakey, Richard Leakey’s family has been credited with many significant fossil discoveries in history. In 1968, at 24, he was appointed the director of the National Museum of Kenya, where he coordinated many excavation expeditions near Lake Rudolf (now Lake Turkana). These expeditions produced large amounts of fossils, including many hominids.

But for over 40 years now, Leakey has made international headlines for his wildlife conservation and politically standings in Kenya, Africa. He was appointed the head of the Kenya Wildlife Service in 1989 after not being able to participate in fieldwork anymore. He specifically fought against rhino and elephant poaching while at the Kenya Wildlife Service.

Leaky lost both of his legs below the knee in 1993 in an airplane crash caused by malfunction. But the accident did not stop him from making a difference in Kenya.

After leaving the position of director in 1994, Leakey became extremely involved in Kenyan politics, serving as Secretary General of Kenyan opposition party Safina. In December 1997, Leakey was elected to an opposition seat on the Kenyan Parliament.

He did not stop there. In 1999, he was appointed the head of Kenya’s Civil Service by the then-President Daniel arap Moi, working in various fields of the Kenyan government.

Leakey announced in 2001 that he was retiring from politics and stepped down from his position. Even though he is no longer officially involved in the Kenya government, he continues to fight for political justice in Kenya and enjoys producing wine on his personally owned farm near Nairobi.

Savannah Baxter is a student journalist at Tarleton State University. 

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