Richard Leakey, a renowned Kenyan conservationist whose work was frequently featured in film and television documentaries, died today at age 77. Details on what he died from and where were not revealed.
The Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta issued the announcement of his death.
“I have this afternoon… received with deep sorrow the sad news of the passing away of Dr Richard Erskine Frere Leakey, Kenya’s former Head of Public Service,” said Kenyatta.
Leakey was the middle son of famed paleoanthropologists Louis and Mary Leakey. He had no formal archaeological training of his own, but led expeditions in the 1970s that made groundbreaking discoveries of early hominid fossils.
His work was frequently spotlighted on film and television programming. His appearances included PBS’s Nova, CBS’s 60 Minutes, several National Geographic specials, and the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens, among other programming.
Leakey’s most famous find came in 1984, when he found a near-complete Homo erectus skeleton during one of his digs. The find was nicknamed Turkana Boy.
He became the head of the national Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), where he campaigned against rampant poaching for elephant ivory. He briefly headed Kenya’s civil service, then returned to the KWS in 2015 for a three-year term.
No information was immediately available on survivors or memorial plans. /
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