WildlifeDirect was founded in 2005 by Dr Richard Leakey to support African efforts to protect wildlife heritage as an important global heritage. Dr Leakey led Kenya’s successful campaign for a worldwide ban on trade in ivory in the 1980s. This ban destroyed demand for ivory, prices collapsed and poaching was largely eliminated. Regrettably, poaching is back at levels that, if not abated, will lead to the extinction of the African elephant.
WildlifeDirect holds a unique and special role in Kenya’s wildlife conservation efforts. Over the past few years it has been widely recognized for its singular successes in advocacy and the engagement of the people of Kenya to support the protection of elephants. At a popular level this never has been experienced before in Kenya or any other elephant range state.
Our unique wildlife heritage provides the roots of our identities and enriches the quality of our lives. It inspires pride in communities and is at the heart of Kenya’s tourism industry, bringing investment into local economies every year and supporting hundreds of thousands of jobs. That’s why we believe wildlife should be protected for the future, and everyone should have the chance to delight in it and look after it.
WildlifeDirect is lean, internally focused and following a planned strategy that has a direct impact upon government actions and responses to the threats affecting wildlife in general and elephants in particular.
In most cases, the legislation required to ensure the survival of wildlife has already been passed. The system fails through a lack of enforcement, insufficient funding and the pernicious influence of corruption and organized crime. WildlifeDirect creates partnerships with government, NGO’s, international agencies and conservation partners to produce factual information about what is working and what is failing to develop public awareness and concern for the efficacy of the legal protection already in statute.
The main thrust of the WildlifeDirect’s programs will be:
- To maintain pressure on government and the wildlife authorities to produce better results.
- To emphasize the importance of transparency in all actions and other activities of the managers of wildlife and environment.
- To be a whistle-blower where it is necessary.
- To promote public awareness through concerts, radio, television, facebook and the blogger-sphere.
- To launch other campaigns on target species and issues.
- To highlight critical efforts by other conservation agencies where support such as finance or joint actions could bring quick results. Emphasize working with not against always pays dividends.
- To promote at the highest levels of government the need for better prosecution of the laws governing wildlife crime and to emphasise the enormous socio-economic and heritage value of Kenya’s endangered biodiversity.
WildlifeDirect is dedicated to “Changing minds, behaviour and laws to ensure Africa’s critical species endure forever.”