Word from our Chairman

Africa’s elephants are being killed in unprecedented numbers. At this rate, within a few short years, many elephant populations will have vanished from the earth.

The goal of WildlifeDirect is to change minds, hearts and laws to protect Africa’s critical species. It has committed itself to stopping the killing in Kenya, and beyond. We believe only in results and will not declare victory until elephants are safe. Founded by Dr. Richard Leakey and directed by Dr. Paula Kahumbu, WildlifeDirect is Kenyan through and through. Small in size, our achievements are sizeable. Consider;

  • We launched a massive public relations campaign “Hands Off Our Elephants.”
  • Her Excellency, Margaret Kenyatta, the First Lady of Kenya, became our patron–the first time a First Lady of Africa has ever adopted a conservation campaign.
  • Our message has gone viral across Kenya, with major local corporations, like Kenya Airways and Kenya Breweries, demonstrating their support with joint campaigns and funding.
  • Massive public education and awareness through partnerships with all the major media houses in Kenya, launch of a comic book Roba Vs. the Poachers, serialized in the Star Newspapers, screenings of Battle for the Elephants, public debates, 20,000 signing an online petition to the President, plus thousands of school children letters to him.
  • International recognition throughout the year. These include Paula’s Special Commendation at the UN Person Of The Year Award, Brand Ambassador for Kenya, Kenya Association of Women in Tourism Award, Presidential Order of the Grand Warrior, participation in the Clinton Global Initiative conference, and at the US Fish and Wildlife ivory crush in Denver in October

From the beginning of 2013, we have lobbied Parliament to change laws related to wildlife crime. Until now most of those who pleaded guilty were given token fines and allowed to go free. By January 2014, in large part thanks to WildlifeDirect, the new wildlife bill had been passed in Parliament and signed by President Uhuru Kenyatta. Now penalties for possession of illegal ivory and rhino horn begin at $250,000, and often include lifetime imprisonment. This landmark law is an example for all Africa.

Moving forward, much remains–

  • Empowering magistrates around the country to live up to the letterof the law.
  • Launching a wildlife crime hotline.
  • The creation of a soap opera, condemning poaching, to be listened to by all Kenyans.
  • Outreach into schools throughout the country.
  • Educational outreach among members of Kenya’s large Chinese worker population.
  • Taking our message and our victories beyond Kenya.


Thank you for all your help,

John Heminway, Chairman, WildlifeDirect

“Changing minds, behavior and laws so Africa’s magnificent wildlife will endure forever.”

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