History

WildlifeDirect (previously the Africa Conservation Fund) was founded in 2004 by the prominent Kenyan conservationist and paleoanthropologist, Dr. Richard Leakey, and former World Bank Representative to Kenya, Harold Wackman. WildlifeDirect was initially conceived as an online platform to provide a voice to African conservationists to protect wildlife as an important global heritage. By publishing their blogs, the aim was to raise awareness and funds for individuals and organizations on the frontlines in otherwise ignored conservation areas.

In the early years, WildlifeDirect highlighted the plight of gorillas in Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, successfully campaigned to ban the pesticide Furudan that was being used to poison lions in Kenya, and supported the Mara Conservancy following the collapse in tourism revenues as a result of the post-election violence in 2007.

In 2012, in response to the poaching crisis affecting the elephant population, WildlifeDirect redirected its focus to elephant protection. The following year, WildlifeDirect launched its flagship campaign, Hands Off Our Elephants, under the patronage of the First Lady of Kenya, Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta. For the first time in history, a First Lady of Africa adopted a conservation campaign. Over the past few years, the campaign has been widely recognized for its singular successes in advocacy and generating unprecedented local support for wildlife conservation never before witnessed in Kenya.

2004 – 2007

2004

WildlifeDirect was founded by Dr. Richard Leakey and Harold Wackman initially as an internet platform to give voice to African conservationists.

2007

WildlifeDirect brought to world attention the brutal massacre of gorillas in the Virunga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

2008

2008

Following WildlifeDirect’s campaign to end poisoning of lions with the pesticide Furadan, it was removed from Kenyan shelves.

2008

WildlifeDirect raises more than $150,000 to support the work of the Mara Conservancy following the collapse in tourism revenues during the violence that followed the disputed December 2007 presidential elections results.

2008

WildlifeDirect was the 2008 recipient of Mongabay’s Innovation in Conservation award, recognized for an unconventional and highly effective approach to conserving forests and biodiversity.

2013

2013

Launch of Hands Off Our Elephants campaign, under the patronage of the First Lady of Kenya, Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta.

2013

WildlifeDirect’s publication of wildlife crimes triggered intensive national and international lobbying, leading to the new Wildlife Conservation and Management Act.

2014

2014

WildlifeDirect’s CEO, Paula Kahumbu, is presented the prestigious Whitley Award in honour of her work and leadership to address Kenya’s poaching crisis.

2014

Following intense lobbying and a media campaign led by WildlifeDirect, suspected ivory kingpin Feisal Mohamed Ali is arrested and brought to trial in Kenya.

2015

2015

WildlifeDirect works with Maasai women in Amboseli to form the Oltome-Nadupo Women’s Company to develop livelihood strategies that are compatible with the sustainable use of natural resources and help reduce human–wildlife conflict.

2016

2016

Launch of NTV Wild, a twice-weekly program of films and discussions, highlighting wildlife issues on prime-time TV in Kenya.

2017

2017

Targeting children to help save elephants. WildlifeDirect is focusing on school children in the Amboseli area, home to one of the most important elephant populations in Africa, to ensure that children get enough to eat that their education is not interrupted. We teamed up with the Enkijape Primary School Board of Governors and Insta Products to feed 752 students with a high protein porridge at lunch time.

2017

WildlifeDirect partners with Amarula Trust to raise global awareness about elephant poaching.