Richard Leakey – fossil expert, conservationist and politician


Richard Leakey, who has died days after celebrating his 77th birthday, was a pugnacious man whose achievements were as remarkable as they were diverse. Born on 19 December 1944 in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, he was a world-famous fossil expert, author and conservationist, as well as being an opposition MP, anti-corruption campaigner, economic reformer, and head of the country’s civil service. He was beaten up, threatened and badly injured in a plane crash which saw him lose both his legs. He was branded a racist by then-President Daniel arap Moi, lauded by him, and hired and fired by the president. “I think pressure probably suits me,” Leakey once said with urbane understatement. His first job was studying fossils. His parents, Louis and Mary were famous archaeologists and palaeontologists who spent decades exploring Kenya’s Rift Valley, searching for the origins of mankind.(BBC)…[+]