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The Late Dr. Richard Leakey’s legacy will endure for many generations

The Late Dr. Richard Leakey’s legacy will endure for many generations

We have today received with deep sorrow the sad news of the passing on of Dr. Richard Erskine Frere Leakey, one of Kenya’s pioneer public atheist, humanist, and world-renowned conservationist.

Dr. Leakey was a towering figure for religious skepticism and an inspiration to atheist generations across the world. During a time when atheism and religious skepticism was frowned upon in most parts of Africa, he was a shining beacon of naturalism. Dr. Leakey believed in the power of science as a way of understanding the natural world. He rejected supernaturalism as a way of explaining existence. In the 1970s, Dr. Leakey made groundbreaking discoveries of early hominid fossils. His most famous find came in 1984 with the uncovering of an extraordinary, near-complete Homo erectus skeleton during one of his digs in 1984, which was nicknamed Turkana Boy.

He was also a bold and incorruptible wildlife conservation champion. As the slaughter of African elephants reached a crescendo in the late 1980s, driven by insatiable demand for ivory, Leakey emerged as one of the world’s leading voices against the then-legal global ivory trade. Richard Leakey’s confrontational approach to the issue of human-wildlife conflict in national parks did not win him, friends. His view was that parks were self-contained ecosystems that had to be fenced in and the humans kept out.

Dr. Richard Leaky remains our role model, and his legacy as a passionate scientist, atheist, conservationist, and humanist will endure for many generations to come.

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