Paula Kahumbu Biography, Education, Mentor, Thesis, Wildlife Warriors, WildlifeDirect, Awards & Accomplishments, Hands Off Our Elephants

Paula Kahumbu Biography

Paula Kahumbu is a multi award winning Kenyan wildlife activist, author, conservationist and Chief Executive Officer of the Kenyan conservation NGO WildlifeDirect. Dr. Paula is most notably known for spearheading the Hands Off Our Elephants campaign with Kenyan First Lady Margaret Kenyatta which aims to create awareness on wildlife conservation. She is also a host of a television series titled Wildlife Warriors that premiered on Citizen Tv on April 7,2019. The tv series seeks to shed a light on local heroes conserving the environment. Additionally, she is a chairperson of National Museums of Kenya.

Paula Kahumbu Education

The activist grew up in Nairobi, Kenya; attending her primary and secondary education at Loreto Convent Msongari. Upon completion of her secondary education, Dr. Paula was granted a scholarship by the Kenyan government to study Ecology and Biology at the University of Bristol. Upon completion of her undergraduate studies; she enrolled for her Master’s degree at the University of Florida for a course in Wildlife and Range science; consecutively graduating in 1992.

From 1994 – 2002; She attended Princeton University under a Petri scholarship where she earned her PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology .. In 2005, she received her Certificate in the Program for Management Development through the Gordon Institute of Business Sciences at University of Pretoria.

Paula Kahumbu Mentor

Dr. Kahumbu was first mentored by the renown Kenyan paleoanthropologist, conservationist, and politician Dr. Richard Leakey. Dr. Leakey has been the Director of the National Museum of Kenya and head of the Kenyan Wildlife Service, and  went ahead to found the NGO WildlifeDirect. Additionally,Leakey is the chairman of the Kenya Wildlife Service.

Paula Kahumbu Thesis

In her early studies and fieldwork, Dr. Paula focused on primates, writing her Masters thesis on the monkeys of the Tana River Primate National Reserve. For her doctorate, she studied elephants in the Shimba Hills on the Kenyan coast.

Paula Kahumbu | Kenya Wildlife Service

Upon her return to Kenya, Paula joined The Kenya Wildlife Service. Her mandates included quantitative research where she kept records- counting and measuring the ivory stockpile in the country’s vaults  for Richard Leakey’s renown televised burning of the tusks. Working with KWS changed her perception on elephants which swayed her doctoral decision from the study of primates to elephants. This influenced her doctorate studies; where she studied elephants in Shimba Hills for her Princeton University PhD.

Paula Kahumbu Photo

Paula Kahumbu CITES

After earning her PhD from Princeton University, She returned to the Kenya where she led the Kenyan delegation to the CTIES-Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

Paula Kahumbu WildlifeDirect

In the year 2007, Paula would become the executive director of  a nonprofit organization titled WildlifeDirect,founded in 2004 by her mentor Richard Leakey. The NGO served as an online platform to provide voice to African conservationists to ensure the protection of both flora and fauna. Over the years,the organization hasgrown, becomingthe largest wildlife blogging site in Africa and has covered a diverse array of conservation issues—from protecting chimpanzees in Sierra Leone to wild dogs in Zimbabwe.

Paula Kahumbu Lecturer

Dr. Paula consecutively teaches conservation to students as a lecturer at Princeton University, where she leads an undergraduate course in community conservation during an annual field course in Kenya.

Paula Kahumbu Hands Off Our Elephants

Paula launched the campaign “Hands Off Our Elephants” at WildlifeDirect to put an end to wildlife poaching and trading of ivory, and has since gained the support of Kenyan First Lady Margaret Kenyatta. The campaign aims to leverage media to drive behavior change and to foster agency within the local community to take action.  The NGO along with other partners also hosts the annual Global March for Elephants,Rhinos & Endangered Species in a bid to create awareness on the dwindling Wildlife populations through poaching and Anthropological activities. the campaign has worked to propose concrete legislation to enforce against the illegal ivory trade. When the campaign began in 2014, more than 100,000 elephants across the African continent had been killed for their ivory over three years. Due to the campaign, there have been stringent measures put across and fatal repercussions for poachers.

Paula Kahumbu Author| Publications

The doctor is also an accomplished children’s book author, co-writing a global best seller titled Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship, based on the unlikely friendship of hippopotamus and an Aldabra giant tortoise. The publication has been received with positive remarks.

Paula Kahumbu NTV Wild

Paula is the producer of NTV Wild, an award-winning wildlife documentary series, and NTV Wild Talk, a television shows hosted by Smriti Vidyarthi that covers conservation issues.

Paula Kahumbu The Guardian Correspondent

Paula is also a correspondent for The Guardian; contributing regularly to The Newspaper where she has a column advocating for protection for elephants through a solutions-based approach—from ending corruption to inspiring a young generation of conservationist—and denouncing the ivory trade.  

Paula Kahumbu Wildlife Warriors

Paula also hosts a Televisioon series titled Wildlife Warriors. Wildlife Warriors premiered on 7th April at 5 pm on Citizen TV .This series provides perspective on conservation from Africa in her own eyes.Season 1 of Wildlife Warriors is exclusively filmed in Kenya. The show seeks to shine a light on the local heroes so that their remarkable stories will inspire a future generation of conservationists.  “I wanted to tell the stories of our remarkable young heroes in Kenya – so that the world will know that we are not all poachers, corrupt officials or ignorant environmental polluters. But that we have some of the worlds finest scientists, the most couragious heroes, and that WE are saving OUR wildlife. ”
The series is filmed in some of Kenya’s wildest locations and many of our heroes have never before been seen on screen. Each story will inspire young people to take action to save what they love.

Paula Kahumbu E-mail

Paula Kahumbu Contacts

International: +254722685106

Paula Kahumbu Awards & Honors

  • National Geographic Buffet Award Winner for conservation leadership in Africa, 2011
  • National Geographic Emerging Explorer Award, 2011
  • Special Commendation, United Nations Person of the Year Award, 2013
  • Order of the Grand Warrior Award, Kenyan Ministry of Environment, Water and Natural Resources, 2014
  • Whitley Award Winner, donated by The LJC Fund in memory of Anthea and Lindsey Turner, 2014
  • Round Square Idealist


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