Wildlife Wars: My Fight to Save Africa's Natural Treasures.
By Richard Leakey and Virginia Morell. 2001.
St. Martin's Press, New York. xi + 319 pp. ISBN: 0-312-20626-7
Joel T. Heinen
Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Studies, Florida International University, Miami, FL 33199;
(305) 348-3732 phone, (305) 348-6137 fax
(This is only part of the book review published in the journal)
By now, the story of Richard Leakey's rise, fall, and resurrection
to the top position in wildlife conservation in
Kenya is well known to many. The version here (told with the help of Virginia Morell) is much more complete
than any previously written, as it includes much of the intrigue and politically-motivated maneuverings in Kenya in general, and in its highest profile government office, over the period from 1989 to 2001. It is well worth reading. Because Leakey suffered personally from many forces outside his control during his first (five-year) term as head of Kenya's Wildlife department, it is perhaps good that he waited until now to tell his own story. The prose is surprisingly
devoid of bitterness, yet it informs the reader of the many goingson that should not have been. It is perhaps hard to feel sorry for Leakey. As the grandson of missionaries, the son of two of the 20th Century's greatest human fossil hunters (Louis and Mary Leakey), a fossil hunter in his own right and the husband of another (Meave Leakey), he has been an international media star for quite some time. Yet the reader does feel his various frustrations and anxieties at many
points. Kenya was, until the early 1990s, under single party rule and corruption was rampant.