International Kenyan conservationist and politician Richard Leakey, who unearthed evidence that proved humanity evolved from Africa, died on Sunday at the age of 77.
Announcing his death, President Kenyatta said: “I have this afternoon… received with deep sorrow the sad news of the passing away of Dr Richard Erskine Frere Leakey, Kenya’s former Head of Public Service.”
Leakey, the son of notable paleoanthropologists Louis and Mary Leakey, had no formal archaeological training of his own but led expeditions in the 1970s that 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.
Leakey was nominated in 1989 by then President Daniel arap Moi to lead the national Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), where he spearheaded a vigorous campaign to stamp out rampant poaching for elephant ivory.
In 1993, his small Cessna plane crashed in the Rift Valley. He survived but lost both legs.
He also tried his hand at politics, ran civil society institutions, and briefly headed Kenya’s civil service.