NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 17 – Wildlife Direct Chief Executive Officer Paula Kahumbu has been recognized as the Rolex National Geographic Explorer of the Year for 2021.
The award recognizes the work that Kahumbu has been pioneering for more than a decade at Wildlife Direct.
The award was announced at the National Geographic Explorers Festival, an ongoing invite-only event hosted by the National Geographic Society.
In a statement, Paula Kahumbu said, “I am truly humbled and grateful to Rolex and the National Geographic Society for naming me the Explorer of the Year today. This is a huge honor that I never dreamed I could attain. As a child, my heroes were people who protected wildlife.”
The Rolex National Geographic Explorer of the Year Award is given to an individual whose actions, achievements, and spirit push the boundaries of leadership in exploration, and who shows a commitment to share this knowledge with the world.
Through Wildlife Direct, Paula Kahumbu launched the Hands Off Our Elephants Campaign with the First Lady of Kenya, Margaret Kenyatta, which mobilized the citizens, organizations and the Kenya Government to fight for the country’s elephants.
The campaign raised awareness about the seriousness of wildlife crime, and the wanting state of law enforcement, particularly in the courts when handling wildlife traffickers, like the trial of Feisal Mohamed Ali, without effective deterrents.
This led to the review of wildlife legislation, effective handling of wildlife crimes, and training of judicial officers.
With support from Safaricom PLC, Kahumbu also spearheaded the creation of a powerful children’s movement, Wildlife Warriors Kids, which has enabled thousands of school children to watch wildlife documentaries like Wildlife Warriors, visit parks, and participate in practical hands-on conservation activities including camping expeditions, hiking, citizen science, and habitat restoration projects.
At the same time,with support from the Wild Lives Foundation, USAID through the US Department of Interior, The Great Plains Foundation, and the National Geographic Society, plus in-kind support from many conservation organizations and tour companies in Kenya, she further launched Africa’s first wildlife documentary series made by Africans.
Kahumbu is currently working on completing Season Two of Wildlife Warriors which is set to launch in August 2021.
The series tells stories of African conservation heroes and the amazing species that they are saving.
WildlifeDirect aims to mobilize a generation of Wildlife Warriors in Africa, empowered young people who defend and protect wildlife and wild places in Africa.