Kenyan paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey dies at 77

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FILE – Richard Leakey, Kenyan wildlife conservationist, places a rhino horn to be burned at the zoo in Dvur Kralove, Czech Republic, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. Paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey, known for his fossil-finding and conservation work in his native Kenya, has died at 77. His death was announced Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022 by Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta. The cause of death was not announced. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek, File)

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Paleoanthropologist Richard Leakey, known for his fossil-finding and conservation work in his native Kenya, has died at 77, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta announced Sunday evening.

The cause of death was not announced.

Leakey, the son of globally known anthropologists Louis and Mary Leakey, also held a number of public service leadership roles including director of the National Museums of Kenya and what became the Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenyatta’s statement said.

“We are deeply saddened to learn about the news of the death of our founder,” the conservation group WildlifeDirect said.

The group’s CEO, Paula Kahumbu, said Leakey had “a natural sense of leadership, old-fashioned but straightforward. His memory was super sharp and his ability to hold many ideas in the air at once to find common threads was phenomenal. He will be dearly missed.”

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