Winner of the Whitley Award donated by The LJC Fund in Memory of Anthea and Lindsey Turner

A voice for elephants

Paula Kahumbu is the Executive Director of WildlifeDirect and leads the Hands Off Our Elephants campaign, launched in 2013. One of the Kenya’s most influential conservation voices, Paula believes that the country’s experience and historical knowledge of elephants places it in a leading role in the global effort to save the species from extinction.

Paula Kahumbu profile

An African Icon

African elephants are the largest land animal on Earth and are totems for many African tribes. Kenya is home to the longest running studies on elephants which have revealed that they can distinguish between different human tribes from their language – some tribes are more dangerous than others for elephants.


Poaching crisis

In 1989 Kenya lit a pyre of ivory representing thousands of elephants killed by poachers. This led to a global agreement to ban the ivory trade. However, the last five years have seen a massive resurgence in poaching across Africa, reaching a ten-year high in 2013, when more than 35,000 elephants were illegally killed for their tusks. Today, Kenya is the leading transit country for ivory out of Africa.

Hands off our elephants

Paula’s ambitious project aims to:

  • Use the media to drive behaviour change, empowering communities to respond through a new anonymous wildlife crime hotline.
  • Oversee adoption of new legislation and enforcement, including the training of investigators and prosecutors to tackle poaching and illegal trade.
  • Reduce demand for ivory through international diplomatic relations driven by meetings, presentations, media and corporate partnerships.

Why it matters:

  • Nearly 100 elephants are killed each day in Africa.
  • Elephant tourism contributes to 12% of Kenya’s GDP and over 300,000 jobs.
  • Poaching threatens the economy, security and stability of Kenya.

“People across Kenya are now seeing that protecting wildlife is their duty.”

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