Leakey accused of fermenting trouble at the Kenya Wildlife Service


(Posted 18th July 2017)

Leakey’s term as chairman of KWS may be coming to a rough end if his growing number of critics have their way, as his meddlesome maneuvers were once again exposed in public last week.
Once seen as a conservation icon have comments attributed to him over the past years – such as proposals to build a bridge over the Serengeti to facilitate the building of a highway or his support to cut the Nairobi National Park into two sections with a railway routing which is bound to destroy the fabric of the only city based park of its kind – progressively eroded his public image among conservation groups.
Usually well informed sources close to the Kenya Wildlife Service now point fingers at him for having engineered the departure of Mr. Kitili Mbathi when he – Leakey – tried to run management interference by meeting with field staff in the face of a prohibition order by the Cabinet Secretary, one he at first ignored before his leash was pulled back sharply.
Prof. Judi Wakhungu’s directive stopped Leakey’s intentions dead in his tracks, especially when allegations emerged that he may have tried to push out Mbathi in favour of his own buddy Mark Jenkins.
Jenkins came to KWS in an advisory capacity two years ago but was by several sources identified as a fifth column of Leakey, allegedly collecting ‘dirt‘ on Kitili Mbathi to provide ammunition for his firing or back demands for his resignation.
Kitili two weeks ago subsequently defied the ‘order‘ of the Leakey led board to resign or be fired and proceeded to take his annual leave before, clearly fed up with the Machiavellian machinations of Leakey and his band of merry men, throwing in the towel last week.
Commented a regular pundit on KWS affairs on condition of anonymity: ‘It is true that equipment is down and needs major maintenance but from my perspective it has a lot to do with pending budget approvals or lack of immediately available cash. In any case, Leakey’s dictatorial tendencies are well known. His use of a kitchen cabinet and openly using his position to bypass the DG is not in order and maybe the organization should be refurbished from the top with a new board and a new chairman who can then recruit a new Director General. Leakey has lost the trust of many and is now more a liability than an asset to the organization. It is time for the political leadership in Nairobi to see that and act accordingly. KWS is not Leakey’s personal property no matter what past contributions he has made – and no one doubts those – but his time has now passed and a new inspired 21st century leadership is required to pull KWS from the quicksand‘.

Comments by readers of one of Kenya’s daily newspapers commented a few months ago already on this situation when they wrote:

Leakey has little trust in Africans – his stints in KWS results in a high proportion of Caucasians than should be! Dr Western years back was pointed to reverse Leakey’s trend at the time and he did very well by introducing community based wildlife practices. Leakey shouldn’t be working for KWS – his time is bygone. Kenyans of African origin must own the wildlife but not be complacent in bad practices like what is currently happening in Laikipia where animals are being massacred by Samburu and Pokot mad herders as this only proves the point Leakey wants to make!

I agree totally with what you are saying. I think these guys try to keep a "white" face at the helm to maintain the flow of donor funds mostly from the "West". As one contributor has suggested here, it is a matter of trust. Black people in such positions do not garner the same level of trust from these donors.

Jenkins is a good friend of Leakey. Leakey is Chairman at KWS board. It makes sense now.

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Whether the Kenyan government takes decisive action ahead of the upcoming general elections is anyone’s guess right now but at present, despite installing an Acting Director General, one Mr. Julius Kimani (substantive Deputy Director Parks), is the organization sailing into a near perfect storm.
Watch this space.