SABOTAGE?

How former Public Service boss Richard Leakey lost his limbs

In 1993, the small plane he was flying in lost power and crashed.

In Summary

• He suspected but never proved the crash was a result of sabotage after the plane experienced sudden equipment failure.

• As an expert pilot, he had good reason to suspect sabotage by political enemies. 

In the late 1980s, he switched careers to take over as head of Kenya's Wildlife Service at a time when poachers were wiping out the country's entire elephant and rhino populations.

He told his rangers to shoot poachers on sight and organised the spectacular public burning of a huge haul of ivory.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) and chairman of the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) Richard Leakey (left) pose for the press after the president lit on fire parts of an estimated 105 tonnes of ivory and a tonne of rhino horn confiscated from smugglers and poachers at the Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola/File Photo
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) and chairman of the Kenyan Wildlife Service (KWS) Richard Leakey (left) pose for the press after the president lit on fire parts of an estimated 105 tonnes of ivory and a tonne of rhino horn confiscated from smugglers and poachers at the Nairobi National Park near Nairobi, Kenya, April 30, 2016. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola/File Photo

In 1993, the small plane he was flying in lost power and crashed.

He suspected but never proved the crash was a result of sabotage after the plane experienced sudden equipment failure.

As an expert pilot, he had good reason to suspect sabotage by political enemies. 

He survived but both of his legs were amputated below the knee.

That did not stop him from entering Kenyan politics, setting up a new political party.

But his political career did not last and in 1998 he took up a role as head of Kenya's civil service, with a mission to fight official corruption.

He lasted three years in the role before returning to the Kenya Wildlife Service.

At the time of his death, he was serving as chairman of the Turkana Basin Institute at Stony Brook University in the US.

The institute works to facilitate research and education in palaeontology and archaeology in northern Kenya.

His death was announced on Sunday by President Uhuru Kenyatta who said Leakey is a globally renown Kenyan paleoanthropologist and conservationist who has over the years served his country with distinction.

Leakey previously worked as Director of the National Museums of Kenya and Chairman of the Kenya Wildlife Service Board of Directors.

"Besides his distinguished career in the public service, Leakey is celebrated for his prominent role in Kenya's vibrant civil society where he founded and successfully ran a number of institutions among them the conservation organization Wildlife Direct," Uhuru said in a statement.