Paula Kahumbu

CEO, WildlifeDirect
Nairobi, Kenya

About Paula

Bio

Conservationist Dr. Paula Kahumbu is the CEO of WildlifeDirect has a PhD from Princeton University where she studied elephant ecology. She worked for Kenya Wildlife Service heading Research, wildlife trade policy and National Parks. She led the Kenya delegation to CITES Conference of the Parties meetings in 2000 and 2002 . She is the winner of the Howard Buffet Award for Conservation Leadership in Africa 2011 and is a National Geographic Emerging Explorer. She is a lecturer at Princeton University, the Chairperson of Friends of Nairobi Park and sits on several conservation boards including the Jane Goodall Institute Kenya. Areas of expertise Conservation and Development, conservation and sustainable development

Languages

English

TED Conference

TED2013

Areas of Expertise

Wildlife, Sustainable Development, Ecology, Conservationist, wildlife biologist, Wildlife Trade, Wildlife policy , Conservation and development, Conservation Easements, Conservation and sustainable development

An idea worth spreading

Africa is often portrayed as the basket case, but Africa is not a poor continent. It is the only continent on the planet that has a negative ecological foot print and vast untapped natural resources. The challenge for the rest of the world is to support Africa's desire for development through wise use.

I'm passionate about

Wildlife and conservation of megafauna in Africa

Universities

Princeton University

Talk to me about

Wildlife, conservation, tourism, Africa, Kenya

People don't know I'm good at

story telling

My TED story

I am the guardian of 13 year old Maasai inventor of Lion Lights Richard Turere

Comments & conversations

180960
Paula Kahumbu
Posted over 2 years ago
How do we save African elephants from extinction?
Thanks Mustafa and Mathew, pulling teeth is exactly that .. pulling teeth. Difficult, painful, dangerous. I'm looking for radical solutions to the demand in Asia, and new innovative ways of improving enforcement in Africa - from anti-poaching, to intelligence, prosecutions and elephant population management. Cheers, Paula
180960
Paula Kahumbu
Posted over 2 years ago
How do we save African elephants from extinction?
Thanks Allan. Tusklessness is now prevalent in two African elephant populations - Murchisons Falls in Uganda and Addo in South Africa. I'm not sure that it is not a state you'd want elephants to be in - tusks evolved for a specific purpose, they are used in fighting, finding food, and even rescuing each other.
180960
Paula Kahumbu
Posted over 2 years ago
How do we save African elephants from extinction?
Hi Peter, synthetic ivory has been tried adn this hasn't really worked, the Chinese users will pay much more for the real thing because of it's association with the elephants. I would love help from a lab like CSIRO to help me to find a means of permenanently marking the ivory in our stockpiles so that it can be traced to ensure that it never enter the illegal markets and gets laundered into the legal markets.
180960
Paula Kahumbu
Posted over 2 years ago
How do we save African elephants from extinction?
Wow, that's a very powerful and sad personal story. I wish that visitors to Africa could experience the opposite, a peace associated with reconnection with the land of our origin, and a relationship with the animals that we evolved with. I have never understood the mindset of hunters but that's just me. The ivory trade is not about hunting, it's about supplying a valuable resource to people who have no connection to the animals. Perhaps if every Asian user of ivory had to actually shoot the elephant, they wouldn't be quite so interested in the ivory.
180960
Paula Kahumbu
Posted over 2 years ago
How do we save African elephants from extinction?
Greetings Mustafa, thank you for this very pracical approach. i have heard the economic argument and I guess I feel that it ignores the problems with globalization, and it also ignores spiritual values. What it also ignores history and the evidence that species have gone extinct due to over harvesting. We are working on a number of ideas to create whistle blowing facility so that anyone anywhere can report poachers, dealers, gangs etc, but this has to be combined with special teams to conduct investigations, prosecution and courts. Raising the funds to set this up is my challenge
180960
Paula Kahumbu
Posted over 2 years ago
How do we save African elephants from extinction?
This suggestion makes my teeth hurt - imagine removing teeth from an elephant - they are embedded in the jaw by about half a a meeter and the pulp cavity extends more than a meter ! An elephant with a toothache will be a very dangerous animal
180960
Paula Kahumbu
Posted over 2 years ago
Is capitalism sustainable?
I think the poverty that Bono spoke about was "extreme poverty" - Coming from Africa I get the feeling that the kind of poverty that is experienced around the world is very subjective. Using words like poverty are infective - I know people who are rich in culture, family, natural and resources, fresh air, clean water and happiness. But are convinced that they are poor because they don't' have cash or a TV. I don't think that our current model of capital is sustainable beacuse it does not capture natural assets or their services, nor does it capture the costs of exploitation and use. Capitalism 's causing the utter destruction of natural environments and like Salgado said, "it's a complete contradiction to develop by destroying everything around us". I work on elephant conservation and it is capitalism that drives lust for ivory in Asia, and it's this lust that is driving elephants to extinction. The rarer the elephants the more valuable the ivory, which is driving the poaching .. it's a vicious cycle.
180960
Paula Kahumbu
Posted over 2 years ago
What are the challenges that gifted and creative individuals face at present?
I met Richard Turere when he was a herds boy a year go, today he wowed the TED audience about his invention. Unlike many gifted African children Richard is growing up in a tough physical and cultural environment actually does not traditionally encourages children to constantly innovate. In fact children in his community are generally not even permitted to converse with adults and are expected to simply do what they are told. Having spent a lot of time with his family I can honestly say that what was different for Richard was that his parents let him play - he broke things and got into trouble, but they never discouraged him from experimenting. Nor did they put huge expectations on him. I totally connected with what Sugata said - all kids need is encouragement and they will get on with learning. I've seen how encouragement has transformed a boy who experimented secretly in his bedroom to one who is now talking with surprising confidence on the big stage. He has no idea how inspiring his story is for so many under privileged kids who only see limitations. What Richard experiences is limitless freedom to experiment and he does not "know" the meaning of the word failure in the same way that we do.