Kenya's Famed Richard Leakey Helps Torch Ivory Burn Without Brad Pitt Who Will Play Him In 'Africa'

Scientific American shares today an interview with the esteemed paleontologist and sometimes Kenyan politician Dr. Richard Leakey about his efforts to save Kenya's elephants and other wildlife.

The son of the world-famous Louis and Mary Leakey, "whose dramatic discoveries at Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania helped establish Africa as the birthplace of humankind, Richard is best known for his excavation of a nearly complete 1.6 million-year-old skeleton of“Turkana Boy”—a young Homo erectus male found near Lake Turkana in Kenya in 1984."

In 1989 Dr. Leakey agreed to head Kenya's then fledgling wildlife service, where he earned a reputation as incorruptible in a corrupt government.  The outspoken Leakey resigned in 1994 and formed his own political party called Safina. After serving as Cabinet Secretary in 1999, Leakey, now 71, returned to public service as chairman of the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). He is also chair of the Turkana Basin Institute at Stony Brook University on Long Island.

This entire Lake Turkana region, bordered on the north by Ethiopia's Omo Valley and moving south into Kenya, is the psychic home of Anne of Carversville and my GLAMTRIBALE collection.

Kenya's massive ivory burning is underway this Saturday, after the Giants Club Summit. "The looming pyres of white and yellow already stand silently waiting on the sodden ground of Nairobi National Park," writes Scientific American.  Dr. Leaky was among the officials overseeing the burning in Nairobi National Park, ending the two-day Giants' Club Summitm an innugural international wildlife summit that hosted several heads of state, conservationists, and Hollywood figures including Leonardo DiCaprio and Nicole Kidman. The event is also found under the name of Elephant Protection Initiative.

Anne of Carversville founding muse Angelina Jolie did not attend the wildlife summit.  She is featured above with husband Brad Pitt and Richard Leakey because the couple have embarked together on a movie about Richard Leakey's work in elephant conservation. Details after photo.

Read my recent Kenya Will Burn 105 Tons of Elephant Ivory As African Nations, Activists & Philanthropists Converge In Kenya April 29-30.

Brad Pitt Plays Richard Leakey

Angelina Jolie will direct 'Africa', a project that resonates deeply with her because she's felt "a deep connection to Africa and its culture for much of my life, and was taken with Eric's beautiful script about a man drawn into the violent conflict with elephant poachers who emerged with a deeper understanding of man's footprint and a profound sense of responsibility for the world around him". Angelina refers to Eric Roth, who wrote the screenplay for 'Forrest Gump'.

Recent reports are that the film 'Africa' will be shot in Kenya and not South Africa, a country that also offers tax rebates and low or no licensing fees for foreign filmmakers.

"It is Kenya where my life has been and where the film has to be made," Leakey's statement to media houses read. "I have no doubt that whilst the preliminary negotiations are still ongoing and that the storyline and financing are still being finalised, the intent is still to film in Kenya. . . . I wish to clarify that I have been in frequent contact with the agents and producers for the movie and I have received no indication that the movie will be moved to South Africa as alleged."

Kathy Eldon and Richard Leakey

In the strange confluence of intersections that have taken root in Anne of Carversville, my friend Kathy Eldon, mother of my muse Dan Eldon -- the young photographer who was stoned to death in Mogadishu on July 12, 2013 -- worked for Richard Leakey when the Eldon family lived in Nairobi.

Equally coincidental, Kathy Eldon also worked on a documentary on elephant poaching called 'Lost in Africa.' See Kathy and daughter Amy at TEDX, an article I wrote about her autobiographical book on the day I met her in 2013 .

We roll on into a reminder that the movie about Dan Eldon's life was recently shot -- not in Kenya as hoped -- but in South Africa. The article describing competition between Kenya and South Africa in attracting filmmakers summarizes the grave concerns that the Leakey-Jolie-Pitt movie would also be lost.

On a more personal level, I reflected on Kathy and Dan in April 2013 -- including Kathy and I growing up in Iowa and southern Minnesota respectively, separated by a few hours on the map. Every time I reflect on the coincidences that swirl around me in this region of the world, I feel that something very special is happening to me, that my life's purpose is anchored very specifically in this region of the world. ~ Anne