ʻWildlife Warriors’ returns to the screens

Tuesday July 06 2021
Wildlife warriors.

Dr Paula Kahumbu alongside the Wildlife Warriors crew. PHOTO | BIANCA OTERO


Made-in-Kenya wildlife conservation documentary series, Wildlife Warriors, is back on the screens after a two-year hiatus.

Produced by WildlifeDirect and new partners, the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC) TV, the first episode of the new season focuses on efforts by local conservationists working to protect sea turtles. It aired on June 26.

WildlifeDirect’s Chief Executive Paula Kahumbu, is excited by the partnership with state-owned KBC because the series reaches a wider audience in the country.


“What we want to show is that we have these incredible, inspiring young people doing world-class conservation or research that can inspire young people in Kenya to want to become a conservationist,” she said in an interview with KBC ahead of the series launch.

“We are the first African crew on the entire continent to be making wildlife documentaries. That is how much failure has been in the system for decades.”


Dr Kahumbu is a multi-award-winning ecologist and wildlife conservationist with no prior experience in film production.

But she is passionate about educating the public about wildlife and nurturing the next generation of African conservationists.

Paula Kahumbu.


Rekindling popularity

In June, she was awarded the Rolex National Geographic Explorer of the year, and earlier in May, Dr Kahumbu won the prestigious Whitley Gold Medal issued by the UK-based Whitley Fund for Nature.

Her future plans include use of WildlifeDirect extensive networks in conservation to cover wildlife issues across Africa.

It has been a given with broadcasters in the region, that nature documentaries were not popular with viewers, despite the region being a leading nature destination and known for wildlife conservation.

In 2016, WildlifeDirect partnered with Nation TV in test trial to show two globally acclaimed films of African wildlife, donated at no cost. The screenings were accompanied by panel discussions with local ecologists and conservation experts and they were a big hit with audiences.

Kahumbu had other ideas. The foreign documentaries are produced for a Western audience, with little reference to African perspectives on wildlife. This inspired her to starting the filming of wildlife documentaries.

“A survey showed that 51 percent of Kenyans had watched our wildlife series,” said Trish Sewe, COO of WildlifeDirect, adding, “they couldn’t believe this is a fully Kenyan production.”

After four seasons of NTV Wild came the first series of Wildlife Warriors TV on Kenya’s Citizen TV in 2019, with Kahumbu as the host.

The focus by this time drew attention to Kenyans actively working in conservation.

Viewers were introduced to rhino rangers, Samburu lion keepers, a guinea fowl ecologist, an accountant-turned-turtle rescuer, middle-aged women in Amboseli Park managing the longest elephant research project in the world, and a graduate student running a wild dog and cheetah project.

Wildlife Warriors was picked up by Nigeria’s EbonyLife TV and transmitted to 26 countries in Africa and the Caribbean. It also featured on Waterbear, an online platform, said to be the ‘Netflix’’ of nature television.