WildlifeDirect boss Paula Kahumbu joins NatGeo board

Friday January 14 2022
Paula Kahumbu.

Conservationist and WildlifeDirect CEO Paula Kahumbu. PHOTO | COURTESY | WILDLIFEDIRECT


Renowned conservationist Dr Paula Kahumbu is one of the five new appointees to the board of trustees of the National Geographic Society.

She becomes the first Kenyan to sit on the board and joins Zimbabwean businessman Strive Masiyiwa, who became a board member in 2019.

The announcement was made by the chair of the board, Jean Case, who touted the new appointees as ‘distinguished leaders’ whose ‘global expertise and knowledge will prove invaluable as we continue our ambitious mission to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world by using the power of science, exploration, education, and storytelling.’

The other new members are Ash Carter, Claudia Madrazo, Deborah Lehr and Dina Powell McCormick. The new appointees assume their roles this month, except for Mr Carter, who will join in 2023.

Elated by the news, Dr Kahumbu took to Twitter to officially announce the big news.

“NatGeo just got new board members - including yours truly,” she said.


She told the Nation that the new appointment is a big plus to conservation and the African people.

Grounded and effective

She said she was excited about the opportunity to work with a credible team at the helm.

“As an African, I have always felt that international bodies that work on this continent must have legitimate African representation in order to ensure that the work they undertake is grounded and effective,” she said.

“While my role is equal to all other board members, I will be paying special attention to the compliance of the new strategy of National Geographic, which is a forward-thinking global strategy. My appointment to the board is a clear demonstration of this new strategy in action.”

As the chief executive of WildlifeDirect, she is happy that NatGeo has for the first time included someone from the explorer community on the board.

“The explorer community is at the heart of National Geographic’s content and they include scientists, conservationists, innovators, educators, artists, explorers and people working at the cutting edge of many sectors,” she said.

Great ideas to scale

“I am glad that the National Geographic Society identifies and raises the profile of the explorers and brings them together to support their work and networking in order to take great ideas to scale.”

As a trustee in a full board position, she will be involved in developing the 134-year-old organisation and bringing the views of the explorer community to the board.

Dr Kahumbu is known for being at the forefront of the Hands Off Our Elephants campaign that was launched in Kenya in 2014 and supported by First Lady Margaret Kenyatta.

“Through her work, Kahumbu has reduced elephant poaching by 80 percent over five years,” said a statement by NatGeo.

The National Geographic Society, in a statement, said Dr Kahumbu has been part of the National Geographic community for 12 years and in June 2021, she was named the Rolex National Geographic Explorer of the Year.

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