But Leakey’s tenure has not been without controversy. This past winter, amidst an uproar over public comments he made criticizing the African nation’s government for its lack of effectiveness in preventing elephant poaching, and a press campaign against Leakey personally,. Kenya’s vice president called for Leakey’s resignation. Now,just three months later, Leakey has been promoted to Director of Wildlife in Kenya (see story, page 1), formally responsible for handling the growing problem of wildlife conservation in the country.

In this interview, conducted earlier this year in San Francisco by freelance science writer Virginia Morell, Leakey discusses the political trials—and successes—he has encountered during his 20 years as director of the National Museums.

Q You joined the National Museums of Kenya in 1968. What had been the history of the institution up to that point?

A In 1968, the National Museum was some 40 years. old. At that time it employed...

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