Dr. Paula Kahumbu


Paula is CEO of WildlifeDirect, a non-profit wildlife conservation organization that campaigns to save Africa's unique wildlife by changing hearts, minds and laws. She believes that saving the worlds endangered species is possible if we involve people in all sectors of society in finding solutions to solving the challenges.

Elephants, rhinos, lions and other African species are under grave threat largely due to ignorance in range states, as well as transit and market countries. Paula develops campaigns to enlist public support to reverse the threats. 

In leading the hard hitting Hands Off Our Elephants Campaign with Kenya's First Lady, Her Excellency Margaret Kenyatta, Paula is championing Kenyan leadership in elephant conservation through behaviour change at all levels of society, from rural communities, to business leaders and political decision makers.

In addition to running WildlifeDirect Paula lectures undergraduate community conservation at Princeton University during an annual field course in Kenya. She holds a PhD from Princeton where she studied Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and conducted her field research on elephants in Kenya.

Paula is the winner of the Whitley Award 2014, Brand Kenya Ambassador (2013), Presidential award Order of the Grand Warrior (2013), winner of the National Geographic/Howard Buffet Conservation Leader for Africa (2011) and is a National Geographic Emerging Explorer (2011).


Why I'm an idealist

Round Square is instilling in students a desire to take practical action in tackling environmental issues, questioning and challenging practices that impact negatively on the environment. It’s a very solutions-focussed and hands-on approach. The students are learning that individual intervention, however small that may feel, when added together creates a movement, a campaign for change. This is a point that I am passionate about. WildlifeDirect was founded on the understanding that every single person can make a meaningful contribution. Round Square is promoting a similar philosophy of strength in number, and individual capacity to create change, and I am proud to support them through becoming a Round Square Idealist.


I’m a Kenyan; that’s my country and my heritage. I can’t imagine not fighting for something I believe in.