In Memoriam: Kennedy Kaminju Kariuki

Born Free is saddened to share the news that our good friend and collaborator, Kennedy Kaminju Kariuki, passed away on 28th December 2023 in the NW hospital in Nairobi at the age of 35.

Portrait image of Kennedy K KariukiBy Dr Nikki Tagg, Head of Conservation

Kennedy was a talented Kenyan conservationist and many of us in the Born Free team knew Kennedy well, sharing a passion for lion conservation and working in the same landscape for many years.

Kennedy was born on 5 November 1988 in Kericho, Kenya. After his primary and secondary education in Kenya, he studied for his Masters in ‘Biodiversity Conservation and Restoration’ at the University of Antwerp between 2018 and 2020. For his Master’s thesis, Kennedy studied human wildlife conflict in the Meru Conservation Area (MCA) in Kenya, in collaboration with Born Free, and produced an exceptional thesis on the ‘Ecology and Conservation of the African Lion’.

In 2022, Kennedy was accepted for a PhD with Leiden University in the Netherlands and was studying the impact of translocating lions into the MCA and working on several publications on human-lion conflict around Meru National Park. Kennedy was the founder and executive director of the ‘Meru Carnivore Project’, which promotes human-lion coexistence using carnivore research and management to promote positive attitudes in the community.

It was through his work in Meru and his drive for lion conservation that many of us at Born Free often crossed paths with him. Kennedy’s work, passion, and warm personality were very well known among us. We had huge respect for him as a fellow conservationist and friend.

One of his great interests was filming African nature and storytelling and he made several documentaries about African wildlife. He was also a fellow of African Conservation Voices and a National Geographic explorer. We will remember Kennedy as a passionate conservationist, a proud Kenyan devoted to conserving native wildlife, a promising scientist, full of ambition and talent, and as someone who will be an inspiration for many young African students and conservationists.

Our thoughts are with Kennedy’s family and friends at this very difficult time.

Rest in Peace Kennedy.