Dr. Winnie Kiiru
2021 Fellow, Leadership Council, Accountability Council
Dr. Winnie Kiiru is a wildlife biologist with a distinguished career in research, policy, advocacy, and wildlife management. In 2021, she received the State Honour “Order of the Grand Warrior” in recognition of her leadership in conservation.
She was also appointed Chairperson of the inaugural Board of Wildlife Research and Training Institute, a newly formed government organization charged with leading wildlife research and training in Kenya. Winnie’s immense contribution to wildlife conservation in high leadership roles prepared her well for this immense responsibility.
Winnie served as a Trustee of the Kenya Wildlife Service and chaired the conservation committee of the board. She was instrumental in influencing KWS to conduct a national inventory of the ivory and rhino horn stockpile.
Dr. Kiiru led the project team that successfully conducted a historic Ivory and Rhino Horn inventory and subsequent ivory burn officiated by His Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta on 30th April 2016. She was named Woman of Excellence 2016 by the Kenya Association of Women in Tourism for successfully leading the ivory project and positively impacting Kenya’s global image
Dr. Kiiru has made her mark in international advocacy for elephants. She is a well-known voice at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and has represented Kenya and the NGO fraternity since 2000. She is a founder member of the African Elephant Coalition, an important group of like-minded African countries that came together to support the precautionary principle at a time when the push to open the ivory trade was strong. African voices from East Africa that stood against the trade were drowned by the pro-trade lobby from the south until the coalition built the required capacity for West and Central Africa to speak. Through the work of the coalition, elephants have remained in the appendix 1 of CITES despite many proposals to downlist and promote trade in ivory.
Winnie is currently the Head of Government Relations at the Elephant Protection Initiative. The EPI is a governmental initiative with 21 African member states committed to promoting elephant conservation and the livelihoods of the African people. The EPI is well known for bringing the conservation dialogue to the highest levels of government. Dr. Kiiru is in her element when working with Heads of State of government, Ministers of the Environment and Heads of Global organizations that determine the policy and funding direction at the highest level.