A Tribute to Roger Perry (Charles Darwin Research Station Director 1964-1970)

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Roger Perry at the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) © CDF

Charles Darwin Research Station Director in Galapagos, wildlife conservationist and author Roger Perry has died at the age of 82.

We remember Roger Perry's contribution to the conservation of the Galapagos Archipelago. He has been the longest serving Director to date. Dr. Peter Kramer, his successor in 1970, stated that "Roger Perry was focused, thoughtful, and a good manager. He initiated programs of education and training as well as the world-famous tortoise breeding program and housed and worked closely with the first Galapagos National Park officers".
He is the author of the wonderful book "The Galapagos Islands" and his most recent publication "Island Days."

RogerPerry_Tortoise_Tjitte de Vries.jpgRoger Perry preparing to transport, in May 1968, one of the 14 remaining tortoises (a female) from Española to a breeding center on Santa Cruz. Photograph by Tjitte de Vries.

He is the author of the wonderful book "The Galapagos Islands" and his most recent publication "Island Days."
Galapagos News Spring/Summer 2009 published an interview to mark the 50th anniversary of the Charles Darwin Foundation and Roger Perry recalls this from his time in charge of our organisation and reflects upon the islands' future:

'The most urgent task in 1964 was to protect the surviving populations of giant tortoises. So far as we knew there were only the remnants of colonies on Santa Cruz and the northern volcanoes of Isabela. Other races, those of Pinzón and Española, were critically endangered. I proposed that we should begin a captive-breeding program. This was to become one of our most encouraging ventures, eventually being taken over by the newly formed GNP. By the end of 1970, the first batch of young Pinzón tortoises had been repatriated to their home island, and the first Española hatchlings were being raised at the new tortoise-rearing center. As one who long ago came under the spell of these islands, I was saddened to learn that the archipelago has been relegated to a World Heritage Site “in danger.” I hope the Ecuadorian government can yet restore the status of the islands and resolve the underlying problems of spiralling human population growth and development.'

Wetheringsett 2012.jpgRoger Perry pictured at his home in Wetheringsett in 2012. Photograph from the East Anglian Daily Times

More than fifty years later, the tortoise population of Española is now over 2,000.  

Dr. Arturo Izurieta current Director of the Charles Darwin Foundation stated that, "Roger Perry's legacy to Galapagos has been incalculable and were it not for his dedication and contribution, we might have faced the extinction of these gentle giants.  Galapagos is forever in his debt".

More Information

Click here for full publication of Galapagos News Spring/Summer 2009

Click here to read Roger Perry's life Obituary from East Anglian Daily Times