Celebrating Felipe Cruz's life in Galapagos

Felipe Cruz

Today we had the honor of celebrating the life of our friend and partner of so many years, Felipe Cruz Bedón, who died in Chile on August 9, 2018.   

In a ceremony that took place at the Charles Darwin Research Station during this afternoon, his son Rashid Cruz Chesney, his mother Emma Bedón, his brothers, sisters, relatives and friends who met Felipe, got gather together to celebrate his life. 

Tribute to Felipe Cruz.
Tribute to Felipe Cruz. Photo by: Paola Díaz
Celebration of life Felipe Cruz
Celebration of life Felipe Cruz. Foto by: Paola Díaz

The event had a great attendance of the community of Galapagos and here Felipe was remembered with much affection. During the event several messages sent from around the world were read, attendees wrote messages for his son and family in the book to the tribute of his life.

Felipe Cruz.
Felipe Cruz. Photo from: CDF Archive

Felipe worked for the Charles Darwin Foundation for 32 years and contributed significantly to several conservation efforts on the Galapagos Islands of other institutions. No doubt, his leadership and passion for The Islands will always prevail.

In the event our Executive Director, Dr. Arturo Izurieta, mention that "the Charles Darwin Foundation has decided to name the Foundation Scholarship Program as the Scholarships for Education and Training Felipe Cruz in honor of his career as a scientist and his exemplary support to education and training in the archipelago."

Felipe Cruz and his team.
Felipe Cruz and his team. Photo from: CDF Archive

His nephew Gonzalo Banda Cruz, sent a message to be read. He comment how dozens of young people and adults, who are currently working in natural or social science, conservation, management, tourism, hospitality, veterinary, medicine, public administration , communication, art, agriculture, commerce, gastronomy; and several other fields, at some point of their pass through the islands were influenced and inspired by Felipe and his thought.

Paula Tagle Saad, member of the General Assembly of the Charles Darwin Foundation and editorialist of the newspaper El Universo, wrote an article about Felipe published on June 8, 2014: "The bird dodo: A dedicated ecologist", where she summarizes part of his great career.

Paula describes how Felipe, between 1978-1980 worked on his own project for the study of the petrel in Floreana and the control of introduced species. Felipe estimated 300 adult individuals, with only 10% reproductive success and high mortality. He presented a proposal to the WWF of the United States that financed him from 1981 to 1987. Although Felipe was a young man from unknown Floreana -a remote island in Ecuador- the WWF relied on its tenacity and knowledge and the project became one of the most interesting and widespread for the donors of this non-governmental organization. Since 1989, the Galapagos National Park is in charge of monitoring and control of this species, and today 5,000 adults are estimated in Floreana with a reproductive success of 80%.

After the petrel, and several other projects, Felipe dedicated himself to the eradication of goats in the Galapagos. He became the Technical Director of the Isabela Project, one of the most successful ecosystem restoration programs in the world. In the campaign from 1998 to 2006, he completely eradicated the pigs and goats in San Salvador Island, and in Isabela the population of goats was reduced from 100,000 to less than 60.

Felipe Cruz was Deputy Executive Director of the Charles Darwin Research Station. For the period of his administration, and together with the Directorate of the Galapagos National Park, he was manager of the captive breeding program of the mangrove finch, a species of which only remain less than 100 individuals.

Felipe Cruz Finch Project 1988.
Felipe Cruz Finch Project 1988 . Photo from: CDF Archive

Paula finally writes about the island Floreana, that saw him being born and was the first and constant love of Felipe, where one of his dreams was the repatriation of the unique mocking bird of that island. Due to the depredation by introduced species, these birds survive only in satellite rocks and islets, being no more than three hundred individuals. The population of rats and cats is controlled, and the next step is to bring several pairs of the Floreana mocking bird back to their island of origin.

Felipe, his passion and professionalism are examples for those who conform The Charles Darwin Foundation; our General Assembly, Board of Directors and employees express our unconditional support to his son Rashid Cruz Chesney, his mother, Emma Bedón to his brothers, sisters and relatives. We assure you that Felipe will always be remembered by us.

Video links with Felipe Cruz´s interviews:

The professional career of Felipe Cruz had local, national and international impact. He was a unique and brilliant ambassador of Galapagos.

The “Charles Darwin Foundation for the Galapagos Islands”, in French “Fondation Charles Darwin pour les îles Galapagos”, Association International sans but lucratif (“AISBL”), has its registered office located at Drève du Pieuré 19, 1160 Brussels, and is registered under the trade registry of Brussels under the number 0409.359.103.

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