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."

Roger 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.
Roger Perry preparing to transport, in May 1968, one of the 14 remaining tortoises (a female) from Española to a breeding center on Santa Cruz. Photo 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.'

Roger Perry pictured at his home in Wetheringsett in 2012. Photograph from the East Anglian Daily Times.
Roger Perry pictured at his home in Wetheringsett in 2012. Photo by: 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

Galapagos News Spring/Summer 2009

Roger Perry's Obituary from the East Anglian Daily Times

Mangrove Finch Conservation Workshop participants. CDF Puerto Ayora, September 18th, 2015.

A workshop "Conservation planning for the critically endangered mangrove finch (Camarhynchus heliobates) 2016 - 2020" took place in Puerto Ayora from the 15 – 18 September, 2015. Participants included international specialists who have worked with mangrove finch conservation, project partners and collaborators, institutional stakeholders and young Ecuadorian biologists. Representatives from the following institutions took part: Charles Darwin Foundation, San Diego Zoo Global, Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, The Peregrine Fund, Dallas Zoo and Aquarium Inc., University of Missouri St Louis, Invasive Species Fund for Galapagos (FEIG), Island Conservation, Guayaquil University, and Consejo de Gobierno para el Regimen Especial de Galapagos (CGREG).

The agenda included formal presentations with a focus on open round-table discussions. Conservation management actions conducted to date were presented and reviewed and special precedence was placed on incorporating head-starting to meet the long-term goals of the Mangrove Finch Project (increase population size and range of the species).

The main outcome of the workshop is a five year 2016-2020 Action plan for mangrove finch conservation, producing a complementary document to the current 2010 – 2015 Mangrove Finch Action Plan (Fessl et. Al. 2010). The document is currently being compiled by the Project Leader with input and review from workshop participants and will be published in August 2016.

Mangrove Finch Conservation Workshop closure, Conference room CDF. Photo by: Paola Díaz Freire.

Broad key activities identified for inclusion in the 2016-2020 Action Plan are presented below.

Key activities 2016-2020 Mangrove Finch Action Plan:

  • Continue with head-starting for a minimum of two more years
  • Publish mangrove finch captive-rearing and head-starting communication protocols prior to 2016 season
  • Establish a mangrove finch conservation steering committee
  • Conduct a review following 2017 head-starting to determine whether captive-reared chicks recruit into wild populations
  • Steering committee evaluate and determine whether to continue with head-starting and whether to release captive-reared birds back into PTN or whether to reintroduce them into a new area
  • Determine two potential recovery sites prior to 2018 and prepare them for introduction
  • Continue with annual population monitoring
  • Continue and improve introduced predator control
  • Continue to collaborate with Philornis Project – if an effective control method is developed, start to use in mangrove finch habitat and monitoring nesting success to see if there is an increase
  • Conduct annual outreach activities in Puerto Villamil
  • Increase project sustainability by continuing to build capacity among Ecuadorian project participants
Ecuadorian student Paul Medranda receives Mangrove Finch Conservation Workshop participation certificate from CCREG Director Eliécer Cruz and CDF Executive Director Dr Arturo Izurieta.
Ecuadorian student Paul Medranda receives Mangrove Finch Conservation Workshop participation certificate from CCREG Director Eliécer Cruz and CDF Executive Director Dr Arturo Izurieta. Photo by: Paola Díaz Freire.

The Mangrove Finch Project is a bi-institutional project carried out by the Charles Darwin Foundation and Galapagos National Park Directorate in collaboration with San Diego Zoo Global and Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. The project is supported by Galapagos Conservation Trust, The Leona M and Harry B Helmsley Charitable Trust, and The British Embassy in Ecuador.

CDRS meteorological equipment.

The Meteorological Weather Station operated by the Charles Darwin Research Station (CDRS) in Santa Cruz Island received its most recent maintenance check in October 2015. This important upkeep was carried out with the support of the Weather and Hydrology National Institute of Ecuador and with the collaboration of CDF staff member Solanda Rea, a CDF staff member with 33 years’ experience, including many years’ responsibility for the Weather Station.

The CDRS began operations in the 1960s, and the Weather and Hydrology National Institute installed several Weather Stations in different parts of the Galapagos archipelago in 1965. Different people and institutions managed these stations at the time, but the only one that still exists is the one operated by CDF at our facilities at the Charles Darwin Research Station. The station is a second order installation (able to take complete and regular, but not continous observations), and has been maintained for fifty years because of the importance of its data for many different projects implemented by the CDRS in collaboration with the Galapagos National Park Directorate.

Second order Stations work with a pluviometer (for measuring the amount of rain), a cyclometer (a thermometer of maximum, minimum, one dry and one humid) and a heliograph (measures the amount of sun in the day). These instruments have been generating data that was collected by scientists from the Station until the 1980s. Since then, as Solanda stated when she was recalling the history of the Station, “Mr. Marcos Robalino a former CDRS staff member who was the last one collecting data before I took over”.

Meteorological equipment.
Meteorological equipment. Photo by: CDF.

In July 1987, the Weather and Hydrology National Institute established a Weather Station on Bellavista district in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island, but the land owned was sold some years later, and the Weather Station had to be relocated.

Solanda said she inquired at various institutions to ask for help moving the Weather Station elsewhere and she succeeded in enlisting the support of the Weather and Hydrology National Institute and the Central University of Ecuador for the relocation.

In 1994, Solanda undertook the responsibility for the CDRS Weather Station operations, and has been collecting data and taking care of its operations since then. An interesting anecdote is that two years after Solanda took charge of the Weather Station; she and Mr. Roger Tinoco recovered the parts that belonged to the remaining, abandoned Weather Stations, that were found in people’s homes as decoration or souvenirs.

Solanda Rea, CDF staff member.
Solanda Rea, CDF staff member. Photo by: CDF.

The operations of the Weather Station at CDRS have been possible thanks to our volunteer program. We have worked with national and international volunteer observers that have recorded data continually. Since 2002, the Ecuadorian Air Force joined the team, helping not only with collecting data but also creating awareness among Air Force (FAE) members about our research projects and work of science in Galapagos, such as the repatriation of land Iguanas to Baltra Island, a project that took place in collaboration with the Galápagos National Park Directorate. 

Our staff member Solanda Rea has given her time and energy to the CDRS Weather Station and with the support of the Ecuadorian Air Force in the last few years she has been the person gathering the information for the climatological database. Currently, over 40 years of data is used for science research.

Solanda stated, “The data is worth gold because of the enormous benefit that it provides to scientists from around the world. They can have access to climate data records since 1965”. Currently, Solanda visits the Weather Station twice a day, 5am in the morning and 6pm in the afternoon, and thanks to her commitment and the current support of the Ecuadorian Airforce (FAE), the collection of weather information continues in Galapagos.

All data since 1965 (Puerto Ayora: sealevel station) and 1987 (Bellavista: highlands station) is available online through our DataZone application.

International innovation at CDF.

THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS are one of the best preserved island ecosystems in the world. The observations Charles Darwin made when he visited the Islands in 1835 can still be seen and have been studied further by hundreds of scientists around the world. Gaining an understanding of the biological and ecological processes in place has helped Ecuador to implement environmental conservation strategies and policies for the future of the Galapagos.

The Charles Darwin Foundation (CDF) embodies the work and magnificence of Charles Darwin through the generation and sharing of knowledge with the Ecuadorian authorities, local community and institutions around the world.

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CDF on International Innovation

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