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Tributes flood in after Cambridge wildlife conservationist Dr Tony Whitten is killed in collision while cycling


By Adrian Curtis


Dr Tony Whitten, who was regional director Asia-Pacific for Fauna & Flora International, had 11 species named after him. He was killed in a cycle incident on the Newmarket Road in late November 2017. Picture: Keith Heppell
Dr Tony Whitten, who was regional director Asia-Pacific for Fauna & Flora International, had 11 species named after him. He was killed in a cycle incident on the Newmarket Road in late November 2017. Picture: Keith Heppell

Colleagues at Fauna & Flora International say he was a 'giant of the conservation world'

Tributes have been pouring in for Dr Tony Whitten. Picture: Keith Heppell
Tributes have been pouring in for Dr Tony Whitten. Picture: Keith Heppell

Glowing tributes have been paid to a world renowned wildlife conservationist who was killed in a collision while cycling in the city.

Dr Anthony Whitten, 64, from Cambridge, was cycling along Newmarket Road on Wednesday, November 29, at about 9.15pm when he was involved in a collision with an orange Ford Focus C-Max.

Sadly Dr Whitten, Asia-Pacific regional director for Fauna & Flora International, died at the scene.

Dr Whitten joined FFI in 2011, after many years as senior biodiversity specialist at the World Bank. He had 11 species named after him including a gecko and was featured in a major interview in the Cambridge Independent in October.

The tributes were led by Rosalind Aveling, deputy chief executive of FFI, who posted a tribute on the website which labelled him a ‘giant of the conservation world’.

It read: “We knew Tony as a remarkable man, a giant of the conservation world with an irrepressible optimism, a thirst for knowledge and an enthusiasm for cave creatures that bordered on obsession.

“It is not surprising that he had 11 new species named for him, and he was particularly pleased that they might be viewed as small and uncharismatic, as it meant he could take up their cause and – as a consummate communicator – change that perception. Time spent with Tony always left one feeling better about the prospects for conservation, and about life in general. That is a rare attribute and one whose absence we are already feeling keenly. In due course we will be considering how we can recognise Tony’s life and work in a way that befits this phenomenal man and amplify his lasting legacy; for now, we are just missing him.”

Dr Whitten’s family spoke of their appreciation for the ‘outpouring of support and love’ from his friends and colleagues around the world.

Their statement, on the FFI website, read: “We are truly grateful for the outpouring of love and support from friends and colleagues around the world. We can’t and don’t want to imagine a future without him, but we know his legacy will continue in so many ways.”

Dr Whitten had just returned home to Cambridge, after taking a group of amateur naturalists to eastern Indonesia to explore the history of Alfred Russel Wallace, when the accident occurred.

FFI is based at the David Attenborough Building, off Pembroke Street, on the University of Cambridge’s New Museums Site. It works on a host of international conservation issues, and has been involved in the battle against plastic pollution in our oceans, helping to bring about a ban on microplastics in the UK. It also works throughout the world to protect rare species.



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