A tribute to William Roy Branch (1946–2018)

Posted 17 September 2020 by under Announcements & Notices • Journal: African Journal of Herpetology
A tribute to William Roy Branch (1946–2018)

William Roy Branch, known more commonly as Bill, was the most prolific African-based herpetologist of his era. Having published at least 659 herpetological contributions, including, but not limited to field and photographic guides, taxonomic revisions, ecological studies and conservation assessments, this special issue acts as a tribute to summarise various aspects of his life, his achievements, and their significance to African herpetology. 

With special reference to his impact on the Herpetological Association of Africa the Editorial of the special issue contains accounts of Bill's life from his colleagues. Having spent 50 years working as a a herpetologist with the Port Elizabeth Museum his herpetological collection at the Museum was among the largest collections in Africa. 

He was author of 68 taxon names and had six taxa named in his honour, and during nearly five decades of involvement with herpetology, he worked on a great variety of projects, published profusely, and collaborated and corresponded with hundreds of researchers in South Africa and throughout the continent, Europe, the United States and Australia. For nearly 40 years, Bill collected reptiles and amphibians in approximately 20 African countries. Soon after he started working at Port Elizabeth Museum, he began fieldwork, especially in the Eastern Cape. This included several Cape provincial nature reserves and national parks where he collaborated on projects with various colleagues, including Harold Braack and AMB.

Bill was an important figure in the history of the Herpetological Association of Africa (HAA) and in 2004 he was awarded the Herpetological Association of Africa’s highest honour, the Exceptional Contribution to African Herpetology award. It goes without saying that Bill was a focal point at HAA conferences with students seeking his expertise and advice and colleagues gathering to hear his latest stories from the field and to find out what new publications were on the horizon. 

You can read the special issue here

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