We are very sad to hear the news of the sudden death of Dr Ron Tilson, conservationist and internationally-regarded tiger expert on Nov 16th 2013.
Dr Tilson’s influence was immense. Through his work at Minnesota Zoo, Ron was involved in the evolution of conservation breeding programmes in world zoos and won awards for his long-term work coordinating the Tiger Species Survival Plan.
But strategic planning was not his only forte as Ron was an active field scientist who worked in Asia and Africa. He spent much of this time working in Indonesia on Sumatran tigers, but also worked in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, India, Nepal, Pakistan, China, Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Belize.
Ron, who retired from Minnesota Zoo in 2011, inspired many conservationists over the years including our own Sarah Christie from the Zoological Society of London, who shared with us;
“I owe the shape of my career to Ron’s influence, along with all my early experiences and contacts in Indonesia. Both ZSL’s field programme in Indonesia and the current global zoo breeding programme for Sumatran tigers are built on foundations that Ron laid twenty years ago.”
Ron published over 220 popular and scientific articles and was renowned for key-note speeches and talks to a cross-section of academia and general public. He was co-editor of the 21st Century Tiger office’s most used reference book “Tigers of the World II”.
As conservationists all over the world express their sadness, they also remember him and as Debbie Martyr of FFI at Kerinci Seblat National Park succinctly put it;
“he was one of the fathers of tiger conservation in Indonesia, driving the foundations for so much of what followed”