Monday, October 3, 2011

A Very Sad Day - Chris van der Lingen

The dart frog world lost a very important member of our community last week: Chris van der Lingen. Chris was a champion for Pumilio research and implemented the Panama Pumilio Protection Project. His contributions to this hobby were unmatched.

The following was posted on Facebook by Richard Revis of Black Jungle:

Very few people will fully appreciate what has been lost with the passing of Chris van der Lingen. While he was a great and generous man, always willing to give of himself, the greatest loss to the amphibian community lies in the unfinished work and loss of relationships he worked so hard to create. While we have been good friends with Chris for over ten years, we were lucky enough to have been given a glimpse into this world less than two weeks ago while visiting him on the Bocas. I fear much of his overwhelmingly extensive knowledge of the populations of O. pumilio may have been taken with him. While he has created extensive maps of the various forms he studied, he was careful enough to keep their specific locations vague enough to prevent the poaching and demise of some very fragile groups. All of this data was know only via private GPS and held within his amazing mind. Which hills, fields and trees held the most bounty were likely never written down.

Perhaps even more valuable were the various relationships he had forged with local people over the years. These are not created overnight nor are they formed with dollars and cents. At one point during our recent trip, we were passing through the area of Bri Bri and he asked us to stop at a local Indian's house. He explained that he had visited many months prior and the Indian gave him permission to search his land. He took a photo of the Indian and his wife and promised to drop it by the next time he passed through. They were not home when we arrived but he left the photo on the doorstep for them to find when they returned. It was that level of integrity that earned him the trust of so many people down there. The local Indian guides, landowners and villagers were all instrumental to his efforts and it will be very difficult to recapture the trust that was given so freely to Chris.

So, while Chris' family and friends are trying to cope with the personal loss of such a great man, the amphibian community also has good reason to take pause. It will likely be some time before the true understanding of what has been lost will ever be known and I can only hope that one day it is fully appreciated. - Richard Revis

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