Tim Halliday obituary

Ambassador for amphibians who warned of global decline

The recent shocking UN report on the threatened extinction of one million species has focused global attention on the crucial role of biodiversity in the health of the planet. Almost exactly 30 years ago, the first warning sounded that amphibian species were already in potentially catastrophic freefall. Tim Halliday, who has died aged 73, was one of the leading figures in a worldwide initiative to raise the alarm, and to understand the reasons for the decline. The current chief scientist of the Amphibian Survival Alliance, Phil Bishop, called him “the leading champion and ambassador for all things amphibian”.

In 1989 Halliday was one of the prime movers in organising the First World Congress of Herpetology (herpetology is the study of amphibians and reptiles) at the University of Kent, Canterbury. While studying the courtship and mating of British newts in the wild, he had noticed over the years that the numbers in his study ponds had been falling. As participants at the congress compared notes, they realised that the same was happening all over the world. Many of these declines were described as “enigmatic”, because frogs, toads, newts and salamanders were dying in supposedly protected habitats.

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Source : Tim Halliday obituary