The Board received the startling tiding that our former chairman Henk Zwartepoorte unexpectedly died on October 28. He was 67 years old.
Within and outside Europe, Henk was known as keeper and breeder of reptiles and especially turtles. His heavy involvement in the conservation of threatened and protected reptile species made him widely known.
In 1994, Henk was the initiator in founding the Dutch foundation Overkoepelend Orgaan Stamboeken (OOS), of which he became chairman. In and outside the Netherlands he propagated breeding programmes for several threatened species. As a result, reptile and amphibian keepers in other European countries participated in Dutch studbooks. Some European zoos also participated in the studbooks. With the initiation of the Memorandum of Understanding between the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA) and the ESF, he succeeded in strengthening the link between these organizations.
As chairman of the Turtle Survival Alliance-Europe (TSA-Europe), he involved the ESF from the beginning with confiscated turtles from European countries and Asia.
Over the years, Henk stimulated contacts between organizations and institutions outside Europe, to promote sharing international knowledge and experience. The conservation of natural habitat and their plants and animals were central to this. No effort was spared by him.
By extending to other EU-countries, the OOS changed into the European Studbook Foundation (ESF) in 2003. From the start in 2003 until January 1, 2016, Henk was chairman of the ESF. In all those years he applied himself wholeheartedly and with passion to realise the four goals of the ESF. After January 1, 2016, he still actively participated in the realisation of the ESF goals.
Besides his chairmanship of the ESF, he was also studbook keeper of the species: Chelodina mccordi, Chersina angulata, Ouroborus cataphractus, Cuora mccordi, Epicrates subflavus, Indotestudo elongata, Testudo graeca graeca en Testudo kleinmanni.
He was also co-studbook keeper of Astrochelys radiata, Geochelone platynota, Geoclemys hamiltoni, Manouria emys, Ouroborus cataphractus, Siebencrockiella crassicollis, Smaug giganteus, Terrapene carolina bauri, Terrapene coahuila en Terrapene ornata luteola. With his many co-studbook keeper ownerships, he wanted to support the relevant studbook keepers with advice, actual help and making the necessary connections.
Although Henk had a versatile involvement in protecting many animal species, after some time he focussed his special interest and effort on the critically endangered Egyptian tortoise Testudo kleinmanni. With his studbook Testudo kleinmanni, but also his studbook Testudo graeca graeca, he wanted to give a stimulating example to other studbook keepers. He was always happy to advise every turtle keeper if needed.
The use of DNA research in drawing up breeding programmes, was explicitly introduced and applied by him.
With Henk, we all lose an impassioned and expert animal lover, who realized the changing social views with regard to the animal hobby and nature conservation. Henk had an amiable and friendly personality in contact with other people. He leaves a big empty space behind him. His stimulating enthusiasm will be sorely missed by us.
We wish his life partner Mary Vriens and family every strength.
On behalf of the ESF Board,
Harry Rotmans, secretary