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Tony Whitten

Tony Whitten (1953-2017) was an inspirational conservationist who championed biodiversity across Asia and beyond.

He grew up in South London and, after a degree in environmental science at the University of Southampton, he moved with his wife Jane to Siberut, an island off the west coast of Indonesia to study Kloss's Gibbon for his PhD. It was the beginning a lifelong love of Indonesia, and a commitment to conservation that grew to engage all of Asia. In 1995, he joined the World Bank’s Environment Department, playing a crucial role for more than 15 years in guiding safeguarding policies, and championing biodiversity in a community invariably dominated by a focus on economic development.   Leaving the Bank in 2010, Tony joined Flora and Fauna International to lead their Asia-Pacific programme. 

Throughout his career, his love of natural history, and of the less-sung species, not least invertebrates and molluscs, shone through.  He was fond of quoting Dr Seuss’s ecological book, The Lorax, saying “I speak for the trees”.   Tony’s warmth, enthusiasm, and commitment was a source of constant inspiration for all who knew him.