On 11 June 2015, Ralf Sommerlad sadly passed away.
For TTF, this was a particularly poignant event: Ralf was a founding member of the TTF, a long-serving Chair of the task force, and a true champion of Tomistoma and its conservation.
Born and raised in Frankfurt, Germany, Ralf began working with crocodilians in Frankfurt Zoo, under the guidance of the famous zoo director Prof. Bernhard Grzimek. In 2008, he was Director of the Madras Crocodile Bank for a short term. He was instrumental in linking European zoos and the CSG, and was an advisor to EAZA (the European zoo association) and it’s reptile taxon advisory group. He also formed a conduit between EAZA and AZA (the US equivalent). His life was based around crocodilians, and their conservation, and he was influential: his passion was matched by a powerful belief in his own ideas – which he was only too pleased to share!
For those of us who knew Ralf and counted him as a friend, World Tomistoma Day is not only a tribute to this incredible man, but a chance for us to remember him each year and with a species that was especially dear to him.
August 5th is Ralf’s birth date, and therefore the date of World Tomistoma Day.