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Where It Began

Royce Reed

royce reed conservationistRoyce was born in 1912 into a different world where conservation was far from fashionable. Despite the times Royce was an avid collector of snakes and had an insatiable curiosity when it came to birds and in particular their breeding and migration.

It was these early amateur naturalists who made the most significant contributions to our knowledge of birds and other wildlife. It was Royce’s contagious enthusiasm and his generosity in sharing both his time and his knowledge with others that made him the remarkable teacher that he was. It was during one of his lectures, aimed at changing people’s attitudes to snakes, that Royce began the family trend of surviving bites from venomous snakes when he was bitten by a Puff Adder.

Amongst the people whom Royce inspired and mentored was Kenneth Newman who went on to author the Field Guide of the Birds of  Southern Africa. This was popular field guide to birds of southern Africa for several decades and is still the book of choice for many birders.

Royce was an avid bird ringer (bander) and together with his sons, he ringed tens of thousands of birds. His efforts were rewarded by having the first retrieval of an African bird in Europe (a Barn Swallow in Helsinki, Sweden). This was a major breakthrough in understanding where the South African migrants were going.