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F.Tribute to Professor John L Cloudsley-Thompson

11-06-2013, 05:49 AM
Thomas Tewfik George



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F.Tribute to Professor John L Cloudsley-Thompson

    TRIBUTE TO PROFESSOR JOHN LEONARD CLOUDSELY-THOMPSON,
    THE FAMOUS ZOOLOGIST AND LOVER OF DESERT CREATURES!
    By
    Prof. Thomas T. George
    Global Aquaculture Consultants (GAC)
    Toronto, Canada.
    Ws: www.tilapiamiracle.com
    E-m: [email protected]
    C. +416-275-7365

    I was deeply saddened by the news of Prof. John Leonard Cloudsley-Thompson passing away on October 4, 2013 at age 92 and his wife, Anne, in 2012 at age 96, leaving three sons. Based on information by The Times, The British Naturalists’ Association (BNA) and The Guardian on Oct. 30, 31 and Nov. 3, 2013 respectively, Prof. John L Cloudsley-Thompson was born on May 23, 1921 in Murree in India (now Pakistan) where his father, AGG Thompson, was a Medical Officer of Health for Lambeth. He was educated in Britain at Marlborough College and Pembroke College, Cambridge, where he read natural sciences. His studies at Cambridge were interrupted by the second world war. In 1941 he was commissioned into the 4th Queen’s Own Hussars. At age 21, his first posting was North Africa at Ben Yusef as a tank Commander with the 4th County of London Yeomanry (Sharpshooters) in the 22nd Armoured Brigade. It was here where his lifetime passion for desert wildlife began as he could tame a desert fox. In June 1942 his tank was knocked out during a battle at “Knightsbridge” killing and injuring the crew. John escaped with an injured leg and was evacuated to England for treatment. He could rejoin the 4th CLY to prepare for the Normandy D-day landings in June 1944 and marry Anne.
    After the war in 1945, he had his observations on the behavior of the common centipede published in Nature and began to write for the journal of the British Naturalists’ Association. He achieved his MA and PhD at Cambridge. From 1950 to 1960 he was a lecturer in zoology at Kings College, London and from 1960 to 1971 he worked in Sudan with Khartoum University as Head of the Zoology Department and keeper of the Sudan Natural History Museum while his wife, Anne, formed a Physiotherapy Department at Omdurman Hospital. It was during this period that he made his name as a desert specialist, “the desert naturalist” and “the Titan of the Sahara”. Although scorpions, centipedes, spiders, solifugids, and woodlice were his passion, he was interested in the desert biology of reptiles and amphibians too. He became a Professor of Zoology from 1972-86 at Birkbeck College, University of London, subsequently Emeritus. He was a visiting Professor or Fellow at a number of institutions around the world, Arizona State University and Kuwait University.
    He was chairman (1974-83) and vice president of the British Naturalists’ Association (BNA) and president of the British Archeological Society (1982-5), British Society for Chronobiology (1985-7) and British Herpetological Society (1991-96). He was awarded DSc by the University of London, an Hon DSc from Khartoum. Also, he was a recipient of the BNA’s Peter Scott Memorial Award in 1993, Royal African Society Medal, JH Grundy Memorial Medal (Royal Army Medical College). His 50 books and many papers included work on bees, sea lions and wasps, as well as the Sahara and Mesozoic reptiles and a war memoir, Sharpshooter. A special book devoted to scorpions was produced to mark his 90th birthday”!!!
    During the 60’s, Prof. Cloudsley-Thompson was my lecturer at the Department of Zoology, Khartoum University, Sudan. After the first year, he wrote to me in my autograph (attached copy). As B.Sc. undergraduate students, we used to call him the “professor of scorpions and spiders”! In fact, we admired his lectures and tutorials on animal behaviour with respect to desert creatures. Warm and modest, he would sit on the lab bench chatting informally to us long after the lecture or practical had ended. He always encouraged us to write our own observations and publish scientific papers.
    He was among the first to find out that the scorpions perform a dance before mating and if the male does not escape immediately after, the female eats it! When I wrote a tutorial essay on the evidence for the theory of evolution, he was so impressed that he told me: “Thomas, with all these material evidence, that Pope sitting in Rome does not believe!” And when I prepared a rabbit skeleton for the zoology department museum, he asked me what I would like to be? When I told him I would like to be a medical doctor, he just replied, “No”. Consequently, I was not selected among the first sixty students for medicine by the medical committee after the first university year though I was No. 20 on the eligibility list because Prof. Cloudsley-Thompson recommended that I should work in The Natural History Museum!
    No regrets, after graduation I joined immediately The Game and Fisheries Department as a research scientist, a career that made me achieve a lot in the fields of fisheries and aquaculture. While conducting the first survey of Lake Nubia (part of Lake Nasser) at Wadi Halfa during 1967-68, Prof. Cloudsley-Thompson paid a three days visit to Wadi Halfa. As usual, he was after scorpions and other desert creatures and to my surprise he published a paper: “Wadi Halfa revisited (1968.The Entomologist Monthly Magazine. 104-42)” That was Prof. John Leonard Cloudsley-Thompson whose motto was “Publish or Perish.” No wonder, he had published 50 books and a far greater number of scientific papers!!
    Eternal rest grant John L Cloudsley-Thompson and Anne, O God, and perpetual light shine upon their souls as much as they had served The Sudan and UK with utmost dedication and loyalty. My condolences to their three sons, Hugh, Tim and Peter; I ask God to Bless and protect them from all evil.
                  

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