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Robin Chancellor: 1921 - 2010

Robert Duff (Robin) Chancellor died at the age of 89 in October 2010, after a short illness, in Thailand.

He was an influential figure in international conservation, especially in the conservation of birds of prey: he would have been appalled at the catastrophic declines of vultures in Asia and signs of similar disasters to follow in Africa.

Yet he sought no public recognition and remained a modest, self-effacing man, although his many colleagues attest to his qualities as a good and entertaining friend and companion.

Chancellor was an influential figure in the conservation of birds of prey

Robin was born in London, the son of Lt Col Sir John Robert Chancellor, and was educated at Eton and Cambridge. His father's diplomatic posts included appointments in Southern Rhodesia and Palestine, and Robin grew up in these former colonies. From then on, he enjoyed warm weather and despised English winters.

He enjoyed a successful a career as a publisher but, in his retirement, devoted all his time to bird conservation, another of his passions.

Severe short-sightedness prevented him from being properly active in the field, so he turned to administrative tasks that others might have avoided, and was the editor of several important ornithological publications.

Robin was Assistant Honorary Secretary of the International Council for Bird Preservation (ICBP: the beginnings of BirdLife International) from 1974 and Honorary Secretary from 1978 until 1987.

His special interest became birds of prey and he edited volumes of the proceedings of world conferences on these species in Vienna (1975) and Thessalonica (1982).

Chancellor excelled at editing and enjoyed a successful career as a publisher  

From 1982 he was Secretary and Treasurer of the World Working Group on Birds of Prey and Owls and was editor or co-editor of six volumes resulting from further international conferences on the place of raptors and the modern world. These included much of his own original work and a great deal of important material comprehensively rewritten from texts by non-English contributors.

He was an excellent editor, distilling lengthy material into fresh, effective and simple English, and he was also a very capable translator from French and German, languages that he spoke freely.

Robin spent much time in Hungary and also in Africa, often with bird of prey expert, Leslie Brown. Despite advancing age, he went on expeditions to Latvia, Turkey, Zambia, South Africa, Namibia and Indonesia and spent the last few years of his life in Thailand.

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