Renowned UCT bird man dies

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By SAPA

Cape town - Renowned ornithologist Prof Phil Hockey died on Thursday of cancer, the University of CapeTown (UCT) said.

“Professor Hockey's impact and leadership in ornithology has been exemplary, and is appreciated by a wide range of the ornithological sector,” Dr Rob Little, the manager of the Centre of Excellence at the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology at UCT, said in a statement.

“He will be remembered for his vast contribution to avian literature, both scientific and popular. He touched the hearts and lives of many people, from deeply insightful discussions about birds to warm interactions on life itself.”

Hockey was the director of the institute, which focused on the study of birds (ornithology).

UCT vice-chancellor Dr Max Price said in an earlier tribute to Hockey that people looked up to him.

“To the thousands of students who have passed through his classes, Professor Hockey was guru, kind father-figure, field supervisor and teacher. He was a much-loved member of UCT,” he said.

The university extended its condolences to Hockey's wife, Samantha.

Hockey led research expeditions to Chile, the Canary Island, Mauritius, the Seychelles, Kenya, Madagascar, the Arabian Gulf and Namibia.

He was a co-author of the regional field guide, Sasol Birds of Southern Africa.

Hockey was born in England in 1956 and obtained his BSc honours degree in Ecological Science at Edinburgh University in 1977.

He moved to South Africa and joined the institute in 1979.

In 2008, Hockey was awarded the Stevenson-Hamilton Medal of the Zoological Society of Southern Africa for contributions to the public awareness of science. - Sapa

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