In memoriam
Anthony Hitchcock

Anthony was a trailblazer in Cape Town lowland fynbos conservation and restoration, and the true hero behind the Erica verticillata success story. Born in Cape Town, he studied botany, horticulture and landscape design at UCT and Cape Technikon. He started working at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden back in 1983, managing the Plant Production Nursery and promoting South African plant species with horticultural potential to the South African nursery industry. In 2002 Anthony was appointed as Nursery Manager, and took on managing and leading the living collections and threatened species programme. He rebuilt the Collections Nursery and developed and implemented an integrated conservation programme focussing on threatened Cape Flats Sand Fynbos habitats and species. His extensive knowledge included propagation and cultivation of South African plants, commercial horticulture and complex conservation programmes. After retiring from Kirstenbosch, Anthony continued to contribute to conservation in various ways including through his work at Tokai Park and FynbosLIFE.

With the greatest sorrow we said goodbye to a fynbos conservation, horticulture and restoration giant on 7 July 2020. Anthony died after contracting Covid-19 in hospital while he was recovering from stem cell treatment for myeloma. Perhaps his greatest conservation legacy was the reintroduction of Erica verticillata to the wild, where it now lives on, largely thanks to his efforts. This flagship species raised the profile of Cape Flats Sand Fynbos, and demonstrated how effective people partnerships can even revive plant-pollinator partnerships from extinction. That is why the FynbosLIFE logo depicts an orange-breasted sunbird pollinating Erica verticillata. Anthony taught us that people that care and work hard enough can not only mitigate harm to the earth, but accelerate the recovery of ecosystems. Let’s try and follow in his footsteps! He also had so many great ideas and plans for our work at FynbosLIFE. I hope we will still be able to implement these in his honour.

Farewell to a fynbos legend and great conservator

 
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