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Tribute to Heiner Engel, our dear colleague and friend


Heiner portrait


SCF was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of a dear colleague and friend, Dr. Heiner Engel. 


Heiner was a dedicated and passionate champion for wildlife.  As both a founding member of the Sahelo-Saharan Interest Group (SSIG) and a founding board member of Sahara Conservation Fund (SCF), Heiner was instrumental in helping to launch the Sahelo-Saharan wildlife conservation movement that is now bringing much-needed attention to a part of the world that until recently was  overlooked and underfunded when it came to conservation action. 


Heiner in Morocco


In his tenure as Zoological Director of Zoo Hannover, Heiner was one of the leading voices that rallied the international zoo community to support SCF in its mission to save species like the addax, scimitar-horned oryx, North African ostrich, dama gazelle, and others.  He was a driving force behind the restoration of addax to fenced reserves in Morocco using zoo-born animals. 


Working with the Tunisian wildlife authorities and his zoo colleagues in U.S. and European zoos, he was instrumental in coordinating the successful return of addax and scimitar-horned oryx from zoos to fenced reserves in Tunisia. 


Heiner in Tunisia with addax


He collaborated with Moroccan wildlife authorities to establish the first ex situ assurance population of the critically endangered North African ostrich in zoo care. 


To those who knew him, Heiner was not just an earnest zoo biologist and conservationist.  He was a warm and caring friend, a gracious host, and a gentle man with a great sense of humor.  Heiner was a source of encouragement and inspiration to his colleagues worldwide, with the ability to focus attention on what we can do, rather than getting bogged down in the myriad of things that are out of our control.   


His energetic presence, perennially sporting his trademark beret and stylish scarf, will be sorely missed and fondly remembered by all whose lives he touched.


Lebwohl, lieber freund.