BULAWAYO - Natural History Museum of Zimbabwe honorary curator Donald George Broadley, 84, who was regarded as the world’s third most prolific writer on reptiles and amphibians, passed away last week at his home in Matshemuhlope suburb in Bulawayo.
Broadley — regarded as Africa’s best herpetologist — collected over 52 000 species of reptiles and amphibians and produced 280 herpetological publications. A herpetologist is one who studies reptiles and amphibians.
The enigmatic snake man, as he was popularly known, was ranked as the world’s third most productive author on reptiles and amphibians with Belgian-British zoologist George Albert Boulenger being rated first while German-born British zoologist and herpetologist Albert Karl Ludwig Gotthilf Gunther (now late) is rated second.
Broadley established the department of Herpetology at the History Museum of Zimbabwe in 1956. So illustrious was his career that 12 species were named after him over the years by different herpetologists across the globe in recognition of his distinguished works.
National Museums and Monuments regional director Moira FitzPatrick has described Broadley as a herpetology giant.
“Don (Broadley) was a giant in African herpetology. He had a vast field experience; his knowledge was deep and his generosity was unlimited.
“Almost single-handedly he forged a solid foundation for the herpetology of his beloved Zambesiaca region through his creation of one of the finest collections in Africa and through his careful descriptions and comprehensive revisionary works,” she said.
“All of us who study African herpetology are also part of Don’s legacy; we follow his footsteps and are grateful for the trails he blazed.
“This would be enough for one lifetime, but Don’s influence on his field was far greater than the sum of his works. Don shared his knowledge gladly, collaborated widely and instilled an enthusiasm for herpetology in all he met,” she said.