Peter Charles Howard Pritchard (born 1943, died 2020) was a leading turtle zoologist. Educated at Oxford University and the University of Florida, where he earned his Ph.D. in Zoology, he was most commonly known for his campaign of almost 40 years for the conservation of turtles. Appropriately, his privately funded Chelonian Research Institute, for the study and preservation of turtles, is located in Oviedo, Florida, United States, just a half hour's drive from Disney World. Scott A. Thomson, curator of the Chelonian Research Institute notes that the CRI has 14500 tortoise and turtle specimens registered with some 2000 unregistered specimens. The collection comprises 100% of all turtle genera, 86% of all species and 72% of all subspecies - the third largest and most complete collection in the world.
Pritchard's most important and innovative work has been along the Atlantic coast of Guyana, the South American country that is home to four of the world's seven known sea turtle species: the leatherback, green, hawksbill and the olive ridley. By the 1960s, overhunting by local Arawak Indians — themselves an endangered group — had ravaged the turtle population. He also named several species of turtle for example Mesoclemmys zuliae and Chitra vandijki.
Pritchard lobbied Guyana and private sources for grants that lowered the Arawak consumption of turtle meat, and helped them to farm chickens. He hired Arawaks at his study camp to tag turtles for research and to police nesting grounds to prevent attacks from poachers. The turtle population has increased, he says, because turtle protection is now "a family discipline thing" among Arawaks "rather than an outsider laying down the law." Along the way, Pritchard's own scholarship has benefited from centuries' worth of tribal turtle knowledge. He has also done extensive study and written books about alligator snapping turtles and Galapagos tortoises.
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Pritchard is honored in the scientific names of three turtles, Podocnemis pritchardi †, Chelodina pritchardi and Mauremys pritchardi.
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