Alfred E. Baldacchino pays tribute to one of the pioneers of Maltese wildlife conservation
Tuesday, 20th April 2010
Paying tribute to a dedicated ornithologist
Alfred E. Baldacchino
I had known John Azzopardi since his late teens when he joined the Young Members Section of the then Malta Ornithological Society (MOS), which section he led for a number of years. His dedication and love for nature conservation, especially birds, immediately had an impact on the society. Many owe their dedication to bird and nature conservation to him. Eventually, we both worked together on the Executive Council of the MOS, John helping me as assistant secretary. John was also appointed as chairman of the International Council for Bird Preservation (ICBP) Malta. John’s dedication, unwavering principles, open beliefs and strong determination were a great contribution to the growth of the ornithological awareness in Malta. Together we shared moments of great satisfaction, as well as moments of painful heartaches. John emigrated to Australia but after 10 years, he returned to his homeland with his family. His love and dedication for birds and nature conservation were as strong as ever and once again we picked up from where we had left off, though this time on our personal commitment. Besides ornithological papers, John’s latest contribution to nature conservation in Malta was the co-authorship of the book L-Għasafar li jbejtu fl-Ambjent naturali tal-Gżejjer Maltin. A cruel illness haunted John for more than a decade, with all its repercussions. A very strong-willed person, he fought back to the extent that he still continued working tooth and nail for bird conservation. Though his advice and comments were not always heeded and welcomed, his strong-willed, far-perceiving, practical personality drove him forward on his endeavours in nature conservation. It was only the cruel illness which managed to stop him early on Sunday, April 11, 2010, at the break of dawn. John leaves to mourn his loss, his wife and his three children, relatives, friends and many colleagues. I have lost one of my best friends and a strong ally in the field of nature conservation. Last but not least, the birds for which John gave so much time, effort and dedication for their better appreciation, will also miss him.