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History of the TFTSG

The IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group (TFTSG) was created in 1987 through the merger of two pre-existing IUCN Specialist Groups: the IUCN/SSC Freshwater Chelonian Specialist Group (FCSG) and the IUCN/SSC Tortoise Specialist Group (TSG), both originally founded in 1981 by Sir Peter Scott at the recommendation of Russell A. Mittermeier, the Chair of the IUCN/SSC Primate Specialist Group, who also had a strong interest in turtles and tortoises.

The Freshwater Chelonian Specialist Group (FCSG) was Chaired by Edward O. Moll from 1981 to 1985, with Russell A. Mittermeier as Vice Chair, and Chaired by Peter C.H. Pritchard from 1985 to 1987. There were only 28 founding members in the original Freshwater Chelonian Specialist Group in 1981 (click here for a listing of the FCSG in 1981).

The Tortoise Specialist Group (TSG) was Chaired by Ian R. Swingland from 1981 to 1987. There were only about 24 founding members in the original Tortoise Specialist Group in 1981 (click here for a listing of the TSG in 1981).

The two separate groups (TSG and FCSG ) were combined in 1987 into a single Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group (TFTSG) which was Co-Chaired from 1987 to 1990 by Ian R. Swingland and Peter C.H. Pritchard, with Deputy Chairs John L. Behler, Kristin H. Berry, Edward O. Moll, and Walter Sachsse. There were 62 members in the initial combined TFTSG in 1987 (click here for a listing of the TFTSG in 1987).

In 1990, John L. Behler became the Chair of the TFTSG, appointing Vice Chairs Michael W. Klemens and Peter C.H. Pritchard, and Deputy Chairs Kristin H. Berry, Edward O. Moll, Indraneil Das, Russell A. Mittermeier, and Anders G.J. Rhodin

In 2000, Anders G.J. Rhodin joined John Behler as Co-Chair, and then became sole Chair in 2005, just before John's untimely passing in early 2006. As Chair, Anders Rhodin appointed a single Deputy Chair, Peter Paul van Dijk, a small Executive Committee including John L. Behler (until his passing), Peter C.H. Pritchard, and Russell A. Mittermeier, and a large Steering Committee, which also functions as the official IUCN Red List Authority for tortoises and freshwater turtles. Peter Paul van Dijk was appointed Red List Focal Point.

The TFTSG in 2001 helped found the Turtle Survival Alliance (TSA), originally an IUCN Task Force of the TFTSG, now an independent NGO, with Rick Hudson and Kurt A. Buhlmann appointed the original Co-Chairs, and then Dwight P. Lawson joining Rick as Co-Chair when Kurt stepped down to become Executive Director of the Turtle Conservation Fund (TCF) in 2002, when the TCF was co-founded by the TFTSG.

In June 2012, Anders Rhodin stepped down as Chair of the TFTSG and Peter Paul van Dijk and Brian D. Horne were appointed as Co-Chairs. They designated Anders as Chairman Emeritus and kept him and Russ Mittermeir on their Executive Committee. Anders was also appointed Red List Coordinator.

In October 2016, Peter Paul van Dijk and Brian D. Horne stepped down as Co-Chairs of the TFTSG and in April 2017 Craig B. Stanford was appointed as Chair and Carla Eisemberg as Red List Coordinator. Craig appointed Anders Rhodin as Executive Vice Chair, Peter Paul van Dijk and Rick Hudson as Deputy Chairs, and Brian D. Horne, Russell A. Mittermeier, Eric V. Goode, Andrew Walde, and Gerald Kuchling as Executive Committee members.