Men say that time goes by. Time says that men go by. But some stay – and Juanjo will be one of them.
Juan José Sánchez Artés died last weekend of a heart attack. He was 54 years old, and spent half of his life fighting for vultures and for Mallorca´s biodiversity. He was the president of two foundations – Black Vulture Conservation Foundation (BVCF) and Fundació Vida Silvestre Mediterrània (FVSM), as well as presiding over the ICTIB (Iniciatives per a la Custòdia del Territori a les Illes Balears). Juanjo was lately very busy managing the Ariant (Pollença) estate for conservation purposes – a key property donated to the FVSM in 2012. Juanjo was also a member of the VCF advisory board.
Juanjo was married to Evelyn Tewes and left two teenage sons.
Juan José has spent much of his life fighting for the conservation of the black vulture in Mallorca, but he has also contributed much for vulture conservation projects in France (black vulture reintroduction project) and for the Balkan Vulture Action Plan.
I last met Juanjo in April, after a successful VCF meeting in Bulgaria – over dinner in Sofia after everybody else had departed, he told me how happy he was to return to Bulgaria and see all the progress there after his initial efforts.
Juanjo was indeed among the first ones to believe in the recovery of vultures in the Balkans. He has introduced many Balkan naturalists to vulture conservation, and many projects were developed in the Balkans under his lead. So much so that one of the first wild-born griffon vulture chicks from the reintroduced population in the Balkan mountains was named after him recently, as gratitude to his support, help and dedication to the Balkan vultures.
Juanjo also left a mark in the anti-poison work in Spain and Europe. More than 20 years ago he was one of first that started to speak about this problem and tried make everyone aware of this most important threat to vultures. Many of the first anti-poison actions implemented in Spain were his idea.
Long live Juan José! We will work hard so that your dreams of reconnecting the black vultures populations in Europe, from Spain to Turkey via the Balkans, become true.
A remembrance event will take a place on the 24th of November (12h) in Finca Son Pons s/n Ctra. Palma-Alcudia Km. 38.200, 07310 Campanet, España. You can also send messages to Evelyn at this address