As the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), we are deeply saddened by the sudden loss of Professor Robert (Bob) Scholes, who will always be remembered as a giant in the field of climate science, not only in South Africa, but in the world. Prof. Bob Scholes passed away on 28 April 2021. He was a leading scientist on climate change and Director of the Global Change Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits).
SANBI staff across the country are remembering Prof. Scholes’ professionalism and wry sense of humour. He was such an inspiration to many, and could hold the attention of a full room like no other; be it with his casual story-telling abilities or in a heated science or policy meeting.
Prof. Scholes was a renowned international leader on issues of biodiversity conservation. His exceptional breadth of knowledge and extremely clear understanding of complex issues combined with a fair, calm and decisive air made him a legendary force in global biodiversity circles.
At SANBI, Prof. Scholes was instrumentally involved in many SANBI initiatives and was often a sought-after external expert for SANBI, providing oversight of processes as well as inspiration and guidance on various topics. He served on the advisory committees for two of SANBI’s national-level assessment processes – the National Biodiversity Assessment and the Status of Biological Invasions and their Management in South Africa. He was an active participant at various SANBI-led conventions and knowledge exchange events.
‘We are grieving the loss of our incredible mentor and advisor, Prof. Bob Scholes. He chaired the Research and Advisory Committee for the status report on biological invasions, and he provided invaluable leadership and knowledge that will be sorely missed,’ said Dr Tsungai Zengeya, a SANBI lead scientist of the South African biological invasions status report.
Across the globe tributes are pouring in, as he is described as a true leader, a conscientious and dedicated scientist, and a teacher to all. His loss affects us all but his legacy of knowledge and love for the natural world remains. SANBI extends its sincere condolences to Prof. Scholes’ family, friends, colleagues, and all those who knew him well.