Peter Paul van Dijk, Ph.D.
Peter Paul serves as Field Conservation Programs Director of the Turtle Conservancy, as well as Co-chair and Red List Authority Coordinator of the IUCN/SSC Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialist Group, and as director of the Turtle Conservation Program at Global Wildlife Conservation. In these roles, he manages the process to evaluate the conservation status and requirements of the world’s tortoises and freshwater turtles for the IUCN/SSC Red List of Threatened Species, and uses the resulting assessment data to identify species and areas for priority conservation action. His other area of focus is the compilation and analysis of information on turtle trade and formulation of regulations to address unsustainable exploitation of turtle populations. As technical advisor to the CITES Working Group on Tortoises and Freshwater Turtles, to the Turtle Conservancy, and to the Turtle Survival Alliance, Peter Paul connects these leading forces in turtle conservation to the wider network of turtle science and conservation expertise represented by the IUCN TFTSG, and contributes to their focus and priorities. Finally, Dr. van Dijk continues to carry out scientific research and analysis that is directly relevant to partners in turtle conservation, including the annually updated Checklist of Turtles of the World, mapping the distribution and diversity of turtles, and more as opportunities emerge.
Like most of the Conservancy’s staff and board members, Peter Paul has been fascinated with turtles since a child. It was a chance encounter with four Red-eared Slider Turtles in childhood that set Peter Paul van Dijk on a track to keep and breed turtles through much of his formative years. While attending the National University of Ireland in Galway, he grabbed an opportunity to study turtles in their natural habitat in Thailand as his Ph.D. thesis subject, and he now looks back on almost a quarter-century of activities in turtle science and turtle conservation.