Maltese naturalist and folklorist Guido Lanfranco has died at the age of 90.
“He is gone and gone forever… all our love for us is gone… Rest in peace, from all of us. Orpheus in the underworld,” his wife Salvina wrote in a Facebook post.
A teacher by profession, Lanfranco was a renowned scholar and naturalist who wrote extensively about the flora and fauna of the Maltese islands. His work inspired many to take a deeper interest in Malta's natural history and folklore.
Born in Sliema on October 18, 1930, and educated at Stella Maris College and St Michael’s College of Education, Lanfranco pursued his studies at the University of Malta and Dale Field Studies Centre in Wales.
He was a member of many educational boards and committees as well as local and foreign scientific societies.
Among others, he served as president of the Malta Geographical Society, the Science Teachers Association, the Cactus and Succulents Society of Malta and Għaqda Maltija tal-Folklor.
He was also the first president of the Malta Ornithological Society (now BirdLife Malta), the International Council for Bird Preservation (Malta), the University Biological Society and of the Natural History Society of Malta which is now known as Nature Trust.
“An exceptional scholar of the most fascinating group of islands of this planet’ is how anthropologist Desmond Morris described him in a foreword to the book The Examined Life: Writings in Honour of Guido Lanfranco, written by anthropologist Mark Anthony Falzon.
Lanfranco organised multiple exhibitions focused on the flora, fauna, geology, science, folkore, archaeology and natural history of Malta, sharing his knowledge and passion for the subject with others.
He also wrote extensively about those subjects, with his articles published in local and foreign papers, magazines and journals.
Many took to social media to pay tribute to Lanfranco.
BirdLife Malta CEO Mark Sultana wrote: “Guido will be missed by many. We thank him for all he has done for our natural heritage and for the legacy he leaves through his knowledge and the large amount of people he has inspired. BirdLife Malta salutes him while sending our sincere condolences to his wife, children and all his family."
“The passing of an icon,” wrote the Natural Museum of Natural History, which is to post an obituary in the coming days.
Among the many accolades, Lanfranco received over the years are the Bronze Medal of Merit by the Conference of Civic Councils in 1969 and the Midalja għall-Qadi tar-Repubblika in 1996.
His publications include Guide to the Flora of Malta (1955, and republished in 1969), Duwa u Semm fil-Ħxejjex Maltin (1975), Lampuki u Ħut, Ġabra ta Ricetti u Informazzjoni (1989), Ħxejjex Medicinali u Oħrajn fil-Gżejjer Maltin (1993, 2000), L-Istorja tat-Trasport F’Malta (1999,2002), Xogħol, Ġaħġiħ u Snajja’ li Spiċċaw (2002, 2003) and Il-Ġojjin, an anthology of stories for schoolchildren.
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