Luc DE VOS
Luc De Vos died. A wave of distress was propagated when the sun disappeared at the horizon and that the long African night began. During a short moment all became silence and a new star started to scintillate.
We all knew him and together shared moments of of brotherhood, but also fruitful scientific exchange.
Luc De Vos obtained his Ph.D. in Natural Sciences at the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium) in 1983 for his work on the systematic revision of the catfish family Schilbeidae from Africa. His work focuses on taxonomy, zoogeography and diversity, osteology, morphology, fauna and conservation of African fish.
From December 1983 to January 1987, Luc was ichthyology assistant researcher at the INRS (Institut National de Recherche Scientifique, Butare, Rwanda). From January 1987 to July 1991 he was a teacher at the Faculty of Sciences of the University of Kisangani (UNIK) Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and curator at the Museum of Zoology at the same University.
Luke has collaborated with the Catholic University of Louvain, Systematics and Ecology Section and the Royal Museum for Central Africa (MRAC), Tervuren Vertebrates section, between August 1991 and April 1992.
Then, of May 1992 in February 1996, Luc worked like officer project and ichthyologist at the Research Regional center in Biology applied (CRRHA to Bujumbura in Burundi for the countries of the CEPGL (DRC, Burundi and Rwanda). On this occasion, he was more particularly interested in the ichthyologic fauna of the lake Tanganyika, the biodiversity of the aquatic environments and the ichthyologic fauna of the rivers and small lakes of the countries of the CEPGL.
He went back to the MRAC and the Ecology section and Aquaculture of the Institute of Zoology of the University of Louvain from February to June 1996. Then, as a conservative ichthyologist (central Africa and of the East) at the MRAC from August 1996 to March 1997.
Since 1997, Luc is the director of the Department of Ichthyology which he created at the National Natural History Museum of Kenya, Nairobi. That enabled him to constitute a reference collection of several ten thousands of specimens. Since its installation, he had undertaken to make a first inventory of fish of Kenya and had created a permanent exhibitions of fish from the Great Lakes of East Africa. He also described several new species (of Barbus in particular), found again Pardiglanis and taken care of the Coelacanth of Malindi (collection, conservation, exposure). His initiative and his devotion enabled him to train students and qualified personnel in ichthyology.
He had finally multiple projects like that to extend his action to the area Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and in the sea.
Since 1984, Luc acquired great experience of field and laboratory in the study of the ichtyofauna of several lakes and rivers of the African Eastern countries, the Republic of Central Africa (RCA), the DRC (ex-Zaire), Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and now, Kenya.
In short, a life of ichthyologist very filled to which he devoted all his energy in many countries of Africa, from Côte d’Ivoire to Kenya, while passing by Burundi, the area of Kisangani in DRC and especially Kigali. It was there its harbor and it impatiently waited to turn over in “his country” which he had to leave following the horrible and dramatic events which prevail unfortunately still in this region.
The fish of course, but especially Africa and the Africans, such were its reasons to express all at the same time its competences, its passion and its humanity. Admittedly he went back each year to Belgium, but its life, the true one, was in Africa while waiting for Kigali. This ultimate stage, it will not have finally finished it, it stopped in way. We know that it is only fate there, because we had still pints of good beer to divide together… This evening, the song of the tom-tom is lugubrious and Schilbe are orphan. Bye our friend…
Didier PAUGY & Jean-François AGNÈSE
Cybium 2004, 28(1): 3.