On March 23, 2021, nature conservation suffered a tragic loss. On that day, Zoltán Czirák passed away suddenly at the age of 51 due to complications related to COVID-19. Mr. Czirak was the Head of the Unit of International Nature Conservation Agreements at the Department of Biodiversity and Gene Conservation of the Hungarian Ministry of Agriculture, Hungary’s CITES Management Authority. His closest colleagues have reminded us of his extensive achievements throughout his career and we join them in paying him tribute.
We have lost a dedicated professional, a knowledgeable and committed colleague, and a friend. His work has been widely recognized and respected in Hungary, in the European Union and internationally. He had both the courage and knowledge to make a real difference in the conservation of endangered species.
Through his extensive knowledge of species, covering virtually all taxonomic groups, he dealt primarily with tasks relating to the Convention on Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). His work also covered other international conventions on biodiversity conservation (CMS, AEWA, Bern Convention, IWC), for which he was the national focal point in Hungary. He did outstanding work in determining the list of protected plants and animals and huntable animal species, and in developing related legislation on animal welfare and measures tackling the issue of invasive animal species.
Despite his lack of formal legal training, he developed knowledge of national, European and international legislation and provisions related to species and nature conservation. He saw the related problems in their complexity and sought solutions accordingly. He fought hard to conserve species to conserve all endangered species both in Hungary and worldwide, from snowdrops to African lions, from orchids to whales.
His passing is a huge loss to the CITES family and to nature conservation efforts everywhere. He leaves a tremendous gap behind, both personally and professionally.