Uzma Khan | WWF
© WWF-Pakistan
Lead River Dolphin Initiative, WWF

Uzma Khan

Richard was a dynamic, funny, technically sound and an extraordinary individual, who did something for everyone. Like a true leader he invested a lot of energy in developing young professionals.  He made a huge impact on my career.

I first met Richard Garstang in 1998, and the first thing I noticed was that he was so tall, I would always have to lift my head up to talk to him and he had a small bright blue Volkswagen beetle. I had joined WWF-Pakistan, as a zoo education officer, he told me that it would be an exciting job as he had been an information officer himself. He took me around the Lahore zoo and shared interesting characteristics of animals. He taught me throughout how to engage with children and he had a bag full of stuff toys that I used while interacting with children.

He gave me an opportunity to join the first rescue of the Indus river dolphin which itself had a profound impact on my career.  He created a team spirit and brought us together and besides work, started sports days, zoo visits, lunches etcetera. He used to bring small presents for us from his travels. He brought a multitude of expertise to WWF, besides highly valuable conservation knowledge; he could fix cars, would teach Bhatti (then electrician) how to do wiring, would fix multimedia when it would fail during a meeting, despite Ali Habib telling him to refer the problem to the IT Dept. 

Richard laid the foundation of our GIS laboratory and the Pakistan Wetlands Programme. We had never handled such an ambitious project before. We once went to meet a politician about zoos and Richard introduced me as the WWF person who understood zoo management and animal welfare, but during the meeting the politician kept directing his questions to Richard and later Richard apologised on his behalf and explained how people tend to undermine professional women and it would take time for this change. He was sensitive, believed in women empowerment, was very encouraging and he was also tough when things would not be as per high standards. He wrote excellent recommendation letters to help young professionals avail opportunities to help in their capacity building.  I remember he used to tell me that I walk like a kangaroo because I would jump a little, I think I still do. He had learnt so many idioms in Urdu and would use them very appropriately; Bundar kiya Janay adrak ka maza, Oont kay muo main zeera I would always remember.  

His memories would always bring smiles and tears, may Allah bless him and give him great rewards, Ameen. Richard you will always be missed.