Remembering Karen Phillipps 1948 – 2020 | WWF Hong Kong

Remembering Karen Phillipps 1948 – 2020

06 March 2020

Local nature lovers and birdwatchers will be saddened to learn about the recent passing of wildlife artist Karen Phillipps, who passed away on 6 February 2020 in London after a long battle with cancer.  Karen was a talented artist and a pioneer illustrator of Hong Kong birds and other wildlife. Her work in wildlife publications lives on with us and future generations in Hong Kong.
Karen’s work covered broad aspects of Hong Kong’s wildlife and her illustrations can be found in many field guides and wildlife books. She co-authored several books with many pioneer biologists, including Dennis Hill’s A Colour Guide to Hong Kong Animals, Brian Morton’s Sea Shore Ecology and Clive Viney’s The Birds of Hong Kong and South China. Her illustrations in these guidebooks  beautifully and accurately capture the special features of birds and wildlife and remain important reference materials for students and naturalists. Karen also illustrated numerous books on China and Southeast Asia’s wildlife that continue to be the most popular field guides in these countries.

One of the earliest supporters of WWF-Hong Kong and our work at Mai Po Nature Reserve, Karen served as the artist for a group of expatriate and passionate local Mai Po advocates, developing conservation in and for Hong Kong starting from the early 1980s. She produced numerous illustrations and paintings for WWF-Hong Kong that were used in posters, leaflets and educational kits for visitors and students in our WWF centres. Her volunteer work for WWF-Hong Kong and promotion of Hong Kong’s natural world helped a whole generation of our city’s youth to connect to nature. Her manuscript still hangs in our Island House Conservation Studies Centre at Tai Po.

Karen was born in Sabah and lived in Hong Kong for many years before she moved back to Europe in the late 1990s. Karen is survived by her husband, Dr Kenneth Searle, and brother, Quentin Phillipps, to whom WWF-Hong Kong would like to extend our deepest sympathies.