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Rick Watson
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Rick Watson

   Biography

Rick completed his Ph.D. in South Africa with research into the ecology of endangered Bateleurs. After completing post-doctoral research on desert insect ecophysiology, he moved to the U.S. and completed a variety of ornithological research projects.

He joined The Peregrine Fund in 1990, to establish the Madagascar Project. This work led to the rediscovery of two species thought by some to be extinct and the establishment of an 810 square mile national park to protect their rain forest habitat. It also led to the establishment of an innovative community-based conservation project to protect wetlands essential for the endangered Madagascar Fish-Eagle.

Rick developed a position as Program Director for Africa, establishing and supervising new projects throughout the continent. This included Bearded Vulture reintroduction to Kenya, Cape Vulture conservation in South Africa, raptor conservation and local capacity building in Zimbabwe, Kenya, and Ethiopia, and Crowned Eagle conservation in Ivory Coast. He also supervises U.S. and local graduate students at Masters and Ph.D. levels and is adjunct faculty at Boise State and Idaho State Universities.

In 1998 Rick was appointed as The Peregrine Fund’s International Program Director, responsible for all programs and projects outside of the United States. This involves designing new projects, proposal preparation, establishing projects in-country, hiring and training staff, supervision of projects and studies including objectives, methods, analysis and presentation, as well as project financial affairs, and presenting results to donors and The Peregrine Fund’s Board. He currently supervises 18 projects on four continents. In May 2007, Rick was elected as Vice President of The Peregrine Fund.

In the spring of 2017, Rick's commitment to excellence led him to the office of President/CEO of The Peregrine Fund when the organization was in need of his leadership.

The Peregrine Fund
5668 West Flying Hawk Lane  
Boise,  Idaho  83709  United States
Phone: 208-362-3716 Fax: 208-362-2376
Email: rwatson@peregrinefund.org


   Research Interests

Raptor ecology and conservation.

Species of Interest: 
  • Harpy Eagle
  • Asian Gyps vultures
  • Philippine Eagle
  • California Condor
  • Bateleur
  • Madagascar Fish-eagle


   Publications

Watson, R.T., C.J.W. McClure, F.H. Vargas and J.P. Jenny. 2016. Trial restoration of the Harpy Eagle, a large, long-lived, tropical forest raptor, in Panama and Belize. Journal of Raptor Research 50(1):3-22.       pdf

Campbell-Thompson, E., F.H. Vargas, R.T. Watson, A. Muela, and N.C. Ciceres. 2012. Effect of sex and age at release on the independence of hacked Harpy Eagles. Journal of Raptor Research 46:158-167.

Watson, R.T., T.J. Cade, M. Fuller, G. Hunt, and E. Potapov (eds.). 2011. (Book) Gyrfalcons and Ptarmigan in a Changing World. Vols. I-II. The Peregrine Fund, Boise, Idaho, USA. http://dx.doi.org/10.4080/ gpcw.2011.0100

J.L. Oaks, and R. T. Watson. 2011. South Asian Vultures in Crisis: Environmental Contamination with a Pharmaceutical. Pp. 413-442 in J. Elliott, C. A. Bishop, and C. A. Morrissey (Eds.). Wildlife Ecotoxicology: Forensic Approaches. Springer, New York.       pdf

Watson, R.T. 2011. Bleifragmente von Jagdgeschlossen in erlegten Wildtieren: die Quelle der Bleivergiftungen und ihre Auswirkengen auf den Kalifornischen Kondor [Lead fragments from spent ammunition in hunter-killed game animals: the source of lead exposure and its effects in California Condors]. Pp. 86-97 in O. Krone (ed.), Bleivergiftungen bei Greifvögeln: Ursachen, Erfahrungen, Lösungsmöglichkeiten. Der Seeadler als Indikator [Lead intoxication in birds of prey: causes, experiences, potential solutions. The White-tailed Sea Eagle as an indicator]. Leibniz-institute für Zoo- und Wildtierforschung (IZW), Berlin. (In German with English summary)

Watson, R.T. 2011. Vorbeugung von Bleivergiftungen: Lösungsansätze bezogen auf den Kalifornischen Kondor und die menschliche Gesundheit [Primary prevention of lead exposure from ingested spent ammunition: solutions on behalf of California Condors and human health]. Pp. 114-121 in O. Krone (ed.), Bleivergiftungen bei Greifvögeln: Ursachen, Erfahrungen, Lösungsmöglichkeiten. Der Seeadler als Indikator [Lead intoxication in birds of prey: causes, experiences, potential solutions. The White-tailed Sea Eagle as an indicator]. Leibniz-institute für Zoo- und Wildtierforschung (IZW), Berlin. (In German with English summary)

Watson, R. 2010. (Abstract) Critical elements for effective raptor conservation. P. 106 in G. Sundev, R. Watson, M. Curti, R. Yosef, E. Potapov, and M. Gilbert (eds.). Asian raptors: science and conservation for present and future: The proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Asian Raptors. Asian Raptor Research and Conservation Network, Mongolian Ornithological Society, and National University of Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Watson, R.T., M. Fuller, M. Pokras, and W.G. Hunt, (Eds.). 2009. Ingestion of lead from spent ammunition: Implications for wildlife and humans. The Peregrine Fund, Boise, Idaho, USA.

Watson, R.T. and D. Avery. 2009. Hunters and anglers at risk of lead exposure in the United States. In R.T. Watson, M. Fuller, M. Pokras, and W.G. Hunt, (Eds.). Ingestion of lead from spent ammunition: Implications for wildlife and humans. The Peregrine Fund, Boise, Idaho, USA.       pdf

Avery, D., and R.T. Watson. 2009. Regulation of lead-based ammunition around the world. In R.T. Watson, M. Fuller, M. Pokras, and W.G. Hunt, (Eds.). Ingestion of lead from spent ammunition: Implications for wildlife and humans. The Peregrine Fund, Boise, Idaho, USA.       pdf

Avery, D., and R.T. Watson. 2009. Distribution of venison to humanitarian organizations in the U.S. and Canada. In R.T. Watson, M. Fuller, M. Pokras, and W.G. Hunt, (Eds.). Ingestion of lead from spent ammunition: Implications for wildlife and humans. The Peregrine Fund, Boise, Idaho, USA.       pdf

Watson, R.T., M. Gilbert, and M. Virani. 2008. Neck-drooping posture of Oriental White-backed Vultures (Gyps bengalensis) in close proximity to human observers. Journal of Raptor Research 42(1):66-67.       pdf

Watson, R.T., L.A. Rene de Roland, J. Rabearivony, and R. Thorstrom. 2008. Community-based wetland conservation protects endangered species in Madagascar: Lessons from science to conservation. Proc 16th Biodiversity Symposium, Philippine Wildlife Conservation Society, Manila, Philippines. Banwa 4(1):81-95       pdf

Virani, M., Giri, J.B., Watson, R.T., and Baral, H.S. 2008. Surveys of Himalayan Vultures (Gyps himalayensis) in the Annapurna Conservation Area, Mustang, Nepal. Journal of Raptor Research 42(3): 197-203.       pdf

Pain, D.J., C.G.R. Bowden, A. Cunningham, R. Cuthbert, D. Das, M. Gilbert, R.D. Jakati, Y. Jhala, A.A. Khan, V. Naidoo, L. Oaks, J. Parry-Jones, V. Prakash, A. Rahmani, S.P. Ranade, H.S. Baral, K.R. Senacha, S. Saravanan, N. Shah, G. Swan, D. Swarup, M.A. Taggart, R.T. Watson, M.Z. Virani, K. Wolter, and R.E. Green. 2008. Breeding and mortality of Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps bengalensis in Punjab Province, Pakistan. Bird Conservation International 12:311-326.       pdf

Pain, D.J., C.G.R. Bowden, A. Cunningham, R. Cuthbert, D. Das, M. Gilbert, R.D. Jakati, Y. Jhala, A.A. Khan, V. Naidoo, L. Oaks, J. Parry-Jones, V. Prakash, A. Rahmani, S.P. Ranade, H.S. Baral, K.R. Senacha, S. Saravanan, N. Shah, G. Swan, D. Swarup, M.A. Taggart, R.T. Watson, M.Z. Virani, K. Wolter, and R.E. Green. 2008. The race to prevent the extinction of South Asian vultures. Bird Conservation International 18:S30-S48.       pdf

Gilbert, M., R.T. Watson, and M.Z. Virani. 2007. Neck-drooping posture in Oriental White-backed Vultures (Gyps bengalensis): an unsuccessful predictor of vulture mortality and population decline, and its probable role in thermoregulation. Journal of Raptor Research 41:35-40.       pdf

Watson, R.T. 2007. The effect of diclofenac on south Asian Gyps vultures: Lessons for wildlife biologists. Pp. 185-192 in Neotropical Raptors (Bildstein et al., Eds.). Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Allentown, PA.       pdf

Watson, R.T., L. Rene de Roland, J. Rabearivony, and R. Thorstrom. 2007. Community-based wetland conservation protects endangered species in Madagascar: lessons from science and conservation. Banwa 4(1):83-97.        pdf

Tingay, R.E., M. Culver, and R.T. Watson. 2007. Using molecular sexing to assess field-based sexing techniques in the Madagascar Fish-Eagle. Journal of Raptor Research 41:45-49.

Gilbert, M., Watson, R.T., Virani, M.Z., Oaks, J.L., Ahmed, S., Chaudhry, M.J.I., Arshad, M., Mahmood, S., Ali, A., and Khan, A.A. 2006. Rapid population declines and mortality clusters in three Oriental white-backed vulture Gyps bengalensis colonies due to diclofenac poisoning. Oryx 40(4): 388-399.       pdf

Vargas G., J., R. Mosquera, and R. Watson. 2006. Crested Eagle (Morphnus guianensis) feeding a post-fledged young Harpy Eagle (Harpia harpyja) in Panama. Ornitologia Neotropical 17:581-584.        pdf

Johnson, J.A., Watson, R.T., and D.P. Mindell. 2005. Prioritizing species conservation: does the Cape Verde kite exist? Proc. R. Soc. B. Doi:10.1098/rspb.2005.3098. 7 pp.       pdf

Watson, R.T., M. Gilbert, J.L. Oaks, and M. Virani. 2004. The collapse of vulture populations in South Asia. Biodiversity 5(3): 3-7.       pdf

Watson, R.T., M. Virani, R. Risebrough, and J.L. Oaks. 2004. Catastrophic vulture population decline in Asia: Current knowledge and a proposal to understand its cause. Pp. 9-13 in D.M. Prawiradilaga (ed.) Proceedings of the Second Symposium on Raptors of Asia, 2000. Asian Raptor Research Conservation Network, Indonesia.

Oaks, J.L., Gilbert, M., Virani, M.Z., Watson, R.T., Meteyer, C.U., Rideout, B.A., Shivaprasad, H.L., Ahmed, S. Chaudhry, M.J.I., Arshad, M., Mahmood, S., M., Ali, A. & Khan, A.A. 2004. Diclofenac residues as the cause of vulture population decline in Pakistan. Nature 427 (6975): 630-632.       pdf

Gilbert, M., J.L. Oaks, M.Z. Virani, R.T. Watson, S. Ahmed, M.J.I. Chaudhry, M. Arshad, S, Mahmood, A. Ali, A.A. Khan. 2004. The status and decline of vultures in the Provinces of Punjab and Sind, Pakistan; a 2003 update. Pp. 221-234. In Raptors Worldwide, RD Chancellor and BU Meyburg, Eds. Proceedings of the VI World Conference on Birds of Prey and Owls. Budapest, Hungary, May 18-23, 2003. Penti Kft, Budapest.       pdf

Oaks, J.L. C.U. Meteyer, B.A. Rideout, H.L. Shivaprasad, M. Gilbert, M. Virani, R.T. Watson, A.A. Khan. 2004. Diagnostic investigation of vulture mortality: the anti-inflammatory drug diclofenac is associated with visceral gout. Pp. 241-243. In Raptors Worldwide, RD Chancellor and BU Meyburg, Eds. Proceedings of the VI World Conference on Birds of Prey and Owls. Budapest, Hungary, May 18-23, 2003. Penti Kft, Budapest.       pdf

Tingay, R.E., M.L. Clarke, R.T. Watson, R. Thorstrom, and L. Kalavah. 2004. Survival and behavior of a one-footed Madagascar Fish-Eagle in the wild. J. Raptor Res. 38(1):85-88.

Watson, R.T. 2004. A deadly mystery solved. Birdscapes 2004(Fall):32-33.       pdf

Thorstrom, R., L.-A. Rene de Roland, and R.T. Watson. 2003. Falconiformes and Strigiformes: Ecology and Status of Raptors. Pp. 1080-1084. In S.M. Goodman and J.P. Benstead (eds.) The natural history of Madagascar. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Rabarisoa, R., Rafanomezantsoa, S., and R.T. Watson. 2003. Falconiformes: Haliaeetus vociferoides, Madagascar Fish-eagle. Pp. 1085-1087. In S.M. Goodman and J.P. Benstead (eds.) The natural history of Madagascar. The University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Oaks, J.L., Gilbert, M., Virani, M.Z., Watson, R.T., Meteyer, C.U., Rideout, B.A., Shivaprasad, H.L., Ahmed, S. Chaudhry, M.J.I., Arshad, M., Mahmood, S., M., Ali, A. & Khan, A.A. 2003. Vet drug responsible for population decline of White-backed vultures in Pakistan. Mistnet 4(3 & 4):13-14.

Muela, A., R.T. Watson, B.D. Mutch, W.R. Heinrich, J.P. Jenny, and M. Curti. 2003. The Harpy Eagle: Biology, restoration, and hacking procedures. 29 pp. The Peregrine Fund, Boise, Idaho.

Watson, R.T. 2002. The Peregrine Fund’s Pan-African Raptor Conservation Programme and partnership with the Zimbabwe Falconers’ Club. Honeyguide 48(2):130-134.

Gilbert, M., Virani, M.Z., R.T. Watson, Oaks, J.L., Benson, P.C., Khan, A.A., Ahmed, S., Chaudhry, J., Arshad, M., Mahmood, S. & Shah, Q.A. 2002. Breeding and mortality of Oriental White-backed Vulture Gyps bengalensis in Punjab Province, Pakistan. Bird Conserv. Int. 12: 311-326.

Rafanomezantsoa, S., R.T. Watson, and R. Thorstrom. 2002. Juvenile dispersal of Madagascar Fish-Eagles tracked by satellite telemetry. J. Raptor Res. 36(4):309-314.

Berkelman, J., J.D. Fraser, R.T. Watson. 2002. Nesting and perching habitat use of the Madagascar Fish-Eagle. J. Raptor Res. 36(4):287-293.       pdf

Thorstrom, R., R.T. Watson, A. Baker, S. Ayers, and D. Anderson. 2002. Preliminary ground and aerial surveys for Orange-breasted Falcons in Central America. J. Raptor Res. 36(1)-39-44.

Tingay, R., M. Culver, E.M. Hallerman, J.D. Fraser, and R.T. Watson. 2002. Subordinate males sire offspring in Madagascar Fish-Eagle (Haliaeetus vociferoides ) polyandrous breeding groups. J. Raptor Res. 36(4):280-286.

Virani, M, R.T. Watson, L. Oaks, M. Gilbert, P. Benson, A. Khan, H. Baral, Q. Shah, and J. Giri. 2001. The Asian vulture crisis - a global perspective. Pp. 3-6 in Bennun, L., and M. Virani (eds) Responding to the Asian vulture crisis: Planning for vulture monitoring and conservation in Kenya. Ornithology Research Report 41, The National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi.

Burnham, W., R.T. Watson, L. Kiff. 2000. Raptor research and conservation by The Peregrine Fund in tropical environments and developing countries. In Proceedings of the Symposium on Raptors in South East Asia.

Watson, R.T. 2000. Flight, foraging and food of the Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus: an aerodynamically specialized, opportunistic forager. Pp. 65-75 in Chancellor, R.D. and B.-U. Meyburg (eds) Raptors at Risk, WWGBP/Hancock House, Berlin.

Watson, R.T. and R. Rabarisoa. 2000. Sakalava fishermen and Madagascar Fish Eagles: enhancing traditional conservation rules to control resource abuse that threatens a key breeding area for an endangered eagle. Ostrich 71(1 & 2):2-10.

Watson, R.T. J. Berkelman, R. Rabarisoa, R. Thorstrom, and C.R.B. Watson. 2000. Description of nesting and foraging habitat of the Madagascar Fish Eagle Haliaeetus vociferoides: a conservation initiative. Ostrich 71(1 & 2):336-340.

Watson, R.T., A. Andrianarimisa, D. Razandrizanakanirina, and L. Kalavaha. 2000. Madagascar Fish Eagle Haliaeetus vociferoides and community-based wetland conservation. Pp. 333-340 in Chancellor, R.D. and B.-U. Meyburg (eds) Raptors at Risk, WWGBP/Hancock House, Berlin.

Berkelman, J., J.D. Fraser, and R.T. Watson. 1999a. Madagascar Fish Eagle prey preference and foraging success. Wilson Bull. 111(1):15-21.

Berkelman, J., J.D. Fraser, and R.T. Watson. 1999b. Lake selection by Madagascar Fish Eagles. The Auk 116(4):976-983.

Watson, R.T. and S. Razafindramanana. 1999. Nearest neighbor nest distances, home range and territory area of the Madagascar Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vociferoides). J. Raptor Res. 33(4):335-338.

Watson, R.T., S. Razafindramanana, R. Thorstrom, and S. Rafanomezantsoa. 1999. Breeding biology, extra-pair birds, productivity, siblicide and conservation of the Madagascar Fish Eagle. Ostrich 70(2):105-111.

Watson, R.T. 1998. The plight of the Fish Eagle. People, eagles and wetlands’ conservation in Madagascar. Africa Birds & Birding 3(4):34-41.

Virani, M., and R.T. Watson. 1998. Raptors in the East African tropics and Western Indian Ocean Islands: State of ecological knowledge and conservation status. J. Raptor Res. 32(1):28-39.

Rabarisoa, R., R.T. Watson, R. Thorstrom, and J. Berkelman. 1997. Status of the Madagascar Fish Eagle Haliaeetus vociferoides in 1995. Ostrich 68(1):8-12.

René de Roland, L.-A., R. Thorstrom, and R.T. Watson. 1997. Breeding records and nestling predation of Henst’s Goshawk on Masoala Peninsula, Madagascar. Pp. 161-164 in Watson (1997i) and Ostrich 67:168-170.

Thorstrom, R., and R.T. Watson. 1997. Avian inventory and key species of the Masoala Peninsula, Madagascar. Bird Conservation International 7:99-115.

Thorstrom, R., J. Hart, and R.T. Watson. 1997. New record, ranging behaviour, vocalization and food habits of the Madagascar Red Owl Tyto soumagnei. Ibis 139:477-481.

Watson, R.T. (Ed.) 1997a. Madagascar Wetlands Conservation Project: developing community-based conservation in a proposed wetland biosphere reserve in Madagascar. Progress Report III, 1995-1996. The Peregrine Fund, Boise, ID. 416 pp.

Watson, R.T. (Ed.) 1997b. Masoala Project: Use of raptors and other avifauna for conservation, monitoring and evaluation of rain forest on Masoala Peninsula. Progress Report IV. The Peregrine Fund, Boise, ID. 196 pp.

Watson, R.T., S. Thomsett, D. O’Daniel, and R. Lewis. 1996. Breeding, growth, development, and management of the Madagascar Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vociferoides). J. Raptor Res. 30(1):21-27.

René de Roland, L-A., R. Thorstrom, and R.T. Watson. 1996. Breeding records and nestling predation of Henst’s Goshawks on Masoala Peninsula. Ostrich 67:168-170.

Watson, R.T. 1996. The Peregrine Fund Project in Madagascar. Bull. Afr. Bird Club 3:7-8.

Thorstrom, R., and R.T. Watson. 1995. First capture of a live Madagascar Serpent-Eagle (Eutriorchis astur) and photographs of a live Madagascar Red Owl (Tyto soumagnei) confirm the survival of these species. J. Raptor Res. 29:74.

Thorstrom, R., R.T. Watson, B. Damary, F. Toto, M. Baba, and V. Baba. 1995. Repeated sightings and first capture of a live Madagascar Serpent-eagle Eutriorchis astur. Bull. B.O.C. 115(1):40-46.

Watson, R.T. (Ed.). 1995. Madagascar Project: Wetlands Conservation Project. Progress Report II, 1993 and 1994. Second edition. The Peregrine Fund, Boise, ID. 265 pp.

Watson, R.T. 1995. Update on The Peregrine Fund’s Madagascar Project. Working Group on Birds in the Madagascar Region Newsletter 5(1):2-4.

Watson, R.T., S. Thomsett, and D. O’Daniel. 1995. Growth, development, and experimental management of the Madagascar Fish Eagle (Haliaeetus vociferoids). J. Raptor Res. 29:68.

Thorstrom, R., and R.T. Watson. 1994. Avian inventory of Masoala Peninsula, Madagascar. The Peregrine Fund, Boise, ID. 102 pp.

Watson, R.T. (Ed.) 1994. Madagascar Project: Wetlands Conservation Project. Progress Report II, 1993 and 1994. The Peregrine Fund, Boise, ID. 173 pp.

Watson, R.T., and R. Lewis. 1994. Raptor studies in Madagascar’s rain forest. Pp. 283-290. In Meyburg, B.-U. And R.D. Chancellor (eds) Raptor conservation today. WWGBP/The Pica Press.

Watson, R.T. 1993. Using birds of prey as a conservation tool: The Peregrine Fund’s World Programme. Proc. VIII Pan-Afr. Orn. Congr .: 132.

Watson, R.T., J. Berkelman, R. Lewis, and S. Razafindramanana. 1993. Conservation studies on the Madagascar Fish Eagle Haliaeetus vociferoides. Proc. VIII Pan-Afr. Orn. Congr. Annales Musée de L’Afrique Centrale (Zoologie) 268:192-196.

Watson, R.T. (Ed.) 1992. Madagascar Project: an integrated program for development of local capacity for conservation of natural resources. Progress Report I, 1991 and 1992. The Peregrine Fund, Boise, ID. 152 pp.

Watson, R.T. 1991. Using birds of prey as an environmental conservation tool: The Peregrine Fund’s world programme. Environmental Conservation 18(3):269-270.

Watson, R.T. 1991. Saving birds of prey. Oil Progress 41:2-8.

Watson, R.T. 1990. Breeding biology of the Bateleur. Ostrich 61:13-23.

Watson, R.T. 1990. Population dynamics of the Bateleur in Kruger National Park. Ostrich 61:5-12.

Watson, R.T. 1989. Aggressive display and territoriality of the Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus. S. Afr. J. Zool. 24(2):146-150.

Watson, R.T. 1988. The influence of nestling predation on nest site selection and behaviour of the Bateleur. S. Afr. J. Zool. 23(3):143-149.

Watson, R.T. 1988. The ecology, biology and population dynamics of the Bateleur Eagle Terathopius ecaudatus. Gabar 3:49-50.

Watson, R.T. 1988. Bateleur behavior...and conservation. African Wildlife 42(5):277-279.

Watson, R.T. 1987. Flight identification of Bateleur age classes: A conservation incentive. Bokmakierie 39:37-39.

Watson, R.T. 1987. Bateleurs, poison, and the future. Custos 15(11):22-37.

Watson, R.T. and C. Watson. 1987. Interspecific piracy between Tawny Eagles and Bateleurs: How common is it? Gabar 2:9-11.

De Kock, A.C. and R.T. Watson. 1985. Organochlorine residue levels in Bateleur eggs from the Transvaal. Ostrich 56:278-280.

Watson, R.T. and C.R.B. Watson. 1985. A trap to capture Bateleur eagles and other scavenging birds. S. Afr. J. Wildl. Res. 15:63-66.

Watson, R.T. 1983. Range reduction of the Bateleur Terathopius ecaudatus and the development of agriculture in South Africa. Proc. Symp. Birds & Man. Witwatersrand Bird Club, Johannesburg.

Watson, R.T. 1983. Home range and habitat utilization of the Bateleur: A preliminary study. Proc. Second Symp. African Predatory Birds. Natal Bird Club, Durban.

Watson, R.T. 1981. The Bateleur Eagle project, 1981. Bokmakierie 34(3):52-54.



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