Statues of region's natural history pioneers unveiled for Singapore's bicentennial year

30 August 2019
The Straits Times Online

Two hundred years ago, Singapore looked nothing like the sprawling metropolis it is today. Like the rest of South-east Asia, it was covered with large swathes of relatively unexplored jungles. But two intrepid explorers - British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace and his field assistant Ali - were willing to brave the wilderness, home to tigers, tapirs and all sorts of wildlife. They collected specimens as they explored Singapore and the rest of the Malay archipelago - specimens which, until today, are instrumental in helping modern scientists understand more about the natural heritage in Singapore and the region. On Friday (Aug 30), the two men's contributions were commemorated, as their statues were unveiled at the National University of Singapore's Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum.

The museum had collaborated with the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Nafa) to launch the statues of the duo. One of the artists, Nafa graduate Lim Xingyi, 20, said that the project has helped her learn more about the contributions of Wallace and Ali. She said: "My teammates and I spent hours researching Wallace and his work before coming up with sketches and this research allowed us to realise the significance of Ali's contributions to our biogeography."

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Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reproduced with permission.