Drive for statue of 'father of S'pore biodiversity'

Drive for statue of 'father of S'pore biodiversity'

A fund-raising drive is under way to erect a statue of Victorian explorer and naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace here.

The lesser-known father of the ground-breaking theory of evolution by natural selection had lived in Bukit Timah on and off between 1854 and 1862, using Singapore as a base for his travels, collecting about 125,000 specimens in the Malay Archipelago.

Historians consider his time spent in the region as key to his developing his theories on evolution.

In July 1858, both he and Charles Darwin had their theories presented at a conference in London.

But it was Darwin who became famous after publishing his book On The Origin Of Species the year after, whereas Wallace's contribution went largely overlooked from his death in 1913 until a resurgence in recent years.

Briton and long-time Singapore resident Barry Clarke, 51, is leading the effort, with help from the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research at the National University of Singapore (NUS), to raise a life-size, bronze statue of Wallace at the new Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum, which will be ready at the university by mid-2014.

This would be only the second Wallace statue in the world. On Nov 7, the Natural History Museum in London unveiled the world's first, on the centenary of his death.

Mr Clarke, a trained zoologist who has had a life-long interest in Wallace, hopes to get pledges for an estimated $150,000 from individuals, as well as British and Singaporean firms, for the statue.

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