Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Naturalist Wallace’s Sarawak experience retraced

KUCHING: Most Sarawakians do not realise that in Kuching they are basically following the footsteps of Alfred Russel Wallace.

But who is Wallace?

Wallace is one of the two founders of the theory of evolution by natural selection. The other one being Charles Darwin.

Wallace is best remembered in the Wallace Line, a zoogeographic boundary separating Australia from South-East Asia.

Wallace’s independent discovery and publication of evolutionary theory in 1858 is said to be equal to Darwin’s.

On his travel as a free-lance collector of natural history specimens, Wallace first went to the forests in the Amazon and to the Malay Archipelago (Malaysia and Indonesia), including Sarawak.

An ecologist with the Sarawak Forestry, Rambli Ahmad recently shared his adventure in retracing Wallace’s actual footsteps in Sarawak and United Kingdom, the scientist’s home country.

Rambli’s talk entitled “Following the Footprints of the Great Naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace in Sarawak (1854-56), was to inspire listeners into appreciating Sarawak’s place in one of the most important events in the science.

Wallace spent 14 months in Sarawak (November 1, 1854 to January 25, 1856), a longer stay than at any other destination during his travels in the Malay Archipelago.

Rambli noted that Wallace’s insect collecting in Sarawak was extremely productive, amounting to some 25,000 specimens.

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