Conservationist and zoology icon Lim Boo Liat dies at 94

Conservationist and zoologist Dr Lim Boo Liat received the 2013 Merdeka Award. He died today at the age of 94. (Merdeka Award pic)

PETALING JAYA: Pioneering zoologist Dr Lim Boo Liat died of old age at his home in Cheras today. He was 94.

Lim received the Merdeka Award in 2013 for his contributions to the conservation of Malaysia’s biological diversity, having published more than 300 papers on small mammals, reptiles and amphibian ecology throughout his six decades of research and advocacy.

“He was one of the country’s great zoologists and top naturalists. Everybody loved him,” said Malaysian Nature Society president Ahmad Ismail. “We cannot find people like him (any more). He was really dedicated and committed, and we are very sad about his passing,” he told FMT.

Lim was instrumental in the revival of MNS in 1948 after the Second World War and also served as an adviser to the society. He was an honorary advisor to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks and also served as a consultant for the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia.

Dr Lim Boo Liat was an expert on small mammals, reptiles and amphibian ecology. (Merdeka Award pic)

Lim started his career as a temporary lab assistant at the Institute for Medical Research in Kuala Lumpur in 1947.

He was offered a Sino-British Fellowship Trust Award under the British Council in 1959, and spent the next one and a half years studying animal ecology at the University of Oxford.

On his return, Lim headed the Medical Ecology division of the IMR and had successfully published 80 scientific papers in various journals by 1959.

He was seconded to the World Health Organization in Indonesia in 1977, where he headed the Vector Biology Control Research Unit in charge of conducting research on such subjects as plague, malaria control and rodent control.

One of Dr Lim’s more well-known books.

Among his other accolades include his honorary membership to The American Society of Mammalogists (ASM) in 2003, making him the first Southeast Asian to be given the honour since ASM was formed in 1919.

Former MNS president Salleh Mohd Nor described Lim as a “very humble and modest man” who was always smiling and loved to joke around.

“He always called me ‘young man’ despite my age, and I called him ‘younger brother’ although he is much older than me,” he told FMT.

“Dr Lim was extremely knowledgeable about mammals and was very concerned about the destruction of the environment. “He was a true Malaysian citizen and a friend to all. May his soul rest in peace.”

His wake will start at 4pm tomorrow at No. 12, Jalan Koop Cuepacs 3E, Taman Cuepacs, Batu 9, Cheras. The funeral will be held at 10am on Monday.

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