KOTA KINABALU: Dutch botanist and naturalist Dr Peter Hans Hovenkamp, who died in the Mulu Caves flash flood last week, was a key figure in a local publisher’s plan for a book on Borneo ferns.
Publisher Datuk C.L. Chan said that he had recently connected with Hovenkamp to work on A Guide to Ferns of Borneo targeted for publication next year.
Chan met with Hovenkamp during the five-day Flora Malesiana Symposium in Brunei that begun on June 30.
“Dr Hovenkamp offered to help in every possible way, and I was thinking of inviting him to be a co-author of the book,” he said.
He added that he was also in discussions with Italian Dr Danielle Cicuzza of Universiti Brunei Darussalam, who was the organiser the flora symposium, about the guide book.
“Dr Hovenkamp’s death is very tragic to me and unexpected.
“There has never been any guide book published specifically on the ferns of Borneo.
“He was very knowledgeable on ferns, an expert,” Chan said.
Chan added that Hovenkamp’s input on Borneo ferns would have been invaluable for the book.
Hovenkamp, 66, editor of Blumea (a journal on botany) and his wife went to Mulu after the flora symposium.
Hailing from Utrecht, the Netherlands, Hovenkamp and his local guide Roviezal Robin, 20, drowned after a flash flood swept through the famed Mulu Caves on July 13.
Eight others, including his wife, managed to reach higher ground.
Hovenkamp’s body was discovered in a river inside Deer Cave a day later.
He had been involved in studying ferns around the world and had authored some 150 publications and reviews.
Hovenkamp was part of the 2012 expedition to Sabah’s Kinabalu-Crocker Range, where he collected ferns to study the origins and affinities of the unique fern flora on Mount Kinabalu.
Chan explained that before Hovenkamp’s trip to Brunei and Mulu, the naturalist and his wife were in Kota Kinabalu to buy books on botany and nature.
Chan said he was not able to meet the couple because he was not in town.