SINGAPORE: Veteran wildlife consultant Subaraj Rajathurai died at the age of 56 on Tuesday (Oct 22).
Mr Subaraj's wife, Ms Shamla Jeyarajah Subaraj, broke the news of his death in a post on Facebook at about 4pm on Tuesday.
One of his sons, Mr Saker Subaraj, told TODAY that he had suffered a heart attack at home and died.
On Tuesday night, friends and relatives lined up outside Mr Subaraj's home in Tampines to pay their respects, penning their condolences in a book placed in the common corridor.
In one of the many tributes that poured in, Social and Family Development Minister Desmond Lee said he was deeply saddened by the news, lauding Mr Subaraj as a "true giant and pioneer in our local conservation scene".
"Before googling became an easy source of finding information, Subaraj was the guru who could identify birds by their calls, and knew where they could be found," said Mr Lee.
"That was his magic, his intimate understanding and his beautiful connection with nature. With his passing, we will greatly miss that magic."
Mr Subaraj's efforts towards nature conservation in Singapore spanned more than 35 years.
Among Mr Subaraj's achievements were his role in drafting the Master Plan for the Conservation of Nature in Singapore, which contributed significantly to identifying areas of high conservation value, and the proposal for a nature conservation area at Sungei Buloh.
"His passion in protecting our natural heritage was evident when engaging in consultations on projects such as the Cross Island Line and in environmental impact assessments," said Mr Lee.
"He helped effect improvements at different levels, from design changes to better management of works."
Mr Subaraj participated in many surveys - the Nature Reserve comprehensive survey in 1993, Pulau Ubin, and the Comprehensive Biodiversity Survey of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve from 2014 to 2018.
He was also a founding member of the Vertebrate Study Group of the Nature Society (Singapore), and a key member of the Friends of Ubin Network.