Auke Hielkema collecting at Arapahu, Suriname, February-March 2011
Being affected with a dominant pair of collector genes, I have been collecting things since I was able to pick them up. Noted targets have been world coins, fossils, and sea-shells. Since my father (Meindert
Hielkema) is an avid amateur scarab collector, I have also been collecting those interesting creatures for
as long as I remember.
After obtaining my bachelor’s degree as a tropical forester, I have been trying to find a warm and
biologically rich place to live and work. For the last number of years, I have been so lucky as to stay in
the South American country of Suriname. After working as the curator/manager of the local zoo for
three years, I am now trying my luck as both an educational writer/editor and a consultant in biological research and ecotourism.
Together with my father, and with the full support of the National Zoological Collection of Suriname
(NZCS) and some major institutions abroad, I am now working on a not-for-profit and (as yet) personally
funded project that aims to collect and identify all scarabaeoid species throughout the country of Suriname, gathering ecological data as well. To date, we have published a heavily annotated checklist of the Scarabaeoidea of the Guianas as well as two papers solving some nomenclatural issues.
In our checklist, we have named 388 species known to occur in Suriname, an increase of 60 percent of what was known throughout scattered publications. Another hundred species remain unidentified, and
many more species still are expected to remain uncollected. Hence, quite some work yet to be done!