Currency $ USD
Long Christmas Title Created using Figma

Find the perfect gift at our Christmas shop now
UK orders before 15th December, overseas before 4th December

Right Trees Created using Figma
Still funding
18% funded
55 backers

An illustrated adventure through the jungles of Hainan in search of the most elusive beetle in China

A young artist and naturalist strikes up an unusual deal with insect dealer Hakomoto, who offers a box of rare beetles in exchange for artwork of his most prized trophies. The collection contains many enigmatic species from the island of Hainan, including some which may well be new to science. Overjoyed with his unbelievable fortune, the young man decides to bring the beetles to the Natural History Museum in London, where they may be identified by experts. His hopes are further raised when Max Barclay, one of the world’s leading authorities on beetles, becomes baffled by the entire collection, and especially by an evil-looking beetle called Carabus which is not known to exist on the island. However, with only one specimen known to science, they must gather more evidence to establish the validity of the species.

Hesitant to draw any conclusions, Max sends the young naturalist on a mission of his dreams – to undertake an expedition to the jungles of Hainan, and to see if he can find Carabus or any of Hakomoto’s other beetles. In his quest, he encounters some of the most bizarre and wonderful creatures imaginable as he battles the elements, trekking through the great rivers and mountains of the island's rugged interior. What he doesn't know is that the outcome has already been written and, as the cloud of mysteries clears, he is forced to accept a shocking but irrefutable truth...

I am a 21-year old, self-taught artist with a fascination for the natural world, especially insects and other creepy-crawlies. I spent much of my childhood observing these creatures, which later developed into a passion for outdoor exploration and a curiosity for all knowledge. Through my book I hope to inspire other young people to get out there and experience nature for themselves, as well as to encourage the general public to appreciate the wonderful details that are all around us. It is an ambitious project that involves art, nature, adventure, mystery and science being woven into a complex plot that explores the beauty of nature, the purpose of science and the malleability of truth.

Jungle Gems is a dream that I have wished to fulfil for many years, simply due to the fact that it is a culmination of my best ideas and experiences. The illustrations form an important part of the book and, throughout the story, art is used as a powerful observation tool to gain deeper insight into the subject. The project is currently being supported by Max Barclay, head curator of Coleoptera at the Natural History Museum and one of the four virtual guides at the Darwin Centre. It is to him that I am greatly indebted, both as the inspiration for this book and as my long-time friend and mentor.

Aside from nature and art, I enjoy reading crime novels and watching sci-fi movies, where I derive much of my writing inspiration. On the sporting front I am an ‘adrenaline junkie’ who enjoys rock-climbing, doing handstands and climbing trees. 

It looks like Yikai Zhang has not made any updates yet. Check back soon!

Join in the conversation

Sign in to ask a question