Friday, November 04, 2016

12 new plant species found in Batang Ai and Lanjak-Entimau sites

KUCHING: Twelve new plant species have been found in Sarawak, with potentially more awaiting discovery in an ongoing collaboration between the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) and Singapore Botanical Gardens.

The plants, which were discovered in the Batang Ai National Park and Lanjak-Entimau Wildlife Sanctuary, comprise one species of wild orchid, one ginger, one Marantaceae (prayer plant) and nine species of begonia.

One of the begonias has been named Begonia jamilahanuiana after the Chief Minister's wife Puan Sri Jamilah Anu. The other new species have yet to be named.

SFC chief executive Wong Ting Chung said the new discoveries were made three to four months ago by a joint survey team of scientists from SFC and the Singapore Botanical Gardens.

“The significance is that one team, in two trips, has discovered 12 new species. There is still a lot more to discover and there may be more new discoveries to come.

“If just one team can find so many, what more when more experts come from overseas,” he told reporters after announcing the finds here yesterday.

According to SFC, the wild orchid, ginger and Marantaceae were discovered in Lanjak-Entimau.

Of the nine species of begonia discovered, five were found in Lanjak-Entimau, two in Batang Ai and two at both sites.

The Begonia jamilahanuiana, which was discovered in both Lanjak-Entimau and Batang Ai, can grow up to 60cm tall and is unusual because the adult plants retain their white spots, unlike other begonias.

Wild orchids and begonias in Sarawak are protected under the Wild Life Protection Ordinance 1998.