Conservation of Carnivorous Plants in Malaysia

Filed under: Articles — David @ 12:44 am

We are blessed that Malaysia is the center of distribution for the largest carnivorous plant in the world; the genus, Nepenthes… or better known locally as Pitcher Plants, Monkey Cup or Periuk Kera in Bahasa Malaysia. Malaysia is also home to other amazing carnivorous plants such as Drosera and terrestrial or aquatic Utricularia.

However, this natural heritage that we have will be lost if we do not monitor their conservation status and show sensible conservation practices. Below are the list of human activities that contributes to the lost of carnivorous plant habitats in Malaysia.

Heath and peat swamp forest, secondary vegetation, wetlands and montane forest where Nepenthes and other carnivorous plants grow are being cleared or burned for agriculture or for development, destroying the entire habitat. This might be a “grey” area because when human population increases, more houses or infrastructure needs to be build to sustain the population. But I think more research and consideration has to go into making sure we are not destroying the last habitat of a certain species in our country.

Pollution from farming or agriculture activities such as the use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides poisons the soil or water and kills the plants. Carnivorous plants are very sensitive to fertilizers and chemicals in their media.

The removal of Nepenthes by irresponsible nursery owners and collectors also plays a part in reducing the population of these amazing plants in their natural habitat. This has become more of a threat in recent years for the genus Nepenthes. I have witness a beautiful habitat of highland Nepenthes being destroyed within weeks by poachers and leisure visitors. Some of the plants were pulled out of the ground and dumped aside to die. I doubt that those plants that were brought back would survive unless these poaches live in the highlands as well. It is sad because in recent years alot of Nepenthes species have become available through tissue culture in nurseries thoughout the country and these plants are relatively cheap and affordable. We need to change our mentality and be more consious of the consequenses of our actions. As the Kenyan proverb goes… “Treat the earth well. It was not given to you by your parents. It was loaned to you by your children”.

Another problem that contributes to the dwindling of carnivorous plant populations in Malaysia is the lack or publicity and public knowledge on these plants. I feel this is one of the main points to consider. Many still do not know what Nepenthes are and if they do it is clouded by misconception and misinformation. Many if not 99% of the population have no idea of what Drosera or Utricularia are. This is bad for the plants because the habitats where they grow could be destroyed for development, farming or agriculture without a thought given about the conservation status of each species or genus.

At the time of writing N. rajah and N. khasiana is listed under Appendix 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) while the rest of the Nepenthes species are listed under Appendix 2. This means that the two species are endangered with extinction while the rest are threatened with possible future extinction in the wild.

Regular monitoring of the conservation status of each species is required to enable the government and interest groups to act effectively in the event of sudden deleterious changes. This is particularly important for populations growing outside of forest reserves where enforcement is lacking. Just because they are like “weeds” at our backyard, it does not mean we can continue to ignore the importance of preserving their habitat. There will come a time when it will be too late to do anything. This is also important for the genus Drosera and Utricularia where there is a lack of research and information on their distribution and conservation status. However, it is encouraging to note that FRIM Forest Reserve has embarked on a researh paper on Drosera and Utricularia species in Malaysia recently. Hopefully, this would create some awareness to the authorities and general public.

If you would like to help preserve carnivorous plant populations in Malaysia for future generations, below are some ways in which you can assist in. It might not stop the inevitable from happening, but it will help in some ways to slow down the process or perhaps save some.

Showing sensible conservation practices, even if there is not an immediate connection to carnivorous plants. Develop a conservation ethic regarding recycling, energy use and resource consumption.

Support, volunteer or work for organizations dealing with the conservation of carnivorous plants.

Encourage the conservation awareness of other people by getting them excited about their natural heritage.

Do not disclose the exact location to a carnivorous plant habitat to the public. Once the information reaches the wrong hands, that would be the end for the plants in that habitat.

Take note of the following when visiting a carnivorous plant habitat:
- Minimize the damage from your passing
- Remove any garbage you find
- Resist the temptation to poach any plant
- Be sensitive to all life and do not harass any creature
- Vigorously discourage inappropriate activities by others


1 Comment

  1. i like your article !

    Comment by cklps — March 16, 2010 @ 2:19 am


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