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Rafflesia sanctuary destroyed, says nature group

Free Malaysia Today logo Free Malaysia Today 7/3/2021 FMT Reporters
a pile of rocks: A damaged rafflesia bud at the site near Tasik Kenyir. (MNS Terengganu pic) © Provided by Free Malaysia Today A damaged rafflesia bud at the site near Tasik Kenyir. (MNS Terengganu pic)

PETALING JAYA: A nature group has called for an investigation into who destroyed a rafflesia sanctuary in Tasik Kenyir, Terengganu.

They said they first caught wind of the damage on March 3 and visited the site as soon as they could once inter-district travel was allowed two days later.

“The destruction we witnessed was irreversible,” it said. “All that remains is a single broken sign attesting to the rare Rafflesia cantleyi that once held strong in this patch of forest.”

Listed as vulnerable, the rafflesia is found in only five countries in Southeast Asia. It is only located in four states in Peninsular Malaysia.

“Seeing one of these rare gems in bloom is the chance of a lifetime for many.

a group of colorful flowers: The rafflesia in bloom. (MNS Terengganu pic) © Provided by Free Malaysia Today The rafflesia in bloom. (MNS Terengganu pic)

“The bud can take up to a year to grow to full size, after which the large flower blooms for only a few days.”

It added that the site had been managed well before this and a lot of studies had been done there. Both students and tourists alike loved the place.

Although there was no signs to indicate who was responsible, Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Terengganu suspects the cause to be the minor repair of a 5m bridge adjacent to the site.

“It makes no sense,” MNS Terengganu said. “The small portion of the single track road set to be repaired certainly does not require the clearing of acres of fragile tropical forest.”

a group of broccoli next to a tree: The destroyed patch of land, which used to be the sanctuary for the endangered rafflesia flower, near Tasik Kenyir in Terengganu. (MNS Terengganu pic) © Provided by Free Malaysia Today The destroyed patch of land, which used to be the sanctuary for the endangered rafflesia flower, near Tasik Kenyir in Terengganu. (MNS Terengganu pic)

Highlighting their regular work with research institutes and various government agencies, they said a full and transparent investigation was in order so that history does not repeat itself.

“Justice must be served, not only to the destroyed forest patch but also to the state’s reputation as well as the livelihoods of those affected by this loss.”

They urged authorities to also look carefully into the forest section along the Sungai Buweh road that once led into the sanctuary and neighbouring Bukit Lawit in their investigations.

“Such natural treasures should be protected for the people of Terengganu for generations to come. MNS Terengganu urges all parties concerned to work on ways to protect this forest and benefit from it.

“All must work together to maintain Tasik Kenyir as the tropical paradise it is.”

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