New orchid find in the highlands

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 16 Mar 2003


DAZZLING DISCOVERY: This is a new variety in the group of orchids called jewel orchids, which are prized by collectors for their beautiful leaves. Reach said it might find more new varieties or species of orchids.

CAMERON HIGHLANDS: Amidst concerns raised over the despoiling of the forests here, nature has cast some glimmer of hope with the possible discovery of new species or varieties of wild orchids in the highlands. 

Society of Regional Environmental Awareness of Cameron Highlands (Reach) president Ramakrishnan Ramasamy said this was the result of a year-long survey in the highlands here that started in April last year. 

“Reach has made history as previously it was thought that there were only 300 recorded species of orchids in the highlands of Malaysia while we believe that our project has uncovered as many as 511 so far,” he said on Wednesday. 

Reach comprises local residents determined to protect their natural heritage in the face of threat from development and agriculture.  

Its seven-member biodiversity sub-committee, headed by Reach vice-president and self-taught botanist Embi Abdullah, decided to concentrate on orchids first in the survey as they are well-known to the highlands and are under threat due to collection for commercial purposes and by orchid buffs. 

Embi said it was possible that some of the 511 species recorded in the survey might be lowland species now growing in the higher altitudes because of temperature changes. 

Reach, he said, would be sending an initial batch of seven new species or varieties to orchid experts in either Kew Gardens in the United Kingdom or the Singapore Botanical Gardens soon for registration. 

He added that there might be more new species or varieties as members were still going through the orchids they had recorded so far. 

Reach welcomed any help or co-operation in further efforts in orchid conservation and study from botanists and researchers in local institutions of higher learning, said Ramakrishnan. 

He also thanked World Wide Fund for Nature Malaysia for its partnership in the current effort and the local forestry office for their co-operation.  

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