Rare plants and animals also at risk

PETALING JAYA: It’s not just consumers and farmers who need to be wary of El Nino. Rare plants and animal species found in the forest reserves of Borneo are at risk too.

Malaysian Nature Society communications head Andrew Sebastian said the warm weather could lead to a shorter flowering period for plants, affecting insects.

“This in turn affects birds and the wildlife that feed on insects and so on. The whole food chain is impacted,” he told The Star.

Borneo is home to at least 15,000 different plant species, 5,000 of which are endemic to the area. The island is also home to many rare and diverse insect species and an average of three new species are discovered every month.

A study reported in the journal of Geophysical Research-Biogeosciences, stated that Borneo’s 130 million-year-old rainforests would be threatened by the inevitable dry spell.

“The small number of species that cannot adapt well to drought conditions will be at even greater risk of dying off,” it noted.

El Nino is also expected to hit the oil palm industry, with Bloomberg predicting that prices could hit RM3,500 per tonne.

Indonesia and Malaysia produce 86% of the world’s stock, and the threat of inadequate rain had already been affecting prices.