Malaysia: New rafflesia species found

Dennis Wong New Straits Times 7 Jul 13;

PRECIOUS DISCOVERY: Timber concession area in Sarawak yields amazing find

Researchers from Sarawak Forestry Corporation collecting samples of the new species in Naha Jaley, Belaga recently

BELAGA: A NEW Rafflesia species was discovered in a timber concession area in Naha Jaley, Belaga recently.

Initial findings show its morphological characteristics resemble similar species, such as the Rafflesia keithii found in Sabah and the Rafflesia tuan-mudae found in Gunung Gading National Park.

"Its DNA does not show a complete match. It has overlaps between the two species. A detailed screening of the genome to determine its species is now being carried out, and it is possible that it may be new to science," said Sarawak Forestry Corporation managing director Datuk Ali Yusop yesterday.

Further research, funded by Pro-Natura Foundation Japan and headed by Sarawak Forestry environmental executive Bibian Diway, in collaboration with Japan Environmental Studies National Institute's Dr Yayoi Takeuchi and assisted by representative Abeng Awing from the local communities of Uma Balui, Naha Jaley and Belaga, will be carried out at the site.

Two more rafflesia sites along the banks of Sungai Bukoh and Sungai Keboho, both within the vicinity of Uma Balui, have also been discovered.

Though part of the Bakun Reservoir, these forested areas are also the hunting and farming grounds of local longhouse communities.