Malaysia: Awareness campaign, research helps overcome fireflies extinction

Nik Sukry Ramli New Straits Times 12 Jul 18;

KUANTAN: More awareness and research campaigns need to be undertaken to ensure firefly colonies along Sungai Cherating do not go extinct.

National University of Singapore (NUS) Research Fellow, Dr Wan Faridah Akmal Jusoh said the insects were very sensitive to their environment and vulnerable to the threat faced by mangroves and pollution of river water which could affect their breeding.

"Their habitat should be properly maintained and, if possible, there should be no mangrove forest exploration activities or development purposes in the immediate vicinity.

"Perhaps we can increase awareness campaigns as well as provide research grants to researchers to conduct a more in-depth study on this incredible insect’s life-cycle," she said at the launch of the World Fireflies Celebration Day 2018 here.

The event jointly organised by Firefly Pals and the Turtles Conservation Society of Malaysia (TCS) is to mark the World Fireflies celebration which takes place in the first week of July each year.

Present were TCS Executive Director, Dr Chen Pelf Nyok as well as some 50 participants at the event which saw them being briefed on the importance of fireflies. They also took part in fireflies activities along the river.

On the species found in the Cherating river, Wan Faridah said their scientific name is ‘Pteroptyx bearni' and the first evidence of the insect in the Cherating river was recorded in 1993.

Wan Faridah said a similar species of fireflies which was found in Singapore in 1909 had likely become extinct.

She said there is a possibility that the fireflies in the Cherating river may face a similar threat if no proactive action is taken to manage their ecosystem.

"We should not only be focusing on the process of conservation of these firefly areas ... usually, we just replant Berembang trees as an example of where they (fireflies) live.

"By right we should conduct research on the fireflies ecosystems, how they live, from the larval stage to their food types. This is to ensure continuity of breeding of the fireflies on a regular basis," she said.