More news from Tasek Bera, Malaysia

12/08/2002

New CD-ROM on Tasek Bera produced by Wetlands International

In an effort to highlight the importance of conserving the endangered and endemic flora and fauna of Tasek Bera to the public, Wetlands International has developed a new CD-rom.

Entitled 'A CD-Rom Guide to the Endemic and Globally Threatened Flora and Fauna of Tasek Bera', it is geared towards introducing teachers, youths, library users and even students of institutions of higher learning, the myriad species of flora and fauna at Tasek Bera which is under threat today.

Tasek Bera is Malaysia's first and only wetland to date which has been designated a Ramsar site, under the Convention of Wetlands of International Importance. Covering approximately 7,000 ha, this freshwater swamp system supports 1 endangered fish species; 1 endangered and 3 vulnerable turtles; 3 endangered and 7 vulnerable mammals and 6 vulnerable bird species.

User-friendly with beautiful photographs, the CD-Rom offers users quick and easy retrieval of information. It is an ideal science resource for anyone. Among the flora featured is the endemic Purple Water Trumpet which survives only in Tasek Bera, Peninsular Malaysia and nowhere else in the world. While the threatened fauna includes the protected Clouded Leopard which is illegally hunted for its brilliant skin; and the many freshwater turtle species which are pushed to the brink of extinction as more are caught for the dinner tables of Asia.

Wetlands International-Malaysia Programme is proud of this new IT initiative to enhance the awareness among Malaysian youths and the general public of the link between wetlands, its flora and fauna and the people living and depending on wetland biodiversity. As such, Dr Sundari, Director of Wetlands International-Malaysia hopes, that responsible corporate citizens will come forward to assist in initiating new efforts in nature conservation, particularly that of wetlands, or even spearhead other IT products on the environment which can be used as educational resources.

Each CD retails at RM20. Please contact Wetlands International-Malaysia Programme at 03-7806 1944 for a copy. Alternatively you many also visit us at Wetlands International-Malaysia Programme, 3A31, Block A, Lobby C, Kelana Centre Point, Jalan SS7/19, Kelana Jaya, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan.


Not one to blow its trumpet: Cryptocoryne purpurea research in Tasek Bera, Malaysia

Hidden in the deep swampy waters of Tasek Bera is the fascinating and rare Purple Water Trumpet or Cryptocoryne purpurea. It had lain submerged in the lake's water, undiscovered until Professor Niels Jacobsen from the Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Denmark, stumbled upon it in 1985 during one of his field visits to Pos Iskandar, Tasek Bera. No sooner had it been identified and documented, the Purple Water Trumpet once again returned to obscurity.

However, in March 2001, Ms Sim Cheng Hua, Senior Technical Officer with Wetlands International Malaysia, embarked on a long-term research on the plant with kind contribution of USD12, 700 from the Nagao Natural Environment Foundation, Japan. Finally, it seems that the Purple Water Trumpet will be able to blow its trumpet to the world. And justly so, for it is the only endemic Cryptocoryne species still surviving in the wilds of Tasek Bera and nowhere else on Earth!

The duration of the project is until September 2002 and it will assess the distribution of the plant's wild population, study its eco-physiology in its natural habitat, and develop a Species Conservation Action Plan for inclusion in the Tasek Bera Integrated Management Plan. Ms Sim is the first Malaysian to do long-term research on the plant and she is also currently developing the draft for a Species Conservation Action Plan for the ten Cryptocoryne species found throughout Peninsular Malaysia.

The Purple Water Trumpet's ideal habitat is shallow water over peat soil under the shade of swamp forest trees. The natural fertility rate of its pollen is low and it thus primarily reproduces by producing runners (see illustration). The plant is in great danger due to loss of shaded riparian habitats and deterioration of water quality. Habitat management and conservation is critical in sites where this endemic plant with localised characteristics is found. Aside from that, members of the genus Cryptocoryne are popular ornamentals in the aquarium trade and therein lies the danger of illegal or uncontrolled harvesting. Needless to say, it is of great importance to safeguard this species from extinction.

If you are interested in finding out more about the project or would like to share information on other Cryptocoryne species, please contact Sim Cheng Hua at sim@wiap.nasionet.net.

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