Tropical pitchers and questions answered!

Mr Devis has sent an update from Pondok Ambung Reseach Station, TPNP about tropical pitcher plants - a fascinating carnivorous plant species. First though we have received quite a few comments and questions from our last post 'Lamandau Ecosystem Conservation Partnership - community meeting'. We'll deal with those before "handing over" to Mr Devis. Thank you F.J.Pechir for your comment and question about the survey of the orangutans in Sabah. Without seeing the study and knowing more about it it is hard to comment on. There was a study published in December 2004 by Marc Ancrenaz et al. which also used aerial surveys for estimating the distribution and population sizes of orangutans in Sabah (perhaps it is this study which you are referring to?). Before this study the previous estimates for Sabah ranged from less than 2,000 to 20,000 orangutans, the M. Ancrenaz study estimated the population at around 11,000 orangutans and we think is an accurate figure.

Thank you Theresa Siskind for your question about eco-tourism in Lamandau. The Orangutan Foundation doesn’t run an eco-tourism programme to the Lamandau Reserve because it is an orangutan release site. With the Lamandau Ecosystem Conservation Partnership we want to develop long-term sustainable incomes for the local communities and in our experience eco-tourism isn't a source of income to be relied upon because it is often influenced by global issues, for example, terrorism. Some products made by the local communities, rattan baskets or mats, are on sale to tourists who come to visit Tanjung Puting National Park. We do value and realise the potential of eco-tourism to help protect wildlife and it has certainly done this in TPNP. Please visit our eco-tourism page on the Orangutan Foundation website.

The tropical pitcher is a very interesting carnivorous plant species and the uniqueness of its shape and colour has captured the interest of Mr. Devis who has been studying the tropical pitcher plant at Pondok Ambung. Over to Mr Devis....

Mr Devis looking at pitcher plants

Our survey began in the peat swamp forest around Sungai Sekonyer Kanan. Exploration has to be limited to the dry season because during the rainy season the rising water levels make it almost possible! We have so far discovered two types of tropical pitcher plant; Nepenthes ampullaria which looks like the pitcher cup and Nepenthes reinwardtiana which looks like a cylinder tube (see photos below).

We noticed that Nepenthes ampullaria grows in large quantities, in a centralized position in one particular spot. Our second survey was in the swamp forest around Pondok Ambung and this time three species of tropical pitcher were discovered. Two were species found in the first survey. The third species, Nepenthes rafflesiana (Raffles' Pitcher Plant) which has lower pitchers are generally round, squat and winged, while the upper pitchers are narrower at their base. We discovered that Rafflesiana grows well as a colony with Nepenthes ampullaria.

Nepenthes ampullaria

Nepenthes reinwardtiana

Three pitchers have been discovered so far Nepenthes reinwardtiana, Nepenthes ampullaria and Nepenthes rafflesiana. We need continuous surveys so we can uncover other types of tropical pitcher and learn more about their distribution so that conservation efforts can be taken.

I am hoping that there will be others researchers who have a similar interest in Tropical Pitcher research. Fellow researchers - I wait for your arrival here in Pondok Ambung!!