Biological Diversity in the Sunadaland (a biological hotspot consisting of the area around Malaysia and Sumatra among other countries). Over 25 thousand species of animals inhabit this area which is rich in animal and plant diversity. One of the greatest problems of such a diverse area is that it has so many problems—Constant deforestation and environmental degradation of the land by the human population have caused many species to become critically endangered.

One such species, rarely seen by humans and thought to be completely extinct by some is the Black shrew. One of the smallest mammals in the world, the black shrew is a generally solitary rodent, and has been known to be very aggressive towards others of its species. The black shrew represents the mystery the world around us that we may never get to enjoy. Here is this interesting, tiny little rodent that lives in the mountains of Malaysia. A creature we know almost nothing about, and we may never get to know anything about it ever because of the effects of humanity on the endemic population of animals and plants.

Malaysia, one nation within the Sundaland and supposed home to the black shrew, has its share of problems. Constant deforestation over the past half century has destroyed a large chunk of the forest area (in the last five years over 400 new species have been given endangered status), and many scientists stress for the need to conserve such a rich environment. Malaysia as a country has taken many strides to conserve what is left of their rapidly declining forests including logging regulations and the introduction of ecotourism have begun the process of conservation. They still have a long way to go if they intend to halt the loss of their uniquely biodiverse region of the Sundaland.

The Sundaland, and Malaysia aren’t just unique for their fauna. Thousands of unique plant species inhabit the tropical rainforest regions of the Sundaland. Of the 25,000 species of flora found in the Sundaland, 15,000 (60%) are exclusively endemic to the region. One such endemic species found nowhere else in the world is the curiously morbid Amorphophallus titanum.

The titan arum or Amorphophallus titanum (from Ancient Greece amorphos, “without form, misshapen” + phallos, “phallus”, and “titan” “giant”) is endemic to western Sumatra, where it grows in openings in rainforests on limestone hills. The titan arum  is a flowering plant with the largest unbranched inflorescense (a group or cluster of flowers arranged on a stem that is composed of a main branch or a complicated arrangement of branches) in the world, as it can reach over 10 feet. This plant is not only distinct because of it’s granduer however, it’s also nicknamed the “corpse flower,” because it’s fragrance is reminiscent of rotting flesh.

The Indonesian government is implementing policies to promote conservation, but it’s impossible to conserve all forested areas so actions are taking place in order to figure out the key areas and preserve them as adequately as possible.  More about the conservative actions can be read about here.



11 responses »

  1. Jacob Berrier says:

    I must say, the title really caught my attention. The corpse flower sounds lovely…

    I have noticed a consistency in the majority of these blogs, habitat loss due to deforestation or human development.

  2. Amanda Koh says:

    Its interesting how even though the country where i’m from (Singapore) has pretty much the same climate as Malaysia since we are right next to each other, we do not have the titan arum growing in the wild anymore and this is likely due to deforestation to make way for more buildings or facilities on our small island.

  3. The title caught my attention as well. I’ve heard of the Titan Arum before, although I’ve never seen what it looks like. It deceives you so well with its lovely outlook appearance. By looking at a picture, you would never guess how bad a flower could smell.

  4. Kasia Dybek says:

    This is such an interesting note! I have never heard of this hotspot, nor its uniqueness, especially two species of fauna and flora that have been described above. It is shocking how little people know about their habitats. We share environment with the most unique and diverse species, but cannot appreciate it. The fact that ‘in the last five years over 400 new species have been given endangered status’ is terrifying and there is an urgent need to stop human ignorance and unplanned development.

    It was fascinating to read about two species I have never heard of before, black shrew and titan arum. The description of the plant caught my attention immediately. After reading more on the topic, I found out that it is the largest, possibly rarest tropical flower on Earth and it is endangered. The bloom of the plant lasts only one or two days. Some people travel around the world hoping to see a Titan at the moment it flowers but because of the ignorance and lack of awareness, we might lose this special moment forever, if we don’t take better care of protecting titan arum.

    – Kasia (Katarzyna) Dybek

  5. Leo Costa says:

    For once the main focus is not on deforestation. Its interesting to learn that there is a plant that smells like rotting flesh.

  6. Leo Costa says:

    The thing that interested me the most about this blog was the information on the titan arum. Its crazy how a plant emits odor that can be confused for rotting flesh.

  7. Ashley Raynor says:

    I used to watch a movie when I was little about a black shrew – never knew anything about it. Very interesting to learn that it infact, exists and is not extinct.

  8. patrick bradford says:

    that giant flower is in some museums or something and when it opens up people wait in lines for hours and hours to go see and smell it whiiiiich is really nasty why would anyone want to smell that

  9. kristysiciliano says:

    The title of this post really caught my attention, kinda gross that the plant smells like rotting flesh but interesting at the same time. its interesting to read about the black shrew because i didn’t know anything about it.

  10. Excellent title! I am very glad “corpse flowers” are so rare because I never want to smell that!

    ~CJ Hipp

  11. Pretty certain that I’ll never want to go smell one of those flowers, but I would like to see one someday. Hopefully the countries that house such plants will be able to keep their conservation projects going, and stronger, in order to preserve the unique region. I’ve never heard of a black shrew and unfortunately, according to the information above, will probably never see one in person.
    -Ailish Reilly

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