A rare and endangered Rafflesia (Rafflesia banahawensis), one of the largest flowers in the world, has bloomed after months of anticipation within Mts. Banahaw-San Cristobal Protected Landscape (MBSCPL), Brgy. Kinabuhayan, Dolores, Quezon.
It was spotted in March 2023 while the personnel assigned to MBSCPL were conducting regular patrolling and monitoring inside the moratorium area – an area which was declared through Kautusan Blg. 001-2014 by the Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) of MBSCPL, where certain practices and activities are prohibited.
Rafflesia banahawensis measures up to 30 centimeters in diameter. Among other species of its kind, it is known for its striking appearance and pungent odor, which draws pollinators such as flies. It was observed that there were two (2) populations of Rafflesia flowers at the time, growing beneath the roots of its host plant, Tetrastigma.
MBSCPL, where the flower was found, is a protected area that is home to a variety of threatened and endemic species. The MBSCPL Protected Area Management Office (PAMO) continuously coordinates with the local barangay of Kinabuhayan and agrees to conduct intensive Information, Education and Communication (IEC) activities with both the communities and tourists to strengthen the protection and conservation of wildlife.
According to Forester Josephine M. Barrion, the Protected Area Superintendent of MBSCPL, a monitoring station will be set up in the area to avoid incidents of damaging the host plant and other wildlife, in observance of the Lenten Season. The PAMO will also give reminders to everyone that it is strictly prohibited to go through the moratorium area.
The Local Government Unit of Dolores, Quezon and the PAMB have put in place measures to manage the influx of pilgrims for the upcoming season. This is to ensure their safety and also the conservation of the protected area. Establishment of designated trails, deployment of personnel and volunteers, and regulations on waste management and camping activities are among the preparatory activities designed by them.
The discovery of Rafflesia banahawensis highlights the importance of preserving its natural habitat and protecting biodiversity. It is hoped that continued conservation efforts will help to ensure the survival of this spectacular species in the wild.
The MSCPL-PAMO and the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) Tayabas continuously remind the public that Rafflesia is listed and designated as “Endangered” under the DENR Administrative Order 2017-11. The same is protected under Republic Act 9147 or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act of 2001. Collecting, possessing, and poaching of its kind is punishable under this law.