The Mount Kanlaon Natural Park (MKNP) has so many hidden natural gems that it is slowly revealing to us. A group composed of staff from MKNP and DENR discovered the very rare parasitic plant Rafflesia yesterday inside the Mt. Kanlaon Natural Park. This particular species is the Rafflesia speciosa, the same species found in Antique and is endemic to Negros-Panay faunal region. This same species was previously discovered by UPLB professor Pat Malabrigo at the Bago City side of Mt. Kanlaon in 2008.
Mr. Errol Gillang, MKNP staff, said they found the Rafflesia beside the Mamboto Creek in Brgy, Mansalanao, La Castellana, Negros Occidental. He said this is the first time that they found the flower at this site but other people’s organization and some of their personnel told them that they have also found the Rafflesia somewhere in the area of Cabagna-an also in La Castellana.
Rafflesia blooms in 3 to 4 days only before they start to wither. Based on the photos shared by Mr Gillang, there are still Rafflesia buds waiting to bloom. But unlike other flowers, the Rafflesia emits a foul odor similar to that of rotting meat so they attract flies instead of bees.
The Rafflesia is located inside the Multi Use Zone (MUZ) of the MKNP and only about 4 to 5 kilometers away from the MKNP office. With the discovery of the Rafflesia in La Castellana, we can expect more people to go to the area just like when the Palawan cherry gained popularity.
The MUZ was designed to allow the presence of occupants in the protected areas. However, occupancy has certain restrictions and limitations, since they are still part of the protected area and there may be portions which may pose hazards to the occupants.
DOST-PHIVOLCS lowered the alert status of Mt. Kanlaon volcano from Alert Level 1 to Alert Level 0 last May 5, 2017 which means that observational parameters have returned to normal levels. However, the public is still reminded to avoid entry into the 4-kilometer radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) due to hazards.
Mr Gillang said that they will conduct trail assessment next week to the summit of Mt. Kanlaon to determine if the area can be opened for trekking. So if you plan to visit the location, coordinate properly with with the MKNP.