Beside perpetrators who hunt the flowers, deforestation also threatens the plant`s existence."
Bengkulu (ANTARA News) - Crowds gathered to witness the 15 endemic Rafflesia arnoldii flowers blooming, by opening their six petals completely, at the Bukit Barisan conservation forest in Bengkulu Province, Gilang Ibnu, an environmentalist said here on Thursday (April 20).

"People have packed the area and the nearby Taba Teret Village to see the rare event of the flowers blooming process," Ibnu stated.

He further noted that people who wish to see the flowers blooming will have to drive for around one hour from Bengkulu city to the Taba Teret Village near the forest.

Jeni Rama, one of the visitors, remarked that the flowers usually reveal only five of their petals.

Many tourists were spotted taking "selfies" with the blooming flowers.

At a different occasion, a coordinator of the provinces rare flower campaigner (KPPL) Sofian Ramadhan pointed out that the forests sustainability remains a key to protect the flowers.

"Beside perpetrators who hunt the flowers, deforestation also threatens the plants existence," Ramadhan noted.

The flowers, which have served as the provinces icon, would continue to bloom for several days.

Rafflesia arnoldii was named after its two founders British botanists Joseph Arnold and Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. It has been dubbed as the worlds largest individual parasitic flower.

The Indonesian government has acknowledged it as a rare national flower (puspa langka), which is protected under the Presidential Decree No. 4 in 1993.

At the provinces conservation forest, at least four flowers, including Rafflesia arnoldii, R. gradutensis, R. hasselti, and R. bengkuluensis have been identified earlier by the scientists.

(Reported by Helti Marini Sipayung/Uu.KR-GNT/INE/KR-BSR/H-YH)

Editor: Priyambodo RH
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