Panay Island’s endemic Rafflesia speciosa has gained local protection in the Barbaza town, province of Antique through Municipal Resolution No. 91, Series of 2013.
This largest single flower in the world can be found in the southern portion of Central Panay Mountain Ranges (CPMR) covering the municipalities of Barbaza, Tibiao, Lauan, Bugasong, San Remigio and Sibalom.
The declared critical habitat (CH) has an area of about 15.99 hectares, which is being shared by hinterland barangays of San Ramon and Marigne in Barbaza. The area does not only protect rafflesia alone but also, other important flora and fauna species that can be found near the periphery of the declared site.
The designation of critical habitat by the local government of Barbaza is in accordance with Republic Act (RA) 9147, or the Wildlife Resources Conservation and Protection Act, which mandates all agencies including LGUs to protect, and to conserve all endangered wildlife species.
LGU Barbaza, through the support of the German International Cooperation (GIZ)-Forest and Climate Protection Project (ForClim Panay), has trained and organized a community-based forest protection team as Bantay Gubat/Wildlife Enforcement Officers (WEO) to intensify law enforcement and implement pertinent environmental laws and the governing acts prohibited by RA 9147 such as dumping of waste products, human settlement, mineral exploration or extraction, burning, logging or quarrying. The next move of the LGU, DENR and GIZ-ForClim is to formulate the Critical Habitat Management Plan (CHMP) for the said species.
The Rafflesia flower is named after its European discoverer Thomas Stamford Raffles. It is a parasitic plant species. It grows within its host, the tetrastigma vine. Outgrowths appear on the root vine, then developed into cabbage like buds before it blooms and bear fruit. It’s a very sensitive flora species. Too much rain causes the bud to rot, while too little rain causes them to shrivel and dry up. (Nature and Life, Haribon)
In a nearby town of Sibalom, Antique, the Rafflesia speciosa is declared as their flagship species for conservation, which also serve as a conservation icon of Sibalom Natural Park (SNP).
Another new species of rafflesia was recently discovered in the adjacent town of Sebaste, northern part of Antique and was named as Rafflesia lobata.