Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dandelion - an invasive killer on Mt Kinabalu

Daily Express Newspaper Online, Sabah, Malaysia
Published on: Sunday, June 14, 2009

By: Kan Yaw Chong

THE battle is on - against a silent killer in our most cherished wilderness -Mt Kinabalu, Malaysia's first World Heritage Site. The enemy? Dandelion.
Anything wrong with this good looking flowering 'character' worth waging a war against? Yes.

It is non-native, it's heavily invasive, it doesn't believe in balance or co-existence, it came in surreptitiously, its seeds probably hidden in boots or bags of tourists from Europe or northern hemisphere, germinated, established itself in strategic spots and it is now set to out-compete, overwhelm, displace, kill off native species and become the single 'king' weeds eventually when you might see cherished endemic species choked by 'him'.

How domineering, how sinister, how impoverishing this sneaky 'guy' can be against the famously rich flora of Mt. Kinabalu.

Most people don't know a floristic 'invasion' of Kinabalu by an invasive alien species is already underway.

Or they know but dismiss it as a small matter which it is decidedly not.

The good news is a handful of people do know, understand its damaging consequences on biodiversity beyond their life time and acted incisively.

This is a small army of 35 people, an unlikely cohort of pensioners, librarians, pharmacists, North Borneo Herb Growers, park rangers and navy men who 'fought' a deep-rooted invader for three days in drenching conditions on Mt Kinabalu and forcibly plucked out 300 kilograms of dandelion.

But this is not the end of the problem, mind you.

Experts know once an invasive species has set root, it is impossible to eradicate, only abate, by constant action. So, this is likely to be a battle in an endless war.

But battle ravaging invasive species we must and dandelion is but one of a growing tide of such intruders here and worldwide.
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