Aquilaria rostrata forest tree species said to have become extinct after the last time it was found about 100 years ago, has been rediscovered by researchers from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).
The tree of the Aquilaria genus, known as karas tree, is usually associated with high-value agarwood.
The species, also known as Karas Gunung or Chandan Gunung, was discovered in the forested Gunung Tebu, Besut, Terengganu, about 100 kilometer from the spot where it was first found in Gunung Tahan, Pahang.
UPM research team, led by Department of Forest Management, Faculty of Forestry lecturer, Associate Professor Dr. Rozi Mohamed, found the tree population while conducting a research during a field trip, with the help of Terengganu Forestry Department rangers in the middle of last year.
"At first, we thought that it was a new species but after making comparisons with a 100-year old specimen at Herbarium Botanic Gardens, Singapore, we discovered that it was the A.rostrata," she said in an interview.
The finding put to rest the fears and notions that the species may have become extinct.
More than 100 years after the first finding of the species, the tree was listed under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List as it was considered to be on the verge of extinction.
Dr. Rozi said the tree was found among felled timber in an area of about 700 meter high from the sea level.
She added that it was estimated that 50 agarwood trees, with height of between 2 and 5 meter and diameter at breast height (DBH) of between 3 and 4 centimeter, were discovered. The trees were flowering and fruiting.
According to her, the species were first discovered in 1911 at Wray's Camp, Gunung Tahan by H.N Ridley. The findings which were reported in 1924, however, did not specify the size of the trees.
"This specie is endemic ... it is not available anywhere else, only in Peninsular Malaysia alone and is in danger of extinction," said Dr. Rozi.
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