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Click here to return to 2022 Annual Report
Preserving a blooming good find; the Malabar river-lily

The endangered Malabar river-lily is flourishing again.

Malabar river-lily (Crinum malabaricum)

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The Malabar river-lily (Crinum malabaricum) is endemic to five sites on rivers in Northern Kerala and South-Western India. In 2016 it was assessed as Critically Endangered using the IUCN criteria, however, research has shown that whilst still vulnerable, populations are secure. 

During the course of 2017 and 2022, students and staff of the Government College Kasaragod embarked on a research project.  The primary objective was to assess the conservation condition of C. malabaricum as well as to establish a monitoring protocol.

All known populations have been abundantly fertile and recordings are estimated to be around 25,500 individuals in Periya.

Four of the sites supporting Crinum malabaricum (at Aravanchal, Cheemeni, Embate and Periya) were visited on the 25th-27th September 2017 and four (at Aravanchal, Cheemeni, Eramam and Periya) on the 3rd-5th October 2022.  The MBZ Fund support, made the 2022 research trip a reality.  During the trip, it was discovered that C. malabaricum was found on seasonal rivers flowing over the level laterite soil layer at 80-100m above sea level and in an area of approx. 20 x 5km in Kannur and Kasaragod Districts which runs parallel to the coast of northern Kerala. Although populations appear to be limited upstream, they are far more prominent amongst bedrock outcrops and downstream at deeper water over silt.

The C. malabaricum can grow in full sunlight, but this is rare, and most populations flourish in the shade either of natural riparian woodland and scrub or fruit crop plantations. C. malabaricum typically forms dense stands covering the entire channel with leaves forming a mat-like cover when water levels drop.

Overall, known populations of C. malabaricum seem stable and relatively secure, although populations are threatened at Cheemeni due to the rubber plantation, at Aravanchal by housing and possibly declining at Embate due to rural development.

There is a need for a major initiative to stimulate and support conservation of wetland plants throughout the Western Ghats, to ensure conservation success of C. malabaricum species and other taxa endemic to the region.

Project lead by

Richard Lansdown

Ardeola Environmental Services

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