Photographers – please help!
This is a blog aimed straight at photographers active in Thailand, or photographers willing to come and visit Thailand:
Recently I contacted Dr André Schuiteman at Kew Gardens in Richmond, London. He is a world authority on Southeast Asian orchids. I asked if there is any source about what insects pollinate Thai orchids. He said there is none. We need to establish a database about this knowledge in order to restore defunct ecosystems. An orchid growing in a tree without its natural pollinating insect is genetically dead, because that orchid can not reproduce. If we know what insect, we can grow the food plant of that insect larva, and we can save the orchid species.
This is my request:
Instead of keeping taking pictures of the photographer’s favourite flower lilavadee (Plumeria or frangipani), why not take pictures of something unknown to mankind, and which may help saving the Southeast Asian orchids? To mee, taking a billionth picture of a Plumeria, not even native to the Asian content, is like taking another picture of a coke can while you could take pictures of wine bottles of the Roman Empire, hitherto unearthed.
This is a very difficult job. To start with, we need to catch the insect in action and then take pictures of it, collect it and hand over the insect to an entomologist for identification or species description if new to science. Another group of people will then have to search for the insect in the vicinity of the orchid to try to find its food source. Luckily many native orchids grow and pollinates naturally at Dokmai Garden, which will somewhat facilitate the job for some orchid species.
Some 400 species of orchids are known in northern Thailand, Laos and Burma, which implies we need to document some 400 different pollinators or more, many of which could be nocturnal, so this project will last beyond my lifetime. To get started, simply send me an e-mail that you are interested and whether you are good at macro photography, insect photography and/or night photography. Please include references (links to published pictures).
If you know of such a photographer, kindly forward this request to that person.
The jungle vanilla (Vanilla siamensis) is a huge but rare and endangered orchid with white flowers, probably pollinated at night. It is only found in northern Thailand and Laos (where it will probably go extinct soon). To save it we need to know more about its reproduction. The Orchid Ark knows about a natural site where natural pollination and fruit formation still occurs.