It’s a matter of perspective

The ability of orchid-people to focus on flowers in the midst of calamity is truly impressive. Someone on the list wants to know how native orchids made out in the tsunami. Are any endangered species affected? Was their habitat damaged? How was the ecology damaged? Were any orchid nurseries hit?

A member who is based in Singapore very sensibly pointed out:

"No info has been gathered about ecological effects. People in the affected zones are to busy trying to get events under control to worry about ecology."

However, the rest of his post is quite interesting:

"I very much doubt that any endangered species now find themselves on the extinction list, with one exception. The tsunamis did an enormous amount of damage, but only to terrain at sea-level; they were not powerful enough to climb up the hills to any significant extent. From a wild-orchid’s point of view, most of the flooded habitat had already been wrecked by human activity. In the past decade I’ve visited almost all the wave-struck coastlines in S.E.Asia (plus Sri Lanka, but not Myanmar, India, Nicobar Isles or Andaman Isles) and can state that there was hardly any orchid-habitat left. I suspect that southern Myanmar will have lost good habitat, but it is impossible to know … the outside world has long been locked out from that region.

The exception is Paphiopedilum niveum. The mainland populations were virtually wiped out years ago by orchid-collectors, but the species persisted (and was doing quite well) on a number of small low-lying limestone islands in the Andaman Sea where they were guarded against collectors by the local people. The tsunamis would have hit these islands just before they struck the tourist beaches on the Thai/Malaysian coast. I have no idea if the islands are still there (lots of media reports mention whole islands disappearing during the tsunamis), or how badly damaged they are. The waves struck the Thai-Malay coast quite erratically  … one place got devastated, while the next, only 100-200 metres away, was untouched. If this pattern was true for the islands, we could expect some of the P. niveum populations to have survived."

D(["mb","pattern was true for the islands, we could expect some of the P.
niveum populations to have survived.

Orchid nurseries … Michael Oei\’s place on Penang Island was
untouched. I don\’t know of any others in the affected parts of
Indonesia, Malaysia or Thailand.

Peter O\’Byrne

the OrchidGuide Digest (OGD)
//–>From an orchid’s point of view, it seems that the tidal wave of people invading its habitat is far more calamitous than a tsunami sweeping in from the sea could ever be.