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Hukaung Valley Rattan Survey

During January and February of 2005, Andrew Henderson and I conducted an extensive survey of rattans in the Hukaung Valley Tiger Reserve of Kachin State, Myanmar.  Rattans are spiny, climbing palms that form the basis of a $6.2 billion/year furniture industry.  The Hukaung Valley Tiger Reserve is one of the largest protected areas in the world (the reserve extends over 2,500 sq. miles), and it is also one of the least explored.  A survey of the world's herbaria revealed that no voucher specimens - of any plant taxa - had ever been coliected from this region.

For six weeks Andrew and I slowly made our way down the Ledo Road, stopping every couple of miles to make a base camp, run inventory transects, and collect samples of local rattans . A total of 15 rattan species were collected from the Hukaung Valley during the survey. Eight of these species were new records for Myanmar (i.e. rattan collected in other parts of S.E. Asia, but never reported from Myanmar); two of the collections were new species to science. Funding for the expedition was provided by the Committee for Research and Exploration of the National Geographic Society and the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation (CERC) of Columbia University.  Deep bows to all for amazing trip...

Additional information about the survey can be found here.

[NOTE: This video documents the first example of an elephant collecting a plant specimen.]

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