Bengkulu — The Taba Penanjung natural sanctuary in Central Bengkulu Regency has become a holiday destination overnight after two Rafflesia arnoldii flowers blossomed in the area on Tuesday.
“When they blossomed on Sunday (July 22), visitors started pouring in. Moreover, the flowers have bloomed at a strategic location, just 10 metres away from the sanctuary’s main avenue,” said Juanda, the keeper of the Rafflesia flowers, on Tuesday.
The blossoming of two Rafflesia flowers at the same time was a rare occurrence and the two flowers bloomed just 2 metres away from each other, he added.
Thanks to local and national media attention, visitors thronged to the sanctuary to see the two flowers.
“We get approximately a hundred visitors a day. We haven’t kept count,” Juanda stated.
He and his two colleagues, Ibnu and Reck, have placed donation boxes along the driveways of the sanctuary, the proceeds of which would be used to buy tents, so the flowers could be preserved at least for 24 hours.
“If we do not protect the flowers, they may be stolen. That has happened twice,” he explained. The rare flowers are also vulnerable to damage. However, visitors are allowed to take pictures with the flowers by paying only Rp5.000,00.
“They can take some pictures with the flowers, but cannot touch the sheath because the flowers are extremely delicate,” Juanda stated.
One of the visitors, Yusak, who came from Jakarta, said he was impressed and amazed by the uniqueness of the Rafflesia flower.
“I had never seen the flowers before. I went to Bengkulu on business, so I could see how unique the Rafflesia flowers actually were,” he said.
In the meantime, Juanda said the two flowers would continue attracting visitors at least for two more days.