The Most Beautiful Natural Wonders of the World Essay Sample

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1. The Pinta Island tortoise – Without argument, this turtle is one of the few species of Giant Galapagos tortoises and the rarest animal in the world since there is only one left alive. 2. Baiji (Yangtze River Dolphin) – With no more than a few tens of individuals, Yangtze River Dolphinthe dolphin is one of the world’s rarest mammals, and a victim of China’s breakneck economic growth, competing for food with the human beings. 3. The Vancouver Island Marmot – This marmot is found only in the high mountainous regions of Vancouver Island, in British Columbia, the Canadian Species at Risk Act listing it as endangered in May 2000. 4. Seychelles Sheath-tailed Bat – Inhabiting the central granitic islands of the Seychelles Islands north of Madagascar,Seychelles Sheath-tailed Bat the bat is part of our list, being one of the most endangered animals since fewer than 100 are believed to exist in the world. 5. Javan Rhino – This scarce animal is one of the rhino species with fewer than 60 animals surviving in only two known locations: one in Indonesia and the other in Vietnam. 6. Hispid hare – Also called the “bristly rabbit”, this hare has been recorded along the southern foothills of the HimalayanHispid hare mountain chain, Nepal,  Bengal, and Assam.

Deforestation, cultivation, and human settlement had the most negative impact on the species, isolating the rabbits in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal and Assam. This animal was feared extinct in 1964, but in 1966, one was spotted. There were an estimated 110 hispid hares worldwide in 2001, numbers continuing to plunge due its unsuccessful adaptation to captivity. 7. Northern Hairy-nosed Wombat – In the 19th century this species of wombat was present in New South Wales and Victoria but now can only be found in a small national park near Epping Forest Station in tropical Queensland. While this area has been protected as a National Park, the native grasses that the wombat eats are overtaken by non-indigenous plants. The Northern hairy-nosed wombat is the rarest Australian marsupial, and probably the world’s rarest large mammal. In the latest population study, there are an estimated 113 (range 96 to 150) individual. A major recovery program is underway, funded by the Queensland and Commonwealth governments to the tune of $250,000 per year. 8. Tamaraw (Dwarf Water Buffalo)– Found in the the island of Mindoro in the Philippines, the tamaraw is the only Dwarf Water Buffalo endemic Phillipine bovine.

In 1900 there were an estimated 10,000 tamaraw on Mindoro, 120 in 1975, 370 in 1987 . It was declared critically endangered species in 2000 by the World Conservation Union and remained so until today, being threatened by agriculture, hunting or disease brought by domestic species. The current population was estimated in 2002 at a number between 30 and 200 individuals. Although protected by law, the illegal capture and killing of this species continues to occur. 9. Iberian Lynx – The Lynx, the most endangered of the world’s 36 cats, stands on the edge of extinction. This lynx was once distributed over the entire Iberian Peninsula but now its area is severely restricted in Andalusia. Threatened by destruction of habitat and of its prey, the cat was killed by traps set for rabbits or hit by cars as the number of roads increase. The Spanish Government is now in the process of developing a national conservation effort to save the Iberian Lynx. Studies from March 2005 have estimated the number of Lynx to be as few as 100, down from about 400 in 2000.

On March 29, 2005, the birth of 3 cubs, the first born in captivity, was announced, a hope for the future reintroduction of the species. 10. Red Wolf – This wolf is a smaller and a more slender cousin of the gray wolf, historically ranging from southeasternRed Wolf United States to Florida and Texas. Now, their home is the 1.7 million acres throughout northeastern North Carolina, including Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge and Pocosin Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. Only 20 pure red wolves were estimated in 1980, however the number increased to 207 captive red wolves, found in 38 captive breeding facilities across the United States. With the successful breeding programs, over 100 red wolves currently live in the wild. Runner-up. Dwarf Blue Sheep – The Dwarf Blue Sheep or Dwarf Bharal Pseudois schaeferi is an endangered species of caprid found in China and Tibet. The dwarf blue sheep population in the world has declined to a total of 70–200 individuals, currently being listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The species is hunted, and in their limited range cannot escape from humans and livestock. As of 1997, China did not recognize them as a seperate species so efforts to conserve the species have not been initiated. Acis

The genus Acis was defined in 1807 by Salisbury. 80 years later it was lumped into Leucojum and remained there for many years. Generations of gardeners came to know species all as Leucojum. In 2004 an extensive study by Lledo and co-workers* concluded that Acis was after all distinct from Leucojum and separated them again. Acis autumnalis

(formerly Leucojum autumnale)
Masses of pink tinged hanging white bells from August to October over thread-like leaves. Makes a splendid early-autumn display in almost any sunny, well-drained soil. Easily pleased and a good one to start with. »

Acis autumnalis oporanthus
(formerly Leucojum autumnale)
The Moroccan variant, mentioned in Stern as long ago as the 1950’s and known of earlier. A vigorous plant, making flowering stems up to 25cm tall and the flower stems are present at the same time as the leaves. Don’t let the N. African origins put you off, this has been hardy here for many years, and persisted in cultivation for at least 80. Well drained, sunny site. »

Acis autumnalis oporanthus dispathaceus

Stern records a few occurrences of a form with two spathes. Some of these refer undoubtedly to what we now know as Acis ionica however there are rare occurrences of autumnalis with two spathes and this stock is propagated from one of these. »

Acis autumnalis pulchella

From Morocco and S. Spain. Its distinction is that it flowers with the leaves present. Additionally its pedicels arch over at the apex. Acis autumnalis September Snow (formerly Leucojum autumnale)
A new form with white flowers which lack much (but not all) of the pink infusion usually found around the base of the bloom near the ovary. They thus appear to be a purer white than the more usually encountered clone.

Acis ionica

This makes strong, but dwarf, spikes of superb, crystalline white flowers in early Autumn, in well grown specimens, several to each spike and 2-3 spikes to each bulb. Slender leaves follow. Acis nicaeënsis

(formerly Leucojum nicaeënse)
A rare native of a few localities in France, where it grows wedged into limestone rocks on the summits of steep-sided limestone plateaux. Acis tingitanus
(formerly Leucojum tingitanum)
A rather misunderstood plant as, for many years, this has been described in the literature as a species like trichopylla or autumnalis. Acis trichophylla
JJA.630.501
This Iberian and N. African plant remains little seen in cultivation. It is, in my experience, one of the very few plants where the British obsession with lime or acid soils has some relevance to cultivation. I have consistently found that it does better in an acid soil. This is borne out in the wild, across Portugal where it forms extensive colonies over acid sands but is not found on the limestone. The true species

At last the real, true to name plant is introduced to cultivation. For many years Greek plants (now known to be incorrectly named), have done the rounds as Leucojum valentinum or latterly as Acis valentina. In fact the Greek plant is A. ionica and I am not aware that anyone has ever offered the true Spanish A. valentina before our present offering (first offered in 2012). You may see the name around, I am certain that it will not be the true plant that you have, or get sent. 10

Poinsettia
Euphorbia pulcherrima

Toxic Principle: Diterpene esters in latex
To start off, we have perhaps one of the most well-known ornamental plants, the poinsettia. Euphorbia pulcherrima is a plant native to the tropical, deciduous forests of Mexico, but has long been used as a symbol of Christmas. English Ivy

Hedera helix

Toxic Principles: Triterpenoid saponins and polyacetylene compounds English Ivy is an extremely common plant, and is labeled as an invasive species in the United States. Its sale and distribution is even prohibited in the state of Oregon. Easter Lily

Lilium longiflorum

Toxic Principle: Lycorine alkaloids
Easter lilies are a very common species in the Liliaceae family. Although native to the Ryukyu Islands of Japan and Taiwan, this lily is found in gardens all across the globe. Growing up to one meter (3.28 ft) in height, and bearing a number of trumpet shaped, white, fragrant and outward facing flowers, it is a keepsake to the art of gardening. Larkspur

Delphinium spp.

Toxic Principles: Alkaloids delphinine, ajacine and others
Larkspur is a member of the buttercup family Ranunculaceae, and is native to North America. It usually grows at higher elevations, and is often found on mountains. From 10 centimeters (3.93″), and in some alpine species, up to two meters (6.56 ft) tall, this plant is topped with a raceme of many flowers, varying in color from purple and blue, to red, yellow or white. Almost all species are toxic. Despite its toxicity, Delphinium species are used as food plants by the larvae of some moth species. 6

Aloe Vera
Aloe Vera

Toxic Principles: Aloin and anthraquinone-glycoside
Aloe Vera is a succulent plant, recognized for its long, spiny, flower spikes, and yellow flowers, in terminal, elongated clusters. 5
Azalea Rhododendron spp.

Toxic Principle: Andromedotoxin
Azaleas are a very common plant, found in gardens all over the world. Its evergreen leaves and brilliant flowers make it an exceptionally attractive plant for many gardeners. Its flowers are white to deep pink, red, yellow, purple, blue and orange. 4

Dumb Cane
Dieffenbachia

Toxic Principles: Calcium oxalate crystals called raphides, oxalic acid Dumb cane makes it to number four on our list due to its overwhelming popularity. Dieffenbachia is an extremely common house plant, and you’ve probably been to many homes where it resides. Oleander

Nerium oleander

Toxic Principles: Cardiac glycosides: nerioside and oleandroside; saponins, and other unknown agents Oleander is a small, yet eye-catching plant, and its flowers are known to come in a wide assortment of colors. One aspect (perhaps already well-known) of the plant is its high level of toxicity. Foxglove

Digitalis purpurea

Toxic Principles: Cardiac and steroid glycosides
Foxglove is a beautiful plant that is common in many colorful gardens. Its scientific name, digitalis, means “finger-life” and refers to the ease with which the flower can be fitted over a human fingertip. These flowers, produced along a tall spike, are known to come in colors such as blue, purple, pink, white and yellow. Datura Stramonium

Toxic Principle: Tropane alkaloids: atropine, hyoscyamine, and scopolamine

Pinocchio Frog:

This is a new kind of frog found in the remote Fuja Mountains of Indonesia. Pinocchio frog is a strange little creature which was discovered suddenly and accidentally. The abnormal presence of nose on the front of its face is the most strange and distinct feature of this frog. 9) Goliath Bird Eating Spider:

You read it correct the name is clear. It is the bird eating Spider (it eats bird) not vice verse . The birthplace of this frog is Guyana. 8) Obama fish:

“Osama fish”, take your pardon its Obama fish and let us make you clear its not the presidents fish, but a marine citizen of North America. 7) Rinjani Scops owl:

When researchers went on for something to discover and found this new one .They went on the normal outing and found this fearsome eyed bird accidentally in the forest of Indonesia.. 6) Red-bearded Titi:

Isn’t this creature scary? Yes it is . This is a breed which comes under monkey species . The features are scary, especially the eyes are wide open all the time. 5) Donkey-Spiti:

It is time for an Indian breed. This breed claims Himalayas as its origin. Generally donkeys are known for its patience and also known as transport animal. Hence this breed is also not an exception from it as it is used as a medium of transportation. 4) Walter’s Duiker:

Having height of 40 cm ( 16 inches) and weighing around 4 to 6 kilograms , these are the body figures of this creature duiker. The breed is from West Africa and it is rarely found but not endangered 3) Cattle-Pulikulam

One more Indian breed comes in Top 10 . It comes from Madurai, Tamil Nadu. The look is similar just like normal one 2) Sneezing Monkey:

Sneezing monkey is the common name of this species. This monkey was discovered in Mynamar and as expected it is also under the group of endangered species. 1) Rare singing dog :

Firstly, it appeared 23 years back . Then it never appeared again. So all the seen people and the scientists decided that this is an extinct species Endemic animal

From the tropical island paradise of Mauritius, to the myriad of coral islands that make up the Maldives, to the lush idyllic major island of Sri Lanka, the Indian Ocean offers plenty to experience, in addition to wonderful beaches, luxurious spas and crystal clear waters of course. Stretching from the coast of Africa to the coast of Australia, the Indian Ocean is home to some of the most exotic island paradises on earth; Madagascar, Seychelles, Comoros, Christmas Island and many more. Turtles in the Maldives

The 1,000 or so tropical islands that make up the Maldives are the perfect destination to spot leatherback and loggerheads turtles as they paddle the warm waters and nest on the beaches. In fact of the seven turtle species on earth, five of them reside in the Maldives. Lemurs in Madagascar

The fourth largest island in the world is also a biodiversity hotspot with a huge array of plants and wildlife that cannot be found anywhere else on earth. In fact 90% of the plantlife and animals are endemic to Madagascar. One major attraction is the lemur and of the 32 different species in the world, all are endemic to Madagascar including the ring tailed lemur, Lepilemur, Red Ruffed Lemur (pictured above), Indri lemur and the Verreaux’s sifaka. The primates arrived on the island about 23 million years ago and today there are many specially created National parks that provided protected environments for mammals, birds, reptiles, flora and fauna such as the Andringitra National Park, Zahamena national Park and the Marojejy National Park. Giant Tortoises in the Seychelles

The tropical paradise island of the Seychelles is home to the giant tortoise, which makes for quite a sight. The UNESCO World Heritage site of Aldabra Atoll is crawling with thousands of the prehistoric creatures that often live to 200 years old and can weigh up to a rather hefty 300kg each. Whale Sharks off the coast of Tanzania

The Indian Ocean is teeming with shark species and at Mafia Island visitors can swim with whale sharks. The gentle giants are a bewitching sight and with adults reaching some 35 tonnes, this is not for the faint hearted. The Zanzibar archipelago and Mafia Island collectively make up Tanzania’s Spice Islands, named after the prolific production of cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Pink Pigeon in Mauritius

The curious pink pigeon was all but as extinct as Mauritius’ other famous resident, the dodo, until conservationists stepped in. Down to just 9 remaining pigeons in 1991, these were shipped off to Jersey Zoo assisted by the famous naturalist Gerald Durrell to be bred and returned to the island. Today the pink pigeon population numbers around 400 and the birds can be seen in the National Park and on the Ile aux Aigrettes nature reserve. Asian elephants in Sri Lanka

Travellers to Sri Lanka can take the opportunity to spot herds of Sri Lankan Asian elephant, which is on the global endangered list. The Minneriya National Park in the north central province is a feeding ground especially during the dry season (May to September) where herds gather on the grass fields at the edge of the reservoir. Estimates place the number of elephants here at around 700, living alongside two endemic monkey species; the Purple-faced Langur and the Toque Macaque. There are also deer, leopard, bear and large water birds in residence. Red Crabs on Christmas Island

Head to Christmas Island in October or November to witness 100 million red crabs make the journey from their forest homes into the sea to lay their eggs. Christmas Island lies off Australia’s northwest coast and is also home to the endemic Abbott’s Booby, Fruit Bats and the brown Booby which has its largest breeding colony on the island. For those of you heading out to work in the garden during the Easter bank holiday weekend, here are my tips for gardening in Lanzarote: 1. Wear Gloves

It’s important to have some kind hand protection when gardening in Lanzarote, having tested a few kinds of gloves, I like the half plastic half elastic material ones that you can pick up from your local garage / DIY store, they allow your hands to breathe whilst protecting them. The reason I wear gloves is that some of the plants have very small spikes on their stems or leaves which are like tiny splinters and very irritating if they get into your skin.

The first photo shows a lovely ground covering plant but it is full of tiny thorns and the second is a nettle, it doesn’t sting but again it has lots of tiny thorns on the leaves and stems. 2. Wear Shoes

I love to garden in flip flops and quite often do, but then I have to do the picón shuffle to get the tiny stones out from between my feet and the flip flop. If I’ve got lots of gardening to do then I definitely wear trainers. 3. Garden Waste

You can only have a bonfire once a year in Lanzarote, on the eve of San Juan (midsummer’s night) so don’t save up any garden rubbish unless you have a compost heap, take it to your local Punta Limpio to dispose of.

4. Watering
Don’t water your plants in direct sunlight or you will burn the leaves, water either first thing in the morning or last thing at night. You can definitely see a difference in growth and flowering when you water often. 5. Wind

Lanzarote has a strong wind which can affect plants and trees, if you have some delicate plants either protect them with a stake or build a zoco (stone circular wall) around them to deflect the breeze. 6. Wildlife

Be cautious when lifting stones in your garden, more than likely you will find a lizard or gecko hiding underneath. If you disturb or frighten a
lizard they might drop their tale, which twists and turns on its own to distract you whilst they make their escape! A gecko is fatter with rounded toes and waddles whilst a lizard is slim and long and quick.

7. Sun
Protect yourself from the sun whilst working in the garden, wear a hat and sunscreen as you may not feel the heat until its too late. 8. Cuttings

It’s quite easy to take cuttings from other plants, pot them in compost and water until established and then transplant to the garden or plant direct into the garden if you prefer. With cactus, you can just snap a piece off, wait for a day or two until the white sap stops and then plant. You can also take seeds from tomatoes, oranges, peppers etc and plant them and they will grow! 9. Picón

Every garden should have a good thick layer of picón as this draws moisture from the overnight dew and waters your plants, it also helps to keep the weeds down in the winter months. Picón is crushed volcanic rock and available in black and red. 10. Absent owners

If you don’t live full time in Lanzarote but want a colourful garden, install an automatic watering system, they have a loop of black pipe that sits around the base of your plants and releases water as programmed on your timer. Alternatively you could have a gardener to maintain and water in your absence or plant endemic species of plants that can survive the harsh summers.

Normal Plants

Posted on June 23, 2013 by Helen Johnstone
My garden this weekend has been wet, windy, grey with a scattering of sunshine. It has been cool and not at all conducive or encouraging to gardening. Added to this my head is all over the place as I am jetting off on Tuesday morning to San Francisco to join in with the Garden Bloggers Spring Fling. Everything is organised: the case almost packed but already full, dollars acquired, ESTA/visa sorted, ticket and passport ready. The cupboards are full so my sons won’t go hungry and they have had watering instructions which they may or may not remember but it doesn’t really matter. I have a ridiculously short connection at Newark airport which is causing me anxiety but United Airlines have told me its doable but that there are lots of flights to San Francisco after the one I’m due on so they can put me on the next one if I miss mine!

I intended to get so much done in the garden before I leave but when it came to it my head wasn’t in the right place. A few things have been planted out and pricked out but I have really lost my gardening mojo this last week and can’t find it anywhere. I am hoping that when I get back from San Francisco and have no plans until the end of August that I will feel more relaxed and can re-engage with the garden. I have though done some rearranging in the greenhouse to make the water easier for my sons and have potted up the cucumbers and put them in their final growing position. In front of them are some Hymenocallis which aren’t far from flowering and I am hoping they will wait until I get back.

The succulent collection has grown and there are quite a few that are in need of potting up and a whole host of other plants to sort out but strangely I am already looking through having a clear head both work and home wise on my return and working slowly through everything in the garden. Plus the shed/workshop should be in situ by the time I get back and that will help as it has been rather chaotic recently which I suppose has stopped the garden feel like the refugee it usually is. I was surprised to spot the iris below as I didn’t realise I had such a plant in the garden. I got some iris bulbs from a bulb supplier last autumn and I had assumed they were iris reticulata, they didn’t flower back in January/February and I think this was what they actually were. Any ideas on what type of iris they are?

Endangered Animals

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Credit: USFWS
Seabeach Amaranth

Seabeach Amaranth

(Amaranthus pumilus) is an annual plant, has fleshy rounded dark green leaves around1-2 cm grouped near the tips of fleshy, reddish steams. The plant germinates from April to July.Flowering starts in June and the seed production in July. Seeds measure about 2 – 2.5mm.This plant species was listed as endangered in 1993.

Credit: J. Kent Minichiello
Bindweed

Hedge Bindweed (Calystegia sepium) Flowers can be white or pale pink with white stripes, between 2 to 4 inches long and 2-3 inches across. After flowering the fruit develops in a spherical capsule of 1 cm diameter containing two to four large, black seeds that are shaped like quartered oranges. Flowering occurs from June to September. The leaves have a triangular form and are arranged in a spiral.

Credit:Robert Wilson
Mayweed.

Mayweed (Anthemis cotula), June – October. The white daisy-like blossoms (3/4-1” wide) of mayweed show themselves in summer along the refuge’s roadsides. The lacy leaves have a heavy odor.

Credit: Irene Sacilotto
Blue-eye Grass.

Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium atlanticum), March- June. If you look down at your feet when walking in open fields, you might see long-stalked, bright blue or violet “eyes” looking up at you from the grassy leaves.

Credit: J. Kent Minichiello
Camhorweed.

Camphorweed (Heterotheca subaxillaris), August – November. The strong scent of the camphorweed leaves fills the air as the yellow aster-like blossoms (1/2-3/4” wide) brighten the roadsides.

Credit: Irene Sacilotto
Meadow Beauty

Meadow Beauty (Rhexia virginica or mariana), June-September. Two species of this flower can occur here, the pale pink Maryland meadow (mariana) and the deeper pink Virginia meadow – beauty (virginica). The four petals of the flower are so delicate they often fall off when touched by a raindrop.

Credit: J. Kent Minichiello
Pink Wild Bean.

Pink Wild Bean (Strophstyles umbellate), July – September. This legume twines its tendrils around other plants in order to reach the sunlight- similar to the peas or beans in your garden. Pink wild bean’s long, narrow pods resemble miniature string beans.

Credit: J. Kent Minichiello
Horse Nettle.

Horse Nettle (Solanum carolinense), May- October. This plant protects itself with sharp prickles on its stem. It has pale purple or white star- shaped flowers in summer and later bears orange- yellow berries. Forest Habitat

Credit: Irene Sacilotto
Pink Lady’s Slipper

Pink Lady’s Slipper (Cypripedium acaule), April – July. This flower has a distinctive pink pouch and two broad, ground level leaves. Be sure not to touch the pink lady’s slipper, as it has been know to cause skin inflammation.

Credit: Aaron Griffith
Northern Red Oak

Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra) has leaves between 5 -8 inches long with 7 to 11 lobes. Each lobe is usually 3-toothed, sharply pointed. Leaves turn red in fall before dropping off. The tree can be between 60 -80 feet tall with 3 or more feet’s in diameter.

Credit : Aaron Griffith
Water Oak

Water Oak (quercus nigra) leaves are small, between 2 – 4 inches long and wider in the tip that in the base. The leaves have various shapes but usually they have three indistinct lobes. Leaves drop off in the winter. The trunk is usually slender and can reach 125 feet of height.

Credit: Heather Hollis
Red Maple

Red Maple

(Acer rubrum) leaves contain 3 – 5 lobes with margins that are coarsely-toothed, between 2 -6 inches long. Leaves turn bright scarlet, orange, or bright yellow in autumn. It flowers in spring before the leaves show. The fruit is reddish; V shaped and matures in early summer dropping the stem about 3-4 inches long. The tree is usually 75 – 90 feet in height and 1½– 2½feet in diameter. The buds and samaras (seeds) are a great food resource for squirrels during winter and spring.

Credit: Heather Hollis
Loblolly Pine

Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda) has slender 6-9 inch long needles in groups of three. During their third season needles fall from the tree. The cones have an oblong shape, measure between 2 -6 inches long, and have a spine at the tip of each scale. Color can vary from reddish to brown. Cones drop their seeds during autumn but will remain on the tree for another year. The trunk is usually straight, reaching 100 feet in height with a diameter between 2-3 feet. The seeds are eaten by the Delmarva fox squirrel, wild turkeys, and some songbirds.

Credit: Heather Hollis
Sweetgum

Sweet Gum (Liquidamber styraciflua) leaves are easy to recognize because of their star-shape composed of 5 (rarely 7) separated loves. They also have long stems, a toothed margin, and are 5-7 inches long. During autumn they turn into deep red color. They have a round, bur-like hard, woody fruit that is 1 – 1½inches in diameter with a long stalk that remains through the winter. The tree can reach 120 feet in height and four or more feet in
diameter.

Credit: Aaron Griffith
Eastern Red Cedar

Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) grows as a tree or as a shrub in a variety of sites. Leaves grow in an opposite pattern, meaning that there is 180 degrees between them. They also have a shiny dark green color. Old leaves are thicker than the younger leaves and are needle-shaped and pointed. The cones are round, with a diameter of ¼ – 1/3 inches, and bluish in color with a waxy grayish-white cover. Commonly it reaches 40-50 feet in height with a diameter of 1-2 feet. Marsh Habitat

Credit: Irene Sacilotto
Rose Mallow

Rose Mallow

(Hibiscus palustris), June – September. In mid-summer the large flowers of the rose mallow cover the marshes with pink and with. Do you see any red in the center? These are “crimson- eyed” rose mallow. (Hibiscus palustrisnpeckii)

Extinct Plants

Extinct Plants Views
* General goods

Dinosaurs and dodos are associated with species extinction more than any other organism. Lesser known are the animals and plants that survived to modern times yet were unable to face its challenges. These modern extinctions cut across different groups, from birds to big mammals, tiny bryophytes to large trees. If there is any lesson that can be learned from the demise of these creatures, it is that no species is completely out of danger of extinction. Even the most abundant plants and animals today may face extreme challenges that will wipe them out tomorrow. Human consumption, habitat degradation, diseases, and predation are factors that have caused extinction in the past, and continue to impose stresses on surviving species today and in the future.

The St. Helena Olive was a flowering plant endemic to the island of St. Helena. By 1977, only one tree was found in the wild, from which a single cutting was successfully cultivated. When the tree died in 1994, the survival of the species depended on a handful of seedlings derived from the cultivated cutting. These plants eventually perished until the last of the species died in December 2003. Deforestation, over-grazing and the tree’s self-incompatibility are the factors responsible for its extinction.

When encountered with the terms endangered and extinct, you usually imagine a graceful waterbird covered in oil or the mighty, long-gone dinosaurs of the Jurassic period. However, the endangerment of species extends to the plant world as well, threatening the existence of entire families of exotic and beautiful plant life. Ranging from common flowers that grow on a single island to a plant in Chile that is literally one-of-a-kind, rarer plants are feeling the pressure of extinction looming. And some have already disappeared right before our eyes.

Two plants endemic to Australia have lived the cycle of endangerment and extinction only to have returned after not being spotted for more than 100 years. Teucrium ajugaceum, a plant declared extinct in 1992 after disappearing in 1891, reappeared in 2004 and was discovered by a crew of environmentalists studying the effects of road building on plants. The plant’s unique structure allows it to withdraw into an underground tuber each year and sprout at the beginning of the wet season to avoid the damages of wildfires. Rhaphidospora cavernarum, a flowering mint plant that has been missing since 1873, was also rediscovered. Though very little is known about the plant, it is classified as endangered because of its diminutive range and endangerment from weeds and cattle.

Vulnerable

The least well-known of all canid species, thePale Fox (Vulpes pallida) was until this year listed as Data Deficient. With new information available, this species has now been assessed as Least Concern since, although there is no detailed information on its abundance, the species is relatively widespread in the ecological band lying between the true desert of the Sahara and the sub-Saharan savannas. Further studies on its distribution, status and ecological requirements are still required

Widely distributed in the Arctic, the Beluga(Delphinapterus leucas) has been assessed globally as Near Threatened. There is substantial uncertainty about numbers and trends, especially in the Russian Arctic, and significant threats include hunting for human consumption, oil and gas development, expansion of fisheries, hydroelectric development, and pollution. Climate change will probably increase the scale and distribution of these activities. In greater peril, however, is the Cook Inlet subpopulation of this species. Cook Inlet belugas are genetically distinct from the other four Beluga subpopulations that occur in western and northern Alaska, and this subpopulation is now estimated to number just 207 mature individuals. The subpopulation has continued to decline even after the only identified cause (excessive hunting) has been controlled, and it has therefore been assessed as Critically Endangered.

The Steller Sea Lion (Eumetopias jubatus) was previously assessed as Endangered, but is now Near Threatened thanks to a genuine improvement in its situation. This northern Pacific species has two subspecies, one of which experienced a dramatic and unexplained population decline between the late 1970s and 1990. This downward trend has recently started to turn around. Meanwhile, the population of the second subspecies has been steadily increasing since 1979, and so the species as a whole has only declined by 28% over the last three generations, with the population currently increasing. Described in 2010, the Caquetá Tití Monkey(Callicebus caquetensis) has been assessed for the first time in 2012 as Critically Endangered. It is endemic to eastern Colombia, and occurs in an area subject to intense human colonization that has caused widespread habitat destruction and fragmentation. Socioeconomic conditions in southern Caquetá are difficult, and the rural population suffers from a lack of basic necessities. These conditions threaten the Caquetá Titi Monkey because many people use the forest fragments to satisfy basic needs, notably hunting wild animals for food, including this species

Image courtesy bbclive.in The pink flowering plant, that was till now unknown to the world was discovered few kilometres away from the China border in West Siang district’s remote Mechukha valley. This new species has been christened – ‘Rhododendronmechukae’. Arunachal Pradesh, India’s north eastern state is located at a peculiar topographical region in India. As a stepping stone to the great Himalayan range, the entire territory is filled with varying elevations from small 50 m tall hills to the huge over 7000 m tall mountain ranges. This geographical uniqueness combined with the high altitude climatic conditions make Arunachal Pradesh an ideal hunting ground for researchers on the lookout for natural treasures. A tree species Syzygium Travancoricum (locally known as kulavetti or vadhamkolli) found only in the state of Kerala has been moved out of the Critically Endangered (CR) category of red list of threatened species. The tree is still rare, but nowfurther away from extinction.

In 1998 the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed the tree species as in extreme danger of extinction when less that 200 were reported from Kerala, the only place in the world where the tree grows. The primary cause of this loss was habitat destruction. The tree is found in wetland areas and IUCN noted that much of this habitat had been converted into paddy fields. The recently described (2011) Myanmar Snub-nosed Monkey (Rhinopithecus strykeri) is endemic to northeastern Myanmar. After two years of field work, the only direct encounters with this species were by local support staff (twice), not by any scientists. The presence of the species in the wild was only confirmed through camera traps over a nine month period. This Critically Endangered monkey is hunted for its bones and head (skull and brains) presumably for medicinal purposes, and for its fur. Though sometimes deliberately targeted, monkeys are most often unintentionally trapped in iron traps set to capture deer or wild pigs to supply the local bush meat trade. Habitat degradation is also rapidly becoming a major threat, due the impacts of logging.

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