|Carnivorous plants around the world, like this Sarracenia rubra|
in north Florida, face habitat loss and poaching by hobbyists.
This Dendrobium bracteosum was salvaged from the
branches of a tree felled for the timber industry in
Papua New Guinea in 1971. Though widely cultivated,
what the fate of this species in the wild is today,
I do not know.
Why is all of this happening? We might point to lack of regulation and enforcement, poor land management and forestry practices, human greed, and maybe the erroneous belief by many collectors that they are helping "save" rare species by growing them in their backyards. But clearly, the growing human population, with its expanding demand for farmland, wood, clean water, and other natural resources, is directly related to the loss of natural habitats required by the others species we share this planet with.
|The organ pipe cactus, Stenocereus thurberi,|
is one of hundreds of cactus species that are
Photo by Lars Hammar CC-BY-NC-SA 2.0
Before I move on though, I must remark that while the world may not appear to be overpopulated from the biased perspective of affluent America, the 760 million people in the world who are currently undernourished, the 8,350,000 people who die of starvation each year (Worldometers), or the perennially impoverished people of Haiti who just suffered devastating losses from Hurricane Matthew, might beg to disagree.
The human suffering is front and center in our collective humanitarian consciousness, and protecting rare species may seem to be a luxury for the benefit of the affluent, but they are actually both manifestations of the same central problem. Bringing population growth under control will benefit both people and biodiversity, and the sooner we do it, the better.