When a plant barely exists in the natural world but lives on your windowsill, is it really endangered?
- The cactus’s only unique adaptation enhances its solitude: while it can grow in garden-centre cactus soil, in the wild it has only ever been found on tezontle rock.
- The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the M. tezontle cactus as a “highly threatened”
- However, it can never truly be considered extinct
- The cactus is actually plentiful
- The market for smuggled/seed-grown cacti ensured that M. tezontle is actually plentiful.
- Many endangered cactus species occupy hyperlocal regions: a single field, a particular mountain range, the bank of a certain lake.
Ex situ vs In situ Conservation
- “ex situ” conservation
- conserving a species outside its native habitat
- may be difficult due to poaching regulations by various governments
- “in situ” conservation
- conserving a species within its native habitat
- Taken together, conserving land in situ and changing that land with ex situ species creates a two-pronged strategy for preserving and propagating threatened wildlife.