Contributing Monkie Sarah Backhouse
Published on June 2, 2008
China’s been under such fire lately.Thank goodness for field naturalists. These tireless volunteers brave the elements, brambles and blisters in an effort to preserve precious native flora and fauna, as well as promote nature conservation and protect endangered species. (This, while the rest of us are hanging out in malls, watching the Wire or dating.) It sounds like tedious work, but the rewards are huge when it pays off — as was the case for Kevin Bonham, a local field naturalist in Tasmania, Australia.
Bonham chanced upon the “dense midge orchid” — a species of plant that was long thought extinct. (The last one was recorded in 1852.) And it’s not just one or two — an officer from the Threatened Orchid Project says an incredible 60 patches were found on private land. (Just what he was doing on the private land was not reported.) ABC News quotes him as saying: “They’re tiny, so they’re only 4 to 7 centimeters tall and very fine, so unless you’re really down on your hands and knees looking, you’d just miss them.” (Okay, what he was doing on private land down on his hands and knees is probably best skipped right over.) Furthermore, “you’ve got to be there at that right window when they’re actually in flower to actually see them or else there’s nothing above ground, just a tuber below ground.”
With 22,000 known species of orchid in existence, the discovery of one more may not seem like such a big deal. But at a time when species are becoming extinct at an ever increasing rate, it’s encouraging to discover an addition, not subtraction, to our planet’s biodiversity.
So, all you field naturalists out there, keep up the good work. I won’t question your methods as long as you bring back good news. You never know when you’ll get lucky. (In the plant department, too.)
(via ABC News)