A new study has recently revealed that cacti face extinction, being a species which is more threatened than mammals and birds.
The study, published on Monday, found out that almost 500 species are endangered by extinction due to human intrusion.
The international Union for Conservation of Nature stated that the cacti are more threatened than mammals and birds, closely following corals.
Barbara Goettsch, researcher at IUCN, stated that the results were shocking for them, as they didn’t expect cacti to be so threatened by humans.
The cactus first appeared on the American land, but it was then introduced in Africa, Australia and Europe. It is a very useful plant, because it plays a major role in the food chain of both animals and humans.
The cactus represents a vitally important source of water for animals such as deer, wood rats, rabbits, coyotes, lizards. They seem to help each other, as those animals help the cactus spread its seeds. Moreover, the cactus’ flowers provide bats and hummingbirds with nectar.
The cactus is also known for its curative properties, as many people from America use it as medicine. Apart from this, they also use cacti as food.
The study, published in Nature Plants, established that the factors leading to a decline in cacti’s number are different from one region to another and from one species to another.
However, what represents the biggest threat for cacti is the expansion of agriculture, particularly in northern Mexico and South America.
Some species are destroyed because of commercial purposes, while others because of land’s conversion for eucalyptus cultivation.
“Their loss could have far-reaching consequences for the biodiversity and ecology of arid lands and for local communities dependent on wild-harvested fruits and stems,” claimed Goettsch.
Researchers also discovered that illegal trade plants also pose a risk for cacti’s extinction.
As a solution, Goettsch stated that educating people with respect to harvesting would be a good start.
Image Source: Wikimedia