Title: Cactuses at Risk
Source: Time for Kids
Article Date: April 27, 2018
News Type: World
In the article Cactuses at Risk by Rebecca Katzman, Cactuses are at risk. Poachers are driving into the desert and digging them up. The 2015 Global Cactus Assessment said that poaching is the main threat to cactuses around the world. And humans are the reason. A saguaro cactus can be sold for $1,000 or even more than that. It is illegal, but there is one reason when cactuses are allowed to be dug up from the desert. Nurseries are allowed to purchase salvage tags. The tag allows them to rescue the cactuses. They can then sell them.
What Poachers Do
You may be wondering how poachers dig up cactuses. I mean, most animals that have spines use them to protect themselves from predators, right? That is true, but cactuses do not have the ability to protect themselves from their “top threat”. The poachers come at night, so no one can spot them. A truck drives into the desert or park and pulls up to a big saguaro. Next, figures step out. They are wearing protective gloves so they don’t get poked. The next thing you know, they wrap up the cactus in a carpet, put it in the back of their truck, and drive away just like that.
There are some solutions to fight poaching though. At Saguaro National Park, they are implanting microchips in more than 1,000 saguaros. Another solution is that people keep a close watch if they know that there is likely to be poachers. Richard Wiedhopf says, “Everybody knows that there are poachers here. If we see somebody that doesn’t look right with a big saguaro in the back of their truck, the first thing we do is call the police.”
The Desert Ecosystem
If we don’t save cactuses, we don’t save the desert. Cactuses are an important part of the desert ecosystem. If cactuses go extinct, there is a chain reaction. For example, cactus wrens and elf owls make their nests in saguaros. Woodpeckers get water from cactuses. Some desert squirrels eat the fruit and flowers from cactuses. “If you lose the cactus, you’re going to lose other things too,” Kim McCue, a director at Arizona’s Desert Botanical Garden says. “Cactuses help hold the desert together.” Cactuses are important, and so are deserts. We should help save cactuses.
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