Why does it seem like the amazing exotic animals, plants, and insects are always found in some distant inaccessible location? Pangolins (all 8 species), Snow Monkeys (Macaca fuscata), Parachute Flowers (Ceropegia woodii), and the Atlas Moth (Attacus atlas) represent inspiring, charismatic species that most of us will never see in person.
Perhaps if you live in Japan near the snow monkeys or in the southeastern part of South Africa where parachute flowers thrive, you might be more intrigued by Orange-Fringed Orchids (Platanthera ciliaris) found in and around northern Indiana or the Fishers (Pekania pennanti) that live in parts of New England and Canada. Occasionally I hear experienced naturalists suggest that they’ve seen everything worth seeing locally.
Today, our challenge puts that to the test.
Each state has its own list of Threatened or Endangered Species. The first part of the challenge is to find and review this list. In Maine, there are 51 designated species. Does something on your local list capture your attention?
For me, I want to learn more about the diminutive Ringed Boghaunter Dragonfly (Williamsonia lintneri). This orange-striped dragonfly is only 1 1/3 inches long and lives in acidic Sphagnum-filled bogs, fens, and wetlands. There are only about 60 populations in the world and six of them are within an hour’s drive of me! How did I not know this until now? I’ll bet there is a similar situation where you live, so let’s find out.
The next step is to learn as much as you can about your selected species. Why is it endangered? What kind of environment does this species require to thrive? What could be done to encourage and stabilize the population? What other natural partners live alongside your target?
The next step is to NOT go explore the area where you might find the rare species but to contact a local conservation group to see how you can help with its stewardship. If we all adopted a species, in time, we will be able to see some unexpected rare and exotics close to home.
This challenge is rated as medium given the effort required for follow-through.