Sunday, December 15, 2013

Another Reason to be a Vegetarian; Saving the Wax Palm

Wax palms in Bogotá's Parque de la Independencia, where cattle do not roam, but lawnmowers do.
If better health and less strain on the planet aren't enough to convert you to vegetarianism, then perhaps saving Colombia's national tree.

Wax palms growing in the
Valle de Cocora,
where it is under threat.
(Photo: Wikipedia)
The palma de cera, or wax palm, forms elegant forests on the Andes' western slopes, at elevations between 2,500 and 2,800 meters. But the tree, which is the world's tallest palm, has long faced multiple human-created threats, including illegal logging, harvesting of its fronds for Christmas decorations and the use of the palm's fruits as cattle feed. According to Wikipedia, the tree's numbers have declined drastically.

Now, however, National University researchers have found an event more serious threat in many regions: Cattle, which eat the palms' sprouts, preventing the trees from replacing themselves. If the wax palms go, so will many other species, including parrots, which depend on them for food and shelter.

A hillside in the Valle de Cocora in 1988, with numerous wax palms. (Photo: Universidad Nacional)
The same hillside in 2012; few palms remain. (Photo: Universidad Nacional)
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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