Lawsuit Launched to Speed Endangered Species Protection for Ghost Orchid

Ghost Orchid, Dendrophylax lindenii, white flower, weird flower, Erie Orchid Show 2010, Pennsylvania

Florida’s rare and fascinating Ghost Orchid features in a best-selling book and an Oscar-winning movie starring Meryl Streep and Nicolas Cage. But somehow it’s still not listed as an official endangered species in the USA. A lawsuit by three conservation groups aims to fix that. George Gann, executive director of the Institute for Regional Conservation, explained:

We are highly disappointed that we must resort to a lawsuit to get the ghost orchid the legal protection imperative for its survival. However, we cannot let bureaucratic inertia and inadequate funding for the Endangered Species Act lead to the extinction of this amazing icon of the Greater Everglades — that would be a senseless and unnecessary tragedy.

It’s a calamity for anything to go extinct, but especially for a beloved, emblematic species like the Ghost Orchid. Fortunately, it’s been brought into cultivation, and is available for legal sale. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped illegal poachers who rip plants from the wild. The constant dangers of habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change are escalating, compounded by oil drilling in the Everglades, and attempts to expand harmful off-road vehicle access. Only about 1500 plants remain in the wild, and local laws are insufficient to protect them. The conservation organizations filing the lawsuit are the Institute for Regional Conservation, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the National Parks Conservation Association. The Ghost Orchid’s future is riding on it.

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