By Grace Kim
Endangered Plant Species Native to Georgia
The Georgia Aster is a perennial herb that forms colonies through underground stems. It is characterized by its bright purple ray flowers, reddish disk flowers, and purple-tipped stamens that produce white pollen. This plant species is native to the Southeastern region of the United States, growing in states such as Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. It blooms in October and November. This plant first starting growing in small clumps, but now there are about 60 areas where it grows due to natural habitat development. Unfortunately, there are only 104 plants left in the world.
Threats to this species include the conversion of its habitat to human developments such as pastures, highways, and pine plantations. The use of herbicides also harms the Georgia Aster population, as well as the invasion of habitat by pest plants. Canopy closure hinders the growth and expansion of the species.
Recommended solutions to the problem would be limiting the use of herbicides, eradicating the presence of exotic pest plants, and allowing controlled fires in order to clear out canopies and underbrush that blocks sunlight for the species.
In May 2014, a Candidate Conservation Agreement (CCA) was completed with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service that enables agencies to work together to manage sites along power lines and on public lands. Georgia Aster is now managed on 10 state lands, at least 6 sites on the Chattahoochee National Forest, 6 sites on the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area and along several major power lines.
Endangered Species Native to the United States
The Hawaiian Monk Seal is one of only two mammals indigenous to Hawaii's terrestrial environment. Written reports of this species began with the Russian explorer Lisianski, who in 1805 observed seals on the island that is now named after him. Records from later voyages suggest that the population's abundance was reduced due to unregulated seal hunts in the early to mid-1800's. Monk Seals are around 6-7 feet long and weigh about 400-600 pounds. They are rather solitary creatures, and do not live in colonies like sea lions or elephant seals. Hawaiian monk seals are one of the most endangered animal species in the world. Only about 1,100 seals are left and their overall population is in decline.
The biggest threats to Hawaiian monk seals are entanglement, food limitation, disease, shark bites, and climate change.
While not much can be done about the natural aspect of climate change and seals falling prey to sharks, we can help by not discarding scraps and trash that could entangle or choke animals into the ocean. People can also support the Semi-Annual Monk Seal count by counting seals on beaches across all the main Hawaiian Islands.
All whales, dolphins and seals are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (MMPA). Humpback whales, sperm whales, monk seals and sea turtles are further protected by the Endangered Species Act of 1973 (ESA) and under Hawaii State Law.
Giant herbivores, Asian elephants can tear down huge tree limbs or pick up small objects with their muscular trunks that are so unique amongst all other mammals. Asian elephants grow up to 21 feet long, stand up to 10 feet tall, and weigh up to 11,000 pounds. Females reach around eight and a half feet tall and weigh less than males. These elephants once ranged from Iraq east through Asia south of the Himalayas, into southern China and possibly south to Java. However, centuries of hunting and habitat destruction caused dramatic declines. Males are still killed for their tusks. There are currently less than 20,000 elephants in India.
Maneka Gandhi, head of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment, believes that the largest cause of the species' endangerment is illegal ivory poaching. An estimated 10 percent of the tusked Asian Elephant population is lost each year to this cruel practice. She also blames cruel training methods, indiscriminate cutting of forests, rapid urbanization and the rising human population for the current crisis.
In order to preserve and replenish the Asian Elephant population, wild herds should have more adequate protection from predators and poachers, and ivory poachers should be more heavily punished for their crimes. Those that have elephants in captivity should be trained on how to properly care for them, and monitored afterwards to ensure safety.
The Asian Elephant Conservation Act of 1997 set up the Asian Elephant Conservation Fund to provide financial assistance for projects for the conservation of Asian elephants for which final project proposals are approved by the Senator.
(n.d.). Retrieved October 12, 2015, from http://georgiawildlife.com/sites/default/files/uploads/wildlife/nongame/pdf/accounts/plants/symphyotrichum_georgianum.pdf
Hawaii Viewing Guidelines: Overview - Office of Protected Resources - NOAA Fisheries. (n.d.). Retrieved October 12, 2015, from http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/pr/education/hawaii/
Indiana Elephants Severely Endangered. (2015, August 11). ABC News. Retrieved October 7, 2015, from http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=98733&page=1