Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Help save and understand the peyote

The Cactus Conservation Institute (CCI) is working to obtain a scientific understanding of the biological and ecological requirements of the cactus species peyote (Lophophora williamsii) and star cactus (Astrophytum asterias), as well as gaining the community support needed to acquire and maintain a large enough tract of land in the South Texas habitat in order to ensure that both of these plants have a permanent and protected sanctuary.

If you want to support their important work it is now possible to make donations via the CCI PayPal account:


You can read more details about supporting the CCI at their contributions page, and learn how they are going to spend your money at the scientific research program page. PayPal allows donations to be made in almost any currency and all contributions help - you can also support the CCI by spreading the word on internet forums and boards, blog posts or via mail. Donations are tax deductible for US citizens.

The Cactus Conservation Institute homepage
The Cactus Conservation Institute homepage

The Cactus Conservation Institute's president and co-founder Dr. Martin Terry holds the required DEA and Texas Department of Public Safety registrations to conduct research on peyote - vouching for serious (and legal) research. Martin Terry's PhD dissertation, A tale of two cacti: studies in Astrophytum asterias and Lophophora williamsii, is an interesting read and gives an understanding of the work done by the CCI.

The CCI mission statement reads:
The CCI is dedicated to the study and preservation of vulnerable cacti in their natural range – starting with peyote and star cactus. To accomplish this vision the latest techniques are being applied to understand these vulnerable hunted species, from their DNA up. All interests are being respected: the regulatory agencies, the Native American Church, the ranchers, as well as the scientific community.

I have to elaborate a bit on the "save the peyote" subject line. Peyote is not designated as endangered and not in need of being saved per se, but (to put it in the words of the CCI) "peyote is endangered at the local population level in those areas where peyoteros have access and harvest too frequently. On large ranches where peyote is adequately protected by the landowners or is remote enough from road access, it tends to be less hard pressed."

For the record, I'm not affiliated with the CCI, just an avid supporter ;-)

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