St Helena Online

Tag: extinct

Oh no, earwig go…

Takeshi Yamada, a collector of strange creatures, is the proud owner of what appears to be a St Helena giant earwig – a specimen made more valuable by last week’s news that the species is likely to be officially declared extinct.

But it doesn’t deceive Dr Roger Key, who visited St Helena in 2013 as part of the Bugs on the Brink project.

He has posted a picture of the creature on the internet, with the following caption:

“Don’t be fooled! This a clever fake, produced by Takeshi Yamada. As far as I can gather it is the head of a longhorn beetle, various bits of probably two cockroaches (the thorax, abdomen and wings) and the ‘pincers’ are probably jaws from a large beetle or dobsonfly.”

Mr Takeshi is no fraud. He is an artist who creates fantastical creatures, including a vast sea monster, using his skills as a taxidermist.

Click here to see the picture.

SEE ALSO: Rare island woodlouse is ‘just hanging on’, says expert

Kew man keeps hope alive for extinct St Helena Olive

Plant experts still hope to rediscover the St Helena Olive, the unique island tree that was declared lost in 2003 – for a second time.

The stubby tree was presumed extinct until island naturalist George Benjamin discovered a single specimen in 1977.

olive tweetThat one wild tree died in 1994, and the species became extinct when cultivated seedlings and cuttings succumbed to fungal infections in 2003.

But Colin Clubbe, of the UK overseas territories department at Kew Gardens in London, is not giving up on the stout and shrubby tree that once grew on high ground on the island.

In a post on the Twitter messaging system on 27 April 2013, he said: “We remain vigilant during our fieldwork in St Helena in the hope of rediscovery. One day?”

In the mid 19th Century, islander John Melliss found only a dozen-or-so specimens of the St Helena olive. 

When it was rediscovered, it proved extremely difficult to try to produce new plants from it. The tree rarely produced fertile seeds, but a few were found and are preserved at Kew.

A last-ditch rescue attempt was made by sending shoot material to London, but it was too heavily contaminated with fungi.

Experts at Kew are currently assessing plants in the UK overseas territories to see which ones should be added to the Red List of endangered species.

LINKS: 
St Helena Olive – Kew Royal Botanical Gardens
Red-listing the unique plants of the UK overseas territories

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