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iWild: For more see iWild.org

One Left

You can’t get more endangered than Today’s All-Star. A modest shrub of the coffee family, Café Marron was reduced to a single wild individual on the island of Rodrigues, part of the Mascarene Islands and a dependency of the nation of Mauritius. In 1980, a student sent out on an assignment to gather interesting foliage brought back a specimen: His teacher recognized it as a plant first discovered in 1877 and assumed to be extinct shortly thereafter. Botanists who rushed to find the shrub found it in a sad state, gnawed by goats or cattle and suffering from disease. Kew Gardens swung into action, trying to nurse cuttings to bear fruit. Many frustrating years passed, until horticultural specialists at Kew’s micropropagation unit managed to coax one to reproduce, a story well-told in The Guardian. Meanwhile, back on Rodrigues, the last survivor has been surrounded with several layers of fencing: Locals covet its leaves and branches, hoping that it might yield miraculous cures. But it is no longer alone. Inside the multiple corrugated fences, eleven little Café Marron plants, transplanted from Kew, have taken root.
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