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Conservationists use unlikely helpers to save iconic Joshua trees from extinction: 'Absurdity plus practicality'

"We wanted to do everything we could to help after the fire happened."

"We wanted to do everything we could to help after the fire happened."

Photo Credit: iStock

Rejoice, tree huggers. A new solution is helping save the iconic Joshua tree, and it involves some very special helpers: camels.

In recent years, massive wildfires have decimated over a million of these beloved desert dwellers across the Mojave. Rising global temperatures are making matters worse, with record-breaking heat and drought threatening the Joshua tree's survival.

However, there's hope on the horizon, according to Vox. Dedicated volunteers have been working with the National Park Service to replant sprouts in fire-ravaged areas, and they've enlisted camels to lend a hand (or hoof). 

These gentle giants are perfectly adapted for the job. Their padded feet let them carry heavy loads of sprouts and water across the desert without damaging the delicate ecosystem.

The camels' assistance allows volunteers to plant more trees in remote burn zones. In one day last year, they helped plant and water two dozen saplings in a single scorched area, giving the Joshua trees a fighting chance.

The use of camels is a nod to history, recalling their work surveying the Mojave in the 1800s. Some scientists even believe ancient camel relatives may have helped spread Joshua tree seeds long ago.

This innovative effort doesn't just help the environment — it's great for people, too. Bringing back Joshua trees restores the iconic beauty of these desert landscapes for all to enjoy. The more helping hands (and humps), the better.

"We wanted to do everything we could to help after the fire happened," said volunteer Nance Fite, who has led multi-day camel treks in the Mojave. Fellow volunteer Jennifer Lagusker hopes to organize even bigger camel crews in the future. 

"Even if they are only a small part, camels bring a certain je ne sais quoi to the event that adds a mix of absurdity plus practicality," added Brendan Cummings of the Center for Biological Diversity.

So let's hear it for the camels, the Joshua trees, and the amazing humans working to preserve these national treasures. Together, we can help the desert bloom again.

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