Speaking of endangered plant species, the government of San Luis Potosi in Mexico’s northern desert, working with the Huichol Indians and with Pedro Medellín, a professor at the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosi, is completing a plan for the protection of peyote, a plant that has been sacred to the Huicholes for hundreds and perhaps thousands of years.
Part of the sacred pilgrimage route followed by the Huicholes to gather peyote, as well as their holy mountain, Cerro del Quemado, were designated as ecological preserves in 1994. The ecological zone was enlarged to 321,000 acres in 2000. The current conservation plan calls for replanting peyote, paying Huichol Indians to patrol the preserve, and placing limits on industries that are damaging the desert’s ecosystem — and on foreign drug tourists, who flock to the region to get high on the sacred cactus in one of the few places where its consumption is legal, and are one of the chief reasons for the rapid disappearance of the plant.
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