The stunning Cleopatra’s needles orchid (Thelymitra apiculata) lives in shrubland in a small area north of Perth, & flowers from June - July. It's also listed as Near Threatened.
This is one I photographed last year. Given how beautiful they are, their proximity to Perth & a surge in interest in native orchids, increasing numbers of people are looking for them, & the person who monitors them noted that she records more squashed flowers than intact ones now. This doesn’t take into account damage to small leaves, which aren’t identifiable once squashed (immature plants only put up a single leaf that gets bigger each year until they’re mature; squashing them can kill the plant). I’m confident the chances I’ll squash larger leaves, buds or flowers are very low (I’ve done lots of field work with small, cryptic species in different habitat types, including having my ability to find small cryptic things assessed), but I don't think anyone can be confident they aren’t treading on smaller leaves without having that specific ability assessed. So we decided that the best thing we could do for them was to stay away this year.
We need to be really careful that we aren’t loving nature to death. Responsible nature tourism can benefit conservation efforts in a number of important ways, but the reality is that the more people that want to see particular species in the wild, the more potential there is for negative impacts on those species (as well as others that share the same habitat). What can you do?
🍃 Resist the temptation to feed or touch wild animals, pick wildflowers or remove shells, wood, stones or rocks (or move them around by creating rock stacks - small animals often live in rock crevices, but the 'artistic' stacks don't usually provide appropriate ones);
🍃 Stick to established roads & tracks if you’re on your own / encourage tour leaders to do the same;
🍃 Seek out ethical nature-based opportunities / tourism operators;
🍃 Let tour operators know that you don’t want to crowd animals, you’d rather view them from a respectful distance;
🍃 Basically, research / think about what impacts you could have before you leave home, & what you can do to minimise them! 😊