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The welswitchia population has been severely reduced due to the degradation of its habitat.

A group of researchers warns that the welswitchia (Welwitschia mirabilis), one of the oldest plants on the planet and iconic in the Namibian desert, could disappear in the coming years as a result of climate change, according to a study recently published in bioRxiv.

Based on the observation of 1,330 specimens at 12 locations in northern Namibia, the scientists determined by means of a prediction model a continuous 69.47% reduction in the current welswitchia population, mainly due to declining habitat quality.

Taking into account the results of the research, academics advise including this plant in the Red Book of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), under the category of “endangered species”.

This endemic species from Angola and Namibia, considered a “living dead”, does not usually grow more than 1.5 meters, while its leaves at ground level can reach a circumference greater than 8 meters. The oldest known specimens date back between 1,500 and 2,000 years.