Rare beauty disappearing from the wild

Sixty years ago, blooming Siroy Lilies covered the Himalayan hills they called home in Manipur, India. Today, the flower is almost extinct.

Also known as the Shirui Lily, the increasingly rare plant is, ironically, the state flower of Manipur. But India has afforded the endangered plant little protection over the years, and it has suffered as a result.

Siroy Lilies famously bloom each year between May 15 and June 5. This Sunday, May 25, was Siroy Lily Day, and visitors expecting to find fields of lilies instead found only enough to be "counted on the finger tips," according to a report from The Sangai Express.

The lily faces two major threats -- both of them from humans. First, their single habitat on Shirui hill has shrunk to only one-quarter of its original size, and the shade trees that protect them are rapidly being cut down. Second, their fame has a dark side, as tourists have ripped many of the flowers from the ground and left garbage behind in their wake.

The biggest tragedy of the stolen flowers is that the Siroy Lily can not be transplanted. Apparently, all attempts to grow it outside of its home territory have failed.

India doesn't seem to have much of a desire to protect this rare plant. Unfortunately, that means the one place that it has been known to live could also soon become its graveyard.