When it comes to the word “poaching,” most people immediately think of the illegal taking of large and endangered animals like tigers, elephants, and rhinos. But what if I told you that poaching extends far beyond negatively impacting endangered wildlife? Another form of poaching, directly related to the removal of rare plants, is very much a real issue that must be discussed.
What is Plant Poaching?
Plant poaching involves the illegal removal of rare and endangered plants from their natural habitats. Illegal plant poaching can occur on government land or on private property when plants are taken without regard to laws and regulations which have been created for the plants’ protection.
In most cases, the plants are then shipped elsewhere to be sold via illegal plant trade. In a single day, plant poachers are able to remove hundreds of valuable plants from their native habitats. Estimates made regarding the value of these plants often range into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
How Does Poaching Affect Plants?
By taking these plants, poachers are pushing numerous plant species closer towards extinction. As more and more poached plants are taken, the value of the plant rises due to its rarity. In recent years, illegal plant poaching has become more accessible, as the internet has provided detailed information regarding how to identify and where to find said plants.
Due to this increase in plant poaching, many conservation officers have increased protection measures. Frequent monitoring of plant sites, as well as the use of high-tech equipment has helped to deter the instance of poachers.
If you happen upon rare or protected plants while hiking or camping, always make certain not to disturb the plant. While it can be photographed, ensure that there are no identifiable landmarks in the background if you choose to post the photo online. Keeping the location a secret will help to prevent potential plant poachers from actively searching for the plant site.