Illegal trade in orchid’s blossoms in Knysna
Lovers of the green abundance that Knysna is blessed with and avid gardeners alike are warned that you cannot always trust the source that you buy your pretty flowers from, after a resident came across the illegal dealing in orchids recently.
Esther Townsend says she had to confront a “vendor” with an armful of Satyrium orchids, on his way to deliver them to someone who “ordered” them from him at the municipal dump. “But all indigenous orchids are protected by law and a heavy penalty can be levied,” she said, adding that she thinks the vendor was “obviously” not aware of the legislation regarding protected species.
“All homeowners should be warned that they are contributing to decimation of the few remaining colonies of these orchids around Knysna,” she says.
Local horticulturist Nana Joubert echoes Townsend’s sentiments, adding that this illegal trade is “flippen terrible.” “These specific orchids are not available in the trade – nobody grows them. I am 99% sure they were harvested from the wild,” she says.
All indigenous orchids and plants, according to Joubert, may not be removed from where they grow as they are protected by law. “This specific one might even be endangered but one can’t see what species it is exactly till they bloom.”
Joubert thinks the problem lies with the buyer. “If they didn’t create the market, these guys would not be looking for the plants to sell them,” she says.
Governmental organisation CapeNature spokesperson Deon Hignett says only licensed (through CapeNature) traders may sell Satyrium, adding, “If wild harvested and the trader is not the landowner, the trader needs the landowner’s written permission to harvest the plants.”
Regarding the policing thereof, Hignett says an inspection on Monday 10 September, which included municipal law enforcement, produced no evidence of the illegal sale of plants.
He concludes: “We recommended the municipality monitor the situation and should evidence become available … that they contact CapeNature.”