The rampant illegal trade in endangered plants recently made the news both here and in South Africa, with the referenced articles providing remarkable insight into the nature and scale of the problem. They are recommended reading for anyone interested in endangered plants.
How do we counter the problem?
The answer is through education - on the one hand organisations such as the DBGN need to create awareness about the impact the illegal trade has on Namibia's biodiversity, and on the other the public needs to choose to not participate in the trade.
Whether the plants are being offered for sale in physical nurseries or in online
forums, before making a purchase potential buyers should first check whether the plants feature in the Red Data Book of Namibian Plants, an inventory of the conservation status and conservation risk of Namibian biological species.
The onus in on all of us to not feed this trade.
Unsure about the status of a plant? Contact the Sonja Loots, the Threatened Plants Programme Manager at the National Botanical Research Institute in Windhoek for clarity.
The Desert Botanic Garden of Namibia works closely with the National Botanic Research Institute and the Ministry of Environment, Forestry and Tourism to mitigate the effects of this trade in Namibia by making the necessary resources and expertise available. Confiscated plants are rescued at the DBGN’s own cost and are either added to its permanent collection or relocated to other recognised institutions.