Italy has returned a huge haul of illegally trafficked cacti to its home in Chile. It’s believed to be the first time in history that confiscated plants have been sent back to their point of origin.
Back in 2020, the wildlife unit of Italy’s military police discovered more than a thousand of the rare plants at a house near San Marino on Italy’s Adriatic Coast.
Some of the prickly plants are centuries old. The total haul discovered by the police a year ago, since returned home, is valued at over 1.2 million dollars on the black market.
To make this happen, police from Chile and Italy have worked together with the Association for Biodiversity and Conservation for more than a year. Poaching and smuggling plants is becoming a problem, and it’s a crime that threatens biodiversity.
The phenomenon is known as “plant blindness.” Hundreds of cacti species are more threatened with extinction than birds or mammals and most people are not aware of it.
Often, smugglers ease their way through customs without hassle because even some custom officers are not aware of the illegal plant trade.
But this time it’s different. The confiscation and subsequent repatriation of the plants have made headlines all around the world. It has raised awareness — something that may help prevent future “cacnapping.”
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