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Anything not nailed down

7 December 2019

Cactus thieves in the news.

Ana Luisa Casas “Saquean extranjeros desierto coahuilense” (Zocalo, 2 December 2019):

Saltillo, Coah.- In the last month alone, Profepa (Mexico’s Environmental Protection Agency) and PGR (Federal Prosecutor’s Office) in Torreón seized 17 bonnetes (Jacaratia mexicana) and 25 noas (Agave victoriae-reginae) endemic plants in danger of extinction. 

Other plant species have been seized after being illegally extracted from the Coahuila desert, by people from Japan, Germany and the United States, as well as people searching for alternative medicines, and curanderos.

BOLO: Agave victoriae-reginae

Rubén Rojas, director of the Plant Curatorship at the Museo de Desierto (Mude), that such looting fractures the desert ecosystem, since each plant is a link in the environment..

According to the biologist, the majority of those robbing plants do so for reproduction in foreign countries and for medical use, although MUDE laboratories make tissues or seeds available for conservation or transfer and there is no need to extract plants from the field.

“If we lose that species in Coahuila, the intricate function of the ecosystem loses one more link.  Although there are plants with medicinal properties such as peyote, their looting is an unreported issue that needs to be regulated by the authorities, while the collection of some cacti needs to be eradicated, “Rojas Meléndez said.

Arturo González, director of the MUDE also lamented the “unfortunate looting.”

“Mexico has 70% of all the world’s cacti, incredible plants that have healing benefits, which generate very interesting chemistry that could mean important cures,” he said.

“It is not necessary to depopulate the deserts, but to go with an expert who says how you can get it, as we become the main predators of our own deserts,” he added.


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