25 May 2021

"Global cactus traffickers"

It seems that anything and everything that is rare and endangered on this planet becomes even more so as the result of human greed.
As with the market for tiger bones, ivory, pangolin scales and rhino horn, a flourishing illegal global trade exists for plants. “Just about every plant you can probably think of is trafficked in some way,” said Eric Jumper, a special agent with the Fish and Wildlife Service. Cactuses and other succulents are among the most sought after, along with orchids and, increasingly, carnivorous species.

Trafficking can take a serious toll. Over 30 percent of the world’s nearly 1,500 cactus species are threatened with extinction. Unscrupulous collection is the primary driver of that decline, affecting almost half of imperiled species. Yet this realm of illegal trade is typically overlooked, a prime example of “plant blindness,” or the human tendency to broadly ignore this important branch on the tree of life...

Many cactus species are highly localized, found, for example, only on certain steep limestone cliffs in Mexico, or a single sandy patch of less than one square mile on Peru’s coast. They also tend to be extremely slow-growing. Larger specimens, which are more highly sought after, can be decades or even hundreds of years old. These features make cactuses particularly sensitive to over-harvesting, but also particularly attractive to collectors interested in exclusivity...

Once cactuses are poached from the wild, illicit trade often happens in the open. High-end plant shops in Japan display protected, wild-harvested species, while sellers around the world advertise them on eBay, Instagram, Etsy and Facebook. Online ads are often accompanied by disclaimers that the cactuses do not come with necessary permits for legal trade, and poachers sometimes livestream videos from the field, asking customers which plants they want...


  1. Cactuses ?
    Did we go to different schools ?
    I was taught the plural is cacti.
    And ... the octopi enjoyed their cappuccini !

  2. It officially may be pronounced either way. I prefer cacti myself.

  3. Speaking from experience the "minimal care" of cacti and succulents is greatly exaggerated. While they don't necessarily need regular watering--lithops, for instance, are mostly found in desert areas that get an average of 13 inches of rain per year--most need warmth, lots of sun, and are picky about their soil.
    If you want minimal care leave cacti and succulents in their native environments and get plastic plants. Just remember Mitch Hedburg who said, "My fake plants died because I did not pretend to water them."


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