The Phragmipedium peruvianum (aka pharagmipedium kovachii by the name of someone who stole it) was first found in 2001 and is considered one of the most important discoveries of the natural history of the last decade.
With 30 cm tall and showy purple flowers, is a distinctive member of the family “Shoe Lady”, so named because its petals in the shape of shoe.
American James Kovach bought this orchid on a road in Peru and brought contraband to her native United States.
A few days later, the Peruvian authorities asked the U.S. Fish and Wildlife U.S. investigate the plant, since the export of all Phragmipedium is prohibited under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
After an initial description, samples of P. kovachii, as named in the U.S. – illegally ripped leaked to the frantic growers sold for $ 10,000.
Kovach received two years probation and ordered to pay a fine of $ 1,000 for violating the Endangered Species.
Possession of the orchid is now limited to a few licensed producers in Peru.
Although conservationists value the pursuit police say the fines are not high enough to deter smugglers of an industry that generates billions of dollars.
“For a dedicated collector of orchids from the wild, the price does not matter,” says Richard Thomas, the trade monitoring network Traffic of Wild Animals International.
Thomas said it was “very difficult” to estimate the value of illegal trade.
Admired for their beauty, orchids are the largest family of flowering plants (Orchidaceae), with more than 26,000 species. Now scientists say that the illegal collection of orchids is driving species to the brink of extinction, causing serious consequences for biodiversity.
With some of the most vulnerable species sold on the black market even before they are formally identified, biologists and customs officials alike are struggling to preserve these captivating plants.
Gustavo Carrasquel | ANCA 24