26 September 2023

Garden ‘devastated’ as rare plants stolen

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The management of Kings Park in Perth has admitted being ‘devastated’ after up to 900 of Western Australian’s rarest orchids were stolen from the Park’s Conservation Garden last week.

Finding the majority of the 400 Carbunup King Spider Orchids (Caladenia procera) and 500 Collie Spider Orchids (Caladenia leucochila) had been removed or destroyed in the house in the Conservation Garden, the management explained the orchids only occurred naturally in a very restricted part of Western Australia.

It said the world’s population was estimated at just 280 of the Carbunup Kings Spider Orchids and 900 of the Collie Spider Orchids.

“The plants were on display to provide a unique opportunity for botanic garden visitors to see rare species unlikely to be seen in the wild,” the Management said.

“These plantings play a valuable role in reducing visitation impacts on endemic populations, contributing to conservation in their natural habitat,” it said.

It said the plantings were the result of a four-year collaboration between science staff and horticultural teams and they were designed to inform better how precious seedlings are moved into natural sites.

“It is an offence under the Biodiversity Conservation Act (2016) for illegally taking threatened species, with significant penalties of up to $500,000 for individuals and $2.5 million for a corporation.

It said all orchid species are listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which is an agreement that regulates the international movement of species that may be threatened by trade.

Anyone with any information about the theft is urged to contact WA Crimestoppers at this PS News link.

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