9 arrested in Cape Town for allegedly poaching protected plants in interprovincial operation

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Nine people were arrested for the illegal possession of protected plants worth R350 000.
Nine people were arrested for the illegal possession of protected plants worth R350 000.
PHOTO: SAPS
  • Nine people have been arrested for poaching protected plants.
  • The protected plants are worth an estimated R350 000.
  • Syndicates are increasingly targeting endangered and endemic plants for poaching.

Nine people have been arrested in Cape Town for the illegal possession of protected plants worth R350 000.

They were arrested in Elsies River on Thursday, after an interprovincial operation between the Springbok and Kuils River Stock Theft and Endangered Species units.

Police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Sergio Kock said:

Police confiscated 3 500 conophytum achabense plants worth approximately R200 000 and conophytum fredericea plants with an estimated street value of R150 000.

Officers also confiscated a VW Polo, an Opel Kadett and five cellphones that were allegedly utilised in the commission of these crimes, said Kock.

In 2021, CapeNature raised the alarm over succulent plant poaching after 11 cases were recorded in just more than six months.

READ | Syndicates launch new poaching offensive, targeting SA's succulents, says CapeNature

The value of the plants poached during the six-month period was estimated at around R15 million. The poaching appeared to centre around conophytum species, with wild plants deemed more valuable by collectors, conservationists previously told News24.

Many of South Africa's succulent plants are endemic to the Western and Northern Cape, making them highly sought after by international collectors.

Protected plants worth R350 000 seized in bust
Nine people were arrested for the illegal possession of protected plants worth R350 000.

A similar bust in October saw police arresting five men in the Western Cape in connection with the illegal possession of more than 5 600 succulents.

The nine people arrested on Thursday are from Springbok in the Northern Cape. They were charged with dealing in, collecting or transporting protected plants, as well as the illegal possession of protected plants.

They are expected to appear in the Goodwood Magistrate's Court in Cape Town soon.

The investigation was continuing, added Kock.


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