My friend and reporter Jeremy Schwartz wrote an interesting article over the weekend about the increase in cacti poaching in the Mexican desert. Of course, this poaching is driven by demand from our neighbors to the north, particularly by those who practice xeriscaping in their yards. In water-scarce cities like Atlanta and El Paso, many people have replaced green grass with rocks, yucca and cacti. It’s a great idea, from a conservation standpoint. But, as Jeremy points out, some people take this idea a bit too far:
“The trade is fueled by private collectors and the burgeoning xeriscape movement in the U.S. South and Southwest. Rare cacti species can fetch hundreds of dollars on black markets from the United States to Japan. Mexico’s deserts are so ravaged by cactus poachers that researchers no longer publish the location of new species they find, lest eager collectors plunder the newfound cacti.”
The lesson? Ask where your rare plant comes from; don’t turn a deaf ear.