Three boxes of illegally-collected, wild ornamental plants were seized at Guarulhos International Airport, Sao Paulo, on 02 Aug., 2018. They had been sent sent via post to Thailand by, security footage later suggested, a Chinese national who left Brazil several days later. The plants have now been sent to the Botanical Institute of São Paulo.
Luciano helped with the identification of approximately 150 ornamental plants, including orchids, bromeliads and portulacaceae. Notably, the seizure included plants of Cattleya rupestris, C. fournieri, C. cinnabarina, C. liliputana, and C. hoehnei---all species endemic to the the Brazilian States of Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo.
The case illustrates the targeted demand for wild-collected specimen of rare, endemic species among some collectors.
Luciano is a biologist and orchid specialist, focused on their in-situ and ex-situ conservation of orchids native to Brazil's Atlantic Forest. He is the researcher responsible for the Orchids conservation project of the Legacy of Waters, and has been involved with orchid relocations in Cantareira State Park. Luciano has been documenting illegal orchid trade in Brazil, surveying markets since 2008, when he first saw wild orchids for sale at a street fair in his neighbourhood. He recently started writing to raise awareness about the illegal trade in wild ornamental orchids in Brazil.
Cattleya rupestris is endemic to Minas Gerais State, Brazil (Credit: L.Zandoná)
In addition to many species of Cattleyas endemic to rock outcrops, the shipment included several bromeliads of the genus Tillandsia and also Portulaca hirsutissima (Credit: L.Zandoná)