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[aroid-l] More cycads stolen

  • Subject: [aroid-l] More cycads stolen
  • From: "Cooper, Susan L." SLCooper@scj.com
  • Date: Tue, 28 Jan 2003 08:04:10 -0600

From the Cycad List

Date: Mon, 27 Jan 2003 11:47:27 -0800

Subject: FW: Cycads stolen from Quail Botanical

This message is forwarded from Julian Duvall, Quail
Botanical Gardens in Encinitas, 760-436-6792. Please
forward as you feel appropriate.


Date: Sun, 26 Jan 2003 21:06:08 EST

Subject: Cycads stolen from QBG

QBGF Trustees,

The Gardens had 20 Encephalartos (rare African
cycads) stolen last night from the plantings near the
Larabee House. These were all large plants. Four of
them were plants we received from USFWS as confiscated
specimens placed at QBG as part of our involvement
with plant rescue.

Dave, Jason, Sergio and Robert Kopfstein have
all helped with giving the report to the officers from
the Sheriff's Department. Susi and Bruce Ironmonger
have also been here and will help to get the word out 
to cycad nurseries and enthusiasts about the theft. A
friend of Roberts will have the list of stolen plants
up on cycad website today. Many of the plants are
unique specimens and will be easy to identify even
they have been defoliated. We also have photos of most
of them.

I have also left messages for the newspapers. I
would like to get the word out about the theft as soon
as possible. It could help with recovering the plants
but it also will be important to let any potential
future perpetrators know that we will pursue
prosecution to the fullest possible extent. I also
believe we should offer a reward for information that
would lead to an arrest. I have requested and have
been told that the Sheriff's patrol will provide
increased surveillance of our perimeter tonight
(despite Superbowl) and for the next week. We know how
and where the thieves exited with our plants and wish
to make sure they do not return for what was left

While we have insurance that covers equipment
and buildings we do not carry insurance on the
collection. Not many botanical gardens do have this
type of coverage because of the high premium
associated with unique and often priceless living
specimens. Most of the plants that were stolen have
been donated to the QBG over the years. This means of
acquisition needs to continue to be open to QBG and is
hindered when possible donors cannot be confident that
we have adequate security for specimens of high value.

Cycads have been stolen from other botanical
gardens in the past and it may be that significant
thefts are on the rise. Just last year Fairchild
Tropical BG, which has a collection far greater that
what we have at QBG lost a large number of very rare
cycads. I have not heard if they were successful in
recovering any of those plants but intend on 
contacting them to learn more about what they have
done to deter plant thefts.

We will also organize a group to review what we
can do to improve our capacity for security. There are
many cycads that are in need of ex-situ conservation
efforts and given our climate, QBG should play a 
role in conserving these plants. I do not think we
should give up on working with them because of this
theft or threat of theft. The extreme would be house
and exhibit all of the high dollar value plants in a
security area. Imagine an eight foot fence with
concertina wire on top and motion detector light beams
surrounding the perimeter. It would be the antithesis
of the environment that we are trying to provide for
guests but at the same time it would serve to let
people know what some of the challenges are in
conserving certain plants Cycads are not only stolen
in botanical gardens but poaching is a major reason
why so many 
are endangered in the wild. Given the prices these
plants command in world trade there are some cycads
who's continued existence is in fact 
threatened solely by poaching. 

Staff and volunteers such as Robert who have
worked very hard to see QBG develop the cycad
collection and its care feel personally violated by
this experience. It is very sad that our work can fall
prey to such acts. However, we will learn from this
experience and from others who face the same
challenges. Security from theft is not the first thing
that comes to mind when considering care of the
collection but we 
clearly need to give it more attention and plan to do


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