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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

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Table Mountain National Park Illegal flower harvester nabbed

The illegal plant harvester was caught red handed in the mountains near Jonkersdam, Red Hill.

The illegal plant harvester was caught red handed in the mountains near Jonkersdam, Red Hill.

Published May 9, 2022

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Cape Town - Table Mountain National Park rangers are making inroads in rooting out the illegal plant harvesting and bark tree stripping in the Park.

This as rangers from the southern section caught, red-handed a sought after suspect illegally picking flowers in the mountains near Jonkersdam, Red Hill after a tip-off. The suspect was in the process of picking large amounts of King Proteas and Cape sugar-bush.

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SANParks said considering the nature of the activity and the large number of proteas harvested, it would investigate the case further in terms of illegal trade and may add additional charges.

Newlands Forest Conservation Group co-founding member Willie Boshoff said illegal poaching and harvesting of plants and flowers in the Park is currently a challenge.

“At the moment, we can see the impact of large-scale job losses during Covid-19 where a lot of people struggling with poverty are looking to the Park, using its natural means to try and make a living.

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“The problem, however, is that the Park is comparatively small, and what we are seeing is that it is becoming very stressed because of the large impact of illegal plant harvesting.

“Unfortunately, there is no way that one can sustainably harvest plants from the Park going forward,” he said.

Boshoff said the long-term effects of illegal flower and plant harvesting weren’t immediately visible.

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“But over years and decades, we see the Park becoming stressed and an increase in invasive species that take over large sections of the Park and we see a reduction in the rare indigenous plants.

“Our appeal to the public is they must not buy flowers from people on the streets, especially indigenous flowers and plants,” he said.

Andy Davies from Friends of Table Mountain (FOTM) commended the work done by the rangers, especially what he said was the initiative shown by the public in reporting the illegal activity.

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Davies reiterated the role the public could play in reporting crime and suspicious activity which he said was the reason the group had been demanding a dedicated TMNP hotline or community safety app.

“FOTM has facilitated the BUZZER app for free for TMNP but to date, SANParks has not taken advantage of this ”gift“, which is particularly frustrating,” said Davies.

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