Two succulent poachers were arrested in the Richtersveld Transfrontier Park while trying to steal endangered halfmens (Pachypodium namaquanum) succulents on 21 April.
The two suspects were sentenced to seven years for the removal and permanent damage of 14 halfmens succulents, which SANParks regional Manager, Lucius Moolman, called one of the ‘worst cases in the history of the Richtersveld National Park.’
Moolman said this is due to the significant cultural and natural value of the plants, and their value as tourist attractions. Due to the sensitivity of the species, they will not be able to be rehabilitated into their natural habitat and this will have a negative impact on the specific population.
The Richtersveld is the only national park in South Africa where this valuable species is conserved.
According to a report by the South African National Biodiversity Institue (SANBI), some locations in the Northern Cape had more than 90% of the known population removed, 12 species were uplisted to critically endangered and 13 species were uplisted from vulnerable to endangered.
‘Habitats that were once pristine have been scarred and now have gaping holes where beautiful plants used to grow,’ the report read.
Moolman concluded that he welcomed the poachers’ conviction and that ‘SANParks considers poaching of succulents a serious offence….We will not rest until each and every suspect is convicted and the poaching is stopped.’