Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Eaten As Food, African Orchids Threatened By Illegal Trade

Date:
August 1, 2001
Source:
Wildlife Conservation Society
Summary:
More than 2.2 million wild orchids are being strip-mined each year from a unique region in Africa, fueled by a growing demand to use the plants as food, according to a report released today by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).The report says that the orchids, some found nowhere else on earth, may soon vanish without better protection of their wild habitats and enforcement of existing laws.

NEW YORK -- More than 2.2 million wild orchids are being strip-mined each year from a unique region in Africa, fueled by a growing demand to use the plants as food, according to a report released today by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).The report says that the orchids, some found nowhere else on earth, may soon vanish without better protection of their wild habitats and enforcement of existing laws.

Related Articles


According to the report, wide expanses of the Southern Highlands region of Tanzania where the orchids occur remain unexplored biologically. However, initial surveys show that the region contains a significant portion of the nation’s biodiversity, much of it in the form of plant life. To help protect this region, WCS is currently pushing to turn a key area of the Southern Highlands, called the Kitulo Plateau, into a national park. If established, the park will be one of the first protected areas in tropical Africa to be gazetted primarily on the merits of its floral significance.

But the plateau is currently under intense orchid harvesting pressure. The report says that up to 85 species are being rapidly depleted for use in “chikanda” or “kinaka,” a delicacy in which the root or “tuber” of terrestrial orchids is the key ingredient in a type of meatless sausage. Though the food has declined in popularity in Tanzania, it has become increasingly prevalent in neighboring Zambia, subsequently fueling a booming international commercial market.

“Millions of orchids are being virtually strip-mined from Tanzania’s Southern Highlands,” said WCS conservation biologist Tim Davenport. “At current rates, many species will be wiped out in a matter of a few years.”

All orchid species are protected by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species), which requires certification of plants crossing international borders. However, scant knowledge of the trade’s existence, and a subsequent lack of enforcement of CITES rules, has led to truckloads of uncertified plants entering Zambia each day.

Orchids belong to a family of non-woody perennials with more than 20,000 species worldwide. Celebrated for their attractive colors and shape, some are known to produce flowers that closely resemble female insects, an adaptation that turns male insects into pollinators. In the U.S. alone the orchid trade is now a multi-billion dollar industry.

Though rural Africans have consumed orchids for hundreds of years, the recent popularization of eating the plants in Zambia -- especially in urban centers -- has caused the recent boom in illegal trade, according to WCS.

The report found said that men and women from every age group dig up orchids in Tanzania to supplement their income. In some areas it is considered a family activity, with children assisting parents. “Even primary school children participate in the collection during school holidays,” Davenport said.

“The fact remains that the Southern Highlands are currently losing significant resources at an alarming rate,” said Davenport. “The current trade in orchid tubers for consumption in Zambia is neither environmentally or economically in the best interests of Tanzania.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wildlife Conservation Society. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wildlife Conservation Society. "Eaten As Food, African Orchids Threatened By Illegal Trade." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 1 August 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010801081646.htm>.
Wildlife Conservation Society. (2001, August 1). Eaten As Food, African Orchids Threatened By Illegal Trade. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010801081646.htm
Wildlife Conservation Society. "Eaten As Food, African Orchids Threatened By Illegal Trade." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010801081646.htm (accessed October 30, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

How A Chorus Led Scientists To A New Frog Species

Newsy (Oct. 30, 2014) A frog noticed by a conservationist on New York's Staten Island has been confirmed as a new species after extensive study and genetic testing. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Surfer Accidentally Stands on Shark, Gets Bitten

Surfer Accidentally Stands on Shark, Gets Bitten

AP (Oct. 30, 2014) A 20-year-old competition surfer said on Thursday he accidentally stepped on a shark's head before it bit him off the Australian east coast. (Oct. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Endangered Carpathian Ponies Are Making a Comeback in Poland

Endangered Carpathian Ponies Are Making a Comeback in Poland

AFP (Oct. 29, 2014) At the foot of the rugged Carpathian mountains near the Polish-Ukrainian border, ranchers and scientists are trying to protect the Carpathian pony, known as the Hucul in Polish. Duration: 02:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Tiny, Lab-Grown Stomachs Could Treat Stomach Diseases

Tiny, Lab-Grown Stomachs Could Treat Stomach Diseases

Newsy (Oct. 29, 2014) The researchers grew tiny stomachs using stem cells, saying the research could lead to better treatment for ulcers and even stomach cancer. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins