Big Bend National Park, TX

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DuarteDave
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Big Bend National Park, TX

Post by DuarteDave »

Anybody been there? Planning a trip here next year and have a few safety concerns. Anything I should be aware of? I have read the NPS precautions on drug smuggling etc.
Want to see if I can snap some photos of Ariocarpus in their natural habitat :D
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Aloinopsis
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Re: Big Bend National Park, TX

Post by Aloinopsis »

A non-cactus friend of mine lives near there.

There are new micro cameras being hidden in a lot of places but they've kept that info pretty quiet because of plant poaching and smuggling so even if you're just taking pictures you will still be recorded.

Earlier this year, someone poached a 200+ year old group of Lophophora and there was outrage, so the micro cameras are still being installed. I wonder how camouflaged they really must be though because it seems like people would just steal the cameras, too.
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hegar
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Re: Big Bend National Park, TX

Post by hegar »

Hello Dave,

I do not know how severe the drug smuggling operations are in that area, but I have found out a few things about cacti, especially Ariocarpus fissuratus, which can be found growing at Big Bend National Park. Another cactus, which might be encountered there is Lophophora williamsii (peyote). Because these two cactus species are especially vulnerable to collectors, the park rangers do keep a vigilant eye out for anyone, who is pilfering the landscape in search of these cacti. Two times I have received mature A. fissuratus plants, because the greenhouse used to keep confiscated cacti was overflowing with them. Hundreds of specimens were given away to various cactus clubs and societies, including those in Arizona.
I was told, that trying to re-establish the seized plants in the wild would lead to a high mortality. Also, the plants that had been seized were from various locations (different habitats) and nobody knew, which place would be the one best suited for them, even if putting them back into their habitat were contemplated.
I am quite sure, that the flora - especially of the locations where the above mentioned cacti are still present - will be closely watched. I had not heard about cameras being used, but it may well be the case.
About two or three years ago, a European couple was found in the possession of cactus seed. None was from Ariocarpus or Lophophora plants. I do not know, how much they were fined for just having those seeds with them. To me, all the seed, except for one did resemble that of Echinocactus horizonthalonius. I do not know, if anybody was able to identify the five packets with seeds. I only did take the digital images.
So I want to chime in and support what Aloinopsis stated. If you decide to go there, be careful and do not try to collect any plant material. Taking pictures of A. fissuratus should be OK though.

Harald
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DuarteDave
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Re: Big Bend National Park, TX

Post by DuarteDave »

I would never collect any cacti in the wild, any specie. I am only about taking photos on my phone camera if I was ever lucky enough to ever see an ariocarpus in the wild (see my other posts)
Thank you for your replies. I just might avoid this NP, and see it in the next life. I don't even want to step on an ariocarpus!
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hegar
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Re: Big Bend National Park, TX

Post by hegar »

Hello Dave,
I do not know how things are at Big Bend National Park, because I have never been there. However, every year several of my local cactus club buddies do visit and none of them ever reported anything negative about their experience.

Harald
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mikethecactusguy
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Re: Big Bend National Park, TX

Post by mikethecactusguy »

Just found this articles from last year
https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... ny-problem
Mike The Cactus Guy
Enjoying the Spines
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DuarteDave
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Re: Big Bend National Park, TX

Post by DuarteDave »

Thank you Harald!

Mike, there must be swift extreme penalties for such actions. Hopefully the authorities can track them down and arrest them.
keith
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Re: Big Bend National Park, TX

Post by keith »

I saw many Echinomastus warnockii when I was there years ago . only for one day I was passing through and big bend was a detour going to Dallas.

I didn't know lopohophora grew there ?
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Aloinopsis
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Re: Big Bend National Park, TX

Post by Aloinopsis »

The native Lophophora and Ariocarpus have been heavily poached for the horticultural trade. You used to see freshly dug and for sale on eBay, and I know one man who sold them at a roadside stand in South Texas. But they have been largely extirpated from most or all areas the park by poachers.

This kind of poaching does not fall under CITES regulations for obvious reasons but it is still illegal in the case of Lophophora because it is a Schedule I controlled substance. However, until this past year I hadn't heard of anybody being prosecuted for poaching.
Pereskiopsisdotcom
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Re: Big Bend National Park, TX

Post by Pereskiopsisdotcom »

Aloinopsis wrote: Wed Aug 21, 2019 10:33 am The native Lophophora and Ariocarpus have been heavily poached for the horticultural trade. You used to see freshly dug and for sale on eBay, and I know one man who sold them at a roadside stand in South Texas. But they have been largely extirpated from most or all areas the park by poachers.

This kind of poaching does not fall under CITES regulations for obvious reasons but it is still illegal in the case of Lophophora because it is a Schedule I controlled substance. However, until this past year I hadn't heard of anybody being prosecuted for poaching.
And just for clarity, isn't taking any natural flora or fauna from a National Park illegal without permission? Even without CITES, that would make both plants and even a commonly encountered weed illegal to remove right?
http://pereskiopsis.com

Interests include: Rhipsalis, Turbinicarpus, Gymnocalycium, and Lophophora.
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Hanazono
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Re: Big Bend National Park, TX

Post by Hanazono »

I bought seed from a local seed supplier and sowed in 2003.
The name tag said "Ariocarpus fissuratus f Big Bend". It should be same species in there if the name tag was correct.
The form Big Bend has smoother tubercle surface than that of standard fissuratus.
This species are in flower earlier than standard ones in my place.

I have never visited cacti habitats.
I know the environment of Australia outback but there is no idea of Big Bend National Park.

I hope Dave could have a safe trip.

The photo is my Ariocarpus fissuratus f Big Bend sown seed in 2003.
https://cactiguide.com/forum/download/f ... w&id=70024
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hegar
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Re: Big Bend National Park, TX

Post by hegar »

Hello Pereskiopsisdotcom,
you are correct. It is illegal to remove plants or animals from a National or State Park. This is especially the case, if the item taken is a CITES-regulated one. There are three categories, called "appendix" which classify CITES plants and animals. Two of those are the most important. They are CITES Appendix I and CITES Appendix II. Those plants, which receive the highest form of protection are in the CITES I group. Ariocarpus fissuratus does fall into that category. I always tell my trainees, that CITES I is similar to "endangered", while CITES II organisms can be considered to be "threatened". For all practical purposes, all cacti are CITES-regulated, with the large majority being classified as CITES II members. So the Lophophora spp. plants are CITES II plants and thus do have a higher form of protection than for example a creosote bush. Trade in CITES I plants is prohibited and plants offered for sale by nurseries have to be artificially propagated or grown from seed by the grower offering them for purchase.
CITES regulations were established to regulate the international trade, i.e. commercial sale of both animals and plants.

Harald
keith
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Re: Big Bend National Park, TX

Post by keith »

You used to see freshly dug and for sale on eBay" still there on Ebay " salvaged for new road construction" I don't know if they are from the park or nearby ?

And I doubt there is a new road going in especially since there are more than one seller saying the exact same thing.
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hegar
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Re: Big Bend National Park, TX

Post by hegar »

Hello Keith,
I cannot tell, if those plants you saw on eBay are illegally collected and sold. The CITES regulations come into play, if regulated plants and animals are either imported or exported (international trade). For domestic use, there is also the Endangered Species Act (ESA). I do not work for the correct agency to be very knowledgeable about that piece of legislature. While most likely a plant that is listed as a CITES I plant is also listed in the ESA, there are differences. It also seems, like the individual states have a certain amount of say about their native flora. If I am not mistaken, a Texas landowner, on whose property for example Ariocarpus fissuratus is present, is not required to protect those plants and may pull them up and give them away, if he so chooses. This is most likely not the case with states, that do protect and value those plants more than Texas does, e.g. Arizona and perhaps California for example. However, if the state builds a new road, which destroys the habitat of rare plants, I doubt, that someone would be selling those plants. For those specimens of Ariocarpus fissuratus, which I received from an overfull greenhouse near Alpine, Texas, I did have to sign an agreement, stating, that I would not sell these plants or use them in any way to obtain a profit. I am in effect only the steward, although they do belong to me. A similar situation is encountered for confiscated CITES I plants, which are sent to a Plant Rescue Center, usually a Botanical Garden.

Harald
Sonoran Jackalope
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Re: Big Bend National Park, TX

Post by Sonoran Jackalope »

Hanazono wrote: Wed Aug 21, 2019 11:14 pm The name tag said "Ariocarpus fissuratus f Big Bend". It should be same species in there if the name tag was correct.
The form Big Bend has smoother tubercle surface than that of standard fissuratus.
Where is this information from? Just curious. Personally, I have seen thousands of fissuratus in the Big Bend region and none were smooth. Actually, the Big Bend area is known to have some “highly-fissured” fissuratus.
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