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Smuggling plants: Clear cut right/wrong??

I am an ecologist by training an it saddens me to see the rate of 
destruction happening to the ecosystem here in malaysia due to the rapid 

while i agree with the merits of having quarantine, import-export laws and 
regulations plus trade restrictions there is always 2 sides to a coin.

In Kean Huat's case i do not think he is about to mount a full scale 
expedition that is going to rape the virgin rain forest we has here. in fact 
all he may do is buy some plants from the shops as the plants are not 
exactly found in all the drains of Kuala Lumpur. U have to know which drain 
to look to be able to do that.

Introduction of exotic species.....well i think he would have come too late. 
exotic pest are being introduced by the hundreds daily and most through 
accidental legal means. Chances are 99.5% of the plants he is going to be 
able to take back with him would be available in the states.

same goes with pathogens. most are already cosmopolitan. i'll bet my last 
dollar he is not going to contract/bring in some new virus in his quest to 
seach for aquatic plants. The possibility is there but then again how many 
incoming flight do you have at a single airport any given day??

seeing the wonderful work done by those passionate about their interest. 
plants saved from extinction due to collecters are known.  and it has been 
acknowledged that most discoveries and conservation effort has been achived 
not by scientists but amateurs devoted to their hobbies, i sometimes 
hesitate to give full backing to the various laws.

What i believe is more important is education, such as being disseminated in 
forums such as this on understanding the do's and don'ts in salvaging 
plants, release to the wild etc. who knows through collections by these 
people one day a species unprotected from loss of habitat here may make a 
return from someones's aquarium.

the problem does not lie mainly with individuals but country wide demands of 
wild caught animal trade  and greed of man thru development etc. I have seen 
too many species decimated thru this.

as far as kean huat is concerned, if he needs help he is welcomed to contact 


>Date: Sat, 13 May 2000 11:10:07 -0500
>From: "James Purchase" <jpurch at interlog_com>
>Subject: Re: Slipping plants across borders
>Kean Huat wonders if he can bring some plants back from Malaysia when he
>visits that country. Pugturd (???) recommended several ways to get plant
>material into the country, bypassing inspectors and possible confiscation.
>All of the recommended methods are illegal, immoral, selfish, and downright
>stupid. Restrictions are placed on plant exports/imports for a REASON. You
>may not agree with the reason but it is a fact and usually a law,
>disregarding it can potentially land you in serious trouble with
>authorities, either in the country you are taking plants out of, the one 
>are trying to smuggle them into, or both.
>There ARE legal ways to import/export plants in most countries. They may be
>cumbersome, expensive and lengthy, but they will help protect native plants
>and habitats both in the source country and in the destination country.
>Plus, they will keep you out of jail.
>I know of no plant worth a criminal record. I'd recommend that he contact
>local authorities in Chicago and see if he can get an Import Permit
>fast-tracked. He might also want to contact the Malaysian Consulate or
>Embassy to see if there are any restrictions on that end to export native
>plants. It would be a shame to be thrown into a foreign jail for the sake 
>a few aquarium plants.
>James Purchase
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