Sniffer Dog Caught Woman Smuggling Succulents and Cacti from China to New Zealand

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Today we’re starting a new section where we would share interesting, unique and weird news and facts about succulents and cacti. Here’s the very first story!

Cacti are gaining increasing popularity day by day. However, the fact that they are popular to the extent of being smuggled is indeed something interesting and also worrisome at the same time.

In March 2019, a woman was found trying to smuggle almost 1,000 succulents and cacti at Auckland International Airport, New Zealand.

Wenqing Li, also known as Wendy, a 38-year old Auckland-based lady had hidden 947 succulents and cacti in her stockings and strapped them on her body, and was trying to smuggle them from China to New Zealand.

The cost of the plants was more than $10,000 and they included eight threatened and endangered species.

The credit of catching Wendy goes to a sniffer dog that noticed her on her arrival at the airport and while trying to dispose of the haul in the toilets and a large quantity of plant material was found, as per the statement of the Ministry for Primary Industries.

Wendy’s intention was to sell the cacti and succulents that have a ‘high commercial value’ on an online marketplace TradeMe.

Wendy was caught even in July 2019 when she had hidden 142 unauthorized seeds inside commercially packed iPad covers inside her luggage, and also over 200 plant pots, one of which had a snail in it.

Wendy pleaded guilty to charges under two violations of biosecurity acts at the Manukau district court and was sentenced to 12 months of intensive supervision as well as 100 hours of community work.

The sentencing was a good reminder that anybody who smuggles plants or other threatened species into New Zealand can expect to be sued as per Simon Anderson, an investigations manager at the Ministry for Primary Industries.

New Zealand is an island country which is secluded from other countries and has unique flora and fauna. It can’t allow any biological material to be imported, because such a material can include harmful pests and disease which can cause damage to the unique biodiversity in the country. Biosecurity does an important job of stopping them right at the border or destroy the ones that are already here.

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