Journalist looking for orchid trader or owner who has evaded CITES rules

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Tiffany Cassidy

New Member
May 7, 2021
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I'm a journalist producing a two part podcast for The Guardian on wildlife trafficking, and one of the episodes will be on orchids.

We're interested in understanding people's motivations to own orchids that require you to evade CITES rules, and how difficult it is to get around them.

If you own an illegally imported orchid or have experience trading orchids illegally and would be happy to speak with me about why/how you get around CITES rules -- please contact me.

You can email me at [email protected]
Or you can DM me on Twitter at @tiffcassidy

We're ultimately interested in an interview with someone, but if you want to get in touch and ask how you'd be represented before doing an interview, feel free. If you'd like, we can switch to the Signal messaging app after you email or DM me.

Tiffany Cassidy

To the question about admitting what they've done -- yes, that is what I'm asking. Someone who will openly speak to why and how they evaded CITES regulations.

We would grant anonymity to the source if we broadcast the interview. If someone's interested in this, and if you're unsure how anonymity and interviews work and how journalists go about these, please contact me to discuss it further.

My Guardian email or Twitter is the best place to initially reach me so that you know I'm a journalist working on this for a story. Once you contact me we can switch to Signal if you prefer to continue with end to end encrypted messaging.

Again, my contact is:
email: [email protected]
Twitter: @tiffcassidy

Thanks for the recommendation of George Norris.

And unfortunately/fortunately journalists don't pay for interviews as it affects the credibility of the information the interviewee is giving.
Thanks for the recommendation of George Norris.

And unfortunately/fortunately journalists don't pay for interviews as it affects the credibility of the information the interviewee is giving.

Not credible ones anyway.

I subscribe to the Guardian's 'Green Light', so I expect it will appear in there. I look forward to what you come up with Tiffany. If you are interested in science, and the environment in particular, the Guardian produces some quality stuff.
I've never evaded cites rules, but FWIW here is my take on those 'rules'. My understanding is that if a tree is felled, and a totally new orchid is discovered growing in the tree-top, according to those 'rules' you can't lay a hand on it, and have to just let it die, so a new orchid is lost to science and to the world. All in the name of preventing rampaging orchid collectors from denuding an area of an over-collected species. I can see why they would want to do so, but a certain rigidity in all cases does not make sense. Also, the level of corruption of officials in some of those countries makes me doubt that the cites rules are always adhered to. Brazil and certain other countries in that region are not known to be 'squeaky clean' with it comes to fair and honest enforcement of rules / laws in general. In fact, I believe the kidnap capital of the world is in that region, too. I can't imagine that an area so rife with crimes committed for monetary gain would be populated by officials who have impeccable integrity when it comes to rules that, if bypassed, would certainly be lucrative for them. Just my opinion.
I could be wrong, as I have never actually read the 'rules', but this is from what I have read other folk cuss & discuss about them.
Tiffany, I think you are asking to play with fire.

First, no one will admit to breaking a serious rule for the 'fun' of your project. Fines are hundreds of thousands plus up to 10 years in prison. Plus seizure of their entire collection and their name dragged through the mud. Some never recover. Ask Mr. Kovach about his illegal importation of Phragmipedium kovachii and Selby Garden's drama for describing this illegal species to the ire of the Peruvian government. Read 'The Scent of Scandal' and the book Abax recommends to you.

Second, the protection of the anonymity of the source can easily be weaned from the public posts here. And if the law really bears down on you or this forum, something will fold. It might even point a negative light on this forum and destroy it.

I think what you should focus on is the effectiveness of CITES to protect the very orchids that are in danger. What H_Mossy pointed out is very true. CITES has failed in protecting wild orchids and thousands are seen (and perished) at the open air market in Asia, esp the border towns of Vietnam and Burma with Thailand, even today. You should interview CITES personnel and corner them on how this wasn't stopped. And how they plan to rewrite CITES to reflect the nature of things as it stands. As an example, ask them how the rare newly discovered Paphiopedilum species rungsuriyanum was almost wiped out in a matter of years from the wild due to their failed 'protection' services. And that a single seed pod could have save the species from imminent extinction in their habitat.

If you want to make an impact, help CITES change to be more effective rather than restrictive.

Good luck.

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