As Nepal is a signatory party to CITES, it is responsible for stopping the illicit trade, collection and export of these flowers. Nepal’s own CITES Act 2017, which follows the Convention, states that there must be necessary plans in place before the orchids listed can be harvested.
Yet, in practice plant conservation is neglected. Orchids have made it into legislation, but only on paper. All harvesting of orchids is illegal in Nepal. While attention is paid to identifying orchid habitats, detailed research into their trade and conservation is still lacking.
Our relationship with plants is often different from that with animals. Endangered species of animals, such as the tiger and rhino, are protected strictly by law, but the same commitment is not extended to plants.
In Nepal, flora connoisseurs consider orchids special for their kaleidoscopic colour patterns and shape. Beyond the aesthetics, many Nepalis consume orchid petals to alleviate stomach cramps, as tonic, and even against cancer, often without identifying the plant and its properties.
Read also: Between existence and extinction in Nepal, Sonia Awale