A sort of happy ending from the director of Quail
Botanical Gardens in
An anonymous caller left a message on QBG's
general voice mail box stating they thought they knew where the cycads
from the Gardens the weekend before last were located. The caller
(male) then proceeded to give detailed directions to two locations. One was
on Twin Oaks Valley Road north of Twin Oaks Crest the second
location was about 1/4 mile west of the 15 on the road to San Louis Downs.
Today QBG staff followed up on these leads and were met by
four San Diego County Sheriff's Department officers at
the two sites. Fifteen plants were recovered at the first site in a
ditch along the road. The remaining six plants were recovered at the second
site amongst discarded debris including a long dead dog. While the
plants have suffered from this experience, staff are encouraged that all
can with time and care survive. While this is not certain and the
process may take over a year we are extremely pleased that all 21 stolen
plants have been returned to QBG.
While increased security measures were implemented from the
time of theft we are still evaluating what long term
measures will be most effective in deterring any future thefts.
Conversations I have had since the theft with other public garden directors
collection managers who are responsible for the care and display
of rare cycads does point to a common vulnerability. I was surprised as to
how many institutions have lost these plants to theft and
believe the problem is getting worse.
I wish to thank all the many people who responded with well wishes and also
the potential leads. The community of
private cycad enthusiasts and conservationists have helped a great deal in
word out. I also wish to thank the media for giving this theft the profile
they did which may very well have contributed to recovering the plants.
The detective on this case believes the plants ended up being "too hot"
and that's why they were dumped. The Union and NC Times both will run
stories tomorrow and will have photos of the plants as they returned to
the Gardens. The Sheriff's Department personnel were all extremely
helpful and will continue the investigation to hopefully uncover the
perpetrators. Robert Kopfstein even made a trip to Rosarito to visit a
nursery where he knew stolen cycads had been seen in the past.
I'm sure it is appreciated as to how this theft impacted the
staff and volunteers who have worked so hard to establish these plants
in a conservation role. While no one ever verbalized it, there was
little hope that we would ever see these plants again.
Feelings are very high at this time but in no way a distraction to our
resolve to protect what we have.
Quail Botanical Gardens