The theft of endangered plants and animal species is destroying the environment and economy, the Deputy Minister of Tourism and Environmental Affairs, Rejoice Mabudafhasi, has said.
Speaking during the launch of the Vhembe Traditional Health Practitioners Association in Thohoyandou on Friday, Mabudafhasi said Limpopo, as a province, had lost billions of rands due to the theft of endangered unique plants that were transported to foreign countries.
She called on the tradional healers to protect species from thieves who eyed international markets while the province was losing income and heritage resources.
She said the poaching of medicinal plants and other species in South Africa was a big problem that had reached alarming proportions.
Mabudafhasi stressed that communities needed to be educated and trained to protect indigenous knowledge through patents and intellectual property rights because knowledge, especially that relating to traditional healing, was being seriously undermined.