Charges filed against flower-picker who plucked endangered specimen

A resident of Petah Tikva was charged with picking a protected water-lily from the Yarkon National Park, and could face thousands of shekels in fines.

The Israel Nature and Parks Authority filed an indictment Sunday at the Petah Tikva Magistrate’s Court against the alleged offender, described in reports as a “youth,” for picking a yellow water lily from a pond among the water sources that flow into the Yarkon River.

According to the indictment, the defendant “did not have a permit for his actions, by his actions he damaged the national park, and unlawfully and without a permit had possession of protected natural assets.”

One alleged incident occurred May 2020. When INPA inspectors accosted the defendant he refused to provide identification and fled. Later, inspectors again saw the defendant in the area but he still refused to cooperate. He apparently took lilies on other occasions as well.

INPA prosecutors said in a statement that “the yellow water lily is a protected and unique natural asset that is in real danger of extinction.”

The parks authority said it invests “considerable resources” to prevent the flower’s extinction and vowed to “prosecute those who harm rare natural assets and ignore the provisions of the law and the instructions of its inspectors.”

Courts have in the past handed out fines of tens of thousands of shekels for similar offenses.

The yellow water lily is a perennial flower that grows in pooled water in the Hula Valley and Yarkon River tributaries. Due to the artificial draining of the Hula Valley swamps by Israel in the 1950s and pollution in the tributaries of the Yarkon, the flower has dwindled in Israel.

In addition, the spread of the semi-aquatic rodent, the nutria, which feeds off plant stems, in recent decades has foiled attempts to reintroduce the plant in areas where it has become extinct, Channel 12 reported.

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