ASUNCION Ė Officials have filed a complaint with the Attorney Generalís Office over the removal of an endangered aquatic plant growing in a Paraguayan river basin for use in traditional medicines, the Environment Secretariat said Monday.
The Yakare YrupÍ plants were removed from the Salado River basin in Limpio, a city in the Asuncion metropolitan area, over the weekend, the secretariat said in a statement.
The people who removed the endangered plants from their native ecosystem are subject to fines and other penalties, the secretariat said.
Hundreds of visitors went to the Salado River on Saturday and Sunday to view the plants (Victoria cruziana), which are known for their large circular leaves that float in the river around this time of year.
Some of the nature lovers pulled entire plants out of the river, intending to use them for medicinal purposes, such as treating asthma and other respiratory problems.
Photos of people destroying the plants went viral on social media, leading to calls for action against those responsible.
The Salado River basin is one of the few wetlands where the Yakare YrupÍ can still be found, the secretariat said, adding that the plant has disappeared from other areas, such as Asuncion Bay, due to dredging and clean-up operations.
The Yakare YrupÍ, which has both medicinal and ornamental value, thrives in deeper waters.