RFID Helps Protect a Desert Symbol
I bet you didn’t realize that thieves could get between $500 and $5,000 - per cactus! Apparently, if a Saguro cactus is in its prime (roughly 40 years old and 5 feet tall) a nursery or landscaper and even a collector will pay dearly for it.
The Los Angeles Times reported that officials in Palm Desert, California put up surveillance cameras after losing $20,000 worth of cacti. That method can’t be cheap. But there is another way.
Park managers at Saguaro National Park are using RFID tags to serve as a deterrent to the cactus thievery. The tags are inserted into the cactus with a needle and will last as long as the plant’s life, which could be 200 years or so. The tags can be read by scanners about a foot away which enables them to be found in nurseries during periodic checks or in passing trucks on the road. The RFID scanners can also reveal the origin of the cactus to help verify whether it’s been stolen. A popular myth is that the police can locate the missing cacti with an embedded GPS which has contributed to the deterrent effect.
RFID tags also help protect the beautiful desert symbol by letting scientists keep track of the 1.3 million saguaros in the park by recording their location, health and growth rate. IF RFID can make a difference like this for the Saguaro, imagine what it can do for other endangered species of plant and wild life.
Some believe the desert is a mystical place with ways of exacting its revenge against violators. But if you’re not a believer in the Great Spirit and are still thinking of rustling a cactus, you better watch out for RFID.
[Photo source: http://www.davewilsonimages.com]