© Saket Badola

© Saket Badola


Published 7 September 2022

Protected orchids of India: New identification poster released to help strengthen wildlife law enforcement

New Delhi: India's orchids are under pressure from illicit harvesting and exploitation for illegal trade. Of the vast diversity of 1,256 orchid species recorded in India, 307 are endemic to the country, and only 11 species are protected under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.

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In order to highlight the threat that illegal trade poses to orchids, and to increase the capacity of the enforcement officials to identify the 11 protected orchid species, TRAFFIC and WWF-India have developed a poster on the legally protected orchid species whose trade or any other form of utilisation is prohibited.

The poster was released today, ahead of Save the Himalayas Day1since India's Himalayan region is home to many orchid species, with the Eastern Himalayas having the greatest orchid diversity in India.

© Dr Saket Badola

The new poster, "Legally Protected Orchids of India" combines beautiful illustrations of orchid flowers with related information and will aid enforcement agencies in identifying the orchid species in the illegal trade. The poster will also help to create awareness about orchids among students, educators and the general public.

Mr Ravi Singh, Secretary General & CEO, WWF-India, said, "Orchids are found throughout the Himalayan region of India. Time and time again, new orchid species are discovered in the region, reflecting the hidden trove of floral treasures in the Himalayas. Conservation measures in the Himalayan region are key to conserving myriad species, including orchids and the ecosystems they represent".

Such vast orchid diversity, unsustainable harvesting practices and illegal trade, coupled with limited protection measures and lack of awareness makes the future of orchids a serious concern. By issuing this identification poster, our joint efforts to stop the illegal orchid trade gets a strong and considered boost."

Dr Merwyn Fenerandes, Coordinator, TRAFFIC's India Office

In India, orchids are illegally collected from the wild and traded as ornamental plants, used in traditional medicine and also consumed as food. The rising demand for orchids for various purposes leads to unsustainable harvesting practices. Globally this second-largest family of flowering plants have some of the most prized and traded flowers. In India, protected species of orchids such as Blue Vanda Vanda coerulea and Lady's Slipper have been found in wildlife seizures. 

On the International Day for Biological Diversity in May this year, TRAFFIC and WWF-India also released a factsheet titled "Orchids: Factsheet on India's orchids in illegal wildlife trade". The factsheet was a compilation of beautiful images and well-researched content on general information and facts about orchids, their legal status and threats.

Both the factsheet "Orchids: Factsheet on India's orchids in illegal wildlife trade" and the poster "Legally Protected Orchids of India", by TRAFFIC and WWF-India are efforts to bring conservation and protection issues related to orchids to the forefront. Both of these are freely available for use and sharing.


  1. Every year on 9 September, India celebrates "Save the Himalayas Day' to spread awareness about the Himalayan ecosystem.
  2. Export of orchid species specified under the Schedules of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, CITES (Appendix I), and in the EXIM Policy of India is prohibited.
  3. Download "Orchids: Factsheet on India's orchids in illegal wildlife trade" at