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Pictures | Wed Jul 25, 2018 | 1:35pm EDT

Dying botanical garden highlights Venezuela's decay

Dead palm trees and a dried-up lagoon are what you see when you enter Caracas's botanical garden. A UNESCO World Heritage site and once one of the city's most important tourist spots, its directors are trying to rescue it from abandonment.

REUTERS/Marco Bello

Dead palm trees and a dried-up lagoon are what you see when you enter Caracas's botanical garden. A UNESCO World Heritage site and once one of the city's most important tourist spots, its directors are trying to rescue it from...more

Dead palm trees and a dried-up lagoon are what you see when you enter Caracas's botanical garden. A UNESCO World Heritage site and once one of the city's most important tourist spots, its directors are trying to rescue it from abandonment. REUTERS/Marco Bello
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1 / 19
Dried palm leaves are seen at the botanical gardens. While Caracas neighborhoods go weeks without water due to government mismanagement, the gardens have been dry since March and its famed collection of thousands of plant species is wilting away, according to curators.

REUTERS/Marco Bello

Dried palm leaves are seen at the botanical gardens. While Caracas neighborhoods go weeks without water due to government mismanagement, the gardens have been dry since March and its famed collection of thousands of plant species is wilting away,...more

Dried palm leaves are seen at the botanical gardens. While Caracas neighborhoods go weeks without water due to government mismanagement, the gardens have been dry since March and its famed collection of thousands of plant species is wilting away, according to curators. REUTERS/Marco Bello
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2 / 19
The remains of a greenhouse. The gardens were once an idyllic spot in Caracas's chaotic center where students from the nearby Central University of Venezuela would meet to study and office workers would relax. The United Nations cultural agency in 2000 called it a "masterpiece of modern city planning".

REUTERS/Marco Bello

The remains of a greenhouse. The gardens were once an idyllic spot in Caracas's chaotic center where students from the nearby Central University of Venezuela would meet to study and office workers would relax. The United Nations cultural agency in...more

The remains of a greenhouse. The gardens were once an idyllic spot in Caracas's chaotic center where students from the nearby Central University of Venezuela would meet to study and office workers would relax. The United Nations cultural agency in 2000 called it a "masterpiece of modern city planning". REUTERS/Marco Bello
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3 / 19
A volunteer of a group, helping with maintenance works, carries a piece of tree at the botanical garden. As the once-wealthy country spirals into economic chaos under President Nicolas Maduro, workers are cutting down the dead debris of once lush groves of towering moriche palms. Over a third of its palm tree species have died in the last few years, staff said.

REUTERS/Marco Bello

A volunteer of a group, helping with maintenance works, carries a piece of tree at the botanical garden. As the once-wealthy country spirals into economic chaos under President Nicolas Maduro, workers are cutting down the dead debris of once lush...more

A volunteer of a group, helping with maintenance works, carries a piece of tree at the botanical garden. As the once-wealthy country spirals into economic chaos under President Nicolas Maduro, workers are cutting down the dead debris of once lush groves of towering moriche palms. Over a third of its palm tree species have died in the last few years, staff said. REUTERS/Marco Bello
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4 / 19
A vandalized car is seen in the herbarium. "Even the cactuses need water though people don't believe it," Jan Tillett, who has looked after the gardens' nurseries for 15 years, said, standing by the dried-up lagoon.

REUTERS/Marco Bello

A vandalized car is seen in the herbarium. "Even the cactuses need water though people don't believe it," Jan Tillett, who has looked after the gardens' nurseries for 15 years, said, standing by the dried-up lagoon. REUTERS/Marco Bello

A vandalized car is seen in the herbarium. "Even the cactuses need water though people don't believe it," Jan Tillett, who has looked after the gardens' nurseries for 15 years, said, standing by the dried-up lagoon. REUTERS/Marco Bello
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5 / 19
A flowering water lily is seen in a greenhouse. Crumbling infrastructure and lack of investments have hit Venezuela's water supply for years but dwindling rains in recent months have exacerbated the situation. In Caracas, locals queue for hours to fill up bottles and hospital patients have to bring their own water.

REUTERS/Marco Bello

A flowering water lily is seen in a greenhouse. Crumbling infrastructure and lack of investments have hit Venezuela's water supply for years but dwindling rains in recent months have exacerbated the situation. In Caracas, locals queue for hours to...more

A flowering water lily is seen in a greenhouse. Crumbling infrastructure and lack of investments have hit Venezuela's water supply for years but dwindling rains in recent months have exacerbated the situation. In Caracas, locals queue for hours to fill up bottles and hospital patients have to bring their own water. REUTERS/Marco Bello
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6 / 19
Dead palm trees are seen at the botanical garden. The gardens have a miniscule annual budget of 200 million bolivars, just $66 at the black market exchange rate, staff said, adding they have petitioned the government for more resources.

REUTERS/Marco Bello

Dead palm trees are seen at the botanical garden. The gardens have a miniscule annual budget of 200 million bolivars, just $66 at the black market exchange rate, staff said, adding they have petitioned the government for more...more

Dead palm trees are seen at the botanical garden. The gardens have a miniscule annual budget of 200 million bolivars, just $66 at the black market exchange rate, staff said, adding they have petitioned the government for more resources. REUTERS/Marco Bello
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7 / 19
The gardens' largest lake (pictured), built in the shape of Venezuela and covered in giant flowering water lilies, is half empty. One of the lake's prized species has died out: the 2-meter wide Santa Cruz water lily, so buoyant it can support a child's weight.

REUTERS/Marco Bello

The gardens' largest lake (pictured), built in the shape of Venezuela and covered in giant flowering water lilies, is half empty. One of the lake's prized species has died out: the 2-meter wide Santa Cruz water lily, so buoyant it can support a...more

The gardens' largest lake (pictured), built in the shape of Venezuela and covered in giant flowering water lilies, is half empty. One of the lake's prized species has died out: the 2-meter wide Santa Cruz water lily, so buoyant it can support a child's weight. REUTERS/Marco Bello
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8 / 19
Although the gardens have received donations of water tanks and volunteer help, Tillett said it was harder every day to maintain the park. Venezuela's Information Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

REUTERS/Marco Bello

Although the gardens have received donations of water tanks and volunteer help, Tillett said it was harder every day to maintain the park. Venezuela's Information Ministry did not respond to a request for comment. REUTERS/Marco Bello

Although the gardens have received donations of water tanks and volunteer help, Tillett said it was harder every day to maintain the park. Venezuela's Information Ministry did not respond to a request for comment. REUTERS/Marco Bello
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9 / 19
Partially dried Bromeliads leaves are seen in a greenhouse. Last year, looters stripped the gardens of their electric cables, computers and irrigation pipes, making it impossible to maintain the rare aquatic plants groundskeepers were growing in a specially designed greenhouse, staff said. 

REUTERS/Marco Bello

Partially dried Bromeliads leaves are seen in a greenhouse. Last year, looters stripped the gardens of their electric cables, computers and irrigation pipes, making it impossible to maintain the rare aquatic plants groundskeepers were growing in a...more

Partially dried Bromeliads leaves are seen in a greenhouse. Last year, looters stripped the gardens of their electric cables, computers and irrigation pipes, making it impossible to maintain the rare aquatic plants groundskeepers were growing in a specially designed greenhouse, staff said. REUTERS/Marco Bello
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10 / 19
The remains of the Venezuelan National Guard post. Looters even stole the walls and roofs from guard houses.

REUTERS/Marco Bello

The remains of the Venezuelan National Guard post. Looters even stole the walls and roofs from guard houses. REUTERS/Marco Bello

The remains of the Venezuelan National Guard post. Looters even stole the walls and roofs from guard houses. REUTERS/Marco Bello
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11 / 19
Books that belonged to Swiss-born geographer and botanist Henri Pittier are seen in the herbarium. The gardens also include Venezuela's national herbarium. This contains samples of 450,000 plant species across the country, which now cannot be adequately stored given the lack of electricity, said its curator, Naida Avendano.

REUTERS/Marco Bello

Books that belonged to Swiss-born geographer and botanist Henri Pittier are seen in the herbarium. The gardens also include Venezuela's national herbarium. This contains samples of 450,000 plant species across the country, which now cannot be...more

Books that belonged to Swiss-born geographer and botanist Henri Pittier are seen in the herbarium. The gardens also include Venezuela's national herbarium. This contains samples of 450,000 plant species across the country, which now cannot be adequately stored given the lack of electricity, said its curator, Naida Avendano. REUTERS/Marco Bello
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12 / 19
Dead palm trees are seen at the botanical garden. "There's no money," Avendano said. "But we still haven't stopped working, so that the garden doesn't die." 

REUTERS/Marco Bello

Dead palm trees are seen at the botanical garden. "There's no money," Avendano said. "But we still haven't stopped working, so that the garden doesn't die." REUTERS/Marco Bello

Dead palm trees are seen at the botanical garden. "There's no money," Avendano said. "But we still haven't stopped working, so that the garden doesn't die." REUTERS/Marco Bello
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13 / 19
A broken fence is seen in a greenhouse. REUTERS/Marco Bello

A broken fence is seen in a greenhouse. REUTERS/Marco Bello

A broken fence is seen in a greenhouse. REUTERS/Marco Bello
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14 / 19
A dried-up lagoon is seen at the entrance of the botanical garden. REUTERS/Marco Bello

A dried-up lagoon is seen at the entrance of the botanical garden. REUTERS/Marco Bello

A dried-up lagoon is seen at the entrance of the botanical garden. REUTERS/Marco Bello
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15 / 19
Water lilies are seen in a half empty lagoon built in the shape of Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco Bello

Water lilies are seen in a half empty lagoon built in the shape of Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco Bello

Water lilies are seen in a half empty lagoon built in the shape of Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco Bello
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16 / 19
Partially dried Bromeliads leaves are seen in a greenhouse. REUTERS/Marco Bello

Partially dried Bromeliads leaves are seen in a greenhouse. REUTERS/Marco Bello

Partially dried Bromeliads leaves are seen in a greenhouse. REUTERS/Marco Bello
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17 / 19
A flowering water lily is seen in a half-empty lagoon built in the shape of Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco Bello

A flowering water lily is seen in a half-empty lagoon built in the shape of Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco Bello

A flowering water lily is seen in a half-empty lagoon built in the shape of Venezuela. REUTERS/Marco Bello
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18 / 19
A Venezuelan National Guard member walks at the entrance of the botanical garden. REUTERS/Marco Bello

A Venezuelan National Guard member walks at the entrance of the botanical garden. REUTERS/Marco Bello

A Venezuelan National Guard member walks at the entrance of the botanical garden. REUTERS/Marco Bello
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19 / 19

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