Paraguay lagoon sees giant lily pads return

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Media caption,
Water lilies in the area are known for their giant size and exceptional shape

Giant lily pads have reappeared in a Paraguay lagoon after being listed as endangered in 2006.

The aquatic plants, their scientific name is Victoria cruziana, appeared in a tributary of the Paraguay river 25km north of Asunción, the capital.

The environment ministry told the Associated Press that the plant had slowly disappeared due to dredging and visitors collecting the plants.

Water lilies in the area are known for their 1.5m size, and exceptional shape.

Their return has drawn a mass of tourists to Piquete Cue in central Paraguay, where they take pictures and pay for boat rides to see the lilies up close.

"I have lived in the area since I was a child. The neighbours and I thought the plant had already become extinct, but it has returned," Antonio Benítez, a local resident, told The Associated Press (in Spanish).

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
Tourists have been drawn in droves to see the giant water lilies

Agustin Gomez, a tourist, was stunned by their size. "This is something that you just don't see every day, or even every year. You do see lily pads all the time but not so many. And not so enormous! Some are 2m wide," he said.

Locals use the aquatic plant to make a medicinal tea that they believe can help combat asthma and bronchial disorders, but the authorities have warned that those who try to harvest it could be fined.