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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 September 2005, 17:08 GMT 18:08 UK
Microchips save rare tree ferns
Tasmanian tree fern
The ferns were left in a lane in the south of the island
Two rare and expensive tree ferns stolen from a botanical gardens have been returned after thieves realised they contained traceable microchips.

Officials at the Ventnor Botanic Gardens on the Isle of Wight had a vet implant chips into the 9ft Tasmanian ferns when they first arrived.

After this was made public the thieves dumped the plants in a lane in Godshill, in the south of the Island.

A palm that was stolen at the same time has not been recovered.

Public space

"A vet friend of mine suggested it," curator Simon Goodenough told the BBC news website.

He said the chips were embedded deep in the ferns, and would have been very difficult to remove without severely damaging the plants.

"We do suffer from theft as we're a public open space.

"The ferns cost about 300 each - so it was worth a 10 microchip to get them back."

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