- BRASILIA, Brazil (Reuters)
- Criminals steal an estimated 38 million animals from Brazil's forests
each year, the first full report on animal trafficking in the country
- The report, produced by Brazil's National Network Against
the Trafficking of Wild Animals (RENCTAS), estimated that local traffickers
of endangered animals earn about $1 billion a year, causing untold losses
to the country's natural habitat.
- Flavia Morad, a RENCTAS biologist who helped produce
the report, said the survey was the first that combines all data on animal
trafficking in Brazil, a country with the largest number of animal and
plant species in the world.
- Apart from the Amazon, the world's largest tropical
Brazil's vast Pantanal wetlands are also home to countless animals and
- The report said that animal trafficking was the world's
third biggest cross-border criminal activity after arms and drugs
with annual global sales of up to $20 billion.
- The survey, which includes detailed maps of traffickers'
routes for their live cargoes of everything from rare parrots to deadly
snakes, said just 0.45 percent of the total amount of animals smuggled
each year are intercepted by police.
- ``There is the domestic and the foreign market,'' said
Morad. ''The foreign market is mainly for rare species.''
- Prices fetched abroad vary from $60,000 for a rare Lear's
Macaw parrot to $20,000 for a poisonous Jararaca snake. According to the
report, a Jaguar skin can be bought for $20,000 in the United
- Parrots and parakeets of all species can be bought
Brazil at town fairs and markets, usually taken illegally from their
habitats. Birds sold locally fetch between $5 to $100, while rare breeds
shipped abroad sell for much more.
- The government, which received a copy of the report,
said it was going to extend to other parts of the country an operation
underway in the state of Minas Gerais encouraging consumers not to buy
animals at street markets. Environment Minister Jose Sarney Filho said
the report would be a ``working tool'' for cracking down on this
- A government statement said that rising numbers of
animals being found by police before they are sold indicated that its
were working to clamp down on the problem. A statement showed the number
of animals found had risen to 61,182 in 2000, up from 23,100 in
- But the report warned that the animal smugglers are often
involved with other activities such as the drugs trade, indicating they
are not just amateur criminals.
- It said shipments of animals had even been used by drug
smugglers to get their wares past borders. In one case, cocaine was found
stuffed into live Boa constrictors being shipped abroad.
- Out of an estimated 400 criminal rings smuggling animals,
40 percent were involved in other criminal activities.
Site Served by TheHostPros