A recent study shows that millions of birds, tropical fish, turtles, and mammals – mostly endangered species, are plucked from the Amazon forest in Brazil and traded domestically or exported to the United States, China, Middle East, and somewhere else across the globe.
Non-government organization TRAFFIC, the Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network, recently released a report on Monday about the millions of wildlife species being trafficked and sold as pets.
Tiny, iridescent blue and red cardinal tetra found in Amazon is often placed in home aquariums. One of the world’s largest freshwater fish, the Arapaima fish or pirarucu, are caught illegally and shipped to the US in large numbers. Others, such as freshwater turtles and their eggs are sold in Brazil as bushmeat, while Jaguar teeth, heads and skins are shipped to China.
“The pervasive and uncontrolled capture of wild animals and plants for the illegal trade is having grave consequences for Brazilian biodiversity, the national economy, the rule of law and good governance,” TRAFFIC stated in their report.
Biodiversity consultant Sandra Charity and executive director of nonprofit conservation group Freeland Brasil, Juliana Ferreira, wrote a 140-page study on the Amazon rainforest species.
They found that few government agencies have kept records that quantify the true scope of the problem. Records did not identify the species or number of animals seized by authorities.
“Significant seizures are made on a daily basis by Amazon state law enforcement, and we did not have access to their data,” Ferreria said. “From what we saw, [the illegal trade] is even bigger than we imagined.”
The study warns that the illegal trade is having serious consequences, not just for the animals seized, but also for its entire species, ecosystems, and people around the world. For example, the current coronavirus pandemic that jumped from wildlife to humans is a great reminder that the wild animals trafficking is not just a conservation issue, rather, it is both a public health issue and a biosafety issue.