Traffickers target Colombia’s endangered species

In Colombia’s Amazon region alone, seven-million creatures every year are captured, smuggled out and sold abroad.

Parrots, toucans and macaws, the golden lion tamarin, marmosets, ocelots and margay cats, even baby alligators, are victims of a savage traffic. Large areas of jungle are stripped of every living thing.

The bigger animals are packed into boxes and often flown out on the same illegal flights used for smuggling cocaine because, as one animal trafficker said, pound for pound parrots pay better than drugs.

A report by the ministry of the Environment says that far more than half of the animals die on route.

And of course every one that is killed or taken from its habitat reduces the chances of an endangered species surviving.

On the list of animals whose trading is internationally banned are 49 Colombian species in serious danger of extinction, but enforcement of the international agreement is very weak.

There are hundreds of dazzlingly beautiful birds in Colombia, the rose-faced parrot, the russet-throated puff bird, a total of 1805 known species, more than any other country. But if the animal traffickers are not stopped, says the report, many will soon only be photographs in books.

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