Wildlife Under Threat: Traffickers Target Colombia’s Vital Fauna

Latin America

Colombia is one of the world’s most biodiverse countries, home to some 1,800 species of birds, 600 species of amphibians, 500 species of reptiles and 3,200 species of fish. Unfortunately, this breadth of fauna also makes the Andean nation a hotspot for the wildlife trade.

Coveted as pets, meat or medicinal products, animals commonly trafficked include parrots, tortoises, venomous frogs, monkeys, and sloths.

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InSight Crime has teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) to study the criminal activities driving deforestation, forest degradation and biodiversity loss in Colombia. The project — titled “Transparent Governance of Natural Resources” and funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) — maps wildlife trafficking in the Amazon and Pacific regions, both rich in biodiversity.

SEE ALSO: Colombia Investigation Reveals Workings of Wildlife Traffickers

Also partnering on the project are Transparency for Colombia (Transparencia por Colombia), a branch of Transparency International, and the Foundation for Conservation and Sustainable Development (Fundación para la Conservación y el Desarrollo Sostenible – FCDS), a conservation organization focused on Colombia’s Amazon region.

While rural and Indigenous people are sometimes lured into poaching or do so for sustenance, criminal networks profit from the illegal trade in wildlife. Between 2008 and 2013, endangered species seized by Colombian authorities had a commercial value of more 108,000 million pesos, or about $29 million. Animal trafficking is largely facilitated by corruption and lax enforcement. Smugglers often rely on the falsification of documents to move animals or wildlife products under the guise of legal exports.

This video explores the factors fueling the trafficking of Colombian wildlife and reveals the animals at greatest risk of being ensnared in the trade, and it also shares what can be done to combat it.

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