End of Year Report 2014
We are pleased to present NPC's annual report, which highlights our most important achievements of 2014. From important studies on the ecology of Peru's endemic primate species, to the continued success and expansion of our Community Based Conservation Network, to an intensified focus on battling the illegal trafficking of Peru's amazing and often threatened fauna, it has been a very busy year! We hope you will enjoy learning more about it.
Press Release - Peruvian Protected Species Sold for Torture in Asia
Hundreds of thousands of baby yellow-spotted river turtles, born and caught in the Pacaya Saimiria National Reserve, are being exported to Asia to supply the ‘exotic food’ and 'souvenirs' market. The animals, barely a few days old, are destined to be eaten or imprisoned within key chains as tacky fashion accessories until they eventually die, and all this with the permission of the Peruvian environmental authorities.
The key chains, made of transparent plastic and averaging 7-10 cm diameter, are half-filled with colored water. The turtles are encapsulated within the plastic and left with a small amount of food in the water, and this is where each animal is destined to see the end of its days, imprisoned and starving in torturous conditions, dangled on the end of a set of keys, until its slow death a few weeks later, when the owner will dump it in the trash and most likely go out and buy a new key ring. Clearly, this type of product serves no necessary purpose and caters to nothing other than a capricious desire to possess a keepsake, and a cruel one at that. This immoral use of wild animals was exposed several months ago by animal rights activists and conservationists and has provoked an international outcry, however the link to Peru as the provider of this unfortunate species has only recently been exposed.
The yellow-spotted river turtle (Podocnemis unifilis) is an endangered species protected under Peruvian national legislation and the CITES convention. The Peruvian project whereby artificial beaches are created for the turtles, is a source of national pride and is showcased as an example of sustainable community management of natural resources, establishing an annual quota for the use of the 294,000 live young. However as yet no real study of how the exploitation of these threatened turtles affects the populations of the species has been carried out, nor have the effects of the project been assessed on a local socio-economic level, to see to what extent the people involved are actually benefitting. Previous research suggests, however, that most of the profits only make it as far as lining the pockets of middlemen and do not reach the communities who are actually investing the effort and money in participating in the program, reaping little of the final reward.
One known fact is that the Peruvian government has authorized exportation of the turtles originating from the community-managed Pacaya Samiria reserve to the company Tropical Fish Farm Aquarium SRL and Aquatrade, the former being known for previous offenses in the trafficking of wild animals. These companies, which export principally to Asia, are said to have been exporting larger quantities than the amounts declared on their permits, as was detected recently by Lufthansa, the airline employed to transport them. This occurs because the amounts and possibly the species, are not being adequately regulated, therefore leaving an open door for higher numbers of animals as well as non-permitted species to embark.
Around 290,000 turtles of only a few days old, obtained principally from the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve were legally exported in 2014. Obviously these figures do not take into account mortality rates after leaving their origin, during inspection and technical controls and during transport. Nor do they take into account that many of the baby turtles bred or captured for sale fail to enter legal shipments for export, much less the amounts that are destined for the national market. There is evidence that people continue to catch and sell the turtles illegally, possibly using approved documentation for laundering purposes, enabling them to surpass the permissible quotas for these species and thus greatly exceeding the numbers of animals being recorded by the government as part of this "successful” community management project. There is no evidence that this project is sustainable from either an environmental or social viewpoint.
We therefore demand that the national and regional environmental authorities of Loreto immediately retract all permits for trading and exporting these turtles until in-depth investigations are carried out on the feasibility, sustainability and legality of the project. For more information write to:
Dr. Noga Shanee, Neotropical Primate Conservation (NPC)
Three circus monkeys rescued in Lima; more wild animals remain in Peruvian circuses
Last week in Lima, Peruvian authorities confiscated two endangered spider monkeys and a capuchin monkey from a circus. NPC worked with the authorities, providing information obtained through our ongoing “DenunciaFauna” media campaign, which asks people from all over Peru to tell us what they know about illegally kept wildlife. This particular circus has been known to NPC for some time. With the help of many concerned local people, we found that it has been appearing regularly in different parts of Lima each weekend. Forty eight hours after receiving the last DenunciaFauna tip, a joint operation of authorities, headed by the environmental public prosecutor Arturo Rosales Criollo, led to the three monkeys’ rescue. We have already transported these animals to rescue centers in the Peruvian lowlands, and are thankful to all of the authorities, vets and informants involved in this excellent operation. We wish these beautiful and endangered monkeys a lot of luck, tranquility and happiness in their new forever homes.
With this rescue in mind, we are concerned by recent reports by NGO Animal Defenders International (ADI), which make the repeated claim that, following their work in the country last year, Peru’s circuses have now been “emptied” of wild animals. While we wish that this was true, last week’s rescue, along with our knowledge of a number other Peruvian circuses that have been and are still operating with wild animals, belie this blanket statement.
Claims of this sort are irresponsible, as they are extremely damaging to organizations working long-term in Peru to eradicate wildlife trade and suffering. Moreover, the claims have the potential to place animals in danger by effectively denying their existence and thus limiting international contributions towards the implementation and long-term maintenance of real change.
We were further concerned to see posts on social media in recent months which saw ADI calling on supporters to help raise $10,000 for the temporary accommodation and transport of one spider monkey across Peru to a rescue centre. In the meantime, the transport of the three monkeys rescued this week to their new homes, including the voluntary services of a veterinary escort, cost NPC about $100.
Whilst the rescue and transportation of large carnivores, such as lions and tigers, to international destinations is undoubtedly a hugely costly activity – and ADI have admirably ensured that a number of big cats have been moved from Peruvian circuses to overseas sanctuaries - there are a number of local groups very well placed to deal with rescued native wildlife at a fraction of the cost of the $10,000 cited by ADI for the rescue of the spider monkey, Pepe. We would encourage ADI, and any other international NGO seeking to tackle a problem such as this on a national scale, to work with local groups in the future in order to see the best outcome for the animals in the most cost-effective way possible.
To read ADI’s recent publications: https://www.facebook.com/AnimalDefenders/photos/a.169945149357.155327.75101244357/10153373315764358/?type=1&theater
Visit NPC’s Facebook page:
Great news for the Gran Simachache reserve!
This week, after years of hard work, the “Farmers’ Association for the Conservation of the Natural Forests of Simacache” finally signed the contract with the Regional Government of San Martin to administer the 41,000 ha El Gran Simacache Conservation Concession for the next 40 years.
El Gran Simacache is the home of a healthy and dense population of the Critically Endangered Andean titi monkey (Callicebus oenanthe), one of the World’s 25 most threatened primate species. On our last visits to the area we also found tufted capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella), Black-headed owl monkeys (Aotus nigriceps), red howler monkeys (Alouatta seniculus) and little, beautiful pygmy marmosets (Cebuella pygmaea) the world’s smallest monkey species, as well as a great abundance of tapirs, jaguars and deer. Other primates that inhabit this area are the endemic Andean night monkey (Aotus miconax), the Endangered white bellied spider monkey, (Ateles Belzebuth), white fronted capuchin (Cebus albifrons) and squirrel monkeys (saimiri sp.).
NPC had been helping the association with the technical and legal aspects of the reserve creation and are now supporting them in maintaining it. Gran Simacache is the biggest, locally run reserve we have helped create to date and its maintenance and protection are a big challenge for the association and for us. The association members have put a lot of their own time, money and effort into their dream to have this special area protected. They have suffered a lot of pressure from land invaders and hunters that illegally enter the area and has resulted in death threats and even the temporary kidnapping and assault of 6 of the association members, events which have only made the group even more determined to fight for their forests.
Two weeks ago we visited 5 of the villages around the Gran Simacache reserve for environmental education sessions with adults and children, and were happy to see that the situation has calmed a great deal, the communities are now accepting and congratulating the creation of the reserve and all promised to help in its vigilance. We are excited to see the great results the association has both in the formal registration of the reserve and in achieving this social acceptance and are proud to take part in such a successful and important project.
We are also grateful to Miguel Alva Reátegui and Marita Lozano from the Regional Environemntal Authority (ARA) of San Martin for their great dedication to conservation in San Martin in General and especially for their help in creating the Gran Simacache reserve.
NPC Newsletter Vol 29
Click here to download our latest newsletter volume 29 for October 2014.