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Charity calls for immediate closure of “epicentre of illegal wildlife trafficking in Peru”

Press Release. 1.05.15

For immediate release 

This week, Peruvian-based conservation charity, Neotropical Primate Conservation (NPC), called for legal action to be taken against the Municipality of Coronel Portillo in the Ucyalli region of Peru for its alleged complicity in the illegal trade in wildlife. The Bellavista Municipal Market which is run by the municipality is, according to Dr Noga Shanee of NPC, “the epicentre of illegal wildlife trafficking in Peru”, with hundreds of animals sold there illegally every day as either pets or as bush meat.

The region of Ucayali is known internationally as one of the regions with the highest rates of wildlife trafficking in Peru and South America. Because of its strategic location, it serves as a storage centre for wildlife captured from the forests surrounding from Ucayali itself, as well as from the region of Loreto and parts of Brazil. Animals brought to Ucayali are then later smuggled to Lima, the coast and abroad. Bellavista market is one of the principle illegal wildlife markets in Peru with animals being sold “wholesale” to illegal traffickers.

Dr Shanee said:

“The extent of illegal wildlife trafficking in this area of Peru is not only causing immense suffering to the individual animals involved, but is decimating wild populations; threatening to put some species of animal at risk of extinction if left unchecked. Wildlife trafficking is an offence in Peru under Article 308 of the Penal Code yet, and I cannot make this point strongly enough, Bellavista is not a private market run illicitly by traffickers, but a public market run by the Peruvian authorities. It is imperative that the municipality ends its complicity in the illegal trade in wildlife and if it requires legal action being taken against the municipality itself to achieve this end, then we intend to see that it happens”.

Animals captured to feed the demand for the illegal trade in wildlife as pets are usually babies and, in order to collect the infants, the mothers and other members of the group are often killed in the process. It is common to see young animals sitting next to the carcasses of the dead family members, whose bodies will be sold as meat in the market. In the dustbins of the Bellavista market it is common to find bodies of the dead wild animals who perished from stress, hunger, sickness and the generally poor conditions in which they are kept prior to sale. It is estimated that for every animal that survives to become a pet, at least ten others have died in the process. Not only this, but keeping wild animals (both dead and alive) in the same area as fruits, vegetables and meat for human consumption also presents serious public health risks.

A detailed report, outlining the concerns surrounding Bellavista Market has been handed to the office of the Public Prosecutor for the Prevention of Crime, with a demand that action is taken to bring an end to the cruel and illegal trade in wildlife from the site.

A copy of the report can be downloaded here

Dr Shanee thanked the National Forestry and Wildlife Service (SERFOR) and Alvaro Anicama Gonzales, director for ‘the control of forestry and wildlife use’ for their help in the campaign to close this illegal wildlife market.


Notes for Editors

  • Photos available on request
  • Interviews available on request
  • For more information write to:  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



 Bellavista wildlife market. Photo: Noga Shanee/NPC

Bellavista wildlife market. Photo: Noga Shanee

Bellavista wildlife market. Photo: NPC

NPC Newsletter Vol. 31

Click here to download our latest newsletter volume 31 for April 2015.

Vish the sloth. Photo: Noga Shanee/NPC

Conservationists and Peruvian villagers join forces to save endangered monkey

For immediate release

New research shows a critically endangered species of monkey is flourishing thanks to the combined efforts of local communities and a conservation charity in Peru.

Neotropical Primate Conservation (NPC) began working with farming communities in Yambrasbamba to protect the yellow tailed woolly monkey in 2007.

The innovative projects, which include voluntary pledges by local villagers to control hunting and forest clearance, have proved a success with a growth in the monkey population and significant increases seen in infants.

Dr Sam Shanee, of Neotropical Primate Conservation said: “The idea of our work, and community conservation as a whole, is that protecting the environment isn't something that only governments and big NGO's can do, it is something that benefits all people and is within reach of all people”. 

The yellow tailed woolly monkey has been listed as one of the world’s 25 most threatened primate species and there are thought to be only thousands left in the wild.

Deforestation, commercial and subsistence hunting, the pet trade, local development and resource exploitation have all contributed to its demise.

The research also showed that while deforestation was still occurring in the area, it was happening at a lower rate than the regional and national averages.

Dr Shanee said the cause of deforestation and biodiversity loss was often blamed on local people who were portrayed as the “bad guys”.

He said: “What we continue to find is that with effective discussion of the importance of forests and wildlife many local people not only understand the need for conservation but also become great conservationists leading their communities and, as seen in this study, succeeding in protecting some of the most threatened species and habitats through simple cost effective solutions where many larger projects/institutions have failed”.

The success of the project has prompted the charity to call on other conservation practitioners to involve local communities in their work.

“Our results provide compelling evidence that Community Conservation projects can be successful in highly populated areas, and we urge conservation practitioners to involve local actors when planning and implementing initiatives” they said.


Notes for Editors

  • Photos available on request
  • Interviews available on request
  • The full publication can be found here:
  • For more information write to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Wild yellow-talied woolly monkey in Yambrasbamba. Photo: Sam Shanee/NPC


Wild yellow-talied woolly monkey in Yambrasbamba. Photo: Andrew Walsmley/NPC

Infant lagothrix flavicauda rescued from ilegal trade. Photo: Noga Shanee/NPC

Two new scientific publications

Lagothrix flavicauda in La Esperanza. Photo: NPCOur latest paper on the yellow tailed woolly monkey (Lagothrix flavicauda) examines the impact of our work, and community conservation as a whole, from a biological perspective. The results of this study show a reduction in deforestation rates and an increase in population size of the yellow tailed woolly monkey at our La Esperanza study site. These were achieved through educating people about the species and importance of forests, showing that protecting the environment isn't something that only governments and big NGO's can do What we continue to find is that with simple explanations local people not only understand the need for conservation but also become great conservationists.
The article can be found here:
The Peruvian night monkey (Aotus miconax) is one of the least known of all primate species and is often overlooked by conservationists as they are not as visible as other species. What we found in this study is that they are hunted in quite large numbers and face the same pressures from habitat loss as other wildlife. The most poistive result of this study is that we were able to find this species still surviving in some of the most deforested and heavily populated areas. Meaning that at least in some cases it can survive alongside humans, with simple precautions like planting living fences between fields and educating people, especially children, not to disturb the nests of this species and not to keep them as pets we are hopefully that the Peruvian night monkey will survive.
Download the article here:

Short and successful campaign

Buena noticia, Ayer en la noche nos hemos enterado que la Administración Técnica Forestal y de Fauna Silvestre de Cajamarca está invitando a la gente de Cajamarca a registrar los animales silvestres que ellos mantengan como mascotas. Esta iniciativa nos pareció muy extraña, porque es contradictorio a las leyes Peruanas y a las políticas del Servicio Nacional Forestal y de Fauna Silvestre (SERFOR). Obviamente que estamos completamente contra la legitimización de la tenencia fauna silvestre conociendo los muy graves efectos de este tráfico a las poblaciones silvestres y al bienestar de los animales mantenidos en cautiverio, y así es que hemos sacado una pequeña y rápida campaña en las redes sociales y contactamos al SERFOR para entender lo que esta pasando y para pronunciar esta iniciativa. Estuvimos muy felices al ver que muchas otras ONGs de conservación y derecho de animales se nos unieron en esta campaña. Comunicando con SERFOR nos hemos enterado que ésta acción fue una iniciativa propia de la ATFFS de Cajamarca y no fue coordinado previamente con SERFOR, que como nosotros estaban en contra de ella. Felicitamos y agradecemos a Jessica Galvez y Mirbel Epiquien de SERFOR por su rápida y correcta acción en comunicar con la ATFFS de Cajamarca a primera hora del día de hoy y exigir la cancelación de esta dañina iniciativa.

An official complaint about the Colombian company "On Vacation"

A child with a young sloth offered for pictures. This week we made an official complaint to the Environmental Public Prosecutor’s office about the Colombian tourism company "On Vacation" who are trafficking Peruvian animals to Colombia. The company has two hotels, one in Puerto Alegria, Peru and another in Leticia, Colombia; both hotels have captive wild animals including many protected and endangered species such as manatees, woolly monkeys and matamata turtles. It is estimated that in the Colombian side there are over a hundred animals. According to interviews with workers all have been illegally exported from Peru to Colombia. The company is also carrying tourists (200-500 people a day) to an Association for Women in Puerto Alegria where tourists take pictures with wild animals extracted from the forest for the sole purpose of attracting tourists. Many children are exploited in this business which is also against Peruvian law.

Other violations found in our research are that the hotel on the Peruvian side of the border is built entirely of illegally harvested wood, and that the waste of these 200-500 tourists a day, which consists mostly of non-degradable materials, are dumped directly into the river daily. We hope that the authorities take this complaint seriously and act with all seriousness and to the full extant of the law to stop these activities which are so damaging to the environment and to Peruvian wildlife. We would like to thank the informants for their important and thorough research that will hopefully bring justice to these animals.

This complaint is part of our ongoing campaign collecting tip- offs about fauna in captivity from concerned members of the public and working with the wildlife authorities towards their rescue. If you know of any cases of wildlife trafficking in Peru, please let us know by mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


A child with a young caiman offered for pictures.

NPC Newsletter Vol. 30

Click here to download our latest newsletter volume 30 for January 2015.

Callicebus oenenthe rescued by NPC. Foto: Noga Shanee


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.

Click here to download

 NPC - End of Year Report 2014



Press Release - Peruvian Protected Species Sold for Torture in Asia

Yellow spotted river turtles stored before shipping

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: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Dr. Noga Shanee, Neotropical Primate Conservation (NPC)


More Articles...

  1. Three circus monkeys rescued in Lima; more wild animals remain in Peruvian circuses
  2. Great news for the Gran Simachache reserve!
  3. NPC Newsletter Vol 29
  4. Mongabay covers our work: Local people are not the enemy!

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