Peru, like many other biodiverse countries suffers from severe deficiencies in the function of its wildlife authorities. Scarce economic resources, lack of professional staff and high levels of corruption hinder efforts for efficient wildlife law enforcement and crime prevention.
In answer to the high levels of wildlife trafficking crimes many of these states follow the logic promoted by the US by opening new options for legal exploitation of wild animals. The two most common justifications for this are A) to make local people “love” nature by giving it economic value and B) saturate the market with legally harvested wildlife so people will not need to buy from illegal traffickers. Trophy hunting and commerce of endangered species from breeding centers or hunting concessions are some of the most common projects resulting from this logic. Peru is currently enthusiastically promoting all of these.
The problem with this logic is that in reality the absence of efficient authorities, absence of a proper scientific basis and research into illegal activities, high levels of corruption and the inequality in dividing profits, make these initiatives counterproductive; the sacrifice of animals legally exploited is added to the ones illegally hunted or traded and permits are often used to launder illegal trade. Also, the idea of saturating the market does not seem to work in reality, as it confuses the public; people see that their neighbors have animals legally and perches the same species, for lower process from traffickers. It also confuses the authorities who are rarely experts in wildlife identification and legalize wildlife bought illegally.
The best documented example for this misuse of legal permits for laundering illegal activities in Peru was in endangered timber investigated by the Environmental Investigation Agency. Recently I spoke with personnel from the Ecological Police of Pucallpa and was told about the illegal timer situation. I was informed that: “As illegal as the wood originally is, when it gets here to Pucallpa we already have it registered”. This shows how organized and efficient environmental crime is in Peru and how the traffickers use the inefficiencies and corruption of the authorities to hide their illegal activities inside the legal framework. We at NPC published a press release about the illegalities related to the authorized exploitation of Yellow-spotted Amazon River Turtles. We are now investigating very worrying illegal activities related to trophy hunting in Peru.
I call this kind of initiative “Lazy Conservation”, states do not make sufficient effort in to improving environmental authorities, they don’t invest in investigation or offer creative solutions to wildlife traffic, but they enthusiastically adopt philosophies of privatizing nature and let market forces control the future of wildlife, hoping things will get better by themselves. Now is a critical time for Peruvian fauna, deforestation and levels of wildlife traffic are continually rising and many species are on the verge of extinction. The new Forestry and Wildlife Law allows and promotes many schemes for wildlife exploitation. The efficiency of the authorities is not improving and in some areas is even worsening. The authorities are able to confiscate only a tiny fraction of wildlife traded and mostly intervene in cases of privately owned pets rather than the traffickers. If Peru wants to protect its fauna it should stop relaying on miraculous, superficial and irrational solutions and urgently put serious efforts into restructuring its wildlife authorities to allow sincere and profound solutions to wildlife crime.
Press release - Petition against trophy hunting of pumas
El Estado Peruano está considerando aprobar la caza deportiva de pumas. La idea es cazar pumas del coto de caza EL ANGOLO y posiblemente de otras Áreas Naturales Protegidas (ANPs), a cambio de un monto pagado al ANP.
Ayer entregamos al señor Pedro Gamboa, jefe del Servicio Nacional de Áreas Naturales Protegidas (SERNANP) la petición para que no apruebe la caza deportiva de pumas en Perú, detallando los problemas legales, ecológicos, sociales y morales relacionados con la caza deportiva.
La petición fue firmada por más de 3100 personas de Perú y del resto del mundo y la puedes ver aquí:
La carta con la que se presentó la petición se encuentra aquí:
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.
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
NPC Newsletter Vol. 31
Click here to download our latest newsletter volume 31 for April 2015.
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: http://tropicalconservationscience.mongabay.com/content/v8/tcs_v8i1_169-186_Shanee.pdf