Trafficked tropical animals: the ghost exports of Venezuela

“Venezuela is losing at least 900,000 animals every year to the $320 million illegal wildlife trade.

“Among the birds sold to the pet trade are 50 species of New World parrot, parakeet and macaw endemic to Venezuela, along with American flamingoes and extremely rare red siskins.

“Patrolling the country’s porous 2,800-kilometer coastline and nearly 5,000 kilometer border with Colombia, Brazil and Guyana is a daunting task for law enforcers trying to stop clever wildlife traffickers.

“The hunters ransack the vulnerable nests of tropical birds in richly biodiverse but poorly patrolled Venezuelan rainforests. Wildlife merchants brazenly display young fledglings, monkeys and other animals, right next to main roads throughout the forest. Many captives will travel a difficult path — an exhausting, often fatal journey covering thousands of miles, cleverly hidden inside bags and luggage, passing through airports and seaports, bound for Europe and elsewhere. It is a lucrative, shadowy trade, involving at least 900,000 animals annually, earning more than 300 million dollars for the criminals plying it, from which the local rainforest hunter gleans barely a fistful of Bolivares.”

GR:  We need to tell our children that animals have traits far more interesting than just their shapes and colors.  In their natural homes, they use many strategies and techniques to build nests, attract mates, find food, and evade predators.

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