Lizard traffickers exploit legal loopholes to trade at world’s biggest fair

Precious but endangered lizards are a lucrative new cargo for German smugglers, ahead of an international attempt to outlaw their trade Wildlife traffickers are exploiting a legal grey area to trade in highly lucrative protected lizard species at…


GR:  At times it seems that humans strive to exploit every possible means to damage nature.  I guess there will always be criminals among us, and as our population continues to swell, their numbers will increase.  Instead of traffic cams where we catch mistakes and small crimes, we should place monitors out in the woods to catch the wildlife thieves.

Mexico’s Parrot Trade Exposed

“No photos!” she yells in Spanish. “Don’t take photos! Get out of here!” Arms flailing and menace in her eyes, the woman charges me from behind a pile of cages. I heard her husband say something about giving her a cuchillo—a knife.

I back away slowly.

We are in Xochimilco, a lively, outdoor market in Mexico City, where this woman is running a puesto, or stand for selling animals. She has stacks of animals in cages all around her, like walls of living creatures. In her cages are yellow-cheeked Amazons and orange-fronted parakeets—native Mexican parrots, caught in the wild. She doesn’t want me to photograph them because they are illegal.  From:

GR:  More on the illegal parrot trade.


Mexico has big role in the illegal parrot trade

“Several species have seen their populations crash to the point of being critically endangered due to the enormous illegal extraction from the wild,” says Juan Carlos Cantu, Director of Defenders of Wildlife’s Mexico office. “If the trade is not stopped, several species will disappear from the wild in the next 10 to 20 years.”

Defenders of Wildlife documented this threat in a 2007 landmark study which found between 65,000 and 78,500 parrots are illegally trapped in the wild in Mexico every year.

While thousands of these parrots are smuggled across the border into the United States, the study uncovered that about 90 percent of illegally trapped Mexican parrots are actually destined for Mexico’s domestic market. This is a big shift from the 1980s, when smugglers illegally brought 150,000 Mexican parrots into the United States each year. With stronger laws and enforcement, that number has declined to about 9,400 parrots. At the same time, Mexico’s domestic market has expanded, with the majority of illegally caught Mexican parrots supplying domestic demand. The past 10 years has also seen an explosion in smuggling of exotic parrot species into Mexico. Currently, over 100,000 illegally enter Mexico from South and Central America annually.”  From:

GR:  The number of parrots illegally captured each year is simply staggering.

Nature News Digests

GarryRogersNature News Digests:

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.

Extinction Resources: Information, Opinion, Ideas, & Questions

Extinction Information Resources


Passenger Pigeon

Stopping human-caused extinction of Earth’s plant and animal species is the greatest challenge of our time. This post provides access to the latest articles on extinction. The first item (Ceballos et al. 2015) is the latest detailed report on what we know and how we acquired the information.

 Ceballos, Gerardo, Paul R. Ehrlich, Anthony D. Barnosky, Andrés García, Robert M. Pringle, and Todd M. Palmer. 19 June 2015. Accelerated modern human–induced species losses: Entering the sixth mass extinction. Science Advances Vol. 1, no. 5 (e1400253, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1400253). Corresponding author. E-mail:

More than a thousand recent articles are linked to my blog (

Causes of Extinction

My blog covers the things that people do to cause extinctions and reduce biodiversity. These deeds of ours are woven into individual and our collective habits and beliefs. Stopping them will alter our society and our culture. It will be difficult. Our population must be reduced, our food choices must change, and our resource harvest must decline. Nothing less will succeed. Search the blog using the following terms for recent reports:  Burning, Coal, Construction, Deforestation, Desertification, Energy, Farming, Fishing, Fracking, Grazing, Hunting, Invasive Species, Logging, Mining, Oil, Pesticides, Pet Trade, Pollution, Population, Roads, and Soil.

Climate change will become the major cause of extinction.  Here’s its search link on my blog:  Climate Change.

For more reading, my Internet newsletters include a wider variety of articles than my blog.

Deadly Traffic: The U.S. Plays an Unwitting Role in Illegal Wildlife Trade

Today is World Wildlife Day – a day created by the United Nations to celebrate the beautiful and varied wild creatures valued by people worldwide. But this day also reminds us of the global threat the illegal wildlife trade poses to these animals.


GR:  Birds, butterflies, lizards, turtles, and more: They’re all victims of capture for body parts or for exhibition. Lizards and turtles, for instance, are easily captured and rarely survive the experience.

Applaud Efforts to Combat Wildlife Trafficking

Target: Juliana Machada Ferreira, Wildlife Conservationist
Goal: Thank Ms. Machada Ferreira for working to stop the illegal poaching and trafficking of wild animals.
In Brazil, wildlife trafficking is a two-million-dollar industry. Every year one hundred and eighty million animals are taken from the ecosystems of Brazil to satisfy the demand for exotic pets both in Brazil and around the world. Most of the animals that are poached are birds like wild songbirds, macaws, and parrots. Yet, conservationists face a serious challenge in that keeping an exotic bird as a pet in Brazil and many places in the world is a deeply rooted cultural norm. Thankfully, conservationist Juliana Machada Ferreira is working to educate consumers on the ecological impact of their choices and bring wildlife trafficking to an end  Source:

GR:  People must come to understand that many of the animals for sale in pet stores and on display in circuses and zoos were stolen from their native homes.  Some of the most beautiful and most trusting species have been devastated for human entertainment.  Please help.

Parrots Over Puerto Rico: An Illustrated Children’s Book Celebrating the Spirit of Conservation

GR:  Will the Puerto Rican parrot survive?  It is the only remaining native parrot in Puerto Rico.  Parrots of the region began disappearing in the 1700’s due to logging, farming, and pet collecting.  The species’ prospects have improved, but the World Conservation Union still lists it as critically endangered. In 2012, there were only 58–80 individuals in the wild and 300 individuals in captivity. Considering the numbers that persist, I wondered if conservation efforts over the past 40 years have done enough.

This blog post from Brain Pickings describes the species’ step back from the brink of extinction.

“Most children’s books are full of animals — as protagonists, as pets, as age-old standbys in fairy tales and alphabet primers alike. But, as Jon Mooallem poignantly observed in his bittersweet love letter to wildlife, by the time each generation of children grows up, countless species of animals that roamed Earth during their childhood have gone extinct — today, scientists estimate that one species ceases to exist every twenty minutes. Perhaps whatever chance we have of reversing this tragedy lies in translating our children’s inherent love of animal characters into a tangible grown-up love of animal species, the kind of love that protects them from growing extinct, preserves their natural habitat, and honors the complex dynamics of ecosystems.”


Keep Large Constrictor Snakes Out of the Pet Trade

In 2010, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) proposed listing nine large constrictor snakes as injurious under the Lacey Act, which would significantly reduce the trade of these species as pets. However, in January 2012, only four of the nine species were listed. USFWS is still considering the remaining five species of snakes for listing and is soliciting public comments on the matter.

Large constrictor snakes have become established in parts of Florida and are consuming native wildlife, including endangered and threatened species. Scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey concluded that all nine species of these large constrictor snakes present a “high” or “medium” risk of becoming invasive.


GR:  Express yourself.  Sign the Humane Society’s petition.

Learn about Arizona snakes.