The totoaba fish, a native of Mexico -whose crop is believed to have aphrodisiac powers and medicinal – generates huge profits in China. A kilo is paid $ 500 and sold to 60 thousand. In the asian market, the rhino horn worth more than cocaine. African governments( south Africa, Zimbabwe) decided to cortárselos all the copies for that not to continue killing. On another scale, in Argentina, the beautiful cardinal yellow five times the size of its price between their place of capture and sale.
Marketing outside of the law of these protected species are placed at risk of extinction. It is not known exactly how much money generated by the illegal traffic of fauna, but it is estimated to reach $ 20 billion a year. It is among the illegal activities more profitable.
«It is a million dollar business in which the most visible is not necessarily the most important,» says Claudio Bertonatti, of the Fundación Azara. «We are accustomed to seeing in the popular markets sale of live animals, and from there they direct the operational, because there it is illegal is in the stained-glass window. However, the most serious is below the ground. There is a large market that has as protagonists the importers and exporters who have, with the complicity of public offices such as the Customs or border posts».
When it intercepts a shipment of birds or other species, in a truck or plane, when viewing the images of the seized, a question arises: how is it possible that you spend hundreds of animals that no-one has seen and heard? «Is that there is corruption in the public sphere,» he insists Bertonatti.
The reality seems to give the reason. Last April, a procedure in the city of la Plata gave with 300 exotic birds in the two premises, one of them the property of the veterinarian Carlos Outumuro and Vazquez, former director of Wildlife of the Nation and veterinarian. The Directorate of Fauna of the province, with prosecutors and police, raided and kidnapped birds of high value.
Drug and animals
It is believed that the wildlife smuggler is a specialist, but it is not so. «So today, trafficked animals does not make you disgusting to other illegal trades. Sometimes there are shipments mixed of fauna and drugs. It is very common, some traffickers put drugs inside of pythons live, and both the sale of the pythons as the drugs are illegal» , points out the expert.
His experience in international congresses are striking similarities between the trafficking of drugs and wildlife. The traffickers pay bribes to officials, press judges, used planes and circuits secrets. What are then a mafia? «No, because the notion of mafia implies a territorial dominion, but there were cases in which two or more persons from two or more countries associated themselves deliberately to violate laws. Not only the laws protecting animals, but that they falsify documentation, and violate the customs code » lists.
Another feature of the illegal trade in species is that the profit margins are high, because the cost of production there is: the supplier is the nature. The illegal traders are paid to those who capture or hunt. They are the first link in the chain. «People who are poor and will remain poor for two reasons. Because they are paid little and because when rare species have to spend more time to get the same amount of animals,» he laments Bertonatti. The lack of scruples is the norm. «When african countries decided to make the effort and investment to cut off the horns of rhinos in order to preserve their lives, the traffickers gave the order to continue killing them because having less animals, raise the price».
Why are there dwindling numbers of species? What is the illegal trafficking of species, the main culprit? The naturalist denies this and points to an environmental crisis, which is related to the expansion of the agricultural frontier of the hand of the soybean, the use of glyphosate and the illegal trade of the wood also causes deforestation. «Nature is being bombarded by a lot of assaults, the species have no where to live. The traffic is as a sniper. The other thing, are dropping bombs and destroy everything…»
The northern borders are the hottest in when the illegal trade. There is a lack of understanding of from where and to where they are going with the flows but there is a deficit of control. «This is not something that is unique to this government, nor the previous. It is a chronic evil», diagnosed Bertonatti. «There’s even interest in bringing reliable statistics. The illegal trade exists is not something that is politically convenient to recognize.»
In a traffic report, we were able to establish that they were seized 7500 live animals and dead in 2016.
Not everything is illegal
Sebastian Fusco is a naturalist, member of the Argentine Network against the Traffic of Wild Species, which coincides in large part with the vision of Bertonatti, and provides data. «There are animals that are legal. I disagree ethically, but hedgehogs african, ferrets of the united States, a good number of snakes, lizards can be pets if you have the roles of importers in good standing and are not in danger of extinction. The canaries are a clear example of a species created to live in captivity can not survive in freedom,» he says.
With the snakes, the birds are the most trafficked. The traffic of birds, creates serious problems. «Are crammed together in the transport, suffering from stress, they get sick (usually of psittacosis), and only a part of them survives, even if they evade the law and come to a family home,» says Fusco . An extreme case is reflected in the daily el País. In the airport of Barajas is intercepted in February last 120 birds from Mexico hidden in 4 suitcases. They had killed 52, by asphyxiation.
The release of species, a product of operating, even if it is done after a quarantine is also a problem. Some scholars believe that when it comes to non-native animals is inadvisable, because it can generate an imbalance of the environment and lack of suitable habitat.
The yellow cardinal is one of the birds most sought-after for its song, and is in danger of extinction. Also goldfinches, mistos, parrots, parakeets, macaws. The victims are usually the small birds that are colorful or those that have vocalizations attractants.
There is No law in the city
In his downtown office, Blas Michienzi, in charge of the office of the Prosecutor of the environment of the city of Buenos Aires, he does what he can. «I am not competent in the Law on Fauna, I encroach a little to be in the city. It is only the Act of Abuse that we can use here and lto penalty is very low, of only one year. However, I don’t think that we should stop».
The attorney you come up with creative ways to circumvent the barrier while waiting for the legal framework to become more favourable and there is a specific law in the capital. «The sale on the public road is illegal. Can’t sell anything on public road without authorisation. Work with the code contravencional, for us it is the same pen as a bird. It is a generic tool. We can claim that we find an animal subjected to cruel treatment, for example because you do not have food due. But a judge can consider that no offence, thing that already happened to us, » he said.
Until last year, there were four prosecutors ‘ offices with jurisdiction environmental. Now, there is only one. But Michienzi don’t complain, and he looks enthusiastic.
«The yellow cardinals kidnapped in procedures will a special program in Temaiken. Them a treatment, it is analyzed what specific class they belong because there are different areas and from that are reintroduced to their environment, in coordination with the Directorate of Fauna and National Parks. Incorporates a small crawler. There is also an agreement with the Fundacion Azara», describes.
All rescued animals are released after a quarantine time that assumes that you already are not a risk to the salutes of the population. «Other countries have a tough policy, as the united States. Detected Animal in traffic, it kills, because it is considered a danger.»
The prosecution was able to neutralize a place where it is traditionally sold animals victims of trafficking, the Fair of Pompeii. There were jobs in the village, where we not only offered birds, but cats, snakes, and turtles, nor can they be placed on the market. Today it is not a concern. «Even painted a mural on the wall of the exhibition with the Association of Argentine Birds where you are encouraged to not buy wild animals. Attended by more than 200 people, and you can see anyone going there with an interest of buying something forbidden,» he says.
A final solution
The social networks became a new platform for the traffic. In Facebook you can find about 60 groups, some with more than 10 thousand members, where you buy and sell protected species. Up until now, has not had success in the efforts for the company to remove the postings that facilitate those operations prohibited. «From the RACTES you contacted them letting them know that allowing this are accomplices to the violation of various national laws and international treaties. His answer was evasive and without even a signature of a responsible person,» says Fusco. There are other efforts to curb this phenomena: the Fundación Azara has a computer that monitors ad honorem the appearance of offers drawbacks.
How do you end up with the problem of traffic definitely? To Bertonatti, doing so requires making movements in the form of clamp. «One attack to the offer and other than raise awareness to the demand. As in the trafficking of persons for the purposes of sexual exploitation, without customers there is no try, «he says.
«And on the other hand, it is necessary to state this in the environmental sphere. Can not be that you have not even a single season recovery of fauna state in the entire country and that all falls on non-governmental organizations «, shoot.
Where you can make a complaint on traffic in animals?
The UFIMA, Fiscal Unity in Environmental Matters, has a toll-free number: 0800-333-47225 (24 hours a day). Please call with as much data as possible.
You can also zoom in to any Complaints Centre of the City.
The Federal Police has a department of Environmental Crimes. (011) 4383-9586 / 4381-3110 : [email protected]
Another alternative is to write to [email protected]