The case of a spider monkey that, after being captured in the Colombian jungles, was trained to eat empanadas and drink soda, despite being considered one of the 25 most threatened primate species in the world, shows the terrible consequences of the millionaire business of illegal traffic of animals in the country.
According to the United Nations Organization (UN), the animal trade is the third most profitable illicit affair on the planet, with profits that could reach $ 26,000 million a year and overcome in that obscure classification only by traffic of drugs and concerns people.
In Colombia, many of whose citizens are unaware that there are 54,871 registered species of animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms that make this the second most biodiverse nation in the world, the situation is worrying.
Data from the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development indicate that in 2017, 23,605 animals were seized, many of which were taken from their habitat to be sold abroad.
The sad count of the 10 busiest Colombian species in the interior and outside the country include the turtle hicotea (Trachemys callirostris), the morrocoy tortoise (Chelonoides carbonaria), the iguana, the light brown parakeet ( Brotogeris jugularis) and the common lora (Amazona ochrocephala).
Also part of the infamous list are the cheetah parrot (Pionus menstruus), the squirrel (Notosciurus granatensis), the gray marmoset (Saguinus leucopus), the maicerous mico (Cebus albifrons) and the poisonous frogs (Dendrobatidae spp).
In Bogotá alone, between January and July of this year, "35 wildlife control operations were carried out in which 382 animals were recovered", actions that if added to those that are put forward daily in the city give a total of 3,600 people saved, Secretary of the Environment Óscar López told Efe.
Official figures show that between 2016 and so far in 2019, over 10,000 specimens in the capital have been recovered by the authorities.
Among these is the recent case of 32 coastal canaries (Sicalis flaveola) which, after being captured and locked up in cages, were forced to participate in singing competitions promoted through Facebook.
The operation, which was carried out at the end of July in a Gallic club in Bogotà, "was very surprising, since it entails a custom rooted in Colombia and Venezuela and shows our disinterest as human beings by other living beings to whom we deprive freedom and well-being only for our joy, "the official said.
Two years ago the case of a tiger cub "Leopardus pardalis" was known which, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), is in danger of extinction, but was found, malnourished, in a house Bogota.
After the intervention of the authorities, the cat was in recovery for over 20 months in the fauna centers of Bogotá and in the municipality of Victoria, in the department of Caldas (center).
The objective was "to stimulate their physical condition and to be able to hunt and behave normally in front of other individuals of their kind", said the director of the District Animal Protection and Welfare of Bogotà, Clara Lucía Sandoval .
Finally, in May of this year the tigrillo was ready to regain its freedom in the Bojonawi Nature Reserve, located in the jungle region of Vichada (east), where it arrived by plane and where it will be monitored by satellite for at least a year .
But not all the 6,700 animals that have been treated at the Wildlife Center in the capital since October 2017 have had the same "good luck" of that tiger.
"Some come in a terrible state of health, with dehydration, stress and malnutrition due to extreme conditions of captivity and traffic, since they put them in suitcases, cardboard boxes or plastic tubes," said Sandoval.
The official added that "many die and those who survive begin rehabilitation, which includes entrance exams, veterinary care, diets and recovery".
Although the intention is to return the animals to their habitat after being voluntarily handed over by their captors or seized primarily at El Dorado International Airport or at land transport terminals, sometimes the consequences are so serious never to return to the jungles or fields where they were stolen.
That suffering was suffered by 424 poisonous frogs seized last April in El Dorado, when a Colombian tried to take them to Brazil and then to take them to Europe on behalf of a German citizen.
X-rays were detected animals that traveled hidden in photographic rolls, four of which had died and which, despite being a species in "serious danger of extinction", were illegally stolen from the departments of Chocó, on the border with Panama, and Valle del Cauca (south-west).
That story was repeated this year also with 10 religious mantises and 12 red mangrove crabs that were to be sold in the United States and with 23 tarantulas that were expected in South Korea, among other unfortunate cases.
And, despite the fact that wildlife trafficking is an environmental crime in Colombia that can result in fines of up to 3.6 billion pesos (one million dollars) and imprisonment for up to nine years, criminals pay attention. I ignore the law .
Therefore, Sandoval stated that "the truth is that wildlife trafficking is not only a crime but an act of atrocious cruelty because of the way the species are captured and treated and probably never will be able to return to their homes. and with that they stop reproducing and the much admired biodiversity of Colombia is put at risk "
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