Thursday, December 15, 2016

Wildlife for sale: An illegal activity out of control in Peru?

Wildlife for sale: An illegal activity out of control in Peru?
Peru has around 64 endangered animal species – some of them you can find smoked, barbecued or being butchered at Belen market, the riverine port of Iquitos, the largest city in the world which cannot be reached by road. Indigenous communities are allowed to hunt and eat wild game but selling the meat is prohibited. Yet old habits die hard in the labyrinthine streets of Belen market, where produce from the rainforest is docked via a network of Amazon tributaries. Slabs of meat from the endangered South American tapir (Tapirus terrestris) are stacked on folding tables while the cloven hooves of peccaries, or sajino (Pecari tajacu), or the paws of the agouti or picuro (Cuniculus paca), a large rodent, give away their origin. The protected motelo or yellow-footed tortoise (Chelonoidis denticulata) is openly butchered for the pot apparently while still alive.
Baby manatees in one of the pools of the Amazon Rescue Center. Photo by AndrĂ©s APDarwin Loja cares for the aquatic mammals, mostly Amazon manatees, at the Amazon Rescue Centre, near Iquitos, in Loreto. Most of the animals are orphans which still need to be fed milk to survive. These gentle aquatic herbivores are often used to adorn lagoons in people’s gardens. Again, the mother animals have usually been killed, eaten. Many children support our rescues because they see that their parents have a baby manatee in a pool or pond, says Loja. “The child says; “Dad, why do you have it there when you know that in Iquitos they care for them’. Thanks to the child the father thinks about it, calls us and we organize its rescue because he knows the baby can’t live without its mother.”

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