Mexico: Tough times blamed for escalation in wild animal trafficking
30 Dec 2020

Wildlife protection officials are blaming hard economic times brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic for skyrocketing numbers in wild animal trafficking cases in 2020, as some people may be turning to the criminal activity to survive.

Between 2019 and 2020, the number of federally protected animals seized by the environmental protection agency Profepa rose 660%, although much of that increase was due to just three large raids by the agency this year.

“In 2019, Profepa confiscated [about] 5,000 protected species, and so far in 2020, in just three [raids], the number was almost 33,000,” said Ernesto Zazueta, president of the Association of Zoos, Breeders, and Aquariums (Azcarm), who is trying to get legislation passed to increase penalties for wildlife trafficking.

In a raid on November 26 in the Iztapalapa borough of Mexico City, authorities confiscated 15,000 animals of various species, many of them protected. The animals being housed in overcrowded conditions included turtles, crocodiles, toucans, parrots and Gila monsters.

According to the newspaper Milenio, turtles are the main species being trafficked.

The sharp increase in numbers mirrors increases in animal trafficking worldwide. According to the international body Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, the coronavirus pandemic’s resulting economic downturns have coincided with an increase in wild animal trafficking in communities near national parks and wild animal refuges. People are resorting to trafficking to survive, the organization said in a recent report.

By Mexico News Daily, 28 December 2020

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