What's happening in South America?

It would be an understatement to say that the wildlife trade in Latin America is moderate, when it is truly massive.

Millions of wild animals have been ripped from the wild for body parts, used as traditional medicine, and to live as exotic pets. There are more than 450,000 wild animals kept in captive breeding facilities in Brazil alone.

The information we gathered from this region is only the tip of the iceberg, but even this data paints a frightening picture.

For the animals, these stories are tragic. And every day we learn more about the dangers of how this trade puts human life at risk as well.

It is much more dire than you think. We must do everything we can to stop the wildlife trade in Latin America and around the world.

The captive birds of Brazil

The number of wild birds living as pets in Brazil is shocking. The last official estimate provided  in 2013 stated that 38 million birds are kept in homes throughout the country.

Although there is a legal trade of certain birds like parrots, macaws and parakeets, trafficking of these animals has reached critical levels.

Our research showed that some of the most trafficked bird species are the same ones being sold by commercial and hobby breeders, raising concerns as to whether legal trade is acting a cover and potentially stimulating illegal trade.

Captive birds often suffer from malnutrition, feather plucking and aggressive behaviours. Malnutrition can be responsible for up to 90% of all clinical conditions in birds seen by avian veterinary practitioners.

But human health is also impacted. Many diseases may be transmitted from birds to humans, including Psittacosis, that can cause mild illness, pneumonia (lung infections), and even death in some cases.

Parrots and macaws in Brazil are robbed from their nests as hatchlings or cruelly bred in captivity. When removed from their natural habitat, the birds endure an extremely stressful journey, transported for long distances until they reach the final destination. This causes high mortality. The ones who survive will spend their lives in tiny cages that will restrict all their natural behaviors. Whether wild caught or bred in captivity, parrots are destined to a life of suffering. Credit: CETAS Minas Gerais archive.

Jaguars at risk from the Traditional Medicine trade

An undercover investigation by World Animal Protection revealed shocking evidence that wild jaguars are being cruelly poached to fuel the demand for traditional Asian medicine.

Jaguars already face the challenges of habitat destruction and human animal conflicts. They are now cruelly killed,or injured and left to die. There are reports of jaguars being shot up to seven times by hunters, leading to a protracted and painful death. With the jaguar's habitat being opened, this also increases encounters between jaguars and miners, farmers and loggers, who shoot them opportunistically.
– Nicholas Bruschi, Investigations Advisor
  • 大量动物被关在卫生条件恶劣的环境中,在狭小的笼子中,它们忍受着巨大压力和痛苦。 恶劣的卫生条件加上与人类的直接接触为病毒的滋生和传播创造了温床。
    – “野生动物并非宠物”项目全球负责人 Cassandra Koenen
  • The traditional medicine markets in Benin were like scenes from a horror movie. We saw the heads of monkeys, snakes, turtles, civets, dogs, cats, and more; thousands of animals, across hundreds of species laid out on tables in macabre displays. Director Will Foster-Grundy and I have covered stories of human-animal conflict for years, yet the markets were still a shock to the system.
    – Award Winning Environmental Photojournalist Aaron Gekoski
  • With large numbers of animals kept in poor hygiene conditions the animals are kept in cramped cages, where they will eventually develop weakened immunities due to stress. This lack of hygiene combined with direct human contact creates a hot bed for viruses to mutate and develop.
    – Cassandra Koenen, Global Head of Wildlife Campaigns, Wildlife Not Pets
  • Research has shown that pangolins could potentially have spread COVID-19 to humans, but nobody knows for certain. Other mammals such as bats, camels and civets are capable or hosting and transmitting coronaviruses such as COVID-19
    – Gilbert Sape, Global Head of Wildlife Campaign, Bears and Traditional Medicine
  • Jaguars already face the challenges of habitat destruction and human animal conflicts. They are now cruelly killed,or injured and left to die. There are reports of jaguars being shot up to seven times by hunters, leading to a protracted and painful death. With the jaguar's habitat being opened, this also increases encounters between jaguars and miners, farmers and loggers, who shoot them opportunistically.
    – Nicholas Bruschi, Investigations Advisor
  • The traditional medicine markets in Benin were like scenes from a horror movie. We saw the heads of monkeys, snakes, turtles, civets, dogs, cats, and more; thousands of animals, across hundreds of species laid out on tables in macabre displays. Director Will Foster-Grundy and I have covered stories of human-animal conflict for years, yet the markets were still a shock to the system.
    – Award Winning Environmental Photojournalist Aaron Gekoski
  • Research has shown that pangolins could potentially have spread COVID-19 to humans, but nobody knows for certain. Other mammals such as bats, camels and civets are capable or hosting and transmitting coronaviruses such as COVID-19
    – Gilbert Sape, Global Head of Wildlife Campaign, Bears and Traditional Medicine
  • Jaguars already face the challenges of habitat destruction and human animal conflicts. They are now cruelly killed,or injured and left to die. There are reports of jaguars being shot up to seven times by hunters, leading to a protracted and painful death. With the jaguar's habitat being opened, this also increases encounters between jaguars and miners, farmers and loggers, who shoot them opportunistically.
    – Nicholas Bruschi, Investigations Advisor
  • With large numbers of animals kept in poor hygiene conditions the animals are kept in cramped cages, where they will eventually develop weakened immunities due to stress. This lack of hygiene combined with direct human contact creates a hot bed for viruses to mutate and develop.
    – Cassandra Koenen, Global Head of Wildlife Campaigns, Wildlife Not Pets
  • Research has shown that pangolins could potentially have spread COVID-19 to humans, but nobody knows for certain. Other mammals such as bats, camels and civets are capable or hosting and transmitting coronaviruses such as COVID-19
    – Gilbert Sape, Global Head of Wildlife Campaign, Bears and Traditional Medicine
  • The traditional medicine markets in Benin were like scenes from a horror movie. We saw the heads of monkeys, snakes, turtles, civets, dogs, cats, and more; thousands of animals, across hundreds of species laid out on tables in macabre displays. Director Will Foster-Grundy and I have covered stories of human-animal conflict for years, yet the markets were still a shock to the system.
    – Award Winning Environmental Photojournalist Aaron Gekoski
  • Jaguars already face the challenges of habitat destruction and human animal conflicts. They are now cruelly killed,or injured and left to die. There are reports of jaguars being shot up to seven times by hunters, leading to a protracted and painful death. With the jaguar's habitat being opened, this also increases encounters between jaguars and miners, farmers and loggers, who shoot them opportunistically.
    – Nicholas Bruschi, Investigations Advisor
  • With large numbers of animals kept in poor hygiene conditions the animals are kept in cramped cages, where they will eventually develop weakened immunities due to stress. This lack of hygiene combined with direct human contact creates a hot bed for viruses to mutate and develop.
    – Cassandra Koenen, Global Head of Wildlife Campaigns, Wildlife Not Pets
  • Research has shown that pangolins could potentially have spread COVID-19 to humans, but nobody knows for certain. Other mammals such as bats, camels and civets are capable or hosting and transmitting coronaviruses such as COVID-19
    – Gilbert Sape, Global Head of Wildlife Campaign, Bears and Traditional Medicine
  • The traditional medicine markets in Benin were like scenes from a horror movie. We saw the heads of monkeys, snakes, turtles, civets, dogs, cats, and more; thousands of animals, across hundreds of species laid out on tables in macabre displays. Director Will Foster-Grundy and I have covered stories of human-animal conflict for years, yet the markets were still a shock to the system.
    – Award Winning Environmental Photojournalist Aaron Gekoski
  • Jaguars already face the challenges of habitat destruction and human animal conflicts. They are now cruelly killed,or injured and left to die. There are reports of jaguars being shot up to seven times by hunters, leading to a protracted and painful death. With the jaguar's habitat being opened, this also increases encounters between jaguars and miners, farmers and loggers, who shoot them opportunistically.
    – Nicholas Bruschi, Investigations Advisor
  • With large numbers of animals kept in poor hygiene conditions the animals are kept in cramped cages, where they will eventually develop weakened immunities due to stress. This lack of hygiene combined with direct human contact creates a hot bed for viruses to mutate and develop.
    – Cassandra Koenen, Global Head of Wildlife Campaigns, Wildlife Not Pets
  • Research has shown that pangolins could potentially have spread COVID-19 to humans, but nobody knows for certain. Other mammals such as bats, camels and civets are capable or hosting and transmitting coronaviruses such as COVID-19
    – Gilbert Sape, Global Head of Wildlife Campaign, Bears and Traditional Medicine
  • The traditional medicine markets in Benin were like scenes from a horror movie. We saw the heads of monkeys, snakes, turtles, civets, dogs, cats, and more; thousands of animals, across hundreds of species laid out on tables in macabre displays. Director Will Foster-Grundy and I have covered stories of human-animal conflict for years, yet the markets were still a shock to the system.
    – Award Winning Environmental Photojournalist Aaron Gekoski
  • Jaguars already face the challenges of habitat destruction and human animal conflicts. They are now cruelly killed,or injured and left to die. There are reports of jaguars being shot up to seven times by hunters, leading to a protracted and painful death. With the jaguar's habitat being opened, this also increases encounters between jaguars and miners, farmers and loggers, who shoot them opportunistically.
    – Nicholas Bruschi, Investigations Advisor
  • With large numbers of animals kept in poor hygiene conditions the animals are kept in cramped cages, where they will eventually develop weakened immunities due to stress. This lack of hygiene combined with direct human contact creates a hot bed for viruses to mutate and develop.
    – Cassandra Koenen, Global Head of Wildlife Campaigns, Wildlife Not Pets
  • Research has shown that pangolins could potentially have spread COVID-19 to humans, but nobody knows for certain. Other mammals such as bats, camels and civets are capable or hosting and transmitting coronaviruses such as COVID-19
    – Gilbert Sape, Global Head of Wildlife Campaign, Bears and Traditional Medicine
  • The traditional medicine markets in Benin were like scenes from a horror movie. We saw the heads of monkeys, snakes, turtles, civets, dogs, cats, and more; thousands of animals, across hundreds of species laid out on tables in macabre displays. Director Will Foster-Grundy and I have covered stories of human-animal conflict for years, yet the markets were still a shock to the system.
    – Award Winning Environmental Photojournalist Aaron Gekoski
  • Jaguars already face the challenges of habitat destruction and human animal conflicts. They are now cruelly killed,or injured and left to die. There are reports of jaguars being shot up to seven times by hunters, leading to a protracted and painful death. With the jaguar's habitat being opened, this also increases encounters between jaguars and miners, farmers and loggers, who shoot them opportunistically.
    – Nicholas Bruschi, Investigations Advisor
  • With large numbers of animals kept in poor hygiene conditions the animals are kept in cramped cages, where they will eventually develop weakened immunities due to stress. This lack of hygiene combined with direct human contact creates a hot bed for viruses to mutate and develop.
    – Cassandra Koenen, Global Head of Wildlife Campaigns, Wildlife Not Pets
  • Research has shown that pangolins could potentially have spread COVID-19 to humans, but nobody knows for certain. Other mammals such as bats, camels and civets are capable or hosting and transmitting coronaviruses such as COVID-19
    – Gilbert Sape, Global Head of Wildlife Campaign, Bears and Traditional Medicine
  • The traditional medicine markets in Benin were like scenes from a horror movie. We saw the heads of monkeys, snakes, turtles, civets, dogs, cats, and more; thousands of animals, across hundreds of species laid out on tables in macabre displays. Director Will Foster-Grundy and I have covered stories of human-animal conflict for years, yet the markets were still a shock to the system.
    – Award Winning Environmental Photojournalist Aaron Gekoski
  • Jaguars already face the challenges of habitat destruction and human animal conflicts. They are now cruelly killed,or injured and left to die. There are reports of jaguars being shot up to seven times by hunters, leading to a protracted and painful death. With the jaguar's habitat being opened, this also increases encounters between jaguars and miners, farmers and loggers, who shoot them opportunistically.
    – Nicholas Bruschi, Investigations Advisor
  • With large numbers of animals kept in poor hygiene conditions the animals are kept in cramped cages, where they will eventually develop weakened immunities due to stress. This lack of hygiene combined with direct human contact creates a hot bed for viruses to mutate and develop.
    – Cassandra Koenen, Global Head of Wildlife Campaigns, Wildlife Not Pets
  • Research has shown that pangolins could potentially have spread COVID-19 to humans, but nobody knows for certain. Other mammals such as bats, camels and civets are capable or hosting and transmitting coronaviruses such as COVID-19
    – Gilbert Sape, Global Head of Wildlife Campaign, Bears and Traditional Medicine
  • The traditional medicine markets in Benin were like scenes from a horror movie. We saw the heads of monkeys, snakes, turtles, civets, dogs, cats, and more; thousands of animals, across hundreds of species laid out on tables in macabre displays. Director Will Foster-Grundy and I have covered stories of human-animal conflict for years, yet the markets were still a shock to the system.
    – Award Winning Environmental Photojournalist Aaron Gekoski
  • Jaguars already face the challenges of habitat destruction and human animal conflicts. They are now cruelly killed,or injured and left to die. There are reports of jaguars being shot up to seven times by hunters, leading to a protracted and painful death. With the jaguar's habitat being opened, this also increases encounters between jaguars and miners, farmers and loggers, who shoot them opportunistically.
    – Nicholas Bruschi, Investigations Advisor
  • With large numbers of animals kept in poor hygiene conditions the animals are kept in cramped cages, where they will eventually develop weakened immunities due to stress. This lack of hygiene combined with direct human contact creates a hot bed for viruses to mutate and develop.
    – Cassandra Koenen, Global Head of Wildlife Campaigns, Wildlife Not Pets
  • “Investigaciones han mostrado que los pangolines podrían haber transmitido el COVID-19 a los humanos, pero nadie lo sabe con certeza. Otros mamíferos como los murciélagos, los camellos y las civetas tienen la capacidad de albergar y transmitir coronavirus como el COVID-19”.
    – Gilbert Sape, Director global de campaña: Silvestres. No Medicina.
  • “Los mercados de medicina tradicional de Benín son como escenas de una película de terror. Vimos las cabezas de monos, serpientes, tortugas, civetas, perros, gatos y muchos animales más. Miles de animales, entre cientos de especies, están sobre mesas como en una macabra exhibición. El director Will Foster-Grundy y yo hemos cubierto historias sobre el conflicto humano animal por años, sin embargo, estos mercados siguen siendo impactantes para el sistema”.
    – Aaron Gekoski, fotoperiodista ambiental galardonado.
  • “Los jaguares ya enfrentan desafíos por la destrucción de su hábitat y el conflicto con los humanos por su territorio. Ahora son asesinados cruelmente o heridos y abandonados para morir. Existen reportes de que los cazadores han disparado hasta siete veces contra un jaguar, provocándole una muerte prolongada y dolorosa. Con la apertura del hábitat de los jaguares, se incrementan los encuentros entre los animales y los mineros, los agricultores y los madereros, quienes les disparan de manera oportunista”.
    – Nicholas Bruschi, Asesor de Investigaciones
  • “Existe una gran cantidad de animales que son mantenidos en condiciones pobres de higiene, confinados en pequeñas jaulas, donde probablemente sus sistemas inmunes se debilitan a causa del estrés. La falta de higiene, combinada con el contacto directo con humanos, crea condiciones ideales para el desarrollo y la propagación de virus”.
    – Cassandra Koenen, Directora global de campañas de vida silvestre: Silvestres. No mascotas.
  • 科学研究表明,穿山甲、蝙蝠、果子狸等野生动物是一些人兽共患病病毒的携带者。
    –   
  • 贝宁的传统医药市场如同野生动物的地狱,这里有猴子、蛇、乌龟、麝香猫、犬、猫等很多动物的头部,数百种、成千上万只动物,被摆放在桌子上售卖,令人毛骨悚然。我和Will Foster-Grundy导演多年来一直在报道人兽冲突议题,但这个市场对于我们来说仍是一个巨大冲击。
    – 环境摄影记者 Aaron Gekoski
  • 美洲豹面临着栖息地破坏以及人兽冲突的挑战。现在它们被猎杀。曾报道过一只美洲豹被猎人射击了七次,导致其漫长而痛苦地死亡。 随着美洲豹栖息地的开发,它们与矿工、农民和伐木工的接触也逐渐增加,而这些人会趁机射杀它们。
    – 调查顾问 Nicholas Bruschi
  • Des recherches ont démontré que les pangolins pourraient potentiellement avoir transmis la COVID-19 aux humains, mais personne n’en a la certitude. D’autres mammifères, comme les chauves-souris, les chameaux et les civettes sont capables d’être des hôtes et de transmettre des coronavirus comme la COVID-19.
    – Gilbert Sape, chef de la campagne de protection de la faune Faune, au lieu de médicament
  • Les marchés de médecine traditionnelle au Bénin ressemblaient à des scènes d’un film d’horreur. Nous avons vu des têtes de singes, de serpents, de tortues, de civettes, de chiens, de chats, et même plus; des milliers d’animaux et des centaines d’espèces étendus sur des tables dans des présentations macabres. Le réalisateur Will Foster-Grundy et moi avons longtemps couvert les conflits entre humains et animaux, et malgré cela, ces marchés ont provoqué chez nous un choc immense.
    – Aaron Gekoski, photojournaliste environnemental primé
  • Lorsque de grands nombres d’animaux sont maintenus dans de piètres conditions d’hygiène — les animaux sont entassés dans des cages, où ils sont susceptibles de fragiliser leur système immunitaire en raison du stress —, ce manque d’hygiène, combiné à un contact humain direct, crée un terrain fertile pour l’émergence et la propagation de virus.
    – Cassandra Koenen, chef de la campagne de protection de la faune Faune, au lieu de compagnon
  • Les jaguars sont déjà confrontés à la destruction de leur habitat et à des conflits avec les humains. Ils sont maintenant tués cruellement, ou blessés et laissés pour morts. Des rapports révèlent que des jaguars ont été tirés jusqu’à sept fois par des chasseurs, entraînant ainsi une mort prolongée et douloureuse. L’empiètement sur l’habitat des jaguars augmente également les rencontres entre les jaguars et des mineurs, des fermiers et des bûcherons, qui les prennent opportunément pour cible.
    – Nicholas Bruschi, conseiller aux enquêtes
  • Research has shown that pangolins could potentially have spread COVID-19 to humans, but nobody knows for certain. Other mammals such as bats, camels and civets are capable or hosting and transmitting coronaviruses such as COVID-19
    – Gilbert Sape, Global Head of Wildlife Campaign, Bears and Traditional Medicine
  • The traditional medicine markets in Benin were like scenes from a horror movie. We saw the heads of monkeys, snakes, turtles, civets, dogs, cats, and more; thousands of animals, across hundreds of species laid out on tables in macabre displays. Director Will Foster-Grundy and I have covered stories of human-animal conflict for years, yet the markets were still a shock to the system.
    – Award Winning Environmental Photojournalist Aaron Gekoski
  • Jaguars already face the challenges of habitat destruction and human animal conflicts. They are now cruelly killed,or injured and left to die. There are reports of jaguars being shot up to seven times by hunters, leading to a protracted and painful death. With the jaguar's habitat being opened, this also increases encounters between jaguars and miners, farmers and loggers, who shoot them opportunistically.
    – Nicholas Bruschi, Investigations Advisor
  • With large numbers of animals kept in poor hygiene conditions the animals are kept in cramped cages, where they will eventually develop weakened immunities due to stress. This lack of hygiene combined with direct human contact creates a hot bed for viruses to mutate and develop.
    – Cassandra Koenen, Global Head of Wildlife Campaigns, Wildlife Not Pets
  • "Pesquisas mostraram que os pangolins podem ter transmitido a COVID-19 para humanos, mas ninguém sabe ao certo. Outros mamíferos, como morcegos, camelos e civetas, são reservatórios ou fontes de infecção de patógenos como o coronavírus".
    – Gilbert Sape, Gerente Global de Vida Silvestre da Proteção Animal Mundial
  • "Os mercados de medicina tradicional são verdadeiros filmes de terror. Vimos cabeças de macacos, cobras, tartarugas, civetas, cães, gatos e muito mais; milhares de animais, de centenas de espécies, dispostos sobre as mesas como uma exposição macabra. Eu e o diretor Will Foster-Grundy cobrimos conflitos entre humanos e animais por anos, mas esses mercados ainda são um choque para o sistema."
    – Aaron Gekoski, Fotojornalista Ambiental Premiado
  • "As onças já enfrentam desafios com a destruição de seus habitats, além de conflitos frequentes com humanos. Elas são cruelmente caçadas e feridas, muitas vezes deixadas para morrer depois de mutiladas. Há relatos de onças sendo baleadas por até sete vezes pelos caçadores, encarando uma morte prolongada e extremamente dolorosa. Com a crescente exploração de seu habitat natural, aumentam-se os encontros entre esses animais e mineradores, agricultores e madeireiros – que atiram nelas de forma oportunista"
    – Nicholas Bruschi, Investigador.
  • "Com uma enorme quantidade de animais mantidos em condições precárias de higiene – a maioria amontoada em gaiolas apertadas, aumenta-se a probabilidade de enfraquecimento da imunidade devido ao estresse. Essa falta de higiene combinada ao contato direto com humanos é a condição ideal para que os vírus surjam e se espalhem."
    – Cassandra Koenen, Chefe Global da Campanha Animal Silvetsre Não É Pet da Proteção Animal Mundial
  • The traditional medicine markets in Benin were like scenes from a horror movie. We saw the heads of monkeys, snakes, turtles, civets, dogs, cats, and more; thousands of animals, across hundreds of species laid out on tables in macabre displays. Director Will Foster-Grundy and I have covered stories of human-animal conflict for years, yet the markets were still a shock to the system.
    – Award Winning Environmental Photojournalist Aaron Gekoski
  • Research has shown that pangolins could potentially have spread COVID-19 to humans, but nobody knows for certain. Other mammals such as bats, camels and civets are capable or hosting and transmitting coronaviruses such as COVID-19
    – Gilbert Sape, Global Head of Wildlife Campaign, Bears and Traditional Medicine
  • Jaguars already face the challenges of habitat destruction and human animal conflicts. They are now cruelly killed,or injured and left to die. There are reports of jaguars being shot up to seven times by hunters, leading to a protracted and painful death. With the jaguar's habitat being opened, this also increases encounters between jaguars and miners, farmers and loggers, who shoot them opportunistically.
    – Nicholas Bruschi, Investigations Advisor
  • With large numbers of animals kept in poor hygiene conditions the animals are kept in cramped cages, where they will eventually develop weakened immunities due to stress. This lack of hygiene combined with direct human contact creates a hot bed for viruses to mutate and develop.
    – Cassandra Koenen, Global Head of Wildlife Campaigns, Wildlife Not Pets
  • The traditional medicine markets in Benin were like scenes from a horror movie. We saw the heads of monkeys, snakes, turtles, civets, dogs, cats, and more; thousands of animals, across hundreds of species laid out on tables in macabre displays. Director Will Foster-Grundy and I have covered stories of human-animal conflict for years, yet the markets were still a shock to the system.
    – Award Winning Environmental Photojournalist Aaron Gekoski
  • Research has shown that pangolins could potentially have spread COVID-19 to humans, but nobody knows for certain. Other mammals such as bats, camels and civets are capable or hosting and transmitting coronaviruses such as COVID-19
    – Gilbert Sape, Global Head of Wildlife Campaign, Bears and Traditional Medicine
  • Jaguars already face the challenges of habitat destruction and human animal conflicts. They are now cruelly killed,or injured and left to die. There are reports of jaguars being shot up to seven times by hunters, leading to a protracted and painful death. With the jaguar's habitat being opened, this also increases encounters between jaguars and miners, farmers and loggers, who shoot them opportunistically.
    – Nicholas Bruschi, Investigations Advisor
  • With large numbers of animals kept in poor hygiene conditions the animals are kept in cramped cages, where they will eventually develop weakened immunities due to stress. This lack of hygiene combined with direct human contact creates a hot bed for viruses to mutate and develop.
    – Cassandra Koenen, Global Head of Wildlife Campaigns, Wildlife Not Pets
  • Jaguars already face the challenges of habitat destruction and human animal conflicts. They are now cruelly killed,or injured and left to die. There are reports of jaguars being shot up to seven times by hunters, leading to a protracted and painful death. With the jaguar's habitat being opened, this also increases encounters between jaguars and miners, farmers and loggers, who shoot them opportunistically.
    – Nicholas Bruschi, Investigations Advisor
  • With large numbers of animals kept in poor hygiene conditions the animals are kept in cramped cages, where they will eventually develop weakened immunities due to stress. This lack of hygiene combined with direct human contact creates a hot bed for viruses to mutate and develop.
    – Cassandra Koenen, Global Head of Wildlife Campaigns, Wildlife Not Pets
  • Research has shown that pangolins could potentially have spread COVID-19 to humans, but nobody knows for certain. Other mammals such as bats, camels and civets are capable or hosting and transmitting coronaviruses such as COVID-19
    – Gilbert Sape, Global Head of Wildlife Campaign, Bears and Traditional Medicine
  • The traditional medicine markets in Benin were like scenes from a horror movie. We saw the heads of monkeys, snakes, turtles, civets, dogs, cats, and more; thousands of animals, across hundreds of species laid out on tables in macabre displays. Director Will Foster-Grundy and I have covered stories of human-animal conflict for years, yet the markets were still a shock to the system.
    – Award Winning Environmental Photojournalist Aaron Gekoski

A close up on cruelty

Wildlife selfies that involve captive wild animals as photo props are an increasingly alarming source of animal welfare concern in the Amazon. The prevalence of these images on social media is driving up the interest in this activity, and as a result masking the cruelty that lurks behind the scenes.

Compounding this disturbing trend is the reality that a significant number of species on offer at these tourist attractions, are either threatened by extinction or are listed as needing international protection. The potential impact on species decline needs serious consideration. 

One very popular animal being used for wildlife selfies in the Amazon is the brown- throated three-toed sloth. Their recent prominence in film and television (Zootopia, Animal Planet’s “Meet the Sloths”, CNN Heroes) speaks to public interest in these intriguing creatures. What most people don’t know, however, is just how fragile sloths are. It is extremely likely that poor handling, combined with poor nutrition and housing, all in the name of selfies, is a death sentence for these iconic mammals of the Amazonian rainforest.

We know that animals are more susceptible to infection when they are kept in a poor environment, on a poor diet, or under stress - everything we witnessed during our investigation - and with zero biosecurity measures in place at these tourist attractions, using wildlife as selfie props could potentially be the epicentre of the next  zoonotic disease outbreak. 

 

Macaws in the luggage

Macaws are majestic birds that are frequently captured and smuggled from Western Suriname to the rest of the world. Investigations by World Animal Protection revealed the cruel method used to take these birds from the wild. A live, lure bird is repeatedly forced to endure being tied to the ground or a tree as it’s distressed calls attract the wild Macaws to capture.

Once captured, the birds are bought by exporters for international trade. They are often illegally exported using airlines or are smuggled out of the country in luggage.

Research has found that the main Suriname bird importers are Singapore, Russia and Thailand.

While fewer wild-caught Macaws are being traded to Europe in recent years over Avian Influenza fears, demand actually increased in regions across Asia and the Middle East.

The methods used to capture wild macaws is cruel. This is the beginning of her long, frightening and hazardous journey towards becoming a pet thousands of miles away from her forest, nest, mate and community.

You have the power to fix this

You now know that the global wildlife trade is much bigger and much more dangerous than you thought it was. You know that entire species are being endangered. You know that millions of animals are suffering every single day. You know that the conditions these animals are forced to endure are rife for disease. You know that diseases can be transferred between wildlife and humans. And as of this year, you know how truly devastating a new disease can be when it spreads across the globe.

You can help stop the next pandemic by taking action today. Please sign the petition now so we can deliver it to the G20 summit in Saudi Arabia this November. Sign it and tell the world's leaders that you demand an end to the global wildlife trade before it's too late.