Updated 03:39 AM EDT, Fri, May 14, 2021

Wildlife Trafficking in Latin America: 5 Animal Species Threatened by Illegal Trade

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Wildlife trafficking is a major problem in many areas of the world, including Africa where helpless animals have been taken from their habitats and then bought and sold. Now, Latin America is another area of exotic animals' illegal trade.

According to Huffington Post, wildlife trafficking transit chains in Latin America are "complex, secret, and as varied as the many common and threatened animal species targeted." Poachers will illegally bring animals to a secret location for international trading or sell them to local consumers. The illegal sellers involved are often doing their transactions in unsecured borders. They transmit their smuggled contraband into neighboring countries that have no strong "trafficking laws" regarding animals or animals' parts.

From there, the contraband can be shipped to other countries making this illegal trade possible. Traffickers play hide-and-seek with the officials, jumping to one place to another. When one transporation route is discovered, they will opt for another option such as sewing tropical parakeets into a garment. 

Unfortunately, Mongabay reported, Latin America's wildlife trafficking has been left unnoticed because the country is focusing on other important environmental issues including rapid deforestation, dam building, oil extraction, mining and illegal incursions into protected areas. As legal actions have not been applied, the region's wildlife trafficking is growing and animals are going extinct. 

Just as in Africa, animal trafficking follows a similar pattern in Latin America. It is being driven by Chinese money, Chinese extractive industries and the unsatisfied Chinese market that uses wild animals for "traditional medicines" or "exotic food." Also, the corruption has its toll on these wrongdoings like the Latin American officials' "weak, loophole-rife laws and indifferent enforcement." As a matter of fact, the wildlife trafficking is as lucrative as selling drug cartels, narcotics, weapons and human slavery. Meanwhile, here are the top five animals that have been threatened by illegal trade as noted by Mongabay:

1. Live birds are the most frequently trafficked live animals, including songbirds, finches, green-winged saltators, double-collared seedeaters and larger birds like parrots and macaws.

2. Reptiles. 

3. Jaguars. 

4. The Andean or spectacled bear, which is now considered an endangered animal.

5. The tortoiseshell, which is highly prized as a luxury commodity.

Watch the inside look of the wildlife trade by Vice:

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