HomeNewsBrief58,000 Trafficked Animals Seized Annually in Colombia
BRIEF

58,000 Trafficked Animals Seized Annually in Colombia

COLOMBIA / 28 NOV 2013 BY NATALIE SOUTHWICK EN

Experts have revealed the extent of illegal wildlife trafficking in Colombia, highlighting an underreported but lucrative income source for criminal organizations, only exceeded by drugs, arms and human trafficking.

About 160 illegally trafficked animals are seized daily in Colombia, reported El Espectador, totaling more than 58,000 per year. The animals are most commonly recovered in the departments of Sucre, Valle del Cauca, Cordoba, Santander and Bolivar, with most species originating from the Amazon, the southern border, the Pacific coast or the eastern plains, reported RCN Radio.

See Also: Coverage of Eco-Trafficking 

Claudia Brieva, an animal rehabilitation expert at Colombia's National University, said many people believe they are "saving" the animals or want them as pets. Some of the most commonly trafficked animals are turtles, caimans, iguanas, boa constrictors and parrots.

Map showing where animals are sourced and taken

InSight Crime Analysis

According to Interpol and the United Nations Environmental Programme, wildlife trafficking is worth an estimated $15 to 20 billion annually, making it the world's fourth largest illegal trade, after drugs, human trafficking and the arms trade. In 2012 alone, Colombian authorities rescued more than 46,000 illegally trafficked animals. It is far from the only source for the trade: over the last two years a shipment leaving Paraguay contained more than 3,500 animals, while thousands of animals have also been rescued from Bolivia, and Brazil last year launched its own anti-animal trafficking operations.

Despite the trade's enormous earning potential, relatively little is known about organizations behind global wildlife trafficking, due partly to the fact that it does not generate the same high levels of violence as the drug trade and arms or human trafficking.

According to the UN report, the same routes used to move drugs and weapons are often used to smuggle animals. Yet, to some extent, animal trafficking requires a greater deal of sophistication than that of drugs or weapons because of the care required to keep animals alive throughout the journey. This suggests a high level of organization and expertise is involved in the trade.

The market for trafficked wildlife is also not totally understood. Exotic pets may be status symbols or novelty items for some people, but black market demand for products like reptile skins and turtle eggs connects these networks to a larger global consumer market.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 24 JUN 2013

Criminal groups in Colombia are responsible for the distribution of millions of illegal cigarettes tied to Paraguay President-elect Horacio Cartes,…

BELTRAN LEYVA ORG / 7 NOV 2014

The US government has placed a relatively unknown Colombian on the Kingpin list, suggesting that the individual may be one…

BOLIVIA / 9 JUN 2020

As Latin America emerges as the new global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, corruption has proliferated, with politicians and middlemen…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

Unraveling the Web of Elites Connected to Organized Crime

27 JUL 2021

InSight Crime published Elites and Organized Crime in Nicaragua, a deep dive into the relationships between criminal actors and elites in that Central American nation.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.