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

DISPLACEMENT / 11 MAY 2022

Mexico's produce industry has taken another hit from cartel violence, as tens of millions of dollars worth of peaches are…

ARGENTINA / 6 JUL 2022

Tusi, a pink synthetic drug powder, is increasing its share of Latin America's drug markets.

AUC / 17 FEB 2022

An "invisible" Colombian drug lord whose criminal history dates to the country's former paramilitary army has been revealed to have…

About InSight Crime

LA ORGANIZACIÓN

Extensive Coverage of our Chronicles of a Cartel Bodyguard

23 SEP 2022

Our recent investigation, A Cartel Bodyguard in Mexico’s 'Hot Land', has received extensive media coverage.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime, American University Host Illegal Fishing Panel

19 SEP 2022

InSight Crime and the Center for Latin American & Latino Studies (CLALS) at American University discussed the findings of a joint investigation on IUU fishing at a September 9 conference.

THE ORGANIZATION

Impact on the Media Landscape

9 SEP 2022

InSight Crime’s first investigation on the Dominican Republic made an immediate impact on the Dominican media landscape, with major news outlets republishing and reprinting our findings, including in …

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Sharpens Its Skills

2 SEP 2022

Last week, the InSight Crime team gathered for our annual retreat in Colombia, where we discussed our vision and strategy for the next 12 months.  During the week, we also learned how to…

THE ORGANIZATION

Colombia’s Fragile Path to Peace Begins to Take Shape

26 AUG 2022

InSight Crime is charting the progress of President Gustavo Petro’s agenda as he looks to revolutionize Colombia’s security policy, opening dialogue with guerrillas, reforming the military and police, and…