Poaching and trafficking in wild animals such as monkeys and parrots is reaching critical proportions in Brazil, home of more animal species than any other country, a non-profit group said Wednesday.
BRASILIA -- Poaching and trafficking in wild animals such as monkeys and parrots is reaching critical proportions in Brazil, home of more animal species than any other country, a non-profit group said Wednesday.
The trade is so attractive that it is even prompting drug traffickers to turn their attention to animals.
Police confiscated more than 50,000 captured animals in one part of Brazil's Atlantic rain forest in 2005, up from 15,000 five years earlier, according to a report by the National Network Against Wild Animal Trade, or Renctas.
"Sadly the situation is still critical," Dener Giovanini, founder of Renctas, told a congressional environment committee.
Renctas estimates Brazil accounts for about 10 percent of the world's illegal trade in wild animals. Nearly half the animals -- mostly parrots and other birds -- go to Europe and the United States. Brazil's endangered blue Hyacinth Macaw can sell for $25,000, it said.
Big profits and lax laws are attracting criminals from other trades, said committee chairman Jose Sarney Filho.
"Some drug traffickers are moving to animal trafficking because the penalties are less stiff," Sarney said.
Renctas estimated in 2001 that some 38 million wild animals are poached every year and that only about a third survive long enough to be sold.
The global trade in poached animals and their hides, tusks and bones is worth $10 billion to $20 billion a year, ranking third after illegal arms and drugs trafficking, the group said.
Renctas warned that a recent government decision to split up environment protection agency Ibama could increase animal trafficking.
"Weakened environmental organs won't be able to regulate this," he said.