Colombian National Army and Police Combat Illegal Wildlife Trafficking

Colombian National Army and Police Combat Illegal Wildlife Trafficking

By Dialogo
April 30, 2015




Efforts by the Colombian National Army and the National Police to crack down on the illegal wildlife trade are paying off: Security forces seized nearly 55,000 animals and plants in 2013 and 2014.

“It’s a crime that is just as big as illegal mining or timber trafficking, with an additional problem: it’s invisible for most Colombians,” said Minister of the Environment Gabriel Vallejo López, adding that criminal organizations have increased their participation in this illegal activity to diversify their sources of revenue.

Illegal wildlife traffickers capture live animals such as capuchin monkeys and macaws to either sell as pets for thousands of dollars in Asian countries, or kill for their meat, coats or body parts, which in some regions are reputed to be medicinal. The most trafficked mammals are spectacled bears and tigrillos
(a small spotted feline also known as a tiger cat or oncilla). Turtles, iguanas and a wide variety of birds also are heavily hunted and captured, the National Police’s Environmental Division said.

The hicotea
turtle, a small colorful reptile that can be found in the swamplands and rivers of northern Colombia, is a good example of a targeted species. Each year smugglers capture nearly 2 million of them, the Ministry of the Environment reported. The turtles are sent to street markets in towns and cities in Colombia and Venezuela where they are sold as pets, eaten or killed for supposedly curative purposes.

The Army is cooperating closely with the Ministry of the Environment to protect the country's wildlife. In late March, following a meeting with Minister Vallejo, Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón said there would be a greater collaboration between the two Ministries. As an example, he mentioned the work of the Brazilian Armed Forces in the Amazon.

That same month, an Army plane carrying 83 reptiles, 53 birds and 13 mammals flew from Valle del Cauca to Caquetá, near the Colombian Amazon, as part of an animal release program developed by the Corporación Autónoma Regional del Valle del Cauca (CVC), a regional agency that coordinates environmental efforts. The CVC took in and rehabilitated confiscated animals, and retrained them in order to release them in the wild.

“If we don’t align this conception [sustainable development and protection of the environment] with the strategic position of our national security, then we would be designing a policy for some other place in the world,” Minister Pinzón said.

Nationwide raids


The National Police is also helping to protect wildlife and the environment. Nationwide, the law enforcement agency is conducting checkpoints on roads and at airports, bus terminals and street markets, which are the most frequent points of exit used by wildlife smugglers. During this year’s Holy Week alone, 829 animals were interdicted throughout the country using fast and large operations and new detection methods. Easter is a particularly busy time for traffickers, who revel on travelers’ demands for exotic pets and for rare foods such as iguana and turtle eggs.

With that in mind, the Police’s Environmental Division trained a Canine Unit to identify the most commonly trafficked birds, reptiles and mammals. In 60 hours, trainers from the National Police taught four dogs to recognize the smell of turtles, owls, tigrillos
, macaws, armadillos and several other animals. Since the Canine Squad began working a few months ago, the dogs have assisted in the interdiction of more than 520 species of fauna and flora.

Since January 1, law enforcement officers have rescued 14,179 animals, including 9,100 reptiles, 744 birds and 4,335 mammals. The animals have been interdicted mostly near the coasts of northern Colombia, in the departments of Magdalena, Sucre, Córdoba, Cesar, and Bolívar, where the police work closely with the Colombian Navy and the Attorney General’s Office.





Efforts by the Colombian National Army and the National Police to crack down on the illegal wildlife trade are paying off: Security forces seized nearly 55,000 animals and plants in 2013 and 2014.

“It’s a crime that is just as big as illegal mining or timber trafficking, with an additional problem: it’s invisible for most Colombians,” said Minister of the Environment Gabriel Vallejo López, adding that criminal organizations have increased their participation in this illegal activity to diversify their sources of revenue.

Illegal wildlife traffickers capture live animals such as capuchin monkeys and macaws to either sell as pets for thousands of dollars in Asian countries, or kill for their meat, coats or body parts, which in some regions are reputed to be medicinal. The most trafficked mammals are spectacled bears and tigrillos
(a small spotted feline also known as a tiger cat or oncilla). Turtles, iguanas and a wide variety of birds also are heavily hunted and captured, the National Police’s Environmental Division said.

The hicotea
turtle, a small colorful reptile that can be found in the swamplands and rivers of northern Colombia, is a good example of a targeted species. Each year smugglers capture nearly 2 million of them, the Ministry of the Environment reported. The turtles are sent to street markets in towns and cities in Colombia and Venezuela where they are sold as pets, eaten or killed for supposedly curative purposes.

The Army is cooperating closely with the Ministry of the Environment to protect the country's wildlife. In late March, following a meeting with Minister Vallejo, Defense Minister Juan Carlos Pinzón said there would be a greater collaboration between the two Ministries. As an example, he mentioned the work of the Brazilian Armed Forces in the Amazon.

That same month, an Army plane carrying 83 reptiles, 53 birds and 13 mammals flew from Valle del Cauca to Caquetá, near the Colombian Amazon, as part of an animal release program developed by the Corporación Autónoma Regional del Valle del Cauca (CVC), a regional agency that coordinates environmental efforts. The CVC took in and rehabilitated confiscated animals, and retrained them in order to release them in the wild.

“If we don’t align this conception [sustainable development and protection of the environment] with the strategic position of our national security, then we would be designing a policy for some other place in the world,” Minister Pinzón said.

Nationwide raids


The National Police is also helping to protect wildlife and the environment. Nationwide, the law enforcement agency is conducting checkpoints on roads and at airports, bus terminals and street markets, which are the most frequent points of exit used by wildlife smugglers. During this year’s Holy Week alone, 829 animals were interdicted throughout the country using fast and large operations and new detection methods. Easter is a particularly busy time for traffickers, who revel on travelers’ demands for exotic pets and for rare foods such as iguana and turtle eggs.

With that in mind, the Police’s Environmental Division trained a Canine Unit to identify the most commonly trafficked birds, reptiles and mammals. In 60 hours, trainers from the National Police taught four dogs to recognize the smell of turtles, owls, tigrillos
, macaws, armadillos and several other animals. Since the Canine Squad began working a few months ago, the dogs have assisted in the interdiction of more than 520 species of fauna and flora.

Since January 1, law enforcement officers have rescued 14,179 animals, including 9,100 reptiles, 744 birds and 4,335 mammals. The animals have been interdicted mostly near the coasts of northern Colombia, in the departments of Magdalena, Sucre, Córdoba, Cesar, and Bolívar, where the police work closely with the Colombian Navy and the Attorney General’s Office.


what terrible news reports Technology is the most fundamental tool to have been incorporated into us but it is also causing lots of entertainment among students Thank God someone took those poor animals away from those idiots who have no idea what they're doing. They need to think about what they're doing first instead of doing that. And all this and I'm only 12 years old and I already think like an adult Come down hard on those who harm the environment. What will happen to our children in a not-too-distant future when they won't be able to even buy drinking water?
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