Report shows Amazon wildlife is targeted by international traffic

Illegal commerce undermines biodiversity conservation efforts and economic growth, according to study supported by USAID 

Millions of animals, especially from the Amazon, are illegally sold in Brazil and abroad, illustrates the Wildlife Trafficking in Brazil report, supported by USAID, through the Wildlife Trafficking Response, Assessment, and Priority Setting (Wildlife TRAPS) project.  

The study, available online, is based on a year and a half of research and analysis of government information from trafficking investigations. 

River turtles, fish, jaguars, and birds are the most frequently poached in the Amazon region. According to the seizure data between 2012 and 2019, the largest illegal wildlife trade in the Brazilian Amazon, by volume, is the smuggling of river turtle eggs. They are used as decorative items (shells), and for culinary purposes.

Over 30 ornamental fish species were trafficked to meet regional and international demand. In these seven years, Tetra-cardeal, Silver Arowana, and critically-endangered Zebra Pleco were among the most seized. For consumption, the pirarucu, one of the world’s largest freshwater fish species, is the principal target for poaching and trafficking.  

The report points out that lack of quality data and difficulty coordinating monitoring of illegal commerce conceal the extent of illicit trade. To reduce illegal wildlife trade, the study offers several recommendations, including developing a national strategy to combat trafficking, enhanced data collection and shared information across agencies, to strengthen environmental crime legislation.