A staggering number of animals every year – 38 million to be precise – is captured and trafficked from their habitats in Brazil. These recently unveiled figures inspired an investigation into wildlife trafficking and animal abuse by the popular journalistic program, Profissão Repórter, which airs every week on Globo TV network in Brazil.
Every day, the environmental police receives at least five anonymous tip-offs on irregular animals. These tip-offs usually lead the police to illegal breeding sites.
One of them led to Jesuilton Menezes Barros, who lives on the western borders of São Paulo and captures free birds to sell them off. Jesuilton did not deny his actions and said he did it for the money. “We do what we can to make some extra cash,” he told the TV program’s reporter, Nathalia Tavolieri.
Illegal bird breeders are fined R$500 (US$118) per irregular bird. The fine goes up to R$5,000 (US$1,184) if the bird is considered rare.
At Jesuilton’s place, the police found 29 birds. Out of the total, three of them are members of a threatened species. The animal trafficker will have to pay a fine of R$29,500.
Wildlife trafficking in Brazil
A study has shown that 18% of all land will animals are targeted by traffickers. Mammals are the most sought-after animals, followed by birds.
In general, the rarer the animal, the higher the price buyers are prepared to pay. Animals are trafficked for scientific research. The exotic pet market represents another significant share of this gruesome trade. Many animals are also captured so their body parts are attached to souvenirs and clothing items.
The Profissão Repórter TV crew also visited a center of management and conservation of wild animals in São Paulo. At the center, animals are treated by veterinarians and biologists so they can be sent back to nature.
However, many of the animals will have to spend their entire lives there, while others, like birds, need to learn how to fly and eat by themselves before they can take be set free. Some of the animals are not even native to Brazil, and for that reason cannot be released back into the wild.
Other types of animal abuse in Brazil
The program also looked at the abuse other animals suffer in so-called entertainment and in the streets of Brazil.
It followed the rescue of wild animals exploited by circuses, like a Romanian bear called Xuxa, who spent 32 years in captivity.
The program also showed the struggle of people who rescue cats and dogs from the streets of Brazil, where an estimated 30 million pets languish in abandonment.