This campaign was started in April 2014 with three main aims:
1. Confiscate animals and make sure traffickers receive proper penalties.
2. Identify authorities’ deficiencies in acting against trafficking.
3. Draw public attention to the fight against wildlife trafficking in Peru.
Our official general complaint, compiled from the increasing amount of information that NPC receives about captive wildlife from concerned members of the public and fellow animal welfare organizations, has been handed in to government authorities detailing cases from all over Peru. This has been the objective of one of our anti-trafficking campaigns; to provide the authorities with the necessary information to act on these cases whilst also highlighting the serious situation of wild animal trafficking in Peru.
Since April 2014 we handled 175 formal complaints from all over Peru, reporting on thousands of wild animals kept illegally in captivity. All of these cases share several common denominators: they are held in terrible conditions where the animals experience extensive suffering and the owners have no legal permits. The complaints include animals kept by tourist centers, markets, roadside merchants and private homes. Many of the species included are considered threatened and protected by Peruvian law.
We also reported irregularities in official permits given for wildlife exploitation and alleged cases of corruption within the authorities. Seventy five percent of all cases included at least one threatened species. We are currently in the process of gathering information from the authorities about the results of the cases we reported. This is very complicated and time consuming because of the bureaucratic requirements of the authorities.
Unfortunately, as a result of scarce funding, a lack of qualified personnel and few rescue centers, wildlife authorities often turn a blind eye. They often blame the Peruvian public for their lack of understanding of animal welfare laws as a justification for ignoring the consequences of the illegal trade. This leaves the traffickers to freely benefit from the lack of action by the State. We know that not all the cases we presented to the government were attended to. In other cases the authorities were too slow to act and failed to rescue the animals, but we do know that so far 961 animals have been rescued as a result of this campaign and hundreds of skins, animal parts and bushmeat have also been seized. The more complex cases involving irregularities within the authorities are also under investigation.
Anti-trafficking operations and prosecutions are very important, not only to rescue the animals but also to educate the population and send a clear message to the wildlife traffickers that they will be punished for their actions. It is necessary that interventions take place at all stages of trafficking; during capture, transport and sale, when animals are kept as pets or attractions and including the sale of bushmeat or as keepsakes.
We hope that this campaign results in the rescue of the animals identified and in the prosecution of the traffickers themselves. Also, that this campaign strengthens the resolve of the wildlife authorities, enabling them to put the scarce funds they do have to good use. We also hope that it will highlight the severe lack of rescue centers. We are grateful to all our anonymous informants who provide the information about trafficked wildlife and to the great people in Peru’s wildlife authorities who have made a real effort to attend these reports.