Peru ramps up fight against illegal animal trafficking
Peru is expanding its fight against animal trafficking, with the hopes of substantially reducing the illegal wildlife trade by 2027.
Why it matters: Peru is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world, but illegal trafficking and poaching that endanger species are rampant.
Driving the news: Peruvian authorities convicted illegal shark fin traffickers for the first time last month. They were sentenced to 4.5 years in prison.
- Experts say the convictions set a legal precedent that could strengthen the fight against animal trafficking overall, especially after last year set a record in illegal shark fin sales from Peru and Ecuador.
By the numbers: An estimated 300 species are in danger from trafficking, according to Peru's Environmental Ministry.
- About 44% are amphibians, including the endangered Titicaca water frog, which is poached for juice.
- Reptiles — mostly turtles — are the second-most trafficked species, followed by birds and mammals, which are commonly sold as pets.
Peruvian authorities intercept between 4,000 and 5,000 live animals being trafficked every year, according to the country’s forestry and wildlife service.
- The animals are typically returned to their natural habitat after veterinary check-ups. About 2,200 animals were set free this January.
What to watch: Peru's congressional committees are weighing whether the country should make animal trafficking part of a national law against organized crime.
- The country is also launching major public awareness campaigns to incentivize anonymous tips and has fortified a dedicated police unit.
- Project Prevenir, launched in 2019 with financing from USAID and help from NORAD satellite tracking, also helps authorities monitor illegal logging, mining and animal trafficking.