Animals in Mexico being Trafficked on Social Media

BARRIO – A new report suggests that trafficking of wild and endangered species is common in Mexico and occurs largely online, where traffickers contact potential customers on social media like Facebook.

The Center for Biological Diversity said in a report Wednesday it had contacted people through Facebook groups in Mexico selling protected species like howler monkeys and toucans.

The centre’s investigators received price quotes including delivery, even though the sellers acknowledged they did not have legal documentation for the animals.

“Through Facebook Messenger, Daniel G.15 — originally from Durango, Mexico — offered a keel-billed toucan for US$600 and a black howler monkey for US$900, with a shipping cost of US$50 for each animal,” according to the report.

Howler monkeys are listed as “in danger of extinction” by the Mexican government, and any sale or capture is prohibited.

Another vendor from Cuernavaca, just south of Mexico City offered to deliver orange-fronted parakeets for US$500 each; they would be delivered in cardboard boxes packed in the trunk of a car.

“It is estimated that more than 78,000 parrots are illegally captured each year in Mexico,” the report noted. “Of these, 77% die before reaching the final consumer, which means the trade kills around 60,000 parrots annually.”

Another vendor offered a baby sloth, but, as the report notes “Sadly, between 80% and 90% of sloths that are trafficked die. Babies are taken from their mothers, often violently, and are then often malnourished, cramped in cages and physically abused.”

The Mexican government appears to have little investigative capacity and mostly relies on complaints posted on social media when people see the animals or when one of them escapes.

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