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Friday, March 9, 2012

Trafficking in Wild Animals in Nicaragua

The traffic in wild animals pervades the Nicaraguan society. As one drives along a highway, parrots and macaws are sold alongside monkeys, armadillos, iguanas and virtually any other animal that can be made a pet or eaten. The pet trade in wild animals affects the populations of many wild animals which have gone extinct in large areas of the country. We dedicate this blog entry to the wild animals who are bought and sold illegally.

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The Yellow-naped Amazon (Amazona auropalliata) in the foreground is protected but, nonetheless, is more easily found tied to a stick or in a cage than in the forest. The bird in the background, an Orange-fronted Parakeet (Aratinga canicularis), has been dyed to change its appearance by these traffickers. Photo by Jeffrey McCrary.
The Yellow-naped Amazon, like many of its relatives, is a very social bird, residing in colonies of up to a few dozen individuals. Its range is the tropical dry forest along the Pacific coast, from Oaxaca in Mexico to northwestern Costa Rica. The soft vocalizations and great capacity to learn make this bird a highly prized pet. Its range, furthermore, has been highly impacted by man, leaving the remaining population with small populations at great risk of capture. The Yellow-naped Amazon population in Laguna de Apoyo Nature Reserve is very small, with only a few individuals and a single nest documented to date. 

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Nicaraguans actively hunt and eat armadillos. Photo by Ron Reagh.
The nine-banded armadillo is common in Nicaragua, and is not protected from hunting in Nicaragua. We picture it here to show how hunters market their products daily along the highways of Nicaragua, whether legal or not. In fact, marketing wild animals is not permitted, even when they are hunted legally. Next to these armadillos, seen on the Managua-Leon "new" highway, there were numerous iguanas for sale.
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Roadside armadillo sale. Photo by Ron Reagh. 
Three species of monkeys are found in Nicaragua. The most charismatic of them is the Nicaraguan spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi geoffroyi), listed as Critically Endangered. Throughout the Pacific region of Nicaragua, spider monkeys are rare or completely extirpated. Nonetheless, some people seek spider monkeys as pets-among the most important reasons for their sad situation in the wild. The pet trade is driving the species into local extinction throughout the Pacific region of the Nicaragua. And the monkeys in captivity are placed in chain-link cages or on chains, like the poor monkey below. This is a wild animal, not a pet, and it should be free to live and die in the trees, not on a chain, dependent upon man for every aspect of his life.
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This sad Nicaraguan spider monkey is confined to a leash on wire suspended between two trees on the property of some wealthy owner of one of the Isletas near Granada. 


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A juvenile Nicaraguan spider monkey sulks in its cage in El Coche Cafe in Managua. 
What can you, an ordinary Nicaraguan or visitor to this beautiful country, do? Here are some suggestions.

1. Do you know of any illegal traffic in wild animals in Nicaragua? Please let us know at FUNDECI/GAIA. We will protect your identity, confirm and document the situation, and provide the information to the Nicaraguan Police and the Ministry for Natural Resources and the Environment. 

2. NEVER purchase wild animals for sale. If you are concerned about the welfare of a wild animal in someone's custody, let that person know that a law may be getting broken. By giving traffickers money, you perpetuate the illegal business, thereby endangering even more animals by fortifying their market chain. By calling them out, they and others around you are emboldened to defend Nicaragua's natural heritage against the dealers in wild animals.

3. Discuss the issue with your friends in Nicaragua. Sharing information and opinions is healthy and leads to better-informed decisions among the entire public. Many well-meaning people participate in the illegal traffic in wild animals in Nicaragua without thinking they have done anything wrong or illegal. Let them know you don't approve and they will consider your opinion. 
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Click on the "escudo" to contact us. 
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