Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Authorities Seize More Than $200,000 in Illegal Animals

Between December 2009 and February 3, 2010 Bolivian authorities intercepted shipments of illegally captured endangered animals valued at over US$200,000.

Omar Rocha Olivio, General Director of Biodiversity and Protected Areas, reported that two packages of 10 kilograms and packages of 30 and 40 kilos containing endangered sea horses were stopped in transit to Japan and China in early February. Director Rocha explained that in some Asian cultures rare sea horses are used in traditional medicines to cure ailments ranging from asthma to dermatitis.

Officials at the Bolivian Postal Company also apprehended a shipment of 220 rare and endangered butterflies in transit to Japan and Canada on their way to butterfly collectors and dealers. The shipments included species of butterfly for which collectors pay up to US$75 per specimen.

While many illegally-traded animals originate in Bolivia, wildlife traffikers often ship through Bolivia owing to a perceived lack of border control. In response to large shipments of animals intercepted in recent years, including a cargo of 450 native beetles in 2007, authorities have revamped border protection with X-ray machines capable of monitoring packages´ contents.

Worldwide the illegal wildlife trade has an annual worth estimated at more than US$ 10 billion.

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