Illegal trafficking of wild animals is “out of control” in Mexico, and authorities are turning a blind eye to it, according to a recent study from a nonprofit.
The Tucson, Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed a complaint last week with Mexican state prosecutors following an undercover investigation they conducted between May and August of illegal wildlife trafficking in the country.
The investigation determined that multiple species protected under law — such as jaguars, howler monkeys, toucans, parakeets, iguanas, African lions and Bengal tigers — are being routinely purchased and sold under the table in Mexico via social media platforms like TikTok and Facebook, often with fake profiles.
The study also alleged that relevant Mexican authorities often not only ignore such illegal activity, but are complicit.
The Management Units for the Conservation of Wildlife and Farms that Manage Wildlife are reportedly involved along with organized crime groups in the outlawed trade, which rakes into approximately $100 billion annually.
“As more and more animals are uprooted from their natural habitat, it becomes more difficult to bring back species in sharp decline,” Olivera added.
About 77% of the animals die before they are sold, the report also said.
The illegal trafficking is not limited to wild animals, but also includes protected species of exotic plants that are illegally purchased for medicine or food.
The Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection, or Profepa, reportedly in unable to track where much of the wildlife ends up, and around 97% of the cases — encompassing about 123,000 to 290,000 animals and plants — remain unsolved.
The office in Profepa that once handled illegal wildlife trafficking was cut due to budget cuts.
In its report, the CBD listed a number of recommendations to fight back against illegal wildlife trafficking, such as more government oversight, increased resources to authorities who police such things and greater collaboration between the Mexican government and social media platforms used by the illegal traders.