Colombia’s national police rescued over 1,000 ocelots, snakes, birds, turtles, starfish, chameleons, tarantulas and other animals from trafficking, police said in a statement on Monday.
Police worked together with wildlife authorities of the United States, leading to twenty-one people being arrested, in fifteen raids, in six cities, Jorge Luis Vargas, head of the national police, said.
The 1,004 animals are now in the care of environmental authorities, police added. Colombia is one of the world’s most bio-diverse countries and has become a hub for wildlife trafficking.
Colombia’s Amazon region is home to more than 500,000 different species, and traffickers illegally catch animals from that area to sell them on the black market.
Fernando Trujillo, scientific director at the Omacha Foundation, said Colombian authorities are more focussed on battling drug cartels than wildlife trafficking: “Judges prefer to put someone in jail for drug trafficking or illegal mining than for carrying a parrot in their purse.”
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