Wildlife police

Published: Tuesday 30 November 1999

to stop the illegal trade of animals from the Amazon, Brazil has launched a training course for police officers to detect forged export permits. Every year, about 12 million animals, worth us $1.5 billion in the international market, are smuggled out of Brazil, says Denner Giovanini, head of the National Network Against the Trafficking of Wild Animals ( renctas ), an environment organisation.

Brazil is home to a vast variety of ecosystems ranging from the Amazon rainforest to the Pantanal wetlands. However, smuggling of animals is fast reducing the diversity in the region. "Only one of every 10 animals removed from their natural habitat survive the journey to private collectors, pet shops and pharmaceutical firms in Europe," says Giovanini. It remains to be seen whether the new techniques being taught to the police officers will put an end to wildlife smuggling. Recently, a German dealer was arrested at Sao Paulo's international airport with 550 Amazon frogs and 80 snakes stuffed into his luggage.

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