I have always wondered why people like to boast their wealth having exotic and endangered animals imprisoned in their mansions.
What kind of excitement does having a fabulous lion, a gray fox or a jaguar in a cage provokes them?
Why do people insist on taking animals out of their natural habitat and chain them up in miserable places at urban areas, where nothing resembles the vital cycle of nature?
As probably many of you guess, the answer is simple and complicated at the same time.
People enjoy the power of possessing wild and exotic animals. They don’t care about the animals, they don’t give a damn about their welfare. They just love the pleasure of possessing them. And there is a millionaire business behind any wild animal taken from its habitat.
Last Thursday, Mexican police federal officers rescued 10 tigers and jaguars that were captive in a restaurant and in a piece of private land at the touristic area of Cancun. According to press releases, the felines were visibly malnourished and in deplorable conditions, but they were used as an attraction for tourists.
Few months ago, officers from the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (Profepa) also rescued four lemurs, two foxes, one macaw and a California King snake from a mansion in Mexico City.
Rescues such as these are not rare in Mexico and they include a variety of species, from mammals to reptiles and endangered birds. Most of the animals are trafficked by organized crime networks that operate along the United States, Canada and Mexico, among other countries.
According to federal authorities, Mexico ranks third place among the countries where the trafficking of animals is more intense. The annual profits generated by this crime are only surpassed by the profits of drug and weapons trafficking.
Mexico has one of the richest mammalian fauna in the world and according to the UNAM’s Ecology Center it is among the 12 countries that host most (60-70%) of the biological diversity of the world. However, databases from The Ujima Project, Mexico ranked first place among the countries with the most threatened endemic species in 2010, with a total of 287 animals threatened.
Some figures from Defenders of Wildlife of Mexico give an idea of the magnitude of the animal-trafficking problem: “It is estimated that between 65,000 to 78,500 parrots are caught illegally every year and from them, 77 percent die before they arrive into the hands of a buyer. The mistreatment these animals suffer explains the high mortality rate.
The illegal trafficking of animals is considered a crime punished with one and up to nine years in prison, but apparently that is not enough to stop a business that according to Defenders of Wildlife represents worldwide profits for more than $25 billion annually .
With this big amount of money at stake, no wonder why the welfare of the animals and the impact that this business has creating in our environment are the least important thing to think about.
Every time that a single parrot, a monkey, a reptile, a turtle, a jaguar, a wild cat or a tiger is taken out from its habitat “to decorate” the mansions of wealthy people or just to feed their egocentric needs of recognition, the complete ecosystem is damaged, and in the future, we, the entire humanity, will pay the consequences too.