Breaking! World Animal Protection Undercover Investigation Exposes Illegal Trafficking Of Jaguar Parts To China

Posted by Graham White on

Alarming evidence released today by World Animal Protection reveals a deadly trade of jaguar body parts being trafficked illegally for use in traditional Asian medicine from the South American country of Suriname.

The majestic big cats, known for their elaborate markings, are being poached and processed to be exported to China. The deplorable process involves boiling down their bodies for up to a week until they turn into a glue or treacle-like paste, sold on the black market in tubs, and until now, has been undocumented. The product is used in the false belief that it can be used to treat arthritis pain, sexual performance, and to enhance health.

Images collected show the lifeless body of a jaguar tied up from its feet, hanging from a wooden pole upside down; another image shows a girl standing next to another slaughtered jaguar, posing shamelessly for the camera with a grin. Video footage shows a dead male jaguar fastened down onto a small tractor.

This shocking cruel practice involves jaguars being stalked and shot numerous times, suffering multiple injuries, until eventually they are killed, usually with a final bullet to the head. In one instance, it was reported that the jaguar had to be shot seven times until it died, causing prolonged suffering.

Investigators from World Animal Protection also captured interviews with rangers and discussions with poachers and the traders who are putting orders for a jaguar on social media, by phone, or through their personal networks. The sale of the jaguar paste is a lucrative business with a zealous market, a driving factor given that almost half of the population of Suriname lives in poverty and a jaguar is considered, to some miners, to be worth around 20 grams of gold.

In addition, there is evidence of jaguar cubs being taken from the wild and sold, often to wealthy businessmen keeping them as status symbols and not knowing how to take care of them. They reportedly live their lives in cages until they are killed to eat, as their meat is also consumed among Suriname’s Chinese population.

“This investigation has uncovered a shocking underground trade exploiting an iconic animal of the South American rainforests in a barbaric way for unproven traditional Asian medicine,” stated Nicholas Bruschi, Investigations Advisor at World Animal Protection. “Jaguars already face the challenges of habitat destruction and human-animal conflicts. They are now cruelly and needlessly killed, left to die agonizing deaths. It is extremely sad news for these incredible big cats whose numbers are already declining. And, while jaguar cubs might seem very cute, they are still wild animals and belong in the wild, not in the illegal pet trade.”

It is estimated that there are approximately 173,000 jaguars left in the wild and they are classed as ‘near threatened,’ according to the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) list.

With more mining and logging resulting in loss of habitat and increased human-wildlife conflicts, jaguars are becoming more visible and are being targeted for taking livestock. Habitat loss also makes it easier for opportunist poachers and organized mafia gangs to source jaguars in the wild.

Jaguar poaching for traditional Asian medicine has, to date, been relatively under the radar. To tackle the issue, World Animal Protection will be cooperating with Suriname’s rangers and specialist NGOs on tangible solutions and sharing intelligence to prevent poaching.

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