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A few years ago, Frida, a tigress from Bengal, lived in chains. The big cat has found a second youth in a reserve near Mexico City, home to wild animals rescued from the clutches of private individuals, sometimes members of organized crime, who had turned them into pets.
The tigress was found in 2018 in the park of a restaurant in the capital, where she lived tied up, trembling and dirty. Her owners presented her as an “attraction”.
Since her rescue, Frida has been living happy days at the Reino Animal Park, 53 hectares on the outskirts of Mexico City, not far from the pre-Hispanic ruins of Teotihuacan.
Frida “arrived with a damaged hip, she couldn't walk , it was very sad,” says Agustin Bastida, the park's marketing manager. “These are animals that people buy as pets, when they have to live in the open air, in large spaces”.
In her new living environment, the tigress walks around showing off her shiny coat. “She has recovered 100%. She is no longer in pain”, adds Mr. Bastida before warning: “Let's not buy exotic animals. They are not pets”.
Rich in biodiversity, Mexico is a land of exotic wildlife trafficking, with a clientele that includes drug traffickers.
30 kilos of meat
“There are many exotic birds, reptiles, many primates and felines” among the trafficked species, lists for AFP Lucio Garcia Gil, head of the federal prosecutor's office for environmental protection (Profepa) in the metropolitan area of the capital Mexico City.
The prosecution claims to seize between 150 and 200 exotic animals each year, including a few felines (four this year).
The price of a tiger or a lion on the black market fetches between 1,000 and 5,000 dollars.
Mexican law allows the possession of exotic animals, provided they are purchased legally. Unlawful detention is punishable by nine years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
Only the rich can afford the luxury of trafficking wild animals that eat up to 30 kilos of meat a day, according to the park manager, who blames “organized crime”.
In 2007, the authorities discovered a house of drug traffickers “with two jaguars, two tigers and two lions”, says Mr. Garcia Gil.
According to the media, the most formidable of the drug traffickers Mexican traffickers, Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, gave his daughters a monkey named “Botas” before a first arrest in Mexico in 2014.
It was the hunt for “Botas” that led to enabled investigators to trace Joaquin Guzman after his escape. He has since been serving a life sentence in the United States.
According to the United Nations Environment Program, global wildlife trafficking represents annual earnings of between seven and 23 billion dollars, the seventh most profitable illicit trade in the world.
14/06/2022 10:50:56 – Otumba (Mexico) (AFP) – © 2022 AFP