Amazon rainforest animals are being illegally sold at markets in Peru
More than 200 species of wild animals sourced from the Amazon rainforest are being sold illegally at markets in Peru, an undercover investigation has revealed.
Dolphins, sloths and manatees, along with jaguars, turtles and primates, have all been exposed to appalling conditions as a result of the trade.
Shocking footage filmed by World Animal Protection at Peru's Belén market shows animals being peddled dead and alive, and even being slaughtered on site.
Titled 'Risky business: How Peru's wildlife markets are putting animals and people at risk', the report looked at urban markets such as Belén — considered to be the largest open-air market selling wildlife in the Peruvian Amazon.
Animals and birds at Belén are most commonly sold as wild meat, but also as luxury pets and for spiritual, medicinal and decorative use.
Around one in 10 of the species being traded are threatened with extinction, the report revealed.
Shocking images show dried monkeys with their innards cut out, severed sloth claws, the skins of ocelots hanging, and meat from various mammals piled high.
A number of animals are being kept in dire conditions, with some crammed into tiny metal cages to be sold into the exotic pet trade.
Among the horrific examples the report found were:
- Dolphin genitalia and eyes being sold as ingredients to create an aphrodisiacal perfume called 'pusanga', which is thought to bring luck or ensure seduction
- Sloth claws and the dried heads of yellow-footed tortoises to 'tame jealous men,' and to 'prevent a violent jealous reaction'
- Tapir nails to treat haemorrhages
- Armadillo tails being sold for inner ear pain
Although the sale of wild animals at urban markets is illegal in Peru, the trade is still an ongoing issue.
Police in the country have attempted to clamp down on the activity, but officials interviewed as part of the investigation said it was difficult because wildlife vendors are constantly moving without fixed stalls, and operate on an opportunistic basis.