The secret life of animal trafficking

Local News

Dr. Egan Green is a Criminal Justice Professor at Radford University, his research is based on rural crime, with a focus on wildlife crime and wildlife law enforcement.

His studies most recently led him to Brazil. 

“I had always had an interest in wildlife crime and I had done some research on that in the United States, but much of the research on this is internationally,” Says Dr. Green. He goes on to say, “I had started looking for ways to expand my research to look at wildlife crime in an international context and the opportunity came to go to Brazil and study wildlife trafficking there.”

On his trip, Dr. Green played the guitar for the world’s oldest man, was able to speak with animal traffickers and spent time with a reformed trafficker. 

“These people are making money off of it and for some people it is their livelihood,” says Dr. Green.

It’s the reason the reformed trafficker had gotten into the business. Dr. Green says, “He was trying to make money how he could. He came to appreciate things that keep the wildlife alive and how that can be used as economic resources as well.”

His trip was to the Brazilian state of Tocantins, where according to media reports, from January to August of 2017 Military Environmental Police seized more than 107 animals.

Dr. Green spent time with law enforcement officials to find out ways people traffic animals.

“They will use a particular type of sap that comes from trees and line tree limbs with the sap so that when birds land on the sap they can’t get away. From there they come and throw a net over the birds so that they can catch them and keep them in small cages,” says Dr. Green.

According to Dr. Green, the way they transport them is the same as in other types of illegal trafficking.

“They will hide them in hidden compartments in vehicles and things that you hear about with other types of illegal trafficking, this time it’s animals,” says Dr. Green.

Some of the animals that live through being trafficked from South America actually end up being sold as pets in the United States.

Dr. Green says, “Not a lot of folks are watching what is going on in South America. Reptiles, turtles, and birds out of South America are being trafficked into the United States.”

The purpose of his trip was to educate himself, the people of Brazil, and his students here at home.

“The students are usually shocked with a lot of this, because they don’t have any idea. This isn’t the type of crime that even gets popular media attention. Television shows don’t talk about this,” says Dr. Green. 

He plans to now use his first hand knowledge and experience as a weapon against trafficking.

“I like spreading the word, because that’s what I think makes the biggest difference,” says Dr. Green.

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