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Thursday, January 20, 2022
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Animal trafficking at Mérida’s airport shows no signs of slowing down

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
The most recent victims of exotic animal traffickers in Yucatán were eight small pheasants. Photo: Courtesy

It would seem that despite the consequences, smugglers have not been dissuaded from trafficking live animals through Mérida’s airport. 

Yesterday, Mexico’s national guard agents stationed at Mérida’s airport secured eight live pheasant specimens bound for Guadalajara. 

Upon making the discovery, security agents confiscated the animals and interrogated the person who was carrying them — who claimed that he was doing nothing wrong. 

Transporting endangered species is not illegal in itself, but requires a special license issued by Mexico’s federal environmental authority.

Pheasants were once so plentiful in Yucatán that the state became known as “the land of pheasant and deer.” However, due to habitat loss and overhunting, just like deer, pheasant sightings in the wilds of Yucatán have become quite rare.

Earlier: The amazing birds of Yucatán

The great curassow, an endemic species of pheasant, is widely known in rural Yucatán by its Mayan name, kambul. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

The discovery was made just a couple of weeks after a turtle was found inside a cardboard box inside a suitcase at the same airport, bound for Nuevo León. 

In February, members of the National Guard in Mexico City secured 75 iguanas, 34 turtles, a boa constrictor snake, and a tarantula that were being smuggled in four pieces of luggage.

Environmental groups, including Yucatán’s Pronatura, have drawn attention to the problem of Mexico’s ever-growing endangered animal trade. 

The most commonly trafficked types of species include exotic birds and reptiles, though cases involving other animals such as armadillos and large wildcats are also fairly common. 

While many of these animals are ultimately smuggled abroad or kept as pets, others are bred for their eggs, feathers, or in the cases of turtles, for their shells.

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