5 species threatened by the illegal wildlife trade
A green turtle - Photo: Jason Isley/EL UNIVERSAL

5 species threatened by the illegal wildlife trade

19/03/2019
15:04
Sebastián Pérez Sánchez
Mexico City
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The illegal sea animals trade is one of the main reasons behind the loss of biodiversity in the country

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Biodiversity is quite important for the environment and its equilibrium, therefore, we must preserve as many species as possible.

According to the National Commission for the Knowledge and Use of Biodiversity (CONABIO), Mexico has a privileged place in regards to biodiversity in the world. Mexico is the second country with the largest number of reptiles and the third with the largest number of mammals, the fifth in amphibians, and eight in birds.

For this reason, Mexico is targeted by criminals who illegally traffic animals. The illegal sea animals trade is one of the main reasons behind the loss of biodiversity in the country.

The illegal animal trade implies poaching, transporting, and commercializing animal or plant species protected by the law.

Trafficking not only includes alive species but also products derived from them.

The most trafficked sea animals in Mexico are:

1. Totoaba

The totoaba is a fish endemic to the Gulf of California. It can measure up to 2 meters and it can weight up to 100 kilograms.

It's known as the “sea diamond” in the black market, thanks to its high prices in the Chinese market, where a kilo of totoaba can cost up to USD $2,000.

It is believed that its swim bladder has aphrodisiac properties, therefore, it has become a luxury product in Asia.

2. Great white shark

It is one of the largest marine predators. It can ingest up to 14 food kilos in one day and can measure up to 6 meters.

Its fin is considered a delicacy and as a result, it has been overexploited and it is now in danger of extinction.

3. Corals

Corals are made up of millions of tiny organisms called polyps. They develop very slowly and they need a warm temperature and good salinity in water. In Mexico, corals can be found in Baja California, Veracruz, Campeche, and Yucatán.

These animals are trafficked because they are demanded as decorations.

4. Seahorse

Seahorses can measure between 1.8 and 35 centimeters. One of its most peculiar characteristics is that the male hatches the eggs. Its trafficking is the result of its high demand in the Asian cuisine. They are also kept as pets.

5. Sea turtle

Mexico is the country with the largest number of sea turtles species in the world, as 5 out of 6 species live in the Mexican seas. They are migratory animals, they come to Mexican beaches to lay their eggs and return to the sea.

Turtle eggs are considered as a delicacy and are believed to have aphrodisiac properties, which has driven its demand.

In Mexico, the sale and consumption of turtle eggs are illegal and is punished with prison but this hasn't prevented the sea turtle from becoming an endangered species.

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