Press release

Undercover investigation: Shocking footage reveals sloth cruelly snatched from the wild by illegal loggers

27 October 2017

Investigative footage shows sloth cowering in tree before it falls 100 feet to the ground

20 October – World Animal Protection has released a shocking new video showing a sloth clinging to the top of a tree as it is being cut down near Iquitos, a Peruvian town and gateway to the tribal villages of the northern Amazon – just two weeks after the international charity revealed the cruel exploitation of wild animals used for tourist entertainment in the Amazon.

In the video, local illegal loggers, looking to make additional money from selling sloths, can be seen cutting down a 100 feet high tree whilst the terrified animal clings on for dear life.

As the tree falls, it slams in to the ground from a great height but the sloth miraculously survives. The animal is then bagged up and later sold at Bel é n market on the outskirts of Iquitos for just 13 USD. Sloths captured by illegal loggers are sold at markets into the exotic pet or tourist entertainment trade, where they are forced to have photographs taken with tourists.

Steve McIvor, CEO of World Animal Protection, said:

“This footage is extremely distressing. We know that animals stolen from the wild for use as tourist photo props are kept in filthy, cramped conditions or repeatedly baited with food, causing them severe psychological trauma.

“It is ludicrous that this is to fuel the wildlife selfie craze which has become a worldwide phenomenon. This industry is fuelled by tourists, many of whom love animals and are unaware of the terrible treatment and abhorrent conditions wild animals may endure to provide that special souvenir photo.”

It’s estimated that 80% of Peruvian timber export stems from illegal logging and loggers many of whom seek to make additional money by capturing and selling wild animals including sloths used for tourist entertainment.

Three toed sloths are slow moving tree-dwellers and are easily caught by loggers. They cannot escape and can do little to fend off their human attackers. A male sloth usually stays in the same tree for his entire life, but female sloths move after giving birth, leaving the tree to the offspring.

To tackle the issue, World Animal Protection is calling on relevant governments to enforce the law, and ensure that travel companies and individuals who are exploiting wild animals for tourism in the Amazon abide by the existing laws.

The charity has also launched a Wildlife Selfie Code for tourists to learn how to take a photo with wild animals without fuelling the cruel wildlife entertainment industry.

Join the movement to end this cruel industry by signing The Selfie Code and commit to keeping wild animals in the wild, where they belong.

ENDS

Notes to the editor:

For an interview with a spokesperson contact Jonaid Jilani on 07984494057 or email jonaidjilani@worldanimalprotection.org
Watch the undercover video of sloth snatched from the wild here.
Read the full report on the cruel exploitation of wild animals in the Amazon here.
Undercover b-roll footage and images available here for the report.
Across Latin America, World Animal Protection research focused on direct contact wildlife tourism found that an incredible 61% of the species identified were classified as needing international legal protection by the Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).  21% of them were classified as ‘Threatened’ by extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Additional info:

Iquitos, Peru

·         Iquitos is known as the ‘capital of the Peruvian Amazon’. The largest metropolis in the Peruvian Amazon, east of the Andes, it is the sixth most populous city of Peru.

·         10% of the planet’s biodiversity can be found in the Amazon region. It is home to over 18,000 species of plants, more than 400 species of mammals and over 200 species of reptiles, many of which are only found here.

·         Belén is a floating shantytown, consisting of scores of huts, built on rafts, which rise and fall with the river. Belén’s markets are renowned for selling all kinds of strange and exotic products including wildlife.

Puerta Alegría, Peru

·         Puerto Alegría, a town with just 600 families, sits in a sun-drenched spot on the Amazon called Tres Fronteras—the Triple Frontier—where Peru, Colombia, and Brazil meet.

·         Every day hundreds of tourists, mostly from the Colombian side of the river, arrive by boat, walk up wooden planks from the water to the shore, and clamor to hold and take photos with as many as a hundred captive wild animals of two dozen species.

·         A previous World Animal Protection Investigation revealed that wild animals are being poached from the wild and being offered for use by tourists for wildlife selfies.

·         A total of at least 40 individual animals, representing 24 different species (7 birds, 12 mammals, 5 reptiles) were identified.

·         Five of the species are considered to have “threatened” status according to the IUCN and 75% are listed by CITES.

 

Steve McIvor, CEO of World Animal Protection, said: “This footage is extremely distressing. We know that animals stolen from the wild for use as tourist photo props are kept in filthy, cramped conditions or repeatedly baited with food, causing them severe psychological trauma. “It is ludicrous that this is to fuel the wildlife selfie craze which has become a worldwide phenomenon. This industry is fuelled by tourists, many of whom love animals and are unaware of the terrible treatment and abhorrent conditions wild animals may endure to provide that special souvenir photo.”